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POSTMILLENNIALISM IN CREATION

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  Leave a comment

We are about ready to enter a New Year. For the postmillennialist this promises new hope, in that we do not feel we are getting closer to Armageddon and Antichrist but closer to the realization of the postmillennial victory. As we enter the New Year we should reflect on God’s purpose for history as we discover it in the Creation narrative.

When considering the eschatological outcome of history, we should look back to the foundational inception of history. Why did God create the world? What was His holy design for His creature man? When answered from Scripture, these and related questions clearly point to the postmillennial hope.

Creation Purpose

Let us notice first that it is inarguably the case that God created the universe for His glory and delight. As it originally came from His hands it was all “very good” (Gen. 1:31). In Romans 11:36 Paul exults: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Thus, the angelic host of heaven affirm in Revelation 4:11:

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Indeed, due to His creative right, the Scripture affirms dozens of times what the psalmist declared in Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

Why is it so difficult to think that God’s creative intent will not be experienced in the course of history which He created? Perhaps “the best laid plans of men often go astray,” but surely this is not the case with God!

Why would God give up on history, which He began as “very good”? Does not God “make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” Does He not declare: “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa. 46:10)? If God created the universe for His own glory, He will get the glory!

Man’s Creation

Second, God created man in His image. Genesis 1:26 reads: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”

Here we are not left to guess what is meant by “the image of God.” In the very revelational setting wherein we learn of the divine determination to create man “in His image,” we also learn that man is given “rule over all the earth.” A fundamental aspect of man’s reflective image of God is this: He is to exercise righteous rulership, holy dominion in the earth. It was God’s design for man to subdue the earth. And surely the presumption here in the “very good” creation is that man is to rule as the very image of God, and thus in holiness and righteousness. God intended His creation to be in subjection to righteous man, who is in tern subject to the Lord God.

The God-ordained impulse in man is to create culture; to develop every area of life to the glory of God. We see the dominion impulse operative even in the post-fall world, when Cain builds a city, when Jabal becomes a cattle-farmer. When Jubal creates the harp and flute and develops music. When Tubal-Cain develops metallurgy (Gen. 4:20-22). And the creation of culture is exactly what postmillennialism anticipates—in the very temporal sphere in which man was placed and given the dominion mandate! Postmillennialism expects God’s created order to bring glory to Him through the righteous development of culture.

Man’s Fall

Third, in fact, immediately after the Fall of Adam (which I am convinced took place within days of the end of the creation week), the Lord God revealed His plan for redemption. This redemptive plan works hand-in-glove with His creational purpose regarding God’s image, man. Where redemption flows, it restores man to a rightful approach to life, which is to bring glory to God in all things.

The protoevangelium found in Genesis 3:15 reads: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Here we have the promise that despite struggle in history between Christ and Satan, Christ will win the victory—not Satan.

Surely the victory will be won in history, where the struggle takes place! We see the fulfillment of this in legal principle in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ: “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). In point of fact, Paul draws upon the language of the protoevangelium when he speaks of the beginnings of that victory in history. The victory won through Christ, will be experienced through Christ’s body, the Church. Romans 16:20 reads: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

The language of Genesis 3:15 is of the total subjugation of Satan. It is in keeping with the original good intent of God in creation. God created the world to bring glory to Himself. He created man to reflect His sovereign dominion. And He redeems man to restore him to righteous dominion over the world and Satan.

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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 100 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.

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