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Chap. 4. 'The True Biblical Character of the Kingdom.'

Advent Theology According To Luke And John

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

What a fascinating record this is! It is supremely the Gospel with the heart appeal. No other stirs the human emotions like this. 

We are impressed on opening it. Here is a writer of method and purpose, such as we might expect from a physician. He informs us immediately of his object—"to set forth in order a declaration of THOSE THINGS MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US." This is arresting. Luke wrote his Gospel about 65A.D. By then the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were circulating amongst the Church all over the world ( Colossians 1:16 ). Paul's letters were also known and apostolic teaching had become established. The doctrines of the Faith held by the Early Church were settled, and so Luke is writing to declare these. We can expect clarity here. If the Early Church believed ( as Futurists assert ) in a secret Rapture, followed by unparalleled tribulation for the Jews, and this in turn followed by another Advent of Christ to earth, we shall find it clearly stated by Luke. And if this Appearing is to usher in an earthly Kingdom, with Christ ruling in Person at Jerusalem, lasting for 1,000 years, where sin and death are still known – then I say THAT LUKE CANNOT FAIL TO DISCLOSE IT. Further, if the prophecies of the O.T. relating to the restoration of Israel were believed by the Early Church to have a literal fulfilment in the Jewish nation, with Throne, Temple and worship restored, then a writer who is setting forth "the things most surely believed" must necessarily say something about these dramatic events.

What do we find? It is probably superfluous to say that you can subject Luke to the finest microscopic examination without finding a trace of these things. What has the theorist to say to this? Usually, he attempts to say that revelation is progressive, and further details of the prophetic programme are unfolded in later Scriptures. We reply with our original contention in this work – that the whole fabric of truth is found in "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ", and, if anything additional can be found it is merely a matter of detail, and not a definite doctrine of the Faith. Above all, no later revelation could possibly be given which is entirely out of harmony with the teaching of the Son of God and "the things most surely believed". We assert that, not only are the above named doctrines of dispensationalism not mentioned in the Gospel that sets out the Faith of the Early Church, but they are utterly irreconcilable with many of our Lord's statements. Particularly is this so with the doctrine of an earthly millennial age interposed between "this age" and the eternal age. Let us now proceed to examine the statements found in Luke relative to the Advent.

The Dawn Of Covenant Fulfilment

Luke 1. 

We regard this as one of the greatest chapters in the N.T. Note where it starts—in the Temple, with the Priesthood. The Temple was the great symbol of God's covenant relationship with His People. From this place issues the news of the Divine outworking of His declare purposes, with the tremendous statements recorded in this chapter. Consider them: 

1. "He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…etc." This is quoted from Malachi 4:5. Our Lord informs us ( Matthew 17:10-13 ) that John the Baptist was the promised Elijah, and no word of Scofield that he is yet to come will stand with us before the word of the Master. Thus we are already informed of the manner in which O.T. prophecy is to be fulfilled. THE TURNING OF THE CHILDREN ) OF ISRAEL TO THE LORD IS NOT AN EVENT OF A FUTURE AGE THROUGH A LITERAL ELIJAH, BUT COMMENCES WITH THE MINISTRY OF JOHN AND THE ADVENT OF MESSIAH. It is the spiritual conversion of those who repent.

2. "He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to His Seed for ever." Here Mary expresses spiritual perception of the nature of covenant fulfilment. 

3. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. HE HATH VISITED AND REDEEMED HIS PEOPLE; and hath raised up IN THE HOUSE OF HIS SERVANTDAVID, AS HE SPAKE BY THE MOUTH OF HIS PROPHETS…that we should be saved from our enemies... to perform THE MERCY PROMISED TO OUR FATHERS, and to remember HIS HOLY COVENANT" ( verses 68-73 ).

Zechariah, full of the Holy Ghost, announces the era of prophetic fulfilment. Israel's deliverance, the promised mercy, and Covenant blessings are now to be realised. The nature of such blessings is clearly stated in verses 74-79. It is not physical, national or geographical, but spiritual. "Serve without fear…holiness and righteousness…salvation…remission of sins…light in darkness…the way of peace." In other words, the blessings of N.T. salvation.

