Dr. David R. Reagan and panel on the show Christ in Prophecy answer questions concerning the problems with the spiritualized amillennial end time view.
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Dr. Reagan: Are we living in the Millennium now? Did the Millennium begin at the cross? And will it continue until the Lord returns? Is the Bible’s promise of a Millennium to be taken literally? Or is it to be spiritualized? For the answer to these and other questions concerning a prophetic viewpoint called Amillennialism, stay tuned.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the all name of Jesus, our blessed hope! I’m Dave Reagan, senior evangelist for Lamb and Lion Ministries and I am delighted to have back with me this week, two experts on Bible prophecy. The first is my colleague, Dennis Pollock, who is my associate here at Lamb and Lion Ministries. The other is Don McGee, the founder and director of Crown and Sickle Ministries located in Amite, Louisiana. We refer to Don fondly as our Raging Cajun. Over the next few weeks, Dennis, Don and I are going to respond to questions that have been sent to us by our viewers.
Well fellows, each time I get involved in question and answer session, I always think of the time that I was in Warsaw, Poland with our colleague, Gary Fisher, of Lion of Judah Ministries. All of you know Gary well, and our viewers are certainly familiar with him. Gary was standing up with the microphone and I was so thankful that he had the microphone when this happened. And this lady stood up and started asking this long involved convoluted question, all of which had to be translated for Polish into English. And I’m sitting there just chuckling over the whole thing, because I figuring Gary will never understand this question. He is going to be sweating like mad; he’ll never get it answered. And I’m as smug as I could be you know. And she just went on and on and on and finally the question stopped and I thought, “What’s Gary going to do with that?” Well, Gary stood there for a moment and he said, “You know, madam your question reminds me of a man I heard about in the United States, a renowned nuclear scientist. He was invited on a speaking tour and he didn’t like to fly, he was scared of flying, so he hired a chauffeur. And the chauffer was driving him all over the United States and he was giving the same speech time after time. And when they were getting ready for their last stop at Berkley in California, they’re driving down the highway and the chauffer looks in the rear view mirror and says, “You know Sir, I’ve heard your speech five times now, I’ve got it memorized. I’m a better speaker then you, I could get up and give that, I could get a standing ovation. You’re the most boring speaker in the world.” He said, “I could do better than you.” Then the guy said, “Okay wise guy. When we get there we’ll change uniforms. You put on my suit and I’ll put on your chauffeur’s uniform, we’ll see what you can do.” So they get there, he stands up and he wows them. He puts jokes in, I mean the whole thing. It was perfect. He gets to the end, he gets a standing ovation and then he gets carried away. And instead of sitting down, he says, “We’ll now open it up to questions.” And the first guy stands up and asks this long involved convoluted difficult question. He stands there for a moment and says, “You know I would be ashamed to ask a question that simple, that question is so simple, that even my chauffer could answer it.” At which point he handed the chauffer the microphone, at which point Gary handed me the microphone and said, “Okay David, it’s all yours buddy.”
Okay fellas, our topic for this week is Amillennialism. A rather strange term and because it is a strange term that a lot of people are not familiar with, let’s just start off with a definition of it. And let’s have you do that Don.
Don McGee: It simply means that there will be no Millennium. “A” in the term is what is called the alpha privative, which simply negates what follows it. So when you say Amillennialism, you’re saying there will be no Millennium.
Dr. Reagan: Did you say alpha privative?
Dennis Pollock: I think he said that without even stuttering.
Dr. Reagan: Now this is a Cajun–I didn’t think they taught those things down there. Basically folks, what that means is that in the Greek language when you put a little “a” in front of a word it negates the word. It’s like “un” in English or ethical/unethical. So, I’m impressed Don. Really impressed.
Don McGee: That’s what you pay the big bucks for.
Dr. Reagan: So it means no Millennium. Okay let’s go to our first question.
Dennis Pollock: I think he’s earned his lunch.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah, I think so. Number one. Amillennialists argue that the Millennium began at the cross and that we have been living in the Millennium ever since the cross. What about it? Are we in the Millennium now?
