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GOD’S WORD AND THE POSTMILLENNIAL HOPE

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  July 24, 2012 — 10 Comments

Postmillennialism is an eschatology of The Book. Postmillennialism depends for its proof, not on newspaper reports, contemporary statistics, and psychological states, but upon on the Word of God. Elsewhere on this site I defend postmillennialism from within Scripture. Sadly too many will not listen to the postmillennial argument from Scripture, but will point to troubles in the world today to discount its hope-filled optimism. But we cannot discount God’s word.

God’s word is creative, providential, prophetic, and restorative. History truly genuinely “his story.” God creates the world and man for his own glory (Ro 11:36; Rev 4:11).

The Scriptures teach that God controls history by the exercise of his almighty wisdom and power. In fact, the whole idea of predictive prophecy depends on this view of history, in that for any prophesied events to occur requires that all preceding and concurrently related events throughout the world and history must fall into place according to plan. Almost always (Christ and John Baptist being notable exceptions) the individual involved in the fulfillment of prophecy is unaware that his free action is fulfilling God’s prophecy.

Our sovereign God’s word is creatively constructive. That is, it brings reality into existence (Ge 1; Heb 11:3) and it directs all historical processes (Isa 46:10; 55:11). This two-fold reality of the creative and providential word links the authority of God’s word into human experience. The psalmist notes that the word of the Lord both sovereignly makes and providentially governs the heavens and the earth (Ps 33:6–11). He also notes that it is his creative and sovereign word that reveals to man righteousness and justice: “For the word of the Lord is upright; and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice” (Ps 33:4–5a). God’s word/command is the standard of right and wrong obligations, as it was in the garden of Eden.

Even Adam’s unfallen nature was not an ultimate moral standard, but a derivative one. As Cornelius Van Til teaches, Adam was receptively reconstructive of God’s word, rather than creatively constructive. He was to think God’s thoughts after him on the creaturely level. Even in his unfallen state, he knew that he was created to live by supernatural, positive revelation, not by autonomous self-direction. The method by which Adam knows good and evil is by obedience to God’s revelatory word.

Thus, as evangelical Christians we must hold firmly to the truthfulness of God’s word. We need to be like the first grade girl dealing with her unbelieving teacher: The little girl was in art period drawing a picture of Jonah being swallowed by a whale. Her teacher looked at the drawing and said: “Jonah could not have been swallowed by a whale and lived, it would have killed him.” The little girl insisted he was swallowed by a whale because the Bible said so. But the teacher gently kept informing the little girl of her error. In exasperation the little girl finally complained: “When I get to heaven I am going to ask Jonah if he was swallowed by a whale.” The teacher responded: “What if Jonah didn’t go to heaven?” The little girl quickly replied: “Well then you can ask him.”

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 80 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

10 responses to GOD’S WORD AND THE POSTMILLENNIAL HOPE

  1. William Groeneveld July 24, 2012 at 6:30

    I have read with interest your previous articles on “dispensationalists.” In one article you mentioned what you called “scholarly” and “populist” dispensationalists. What in your thinking would be the criteria of a “scholarly” dispensationalist? Thank you

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 24, 2012 at 6:30

      Basically I would include the following few elements of scholarship: (1) Footnotes, (2) use of scholarly sources (not newspapers, fellow ministers, etc.), (3) recognition by noted scholars that the one writing is accepted as a scholar, and (4) reasoned interaction with opposing viewpoints.

      • Hi Ken,

        Want to know from you if its ok to use the “de jure”/ “de facto” principle in our defense/understanding of the Postmil hope. De facto is what people see & experience today in the world and what’s out there. De jure is what the Bible says about history -past,present & future- that it is being arranged by God today to come under Christ’s footstool, albeit gradually through the advancement of the Gospel.

      • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 25, 2012 at 6:30

        To be honest with you, I am not sure I would use that terminology. It seems to say that God has established his kingdom (de jure), but this is what you get as a result (de facto). I prefer the widely used terminology: Now / Not Yet. That is, the kingdom is here now, but not yet in its fullness.

      • Hi Ken,

        Thanks for the reply….I’m listening & learning from you….

  2. Thank you for this article. Loved the ending.
    Can you discuss God’s ability to know all/free will? This is a hard concept to grasp.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 24, 2012 at 6:30

      Several biblical doctrines are intellectually challenging, such as the Trinity, eternal Hell, and others. My book Predestination Made Easy deals with your question.

  3. Dr Gentry,

    What would you say to someone who says that there can be no victory in postmillennialism because 2 Tim 3:12 says that all who desire to lead a Godly life will be persecuted?

    Thanks

  4. Leandro Scaldaferri September 11, 2013 at 6:30

    Postmillennialism depends for its proof, not on newspaper reports, contemporary statistics, and psychological states, but upon on the Word of God. This is a great commentary.

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