If now, as we have indicated elsewhere, the miracles were signs of the sole kingship of the living and exalted Christ, and pledges of His coming again to subdue all things to Himself, it is not strange that as the substance of these truths faded from men’s minds, their sign should have gradually disappeared also…
It is not altogether strange, therefore, that when the Church forgot that “her citizenship is in heaven,” and began to establish herself in luxury and splendor on earth, she should cease to exhibit the supernatural gifts of heaven. And there is a grim irony in the fact, that after death and the grave had gradually become the goal of the Christian’s hope, instead of the personal coming of Christ, then we should begin to find miracles of healing alleged by means of contact with the bones of dead saints and martyrs, instead of miracles of healing through the prayer of faith offered to the living Christ. Such is the change introduced by the age of Constantine.
(A.J. GORDON Ministry of Healing)
Real, true-hearted and sincere disciples are afraid of [miracles] and inclined to push away with quick impatience, any mention of their possible occurrence in our time… Every truth needs the steadiness and equipoise [balance] which come from its being bound into harmony with all other truths.
If the Church, by her neglect or denial of any real doctrine of the faith, thrusts that doctrine out into isolation and contempt, thus compelling it to become the property of some special sect, she need not be surprised if it loses its balance. She has deprived it of the conserving influence which comes from contact and communion with other and central doctrines and so doomed it inevitably to irregular manifestations.
If the whole body of Christians had been faithful to such truths as that of the Second Coming of Christ, and scriptural holiness, for example, we probably should never have heard of the fanaticism of Adventism and perfectionism. Let a fragment be thrown off from the most orderly planet and it will whirl and rush through space till it is heated hot by its own momentum.
(A. J. Gordon, Ministry of Healing, 1882)
The Bible says, “These signs will follow them that believe.” And yet here is a Church holding this faith and unfollowed by these signs. The ready conclusion from this fact certainly is that the Bible is not true; and we might have expected that this argument would be much used by those who deny the Bible to be a divine revelation. But it has not been much urged; and why? The subtle enemy of man [Satan] saw that there was more danger to his own kingdom from the use of this weapon than advantage; it might have led to a result very different from that of disproving the divine authority of the Bible.
There is another conclusion to which it might have led, and that is a lack of faith in the Church. And thus the pressing of this argument might have awakened the Church to a sense of her true condition; and this Satan fears more than the Bible, knowing that a church asleep is the most powerful weapon against the world, much more powerful than any infidel arguments.
(Brazen Serpent, Thomas Erskine, 1788-1870)
There is a great scene from My Fair Lady where the main character, Eliza Doolittle, is being pursued by a young man, who is a bit tentative in showing his feelings for her. Rather than show her how he feels (by “holding her tight”!) he uses words. Here is Eliza’s song “Show Me” in response:
Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
First from him, now from you!
Don’t talk of stars burning above;
If you’re in love, Show me!
Tell me no dreams Filled with desire.
If you’re on fire, Show me!
In the same way I feel that we in the Western church use a lot of “words” in the declaring of the Gospel when, clearing, we see in the New Testament from the examples of Jesus and the early apostles, that they used “words and power”!
He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. (Mk 1:38-39)
But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)
And He sent them [the 12] out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. (Luke 9:2)
Really, you cannot divide the two: the Gospel meant a powerful mixture of “words” about the kingdom and “works” of power.
A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance movement, wrote a famous handbook on healing in 1888 called The Gospel of Healing. This was his first book of more than 100 that he later wrote. In The Gospel of Healing Simpson declares that we have no Biblical right to preach the Gospel today without “signs following”. I have enclosed a long quote for our mutual benefit.
These healings were not occasional, but continual; not exceptional, but universal. He never turned any away. “He healed all that were sick.” “As many as touched Him were made perfectly whole.” He is still the same.
This was the work of Jesus’ life and God would not have us forget that He spent more than three years in deeds of power and love before He went up to that Cross to die. And we need that Living Christ quite as much as Christ Crucified….
What right have we to preach the one without the other? What right have we to hold back any part from the perishing world? What right have we to go to the unbelieving world and demand their acceptance of our message without these signs following? What right have we to explain their absence from our ministry by trying to eliminate them from God’s Word, or consign them to an obsolete past?
Christ promised the signs, and they followed as long as Christians continued to “believe” and expect them. By such “mighty signs and wonders” the Church was established in Jerusalem, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. The unbelief of the world needs them today as much as in the Apostolic times.
