World Conquest

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42. So the Christian faith is a religion of world conquest?

That is exactly right.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus Christ has not commanded His church to do the impossible. And we should note that we are not commanded to give everyone in the world a chance to be saved — we are told to disciple the nations. This is the earthly task of the church, and nothing else.

Paul makes the same point at the end of Romans.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith — to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen (Rom. 16:25-27).

The reason the gospel has now been revealed to the nations is so that they would come to the obedience of the faith. This is what God commands them to do. The church is commanded to preach it, the world is commanded to believe it, and the church is commanded to preach it until the world believes it.

The same thing is seen in the first part of Acts.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. ‘And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ (Acts 3:19-25).

This passage contains both a command and a promise. The command involves individual accountability for sin — “repent and be converted.” We see that the engine which drives the postmillennial hope is not some Pollyanna view of human nature, but rather confidence in the efficacy of the gospel to overcome depraved human nature.

Notice that we are told here what the reference point is for all the Old Testament prophecies; it is “these days.” We are told that Moses prophesied this gospel era, and all the prophets, from Samuel on, were talking about this same thing.

Again, we can see this blessing in the promise given to Abraham. In him all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith (Rom 4:13). We see here not only that a promise was given to Abraham, but also that it was to be appropriated by faith. The faith will be exercised by Abraham and his seed. The faith will not only be seen in the inheritance of the world, but it will also be seen in the righteousness that is by faith.

43. But wasn’t the book of Revelation written after the destruction of Jerusalem?

Probably not. The two choices are an early date (pre 70 A.D.) and a late date (post 70 AD, probably in the 90’s). The evidence for a late date is completely external to the book — i.e. it depends upon on ambiguous reference in the writing of the early church father Irenaeus. There are many fine scholars who hold to both positions. The position held here is that Revelation was written prior to 70 A.D.

44. Does Revelation talk about the end of the world?

No. In either case, whether it was written early or late, Revelation teaches that its predicted events were to come to pass shortly thereafter. See, for example, Rev. 1:1,3; 3:11; 22:7,12, 20.

45. But what about the Beast?

The beast of Revelation is the Roman Empire. In Revelation 17:10-11, it says:

Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.

And also the number of the beast in Rev. 13:18:

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

Rome was built on seven hills. Nero was the sixth king from Julius. Nero’s name in Hebrew (Nero Caesar) adds up to 666. John knew who 666 was, and expected the more clever of his first century readers to be able to figure it out. He did not have Napoleon, Gorbachev, or Henry Kissenger in mind.

46. What about the New Jerusalem?

The New Jerusalem is clearly a symbol for the Christian church. This is a symbol which exists even outside the book of Revelation. Consider Galatians 4:23-27:

But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar — for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children — but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.”

The same thing is taught in Hebrews 12:22-24:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

This helps us to understand the symbolism of Revelation 21:9-10:

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God . . .

The Christian church is the bride of Christ the wife of the Lamb. The Christian church is the New Jerusalem. All Christians are a living stones in this great City and Temple.

47. What is nature of apocalyptic writing?

It is important to emphasize that Revelation is not history written in advance. It is a series of symbols designed to show the true significance behind historical events. It is not a portrayal of those events themselves.

48. So how would you summarize postmillennialism?

It is biblical. We are to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God — prophecy included.

It is optimistic about the future of world missions because the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning at the right hand of the Father, and He will remain there until all His enemies are brought beneath His feet through the preaching of the gospel.

It is realistic. Man is in rebellion against God, and nothing but the gospel can subdue him.

It is covenantal. God has had the same purpose from the beginning of history. He revealed His purpose plainly to Abraham, and before it is all done, our world will be populated with sons of Abraham.


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