Category Archives: Eschatology Historicism

Premillennial Doctrines Refuted

The Sola Scripturist:

C.I. Scofield

The so-called dispensationalist premillennial interpretation of Revelation, which in spite of being popular in modern evangelicalism has no provenance in the church, came about in the 19th century as a result of the teachings of Darby and Scofield. Its proponents may claim that it is a literal understanding of the text in contrast to what they perceive to be non-literal spiritualized approaches. …I believe we must distinguish a literalistic interpretation from a literal one. …I believe that dispensationalist premillennialism falls over in that it interprets Revelation literalistically…

Read more: http://solascripturist.ragstrad.co.uk/2017/03/premillennial-doctrines-refuted/

The 7 Churches Represent Churches, Not Ages (Revelation 1:11, 19)

Revelation 1:11:  Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Georges de La Tour 046“It has pleased the Lord to mention these seven, to send the book of Revelation to them, not to show the church in seven different periods, as being dealt with in the sequel, but to make them serve for the transmission of this book to other churches, and to strengthen them into seven witnesses.  It also serves to show that the Lord Jesus has His eye on His church after His ascension and is present among her, and as an example for all churches, to follow what is praised in these churches, and to refrain from that which is reproved in them, and to serve as an example of the acts of the Lord Jesus with the churches, which re thus set as these.  This is what was heard.”

Revelation 1:19:  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

Chandelier sept branches Cathédrale Viborg Domkirke Denmark“Some think that the seven letters are prophetic, and signify seven periods.  They, seeing that this verse destroys their opinion, try to bring these three so distinct matters to two, namely, to the signs and the explanation of the signs, whether of all that are included in Revelation, or of the first vision in this chapter.  But the text is clear and states threefold matters of threefold times.  Revelation clearly contains those threefold matters of threefold times  One had happened; the other, the state of the church, was present; the third would happen.  The fourth chapter starts with the words, Come up higher, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

“We say to the question presented above that the seven letters, seals, trumpets, and vials do not signify seven periods or determined time orders; that the letters are not even prophetic; that the other symbols do not represent times, but matters, which the church and the enemy of the church will subsequently meet.”

~Wilhelmus a Brakel, Not to be Ignored: Rev. Wilhelmus a Brakel’s Commentary on Revelation (McCarter Providential Enterprises LLC: 2016), pages 9, 15, and 18

The Letter To The Church At Ephesus (Revelation 1:19; 2:1-7)

Temple of Hadrian Ephesus

Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus

My notes on this sermon by Pastor Bill Mencarow, given on November 19, 2006. What follows is not a full transcript but a summary transcript/paraphrase of the salient points made regarding the interpretation of Revelation. Please listen to the entire sermon to get the full message as it was presented.


Revelation is about the spiritual battle of the church and the nations at war against her and how that is worked out in human history

Revelation 1:19: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

  • Geneva Bible: the Bible of Calvin and the Reformers. “The Apostle must write what he sees, adding nothing nor taking away anything.”
  • Verse 19 is a key verse, a time text
  • John had seen the first vision of verses 1-18
  • “Things which are” = things contemporary in John’s time, the condition of the 7 churches in chapters 2 and 3
  • “things which shall be hereafter” = chapter 4 to end of book; after John’s time

7 Churches:

  • About 10% of Revelation talks about the 7 churches
  • do not represent future successive ages as dispensationalists claim
  • addressed to real churches and have spiritual lessons for churches today

Ephesus

  • Large church in largest city in Asia Minor, population about 250,000
  • Rich city, trade city
  • Famous for Temple of Diana
  • Paul, Timothy, and John all pastored this church

Revelation 2:1:Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

  • “he” = Jesus; Christ is present with His church and watches over us
  • 7 candlesticks = 7 churches, give the light of the gospel to the world

Revelation 2:2:I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Revelation 2:3: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

  • Members of the church had labored to bring the Gospel to many, exercised the Dominion Covenant (taking possession of the world through the gospel for Jesus Christ)
  • Church did not tolerate evildoers in their midst, practised church discipline (cf. Acts 20)

Revelation 2:4:Nevertheless I havesomewhatagainst thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Revelation 2:5:Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

  • They had cooled off in their love for Christ and the brethren and consequently in their desire to bring the gospel to the world
  • Compare your present to your former state
  • Church is no longer in Ephesus; it was removed by Christ
  • If a church loses its first love, Christ will remove the light of the gospel from it – has happened to many churches/denominations in our time