Having seen this striking feature of Luke's first chapter, we can now rightly approach a statement millennialists try to capitalise for their doctrine:

Luke 1:32-33. 

"The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. "

Millennialists regard this as a bastion for their faith, although, surprisingly enough, Scofield makes no comment on it, except a brief reference to it in a note in Matthew. We are told here is proof that Christ will establish an earthly Kingdom, and will reign in person at Jerusalem. But we must politely remind millennialists that the verses state no such things. What is stated is:
He will inherit a Covenant Throne; 
 
Reign over Israel;
Possess an endless Kingdom.

To say that these things will take place on this earth in a literal, physical manner is assuming the very thing that has to be proved. This is a recurring characteristic. At the time of writing this I am in correspondence with a leading Futurist preacher and writer. His last letter has put this very thing to me ( it is one of the few things they can bring from the N.T. ). He asks, "Are the five things in verses 30-31 literal? Why, then, make verses 32-33 to he spiritual?" It may sound plausible, but in reality it is lamentable, and shows ignorance of N.T. principles. Some words of Scripture are obviously literal and natural—it is the only sense that can be applied to them. Others are obviously spiritual, e.g. our Lord "opening the prison" and hundreds of others. Then there is the third class that may be literal or spiritual-, we need a Guide to instruct us just what is the true understanding. Now where these apparently problematic Scriptures ARE MADE THE DEFINITE SUBJECT OF EXPOSITION IN SOME OTHER PART OF THE WORD OF GOD, then there is the infallible explanation of their meaning. So it is with this pronouncement of the angel. This theme of the Throne of David and Messiah's reign over Israel is one of the great notes of the N.T., and we contend there is only one way to interpret this theme, AND THAT IS BY THE GENERAL CONSENT OF THE TEACHING OF THE N.T., PARTICULARLY THE INSPIRED EXPOSITION OF THE O.T. BY THE APOSTLES.

Therefore, if the rest of the N.T. teaches that this line of O.T. prophecy is to receive its fulfilment in the greater realities of the Gospel, then the carnal interpretation of Gabriel's announcement is groundless, and pre-millennialism is "a thing fondly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture."

We are happy to state that the N.T. furnishes an abundant answer., We turn to the Acts of the apostles as the great library of O.T. exposition. We prefer to believe what the apostles said concerning O.T. prophecies than ten thousand other teachers. We do not propose dealing with the Acts now—that will come later. But we will draw the reader's attention to the theme under consideration—the Covenant Throne and Kingdom, and point out that it is the subject of three major declarations in the Acts:- Peter in Acts 2, Paul in Acts 13 and James in Acts 15. What is the position there? WE CHALLENGE ANY MILLENNIAL ADVOCATE TO FIND IN ANY OF THESE INSPIRED EXPOSITIONS A SINGLE STATEMENT RELATING THEM TO AN EARTHLY JERUSALEM – CENTRED KINGDOM TO BE ESTABLISHED IN A FUTURE AGE. On the other hand, statement after statement by the apostles asserts that it is in the resurrection of Christ and the subsequent ingathering of Jew and Gentile into one Kingdom that the great Kingdom – Covenant promises find their fulfilment. We shall fully establish this later, but to settle our position in regard to Luke 1:33, we will look briefly at the classic passage in Acts 13, and confine ourselves to its main assertions. This is Paul's first recorded sermon preached to Jews and proselytes ( verse 43 ) in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. An analysis of the sermon will be given in the exposition of the Acts. 

1. "David their king…Of this man's seed hath God, according to His promise, RAISED UNTO ISRAEL A SAVIOUR, JESUS." ( verses 22, 23 ) 

We ask the reader, what could such a pronouncement mean to Jews, who, believing the O.T., cherished a double hope, viz., Messiah's Kingdom and the resurrection? We answer – only one thing, that in the resurrection of Jesus was the fulfilment of the Kingdom promise to David. In other words, the apostle was asserting in the clearest terms that the Divine Monarchy was Co-incidental with the Risen Saviour-hood of Jesus. 