One of the great truths of the Bible is the “age of universal peace” on earth sandwiched between the Second Coming of Jesus and the descending and dwelling of God the Father on the new earth. When Jesus comes again to reign on this earth, He will “rule with a rod of iron” and abolish all “rule and power of the nations” that are not under His Lordship.
“He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” (I Cor 15)
If it takes Jesus 1000 years to get all His enemies under His feet that means that there must be multiple millions (if not billions) of them. But I thought the whole world would come under God’s glory “as the waters cover the sea!” We like to think that we will put ALL NATIONS under our feet through the power of the Gospel but it simply won’t happen! The book of Revelation declares that this reign will take 1000 years and then Christ will “deliver the Kingdom up to God” and the Father Himself will, once again, “dwell among men” on earth. (Rev 21:3)
Dear Fellow Believers, it won’t be until the millennium, the 1000 year reign of Christ, that these things will begin to happen on earth; THAT is the season of “swords beaten into plowshares” and we will “learn war no more”. Until that day you can expect that the world will do both, keep creating arms and train for war!
The common mistake (or should I say difficulty) for the church is not knowing when the Millennium is being spoken about in the Old Testament. Many Psalms speak to that age yet we cannot see it. Most of Isaiah is written about that age yet we barely discern it. We are like the confused men on the road to Emmaus, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!”
Beloved, IN THAT DAY, and that day only, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord”, “the wolf will dwell with the lamb”, “the loftiness of man will be humbled and the Lord alone will be exalted”… I could go on and on. See Isaiah, Habakkuk, Zechariah, Malachi, etc.
It is common (and popular) for committed Christians to say that “I am contending for that which is written about”. If in heaven there is worship 24/7, then I am contending for that on earth. If it is written that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess”, then I am contending for that in my city. If it is written that “no weapon formed against me shall stand” then I am contending for that in my life. The list, as you know, is endless. It is as long as there are believers on the earth!
My contention is that JESUS HIMSELF will bring all these spheres to their right place. When He comes we will “learn war no more”. Shall I busy myself now with getting the nations to lay down their arms? Shall I fight day and night for wars to cease? This is the problem. If I could use another imagery, should I believe and contend now, in my lifetime, for peace between the animals? Or for peace between humankind and the animals? After all that is promised from the Word.
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11: 6-9)
Shall I pray and dream and fight for a realization on earth, during my lifetime, when the “weaned child puts his hand on the viper’s den”?!? The question is HOW MUCH is my part, HOW MUCH the Gospel’s part and HOW MUCH is Jesus’ part?
- Do you believe that if we preach the Gospel in its absolute power and purity we shall see “the wolf dwell with the lamb”?
- We will see “the groaning of Creation” turned around in my backyard, my city and my county when we preach the gospel in its fullness?
- We will see Satan bound and cast into the abyss if we could just “once and for all” really believe and preach the gospel the way Jesus did?
To all these questions I answer that Jesus HIMSELF will bring them about. He is “the stone [that] was cut out of the mountain without hands”. Most Christians don’t really know or understand the powerful truths from Daniel, so they continue to swallow the purple “Kool-aid” of men and thus invalidating the WORD of God! (Mark 7:13)
Here is the verse in a small setting of its context (Dan 2). Can you read it here, slowly! It describes the Second Coming…
“You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34-35)
Jesus does not need humanity to help Him establish His kingdom throughout the whole earth when He comes the second time. Actually, of the that time period, He asked the pointed question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18)
Believers, far from helping, might find themselves faltering! There is nothing I could recommend to you more, my readers, than the 150 Chapters on the End Times put together by IHOP-KC. In this document you can read for yourself the 150 chapters that describe the Second Coming, Millennium and Eternity in its entire Biblical context and see what is really there.
Often, I believe, we are like the blind man who received a partial healing from Jesus: “I see men walking about like trees!” Jesus, in His love and graciousness, laid His hands again on the man and he “began to see everything clearly”!!
Jesus open our eyes as well!
The Bible uses many word pictures to give us a glimpse of hell:
- outer darkness Mtt 8
- a blazing furnace Mtt 13
- the fire of hell Mtt 18
- weeping and gnashing of teeth Mtt 24
The other day, while working out at the local fitness center, it became clear to me why hell is depicted as “outer darkness”, as I watched men and women, more than once, look at themselves in the mirror. This was beyond looking for the aspect of exercise… This was more of the “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life”. (I John 2:16)
“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” Proverbs 27:20
Hell will be outer darkness where you will neither see your own body or anyone else. It suggest loneliness and the additional pain of a life, while healthy, spent in vanity and lust.