Revelation 2:6: But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

  • Nicolaitans = the hippies of the time
  • Called themselves Christians but did whatever they wanted; marriage meant nothing to them

Revelation 2:7: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

  • “he that hath ear” = having a spiritual ear, have ears that have been opened by God
  • What is in the scriptures is spoken by the Spirit of God to all the churches
  • “tree of life” = Jesus; fruit = blessings of life and grace
  • We must fight against sin, the devil, the flesh, the world, our entire lives

Understanding Revelation (Revelation 1:1-7)

Book of Revelation Chapter 1-2 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)

Image: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing

My notes on this sermon by Pastor Bill Mencarow, given on October 29, 2006.  What follows is not a full transcript but a summary/paraphrase of the salient points made regarding the interpretation of Revelation. Please listen to the entire sermon to get the full message as it was presented.


  • Revelation is a letter to the 7 churches in Asia
  • James Durham calls Revelation “The Lord’s last will and testament to his church”
  • An Old Testament book, full of OT imagery. Not everything is meant to be taken literally but much is figurative
  • The Bible is its own dictionary; Scripture interprets Scripture

[Reviews content of last sermon]

Revelation 1:1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

  • This is a revelation, something revealed from heaven, ie. not from the mind of man
  • Comes from Jesus Christ, who received it from God the Father
  • Written for God’s servants; given to John, who gives it to us
  • “Jesus is the fulness of all revelation which he receives from the Father”
  • Christ does the Father’s will, has authority over angels, is Wisdom, etc.
  • “shortly come to pass” = a time signifier; will happen for certain and no one can stop the events
    • “shortly” in the Bible is used elsewhere to mean anything within a year, within two years, within 50 years, to the entire time between the first and second advents. The same is true of the term “at hand”
    • great minds of the church s/a James Durham, Matthew Poole, Ernst Henstenberg, Albert Barnes, etc. say “shortly” means “ready to start soon, but not to finish soon;” “the time of the beginning of the performance”
    • events did not begin and end in the first century (preterism), nor were they to begin thousands of years in the future (futurism); phrase has no meaning in idealist view and neither does “time is at hand” (v3)

Revelation 1:2: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

  • John is bearing record of everything he saw
  • two witnesses: Jesus Christ and John

Revelation 1:3: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

  • The Lord’s encouragement to use to read this book; a blessing to those who read and obey
  • possible that blessing is faith or more faith (faith comes by hearing…)

Revelation 1:4: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

  • vv. 4-6 are John’s benediction, his blessing in the name of God
  • churches are in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey)
  • churches were a presbytery (one in faith, doctrine, and worship); “presbytery” comes from Greek word meaning “elder”
  • 7 = completeness, spiritual perfection; the Lord is writing to all churches throughout history
  • 7 spirits = one spirit, the perfect spirit, the Holy Spirit; refers to his operations, which are infinite and perfect

Revelation 1:5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

  • John gives us several truths about Jesus
  • “first begotten” = there will be others that follow, that are raised from the dead
  • “he loved us…” = this is the will of God to His own people, not to the whole world. He loved us before we did anything, either right or wrong. We don’t have to earn our salvation contra what Arminians teach (see Romans 9:10)

Revelation 1:6: And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

  • We serve God as kings by exercising dominion over all creation, bringing all under the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • Jesus will return bodily when all the nations have been brought to Christ, when the world is Christianized
  • priests = have access to the holy of holies; veil was ripped in two when Jesus died; we can come to God directly through Christ
  • we as priests offer our bodies as a living sacrifice

Revelation 1:7: Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

  • he’ll come on the last day just as he went
  • anybody who rejects Jesus as their Savior and Lord is piercing him, nailing him to the cross
  • those who reject Jesus will experience eternal suffering as a result of their rejection

Did Protestants Once Know The Identity Of Antichrist?

Cruikshank_-_Old_Thirty_Nine

Here is a sermon by Rev. Stephen Hamilton examining the historic Protestant view of Antichrist:

Antichrist : The Pope? -The Historic Protestant View

In this sermon, Rev. Hamilton quotes many notable Protestants from over the centuries, all of whom held that the papacy is Antichrist.  Sadly, he also notes that modern-day Lutherans and Anglicans have once again united with Rome, agreeing that the Reformation was a mistake.  It is a sad time, indeed, to be a Protestant.