1. That this was so is confirmed by the second declaration: "We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the father, GOD HATH FULFILLED THE SAME UNTO US THEIR CHILDREN in that He hath raised up Jesus again." What was the promise made by God? It could only be the promise of a Man to sit upon the Throne a David – the heart of the great Covenant. The pre-millennialist says the promise will be fulfilled at the Second Advent, to a literal Israel. Paul asserted God HAD ALREADY fulfilled it in the resurrection of Jesus. We prefer to stand with Paul. The reader will see the same error again – ascribing to the Second Advent that which God says has been fulfilled in the First.

2. To set his meaning beyond all doubt, the apostle enforces his word with a quotation from the Messianic prophecies: "As it is written in the second Psalm, 'Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee'." This is one of the most vivid of Psalms. Its theme is the enthronement of God's Anointed in answer to the violent opposition of His enemies. This is announced in verse 6: "I have set My King upon My Holy Hill of Zion." This is followed by the decree whereby God secures the enthronement: "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee." Now, unless one has a mind forever seeking "deep dispensational mysteries", this is capable of only one meaning. The setting of God's King upon His throne in fulfilment of the Davidic Promise was celebrated by the decree of begettal; AND WE HAVE THE INSPIRED WORDS OF THE APOSTLE TO TELL US THAT THIS TOOK PLACE WHEN GOD RAISED HIS SON FROM THE DEAD. Nothing could be plainer; but "theory-blindness" is such a fatal thing that it leads Scofield to defy this apostolic interpretation. Note, however, that he completely by-passes this great sermon of Paul's. NOT A SINGLE NOTE! We cannot wonder; it would test the ingenuity of the most thorough-going pre-millennialist to reconcile Paul's indisputable interpretation of the O.T. with his scheme of things. But Scofield does make a note on Psalm 2. He identifies God's wrath ( verse 5 ) with the scattering of the Jewish race, but chiefly with the future tribulation "immediately preceding the return of the King". Then speaking of this return, he identifies verse 6 as "the establishment of the rejected King upon Zion" ( i.e. earthly Jerusalem ). This deliberate contradiction of the apostle is deplorable. Scofield contemptuously dismisses the view of the Kingdom we are advocating as "a legacy in Protestant thought from post-apostolic and Roman Catholic theology" ( R.B. p. 989 ), We think we have shown that this eschatology was the fundamental theme of apostolic preaching; but it would not he very difficult to relate Scofield's theory to some of the pernicious "prophetic" teachings connected with false sects and movements that have arisen during the past 100 years. Deeper still, evidence is accumulating that the origin of these theories was not Plymouth but Rome; the master-mind behind this anti-Protestant scheme was not Darby but Jesuitry".

3. To clinch the matter, Paul presents to his hearers a Scripture from Isaiah: "I will give you the sure mercies of David" ( Isaiah 55:3 ). As to the location of this prophecy, there is no possible room for doubt. Is it the Second Advent? Hear what the apostle says in preface to the quotation: "As concerning that HE RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, now no more to return to corruption" ( verse 34 ). So this great Scripture stands as an impassable barrier in the pathway of every pre-millennialist. We are sure the unbiased reader will find it so.

So we return to Luke 1:32, 33. The chapter in which it is found has already prepared us for a spiritual realisation of O.T. prophecy, as has been shown. Now, THE ONLY MEN WHOM GOD EVER ANOINTED AS INSPIRED INTERPRETERS OF THE O.T. – THE APOSTLES – HAVE SHOWN US HOW TO UNDERSTAND THOSE PROMISES RELATING TO THE KINGDOM. ( Footnote ) Thus, Gabriel's announcement is clear; Christ received His Throne when He rose from the dead, and began His reign over the new Israel, which shall last for ever. ( Far different from the pre-millennialist's kingdom which, after a brief thousand years, collapses in confusion and rebellion. ) In closing this portion, note the parallel between Luke 1:32 and Acts 13. "He shall be called the Son of the Highest," corresponds with "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee". "The Lord God shall the Throne of His father David," is almost identical with "I will give you sure mercies, of David". "He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever," corresponds with "God hath raised unto Israel a Saviour Jesus".

Luke 9:26. 