Dennis Pollock: Well, Dave if you understand what the Millennium is, you would have to say, if this is the best God can do, that’s a pretty shabby Millennium. Let me just share a couple of the key points to the Millennium and then the listeners and viewers can judge for themselves. The Scripture says in Revelation 20 that an angel appears and lays hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the Devil or Satan, and binds him. It said bound him for 1000 years. Cast him into a bottomless pit, shut him up, set a seal on him so that he should deceive the nations no more. So two key concepts here, one Satan is bound, two the nations are no longer deceived. If we’re in the Millennium now, that means Satan is not around and that means the nations are not deceived. And if somebody thinks that the nations are not deceived and that people are not deceived today. I suggest they go to Mr. Bin Laden and say Mr. Bin Laden, don’t you realize that there’s no deception anymore, you’re supposed to be a nice guy and see how much weight that carries. No, obviously the nations are deceived. Satan is not bound. We couldn’t possibly be in the Millennium, unless Scripture doesn’t mean what it says.
Dr. Reagan: How about it Don?
Don McGee: The Gospel doesn’t bind Satan as is propounded by some of the Amillennialists. What the Gospel does is, it is good news that releases us from some things. But it has nothing to do with the binding of evil.
Dennis Pollock: Right.
Dr. Reagan: In Isaiah 11 it says, “That during the Millennium, that no one will hurt or destroy in all my Holy Kingdom, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the water’s cover the sea.” I don’t see that today.
Don McGee: Not so today.
Dr. Reagan: I don’t see it anywhere. I don’t know how you can spiritualize that and say it spiritual exists today. No, I don’t think so. We’re not in the Millennium. Let’s go to number two. Amillennialists argue that the 1000 years referred to in Revelation 20 is symbolic and not literal. They say it is a symbol for an indeterminate period of time between the First and Second Comings of Jesus. What about it? Are those 1000 years in Revelation 20 literal or are they just symbolic of an indeterminate period of time?
Don McGee: I don’t think you need to be a theologian to figure this out. If it, and it is literal, but think about it. If God were going to say to us that He was going to have His Son Jesus reign for 1000 years on this earth, could he say it any clearer than what He did in Revelation chapter 20?
Dr. Reagan: I don’t know how he could.
Dennis Pollock: I would say this, I would ask the question, was Mary a symbolic virgin or was she a literal virgin? Did Jesus ride a symbolic donkey or did he ride a literal donkey? The answer to both cases is they were literal. Mary was literally a virgin, the donkey was literally a donkey. The First Coming prophecies were literally fulfilled. And to suggest that the Second Coming prophecies don’t mean what they say, there not going to be literally fulfilled would mean God does a tremendous shift in the way He fulfills prophecy. There’s no reason to suggest that.
Dr. Reagan: Well, Dennis I think you put your finger there on one of the most important points that we could emphasize over and over again. And cannot emphasize enough and that is, that the greatest guide for the fulfillment for the interpretation of Second Coming prophecy is to look at how First Coming prophecy was fulfilled. I was told for years that the Second Coming prophecies are all apocalyptic, that there just symbolic. That they do not mean what they say. And then one day I read the whole book of Zechariah which is an apocalyptic book, and it’s full of First Coming prophecies. It says the Messiah will come on a donkey. It says He will be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. He’ll be lifted up. He’ll be pierced. All of those prophecies meant exactly what they said in an apocalyptic book. And I have to conclude, that the Second Coming prophecies mean what they say. And if they mean what they say, then the 1000 years referred to in Revelation 20 are 1000 years.
Dennis Pollock: Simply consistency in interpretation.
Dr. Reagan: I think so. And also if you look at other prophecies that God gives that involve years, He meant what He said. When He said the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years. What did He mean? 70 years. And when Daniel read it, did Daniel say well you know the Bible never means what it says. 70 years could be 7, it could be 700, it could be 7000, no, he said 70 years and he calculated and he was in the 69th years and he got on his knees and repented for Israel, do they could be released at the end of 70 years. Same way with Daniel’s prophecy of the weeks of years. 490 years it was a prophecy that had to do with specific years, so I think we play games with God’s Word and you know I really think that when people spiritualize Scripture. The reason they love to do it, is because when you spiritualize Scripture, you become God, because then it means whatever you want it to mean. And that makes people feel good.