How to Approach the Book of Revelation

Book of Revelation Chapter 1-2 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)Image: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing

I recently went on Sermon Audio to check a sermon by Pastor WJ Mencarow and discovered that his account was temporarily deactivated. Since his sermon series on Revelation is the best sermon series I have ever heard on the topic, I thought it would be good to put some notes up on each sermon in case they become inaccessible again [note: this will take me a long time as I am extremely busy at the moment]. What follows is not a full transcript but a summary/paraphrase of the salient points made regarding the interpretation of Revelation. Please listen to the entire sermon to get the full message as it was presented.

Introduction to Revelation Part 1

(How to Approach the Book of Revelation)

WJ Mencarow

Revelation 1

October 22, 2006

  • A major confusion about Revelation is how much to take literally
  • John likely did not understood everything he saw – much was revealed centuries later
  • Chapter 22:10 – command not to seal up the book. Ignoring the book is sealing it. The book should be read, studied, preached on.
  • Revelation records what the risen Jesus says to the church. It’s his final words to us.
  • “Revelation is the only book of the Bible that begins and ends with a promise of blessing to those who study it.” — see 1:3. The blessing includes reading and hearing Revelation read aloud.
  • Acts 17:11 – Don’t just rely on experts to tell you what Revelation (or any scripture) means.

Historical Context:

  • Revelation is an Old Testament book – full of Old Testament imagery
  • Scripture interprets Scripture
  • 1:1 – the final time Jesus speaks to us through his word
  • 1:19 – what the book is about. “It’s about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in human history.” (as the risen Saviour). Jesus comes through events and through His Church.
  • Revelation tells about how Jesus “triumphs over every force of evil arrayed against His bride, the Church.”
  • Message: Jesus reigns.
  • Why written?: Per Junius – so the Church would not lose faith and be encouraged through all the tribulations it was to face.
  • Author: God (v.1) – given to Jesus and recorded by John (same author as the Gospel of John and the 3 epistles)
  • Where written: Island of Patmos
  • When written: Arguments on both sides for late and early dates. He takes the view it was written about AD 65, before the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome

Outline:

  • Things which are: Introduction and letters to the 7 churches (a presbytery – churches aligned in faith, doctrine, and worship)
  • Things which shall be hereafter: Chapter 4 to the end. This is a panorama of history.

Step-by-Step Analysis:

Four Approaches

Spiritist/Spiritualist/Idealist:

  • Revelation is about eternal truths, not about specific historical events
  • Has a spiritual meaning only
  • Applies to all times
  • About how God generally governs the world

Futurist

  • Chapter 3 on are unfulfilled, to come in the future just before the second coming
  • 7-year tribulation of worldwide persecution
  • Rapture of the living at some point
  • Resurrection of the dead
  • Final coming of Christ
  • Taught in most Fundamentalist churches today
  • Taught by: J.N. Darby, Scofield, Moody, Falwell, Pat Robertson, Chuck Swindoll, John Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost, J. Vernon McGee, Hal Lindsay, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye, Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, the Left Behind series, most popular books on Revelation

Preterist

  • Opposite of Futurism
  • Prophecies have already been fulfilled
  • Some believe even the resurrection of the dead and the judgment have occurred [He seems to be describing full and not partial preterism here]
  • Revelation is about the first century, with Jerusalem as the Church’s persecutor
  • Babylon = Old Testament Jerusalem
  • Armageddon = 70 AD
  • Beast = Roman army
  • Revelation is either about the fall of Jerusalem or about the fall of both Jerusalem and Rome
  • Some preterists are Christian Reconstructionists
  • Taught by: David Chilton, Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Hank Hanegraaff, Walt Hibbard

Historicist/Historicalist

  • Agrees with parts of Futurism and Preterism
  • Chapters 1-5 are about the 1st century, Chapters 6-22 discuss history from at least AD 70 to the end of time
  • About the collapse of the Roman Empire, the rise of a divided Europe, the collapse of the Eastern Empire, the rise of Islamic civilization, etc.
  • Revelation teaches that the Church will expand under persecution until it conquers the world
  • A panorama of world history
  • Few Protestants hold this view today – “all but forgotten”
  • Taught by: Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Knox, Tyndale, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, John Cotton, John Owen, Increase and Cotton Mather, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, John Gill, the Puritans, Bobick, J. Marcellus Kik, Herman Hoeksema, Francis Nigel Lee
  • This is the view of the early church fathers, the medieval theologians, all of the reformers, and many theologians since then

Origins of Futurism and Preterism:

  • Originated about the same time, around 1600 by Jesuit priests
  • Franciso Ribera (Jesuit theologian) – 1590 – futurist commentary on Revelation. First few chapters about ancient pagan Rome. The rest about a 3.5 literal tribulation immediately prior to the second coming.
  • Robert Bellarmine (Cardinal) – similar view to Ribera
  • Luis De Alcazar (Jesuit theologian) – preterist. All about pagan Rome and the first 6 centuries of the church.
  • All of these books endorsed by Rome – interpretations different and incompatible but both considered true by Rome.
  • Both views originally invented to counter Protestant historicism – many Protestants today promoting counter-reformation theology

On Revelation in General:

  • Shows that:
    • God is just
    • Sin will be punished
    • A “horrible neverending ghastly punishment” awaits those who oppose God
  • The grandest epic ever written
  • Contains practical instruction and Christian values
  • Applies to all Christians in all times
  • Jesus will return and He is with us now
  • A book of consolation and cheer – Jesus’s victory is certain
  • Everything is being orchestrated by the unseen hand of God for our good
  • Everlasting happiness lies ahead

The Pope Is The Man Of Sin

Here is a series from Covenanter Reformation showing that the Pope of Rome IS the Man of Sin described in 2 Thessalonians 2.

Antichrist1Part 1 discusses how Antichrist and the Man of Sin are identical: https://covenanterreformation.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/the-pope-the-man-of-sin-part-1/

Part 2 discusses how the Pope fulfills the description in 2 Thessalonians 2: https://covenanterreformation.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/the-pope-the-man-of-sin-part-2/

Part 3 discusses who the “restrainer” is and how Antichrist was to appear after the fall of the Roman Empire: https://covenanterreformation.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/the-pope-the-man-of-sin-part-3/

Here is just one quote from this series showing that historicism is the long-standing interpretation of the believing church:

Cyril of Jerusalem (313 – 386): “But this aforesaid Antichrist is to come when the times of the Roman Empire shall have been fulfilled, and the end of the world is drawing near. There shall rise up together ten kings of the Romans, reigning in different parts perhaps, but all about the same time; and after those an eleventh, the Antichrist, who by his magical craft shall seize upon the Roman power; and of the kings who reigned before him, ‘three he shall humble,’ and the remaining seven he shall keep in subjection to himself.” Catechetical Lectures, section 15, on II Thessalonians 2:4, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. VII

 

Wordsworth on Why the Revelation 17 Woman is Rome

Walls of Rome 6th centuryFrom “Is not the Church of Rome the Babylon of the Book of Revelation?” An Essay by Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., Sometime Bishop of Lincoln:

“3. Thirdly, we read in the Apocalypse: Here is the mind, or meaning, which hath wisdom (Rev.xvii.9); the Seven heads of the Beast are Seven Mountains, on which the Woman sitteth.

In St. John’s age there was One City, a Great City, built on Seven Hills,–Rome. The name of each of its Seven Hills is well known: in St. John’s time Rome was usually called “the Seven-hilled City.” She was celebrated as such in an annual national Festival. And there is scarcely a Roman Poet of any note who has not spoken of Rome as a City seated on Seven Mountains. Virgil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Silius Italicus, Statius, Martial, Claudian, Prudentius — in short, the unanimous Voice of Roman Poetry during more than five hundred years, beginning with the age of St. John, proclaimed Rome as “the Seven-hilled City.”

Nor is this all. The Apocalypse is illustrated, in this respect, from another source, equally obvious to the world–Coins.

On the Imperial Medals of that age, which are still preserved, we see Rome displayed as a Woman sitting on Seven Hills, as she is represented in the Apocalypse.”

Source and read more: http://www.ianpaisley.org/article.asp?ArtKey=union_1

 

A Defense of Puritan Postmillennialism

Thomas Cole The Garden of Eden Amon Carter Museum

Reformed Theonomy summarizes Rev. David Silversides’ arguments for historic Purican postmilennlianism:

https://reformedtheonomy.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/the-biblical-case-for-puritan-postmillennialism/

Most reformed believers I talk to today adhere to amillennialism, so I enjoy learning about the debate between amillennialism and postmillennialism.  At present, this blog leans to postmillennialism, but I’m always open to correction!

Partial Preterism and Historicist Postmillennialism

Briton Rivière - Una and the Lion

Reformed Theonomy outlines 7 differences between Partial Preterism and Historicist Postmillennialism:

https://reformedtheonomy.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/7-differences-between-partial-preterist-and-historist-postmillennialism/