"When He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's and of the holy angels." This passage has already received attention. It is quoted here as an added point of interest. Dispensationalists rejoice in "rightly dividing the Word". This, to a large extent, consists of separating into different categories all things that bear different names, titles or terms. Thus, the Kingdom of God differs from the Kingdom of Heaven; ( Scofield lists five distinctions [p. 10031. ) The Day of Christ is different from the Day of the Lord, etc., etc.. I wonder do they apply this principle to this text, and give us three "Comings"? One "In His own glory", another "in His Father's", and a third "of the holy angels". It sounds absurd—but it is as consistent as some of the "right divisions" made by Futurists.

Luke 12:35-38. 

Once again we have a Scripture relative to the Judgement and the Kingdom, teaching the view here advocated. The subject is "salvation" ( verse 33 ). The Lord's reply to His questioner emphasises a fundamental truth of Scripture, "This is the Day of Salvation." A door is shut and people plead for admission to late. The Day of Salvation is over. What happens then? There is Judgement. The lost are cast to their doom. Then the Kingdom appears whose inhabitants are the righteous of ancient Israel and the great gathering of Gentiles from the north, south, east and west. Note our Lord's teaching; when the door of the Day of Salvation is closed, only doom follows. The delusion of the dispensationalist that when the Day of Grace ends there will be another Day of Salvation via Jewish Remnant evangelists ( perhaps even greater than this present age ) finds no place in the words of the Saviour. Note too, that here is no millennial Kingdom that precedes the judgement of sinners, but only a Kingdom that FOLLOWS their doom.

The Days Of Noah: The Days Of Lot

Luke 17:22-37. 

What did our Lord believe as to the character of His Return? Was it to be a two-phased event? Was there to be a great era of salvation after He had come for His People? We have already given the answer a score of times, but here is a passage that should settle the matter once and for all. In verses 26-28, our Lord indicates that the days preceding His Return will witness a world identical in character with the world before the Flood, and the cities of the plain before the great catastrophe engulfed them. Verses 27, 28 and 29 describe the exact nature of His Coming; note carefully our Lord's words.
  • "UNTIL THE DAY THAT NOAH ENTERED INTO THE ARK, and the flood came and DESTROYED THEM ALL." 
  • "The same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and DESTROYED THEM ALL." 
  • "EVEN THUS SHALL IT BE in the Day when the Son of Man is revealed."
If, in the light of these statements of our Lord, men can still talk about a two-phased Coming and a millennial Kingdom, then words have ceased to have any intelligible meaning. To say our Lord held these ideas is totally inconceivable in the face of this language. No dispensationalist would talk like this. He would be accused by his fellows of getting his terms and exegesis all mixed up. In fact, he would probably be excommunicated if he belonged to certain fellowships. But there was no confusion with our Lord. It is His constant testimony; and it is the unbroken witness of every N.T. voice. As the judgement of the Flood sealed the irretrievable doom of all the ungodly, whilst the righteous were secure; and as the Lord delivered just Lot on the very day that the fire engulfed the ungodly, SO IT WILL BE AGAIN. In the great Day of His Revelation, His redeemed people be gathered to eternal safety and peace, whilst the ungodly shall perish in the fearful judgement that shall wrap the world in flames.

The Olivet Discourse

Luke 21. 

This has been covered already. All that needs to be referred to is the closing passage in Luke's account. It consists of our Lord's warning to His followers of the menace of both the prosperity and adversity of the world ( verse 34 ), "lest that Day come upon you unawares". Note that it is one day, not several days. It is the same for godly and ungodly, for, says our Lord, "as a snare shall it come on ALL THEM THAT DWELL ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH" ( verse 35 ). This Great Day of His Advent bursts simultaneously upon all mankind, bringing the awful Day of His wrath. But believers who watch for the Saviour "escape all these things", not because they have been raptured to heaven seven years earlier, but because they have been "accounted worthy to stand before the Son of Man". It concurs with all we have so far considered, that, before the judgement falls on the wicked, the righteous are gathered home.

The Apostles And The Kingdom

Luke 22:28-30.

"I appoint unto you a Kingdom as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and drink at My Table in My Kingdom, and sit on twelve thrones judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel." Dispensationalists and pre-millennialists contend for a literal interpretation of this passage. We reject such as absurdly impossible, and contend for the interpretation that shows the reward of the Master's servants in His Kingdom consummated in the eternal world. Our grounds are as follows:



1. The whole language is highly figurative—"eat and drink at My Table" is hardly literal. Surely, no Futurist would argue for that. How can men in glorified bodies, who have been "with Christ" for nearly two millenniums, descend to physical feasting on a literal earth? Obviously, the words are a figure of the unending bliss that shall be the lot of His servants in another world. Likewise we conclude that the other part of the promise is figurative of the kingly reward that shall he the portion of the apostles in the completed Israel of God.