Dennis Pollock: Well the sad thing is that when it’s all spiritualized, there really is no definitive answer for anything when it comes to prophecy. Nobody really knows anything about anything and then you end up with the Pan-Millennial view that say’s it’s all going to pan out, don’t really know much about it. And that’s where most of them are, most of them that spiritualize it don’t have any really concrete ideas. Just kind of a vague notion that He’s coming back at some point.
Dr. Reagan: And then we get to the Know-Nothing party.
Dennis Pollock: The know nothing.
Dr. Reagan: Dennis told me one time, “These people who say, we’ll I’m just a Pan-Millennialist I don’t know anything about it. It’s just going to all pan out in the end. He said they would be good members of the Know-Nothing Party that existed before the Civil War; who were proud about knowing nothing. Ok, let’s go to our third question.
Don McGee: I’m ignorant, and proud of it.
Dr. Reagan: Amillennialists argue that the Tribulation is also a symbolic concept. Rather than pointing to a future seven year period of time, Amillennialists argue that the Tribulation began at the cross and continues today. In other words, they argue that we are simultaneously in both the Millennium and the Tribulation. We are in the Millennium because the Holy Spirit is in the world. We’re in the Tribulation because the church is under attack. To them the seven years, the Tribulation is just a symbolic of a complete period of time. Not a seven year period of time. What about it? Are we in the Tribulation now?
Dennis Pollock: Dave, I’d say this. People exaggerate in case you didn’t realize that, but God never does. When you read what He had to say about the Tribulation, the massive number of deaths, the horrible details of it. As it’s described in Revelation and other places. God is not exaggerating. I like what Henry Morris once said about the book of Revelation. He said “It’s really not so much hard to understand, it’s hard to believe.” Because the truth is, it is describing a terrible, terrible time, but there’s no reason to say in can’t happen as a matter of fact, the more we look at technology today we realize it very well can happen. It just horrific to contemplate that it will happen.
Dr. Reagan: What about it Don? Are we in the Tribulation now?
Don McGee: Not at all. No, we’re not in the Tribulation right now. The Seventieth Week of Daniel chapter 9 is a time, a period that can be measured in years. And we know that because the word “shavuim” is in context is in years if you go back and look at the history of this thing.
Dr. Reagan: There he goes again.
Dennis Pollock: Shavium. That goes right up there with alpha privative.
Don McGee: It just means a time, a number of seven things. It could be eggs, it could be weeks, it could be years or whatever. But when you look at the history from Daniel until now you see that it was years. He’s talking about years he’s not talking about weeks, he’s not talking about eggs. He’s talking about years. So, you just go back and let the Bible be its own best interpretation of what it says.
Dr. Reagan: And you know fellows when you start arguing that we are living in the Tribulation now you really have to spiritualize everything the book of Revelation says, because for one thing it says in the first three and one half years the Tribulation one half of humanity is going to die. So you’ve got to spiritualize that in some way.
Dennis Pollock: Yeah, well, basically their theology forces them to take huge passages of Scripture and essentially deny them. They spiritualize them, but really what they’re doing is saying they really don’t mean that. And because they have already concluded it couldn’t possibly be that way. So their theology is leading them to an interpretive approach that just really won’t wash.
Don McGee: Well, if you go back to history again and I keep hitting on history because it is so important in interpreting this thing. Sixty-nine of those sevens have occurred, you don’t have to be a Christian to understand that. Go back and look at secular history and you can see that 69 of those groups of seven occurred. There’s one left. This Tribulation period is a seven year period and there are some characteristics of it that do not fit into the dispensation we’re living in right now. It’s what’s going to happen during this Tribulation period is not what is going on right now.
Dr. Reagan: If you start arguing that we are living in the Tribulation now you have to spiritualize everything. You have to say well the seven years don’t mean seven years. The two witnesses are really Islam and something else, people come up with all kinds of weird explanations. The Antichrist is really evil in the world and not a person. So, everything has to be spiritualized.
Don McGee: My question for these folks and good folks believe this, I’m not saying there not good folks. My question for them is this, by what rule of hermeneutics do you use to make these interpretations? There has to be some kind of established rule. What is it?