To the man-on-the-street believer to speak of “postmillennialism” means next to nothing; like talking about taking a vacation trip to Saturn. Yet, its impact on the movement of world missions for over 200 years is untold. It has indeed worked like “leaven” and secretly mixed itself into the dough and infected the whole loaf. We cannot speak about missions today, anywhere in the world, without unknowingly promoting postmillennialism.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. (Gal 5:9)
In a nutshell postmillennialism is the belief that the world will be evangelized by a triumphant church and then Jesus will come again, to take up his throne in Jerusalem. It is an optimistic reading of the Bible to say the least. (Premillennialism, its counterpart, considered by many to be too pessimistic, believes that the world will grow more and more evil, like “in the days of Noah”, and Christ must come back to a world in chaos and conflict.)
For a more complete definition of postmillennialism I offer this from one of its adherents:
Postmillennialism looks for a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a glorious age of the church upon earth through the preaching of the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. It looks forward to all nations becoming Christian and living in peace with one another. It relates all prophecies to history and time. After the triumph of Christianity throughout the earth it looks for the Second Coming of the Lord. (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory)
Now I am sure you are thinking that “I don’t believe that all nations will become Christian” yet at the same time you have strong convictions that the world will end with a victorious Bride “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (Eph. 5:27) and that one day “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord” (Phil. 2:10) in your city, nation or continent.
You wholeheartedly believe in a generation that will “transform the nations”. Such optimistic book titles seem to you to fit right:
Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Mathison)
Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism (Bahnsen)
He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (Gentry)
As the Waters Covers the Sea
So what do you really believe? Are you optimistically waiting for that golden age, promised in the Old Testament when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14) “Jesus left us His Spirit and that is more than enough”; and that is as far as you have thought this issue through!
I suggest that you are part of the “whole loaf” that has been impacted by the leaven of postmillennialism. For starters, please note that the acknowledged “father of modern missions”, William Carey, was a postmillennialist. A little known fact yet undisputed.
William Carey (1761 – 1834) was an English Baptist missionary and minister and is, by all accounts, known as the “father of modern missions.” He was one of the founders of the Baptist Missionary Society, was a Calvinist and a postmillennialist. (Wikipedia)
Not only was Carey a postmillennialist, believing in a glorious golden age of the Gospel in all nations, he was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, pretty much anyone and everyone in the birthing of modern missions was one as well:
“Author Iain Murray (The Puritan Hope) has further demonstrated that the notable missionaries and mission leaders, Alexander Duff, David Livingstone, Henry Martyn and Henry Venn, were Calvinists and Postmillennialists. Murray notes that Postmillennial expectations can be heard in the addresses accompanying the founding of the London Missionary Society in 1795, the New York Missionary Society 1797 and the Glasgow Missionary Society in 1802. The same view influenced the Church Missionary Society in 1799. The London Missionary Society, an Anglican equivalent of Carey’s Baptist mission, expresses Calvinistic Postmillennialism in all its documents.” (Dr. Schirrmacher, “William Carey, Postmillennialism and the Theology of World Missions”)
Truth be told, it was EASIER to recruit for world missions if one’s theology included a large reaching Gospel impact, a great tree with its branches spreading over the whole world, where all nations are discipled, and all nations become Christian, so that Christ could return.
At this time, the prophetic parables of the kingdom of heaven (Mtt. 13) came into their postmillennialist focus. No longer was the mustard seed becoming a great tree with evil birds in its branches a symbol of corruption in the kingdom, it was now interpreted that the birds were believers in all the nations. Similarly, no longer was leaven an evil, rotting influence that created hypocrisy and false teaching, it now became the secret, viral influence of the Gospel reaching all nations.
Author Mark Shaw has confirmed this “shift in missions theology” on the continent of Africa:
At the heart of these evangelical revivals were three powerful convictions. The first was the centrality of the death of Christ for salvation. A second was the necessity of the new birth. The third was a new eschatology that envisioned the spread of Christianity around the world as a prelude to Christ’s personal return. (Mark R. Shaw, The Kingdom of God in Africa)
My advice is to start where Jesus started!
Do you see the trend? Do you see how a “new” interpretation came to fit one’s belief system? Do you know which side you are on? Have you made up your own theology through the years that is pretty much “created in your own image”?
My advice is to start where Jesus started! Don’t read a book on the subject. Don’t go to a conference about End Times and Eschatology. Go back to the beginning and read it again! Start with Genesis and read through until Revelation and see if your heart will “burn within you” as Truth impacts your soul. Let the Spirit of God translate and expound the passages for you. Come with an open mind and heart, free of any preconceived doctrines.
Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures… They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24: 27, 32)