2. Our previous considerations have shown conclusively that the only Kingdom that follows this age is the eternal one. This Scripture must he seen in the light of all the others, e.g. at end of this age the righteous shine forth in the Kingdom of their Father ( Matthew 13 ).

3. Of the apostles to whom these words were addressed, two subsequently wrote letters to their fellow, Christians. In these they spoke of the joys and rewards they were looking forward to "according to His Promise". Peter wrote two letters, and John three, plus Revelation. If a kingly position in an earthly Israelitish Kingdom was to be their reward, we would find it referred to, and probably fully expounded in these writings. What do we find? Not a single word! On the contrary, their whole hope is of the presence and glory of Christ in the eternal Kingdom. Listen to what they say; first hear Peter:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which, according to His abundant mercy bath begotten us again to a living Hope, TO AN INHERITANCE INCORRUPTIBLE, AND UNDEFILED AND THAT FADETH NOT AWAY, RESERVED IN HEAVEN" ( 1 Peter 1:3 ). This cannot be a millennium; that corrupts, is defiled, and fades away.

Hear him again. Was he looking for a throne in an earthly Jerusalem? Nay, rather something infinitely greater: "Nevertheless we, according to His Promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).

And John: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall he like Him" (1 John 3:2). "Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own Blood, and bath made us KINGS AND PRIESTS UNTO GOD. Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him" (Revelation 1:5-7).

From these we conclude that the apostles placed no such interpretation on our Lord's words as pre-millennialists give them. And we feel safer with the men who knew.

4. The idea of reigning in a Kingdom touched with sin and mortality is repugnant to the whole of the N.T., AND EVEN TO DISPENSATIONALISTS' OWN CONTENTIONS. We are told the millennium is the time of Israel's exaltation; the Church has a higher heritage, even a heavenly glory. But the apostles are members of the Church, not an earthly Israel. The whole of the N.T. testifies that "their reward is in heaven". Then what have they to do with an alleged lower order? We prefer to believe that the Israel where they reign with Christ is THE ONLY ONE THEY EVER IDENTIFIED THEMSELVES WITH AFTER PENTECOST, viz., the Israel of the New Covenant.

For further proof that the apostles understood our Lord's words to refer to the new heaven and earth, see comment on 2 Peter 3:13.

The Gospel Of John

John's Gospel is not marked by much eschatological teaching. His avowed purpose, as expressed in chapter 20 verse 31, did not call for it. Hence the omission of large parts like the parables and Olivet discourse. Nevertheless, as the consummating happenings in God's programme are inseparably linked with the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, there are a number of tremendously important statements. We have already dealt with Kingdom teaching in this Gospel, and its shattering blow to the dispensational theory. "The King of Israel" of 1:49 was none other than "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world". And the kingdom of God was via "the Lifted-up Son" and "New Birth". In chapter 4 we find the Messiah ( verse 25 ) Who, in Matthew goes only to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel", going out to find one of these "lost sheep" among the Samaritans, and, through her finding many more ( verse 41 ). We are introduced into the significant phrase ( repeated later ) "the hour cometh and now is". A new era was being born, and the old was passing away. Its mark was "neither in Jerusalem … but in spirit and in truth". To us the meaning is clear. The day of the earthly, localised and literal was past. God's purpose henceforth had no geographical limitations. The ultimate for His People was, not a millennium, but "fruit unto eternal life".

We turn now to some pregnant statements.

John 5:25-29.

"The hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live…

…The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation."

We cannot over-emphasise the importance of this passage. It is striking as it sets thoughts in pairs. We read of two great hours, one "now is", the other "coming"; two great voices; two kinds of "dead"; two "risings of the dead", and two authoritative works of the Son of God – to give life to execute Judgement. We shall have no difficulty in showing that these two contrasting lines of utterance are identified with the two great periods of human existence as stated again and again in the N.T., viz. "this age" and "the age to come". And, as the "age to come" involved in this passage is without any question the eternal age, this Scripture is a powerful testimony against millennialism. Look again at these "pairs". " First, the two "great hours", One, "coming and now is" is indisputably the era introduced by "the hour" of the first advent of the Lord Jesus. The other "hour" is when "the graves" give up their dead. It is the resurrection, and out Lord affirms there is only one such hour. The two "hours" of pre-millennialism are figments of human imagination.