Dr. Reagan: That goes back to Dennis’ favorite statement that he makes at conferences when people ask questions and they really making an assertion and say I believe so an so, so and so. And Dennis says, “Says who?”
Dennis Pollock: Yeah.
Dr. Reagan: Before we continue with more questions from our viewers about Amillennialism. Well fellas, it’s time for us to get back to our questions about Amillennialism that’s been sent in by our viewers. But first of all folks, before we do that, let me just say that if you have any questions concerning Bible prophecy that you would like for us to consider on a future program. All you have to do is just send them to us by e-mail. Send them to the e-mail address that you see there on the screen and we’ll try to cover them in some future program. Ok fellas, let’s go to the forth question that we have about the Millennium, and Amillennialism and it’s concerning Revelation 20. It says, Revelation 20 says the saved are going to live eternally on a new earth. Amillennialists argue that the new earth of Revelation 20 is a symbol for Heaven. They deny that we will live eternally on a new earth. What do you think?
Don McGee: Why? Why, why would someone want to insist that we are going to live in Heaven instead of a new earth?
Dr. Reagan: I’ll tell you why Don, because I’ve talked to them about this. They say it’s so materialistic. We’re going to an ethereal spiritual world and not be involved with materialistic things.
Don McGee: If that’s the case then God made a bad, bad mistake in Genesis 1:1. When He said he created the Heavens and the earth. Man was built, constructed, engineered to live on an earth. Now this is going to be a new earth, but God never intended man to exist for all eternity in this place called Heaven. It’s a real place. God’s there now and all that kind of thing. But we were designed and created to live on an earth. And He is going to re-create this earth. He’s going to regenerate it and this is where we are going to live for all eternity. And God is going to be here with us. It says He going to dwell with us. Just like He did in Genesis.
Dr. Reagan: Again He says it point blank, in Revelation 21 He says there’s going to be a new earth. And the only way you can get around that is to spiritualize it. So people say well it doesn’t mean a new earth, because we’re not going to be involved in materialistic things. We’re going to be in an ethereal na-na world.
Don McGee: If that were the case, then He would have created us in that kind of situation. But He created us with physical bodies on a physical earth.
Dr. Reagan: I think a lot of this may have to do with the mistaken impression that I would say the majority of Christian have that we are not going to have bodies eternally. That we are going to be sort of spiritual beings like angels floating around on clouds and that sort of thing. And the Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible teaches that we are going to have a body.
Dennis Pollock: Well, I’ll go one further. Heaven itself is a physical place. The New Jerusalem itself and that is what Heaven is. And so in a sense it’s not wrong to say we are going to live forever in Heaven. It’s just to understand that when we speak of Heaven we’re talking about where God is, the New Jerusalem this glorious city that’s going to come down and be merged with this re-created, this new earth and we are going to live there forever and ever. It will be very physical. The streets will be real. The people will be tangible. Right now if you could go to the New Jerusalem, go to Heaven and see your dead grandpa you could stick your hand right through him, because he’s in a spirit body. But when the resurrection occurs, we will have physical bodies. We’ll be a very tangible existence. And I think the reason people have a problem with that is that just had this concept that anything that is tangible isn’t good. It has to be spiritual sort of quasi real to be good.
Dr. Reagan: In fact, you put your finger on a very important point there, because one of the fundamental teachings of Greek philosophy is that the whole material universe is evil. And that is where the concept of Gnostism came from when people with a Greek mindset began to be converted to Christianity. They began to deny that Jesus was even in a physical body. That He was a spirit. That He didn’t really die. That He really wasn’t resurrected. And they began to deny that the Creation would be refurbished and continue eternally because they argue anything material is evil. The Bible teaches the opposite, it says God created the creation perfectly and that one day he’s going to redeem it and return it to its perfection. But God loves His creation and He’s going to redeem it, not destroy it.