Then consider the "two voices". The first, which the Lord assured us was speaking then, was the voice of the Son of God calling men to "life". It is the complement of verse 24, and those who hear pass "from death unto life". The second voice is in the future; it is the awful voice that calls forth all that are in the graves to the Judgement of God. Notice whom it calls forth in that "one hour". "the good", and "the evil". No thousand years separates them, and in that same "hour" they both receive their appointed portion. Again the perfect harmony of the Scriptures. Notice than the two classes of "dead". In verse 25, those who are spiritually dead, now in this age; but in verse 28, the physically dead, "those in the graves". Likewise they experience two resurrections, the first to the present possession of everlasting life, and the second to the Judgement Bar of God where the eternal destiny of men is allotted. As we shall have much more to say about this in connection with a later Scripture, we leave it there; but we are sure the keen reader will see the truth of our Lord's words, and their conclusive testimony on a vital issue in the millennial controversy. In fact, we are bold to say that had men carefully considered this statement of our Lord, the whole business would never have arisen; the millennium would never have been heard of. We trust to offer conclusive proof of this later on ( has it not been offered already? ). finally note in this passage our Lord's two offices. The first is "to give life". This is stated twice, in verses 21 and 26. It refers to the first "raising", i.e., to present spiritual life. Secondly, "to execute judgement". This also is stated twice, in verses 22 and 27. Once again we see millennialism completely excluded. In this age of the Gospel our Lord is the Giver of Life. But with its close He assumes His awful office of Judge, and, as verses 27 and 28 show, all mankind appears before His Bar. A millennium is excluded.

The Last Day

This significant phrase is used several times by the Lord in connection with the resurrection. We find it four times in John 6:39, 40, 44 and 54. Again, it is used by Martha in exactly the same way in 11:24.

Once more, in the plain, obvious meaning of the words we have an insuperable barrier to pre-millennialism. Our Lord's words are not merely difficult for that school to interpret; they are fatal to their scheme. In each of these verses the Lord is speaking of the resurrection of the Just, and declares it will take place "at the last Day". To His Jewish hearers, the meaning would be crystal clear because of two things. First, they understand from their prophetic Scriptures ( e.g. Isaiah 25; Hosea 13:14 and Daniel 12 ) that the Great Day of Israel's final deliverance and Messiah's Glorious Appearing would be ushered in by the resurrection of the dead. Second, as Alexander Reese points out, quoting from Plummer, "the Jews divided time into two ages, the Messianic Age and that which preceded it. This was a fundamental idea in Jewish eschatology, and it was adopted by our Lord and His apostles." ( Approaching Advent, p. 53 ) that is true, and our Lord adopted it simply because it was true. But Reese was a pre-millennialist, though violently opposed to dispensationalism; so he tries to argue that the future age is that of the millennium, with its leaven of sin and death. But such an idea is foreign to the O.T. conception of the Messianic Kingdom, as will be more clearly shown in a later section. The Kingdom was to be an everlasting one, where death was no more and no unclean thing could enter. It was a pity Reese could not see the force of his subsequent arguments, wherein he shows the identity of Paul with our Lord, by the former's use of the phrase "this age and the age to come". For "the age to come" of Paul was definitely the eternal age wherein all God's purposes are to be realised. And so it is with our Lord; the Last Day is THE LAST DAY, and nothing less. If it refers solely to a resurrection of believers prior to a Kingdom on earth which is to last for 1000 years and then be followed by the LAST Great Assize ( even if this should be only for the unregenerate ) then by no stretch of imagination can it be intelligently called THE LAST DAY. It might be THE LAST-but-ONE, but it is certainly not the Last Day. We are certain that every reader who approaches this Scripture with an open mind having no theory to advocate, and no long-held tradition to defend at all costs, must see that in this pregnant phrase our Lord taught that the day of the resurrection of His People COINCIDES WITH THE LAST DAY OF TIME, and is followed by the eternal age. The writer has been amused times without number at Gospel meetings and Christian rallies, at the blissful inconsistency of the folk against whose doctrines with work is directed.


Hear them sing with Pentecostal enthusiasm,

"When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound
And Time shall he no more."

Then, so often, follows a message in which the preacher informs us that after the Trumpet has sounded Time will go on at least for another 1,000 years; and all the people say "Amen!"

But we are certain the old hymn is correct. The Trumpet does bring the end of Time, for it sounds AT THE LAST DAY.

What a mix-up the dispensationalist is in here. Until recent years the followers of Darby agreed that the resurrection of Israel's righteous dead occurred at the same time occurred at the same time as the resurrection of the Church. But this presented inescapable difficulties which shattered their theories. Present day advocates have seen this, so they have conveniently adjusted the theory to meet the situation. They now teach that Israel's righteous dead are not "in Christ" and so are raised at a later date, probably at the close of that wonderful era which solves so many problems, "The Great Tribulation". What delicate problems, however, are posed by this evasion. Take, for example the man involved in the last quoted Scripture, Lazarus. He had died during the Israel Age". His appointed lot ( dispensationally speaking ) was this "end-of-the-tribulation resurrection". But he was raised and, as far as we know, survived into the "Church Age". So he now gets transferred to the pre-tribulation resurrection. And what about others? It is quite feasible that there were others who followed the Lord during the earlier part of His ministry, but died before Pentecost. So they never became "Church saints". Yet the Lord had said He would "raise them up at the Last Day". Which "Last Day" would they qualify for? The whole business is so absurd, that is it a relief to return to the sober truth already considered. We embrace the sublime faith of Martha and believe that our brethren of faith of every age will rise AT THE LAST DAY. And the location of that Day is infallibly settled by the majestic answering word of the Master, "I am the Resurrection." It is when He appears.

There remains but one objection to meet. The millennialists might argue that our Lord refers only to the resurrection of believers; so THE LAST DAY is a term applicable only to the Last Day of this age. But this subterfuge is shattered by another Scripture. Whilst the ones already quoted deal only with believers ( the subject matter of our Lord's discourse being His work for those whom the Father had given Him ), there is another use of the term in John's Gospel which is decisive. Dealing with the ungodly our Lord says, ."He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth Him; the Word that I have spoken the same shall judge him AT THE LAST DAY." ( 12:48 )

That is the end of pre-millennialism and dispensationalism. Alexander Reese, so clear and convincing when he deals with dispensational error, flounders in uncertainty when trying to bolster up pre-millennialism. In the section dealing with the Last Day, he omits this last-quoted Scripture, but makes dubious recognition of it in a foot-note. His remark is unintelligible: "The expression 'Last Day' occurs again in John 12:48, but it is of significance that nothing is said of resurrection. It refers to the generation of unbelievers who survive the Advent, which is viewed as near." ( Approaching Advent, p. 53 )

This is sheer imagination, and the weakest thing in Reese's valuable book. There is nothing in the text or context about "the Advent viewed as near"; nothing about this company of unregenerates who "survive the Advent". And, as for Reese's assertion that nothing is said about resurrection, he is guilty of the very thing he condemns in dispensationalists—argument simply from omission. In any case, how does he imagine there will be a judgement ( the subject of the text ) without a resurrection? No! setting aside all theories we have the clear statement of the Lord that believers would be raised at THE LAST DAY, and Christ-rejecters will come to Judgement AT THE LAST DAY. In other words, when our Lord spoke of THE LAST DAY, that is exactly what He meant. It is the day that ends Time, and ushers in Eternity. Why is it pre-millennialists like Reese cannot see it? Simply because their theories will not allow them to.
John 14:2, 3.

"In My Father's House are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you … I will come again and receive you unto Myself."

These are the only words in John's Gospel that actually state the Second Advent; and in these sublimely tender words of the Saviour, the comfort of His People throughout the centuries, there is enough to refute the millennial idea. Simply and clearly He tells us that He has gone to the Father's House to prepare a place for His People. Their place is THERE, not in a Kingdom on this earth. He is coming again to receive us "unto Himself". What for? To bring us to earth to reign for a millennium? No! "That where I am there ye may be also." He is in heaven, the Father's House, and it is to that eternal abode He will gather His People. Thus shall they be "forever with the Lord". The sweet heavenly music of the passage is unbroken by any discordant notes of a doubtful millennium.

"My Father's House" is surely identical with "My Father's Kingdom". And we have already seen from Matthew 26:29 that the communion service finds its grand consummation in "My Father's Kingdom". This is at the coming of the Lord Jesus—the very same coming referred to in John 14. All this is shattering to pre-millennialism, but very comforting to those who delight in the sweet unity of the Gospel writers.

Summary Of Our Lord's Teaching

Having completed the examination of the teaching of our Lord during His earthly ministry, we feel sure the issue has been made perfectly clear. We have seen that the Advent and its vast attendant happenings were no minor part of that ministry. Rather, that Day was the grand climax to which a large part of His utterances were directed. He sets it before His hearers in a manner calculated to illumine the mind and solemnise the heart. We have seen that here are no darkly-veiled mysteries, but an embracive, detailed setting forth of the events connected with the Great Consummation, in language so clear and plain that "the wayfaring man need not err therein'. To suggest that our Lord would speak otherwise betokens lack of both wisdom and reverence.

What, then, have we discovered? If we adopt a dispensationalist attitude and look for "significant omissions", the result of our labour is clear. There is no statement of a "pre-tribulation Rapture", no word about a "two-phased Coming", no sentence about distinguishing between the "coming of the Lord" and the "coming of tile Son of Man", no announcement of a series of resurrections and judgements, no mention of an earthly Throne of David, no pointing to a thousand years' reign on earth, with a further Satanic outbreak; in fact, NOTHING AT ALL ABOUT THE VERY THINGS DISPENSATIONALISTS ARE FOREVER TALKING ABOUT. We put the obvious question: "If all these things, which form the marrow and substance of Futurism, are part of the Doctrine of Christ, why is it they are nowhere to be found in a plain reading of the Master's words?" Can it be because they are, after all only the innovations of mistaken men?

When we look at the positive side, the results are just as clear, and the conclusions equally destructive to the 19th Century prophetic theories. They can be summarised as follows:

There are only two Ages from the time of Messiah's Advent, "this age" and "the age to come"; The end of "this age" is accompanied by the severance of the righteous and the wicked to their eternal portion ( e.g. Matthew 13 ); The "age to come" is the age of "ever- lasting life", where there is no marriage, sin or death ( Luke 20:36 ), but the "righteous shine forth in the Kingdom of their Father" ( Matthew 13 ); The "end of the age" is attended by "The judgement", "The Throne of His Glory", and "the furnace of fire"; It is, indeed, "The Last Day" of Time for both saint and sinner; The only event. set before Christians, for which they are to watch is the Son of Man appearing in His Glory; There is but one appearing when He comes in the threefold glory of Himself, His Father and the holy angels; this Appearing will be as the Flood of Noah and the Sodom Judgement, bringing destruction to all the ungodly, but deliverance to the saved; There is only one physical resurrection of "all that are in the graves", only one Judgement, and only one future Kingdom – the Kingdom in which O.T. saints and the redeemed from north, south, east and west enjoy everlasting bliss, "eating at His table" and reigning on thrones; From this Kingdom, every evil thing has been forever banished.

Such then, are the teachings of the Lord Jesus. There is no room in them for millennialism of any kind. It was the unanswerable challenge of this teaching that shattered the writer's traditional belief in the eschatology of Brethrenism, and showed an earthly millennium to be a useless mirage. We have pleasure in presenting the same challenge to the reader. All we ask is, that he should honestly endeavour to divest his mind of the theories he has been taught for years regarding the Coming of the Lord, and then come simply to the reading of the four Gospels. Let him listen to the Beloved Master; examine all He said on this momentous subject. We are confident that not one in ten thousand would ever discern there the intricate system of Comings, resurrections, judgements and Kingdoms which adorn the Temple of dispensationalism. This temple has been reared upon ideas as mistaken as filled the minds of the apostles in the Holy Mount; as for us, the voice from Heaven speaks once again: "This is My Beloved Son; hear ye Him."
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