Don McGee: He said it was good.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Dennis Pollock: John took a very strong stand against Gnosticism. He said if you don’t acknowledge Jesus has come in the flesh you are not of God.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right. And I think we also want to point out that Heaven is where God resides. And the Bible says that when we get to the eternal state, Heaven is going to come to earth. That God is going to come to earth and God is going to live in our presence for all eternity and we’re going to have personal intimate fellowship with Him. Ok, let’s go to question number five. Some Amillennialist who are called Preterist argue that all the Second coming prophecies were fulfilled in the First Century with the pouring out of God’s wrath on the Jews. They contend that the Lord returned spiritually at that time. What do you think about this concept? All prophecy was fulfilled in the First Century there’re no future prophecy to be fulfilled. The earth is going to go on forever and ever. There is not going to be any second coming.
Don McGee: That sure takes away a lot of hope and joy for me.
Dr. Reagan: It sure does for me too. I mean where is the hope?
Don McGee: His First Coming was personal. Everyone would have to admit that. And if the First Coming was personal, I have reason to believe His Second Coming is going to be personal.
Dr. Reagan: In fact, we have a promise of that don’t we.
Don McGee: That’s right. That’s right. And Dennis alluded to this a while ago. If we have to spiritualize His Second Coming. Well, what about when He walked on water? And what about the resurrection? And that is the key. If people say that He was resurrected spiritually. Then we have no hope of a physical resurrection. And you cannot resurrect a spirit, because you can’t resurrect that which does not die.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Dennis Pollock: The Preterist say it all happened already. Basically been there, done that, kind of a deal. My question would be, were the dead raised? Because the Bible indicates clearly when Christ returns the dead will be raised. Was the Church taken? And the answer is no, the Church wasn’t taken. Was there this judgment, the judgment seat of Christ? None of these things happened.
Dr. Reagan: They argue it all happened all spiritually and symbolically. That the Second Coming of Jesus was the pouring out of God’s wrath upon the Jewish people, and they’re very Anti-Semitic, most of them in the sense that they say there is no future for the Jews. They were cut off and that was God’s pouring of wrath and that was the Second Coming.
Dennis Pollock: Like Don, all I can say is why would you have to twist that hard and push logic that far to try to come up with that kind of theology?
Dr. Reagan: And why would that be appealing to anyone because as you say, it destroys the hope that we have of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I don’t know, Preterism to me is a very dark and very negative sort of thing. It reminds me of Paul who warned, do not have anything to do with two individuals who he named because he said they claim that the resurrection has already occurred. Well hey, the Preterist claim the Second Coming has already occurred. Right? Ok, number six. Amillennialism is based on the spiritualization of Scripture. That is its advocates argue the Second Coming prophecies do not mean what they say. Now, we’ve already touched on this, but let’s go into it again. How would you respond to this method of interpretation? The Second Coming prophecies do not mean what they say.
Dennis Pollock: Well, one of the key points it makes prophecy meaningless. If it doesn’t mean what it says who is to say what it does mean? You’d have a thousand and one different interpretations just for starters. So either it means what it says or it’s meaningless; it has no real point to our lives. And a lot of people that is where they are with prophecy. They have no use for it whatsoever.
Dr. Reagan: I think spiritualization is the greatest evil that has ever come on the scene with regard to the interpretation of Scripture. Not only just Bible prophecy, but all of Scripture to spiritualize it and always say it doesn’t mean what it says. That’s the reason I feel so strongly about the opening chapters of Genesis, because if you’re going to spiritualize them, like most people do and say well, they don’t really mean what they say. I mean this was billions of years instead of six days and so forth and so on. Then where do you stop spiritualizing? If you’re going to spiritualize what God said He did about the creation you might as well spiritualize about everything. And that’s where many Christian leaders are today. They spiritualize the virgin birth. They spiritualize the miracles. They spiritualize the resurrection. They spiritualize the Second Coming. Until there’s nothing left.
Dennis Pollock: One thing that I think we do need to address is some people say, well don’t you admit that there are some symbols in the Bible? And the answer is sure there are symbols. There are references that are symbolic in nature, and they’re obviously symbols. Revelation describes a harlot riding a monstrous beast with a cup of blood. Well we’re not expecting that in the Tribulation that there is going to be a literal prostitute riding around on a beast drinking blood. But it goes on to tell that that is a symbol and so there are obvious symbols.
Dr. Reagan: But it is a symbol of something literal.
Dennis Pollock: Yes.
Dr. Reagan: And it’s not symbol of just anything that your imagination can conjure up. Yes, there’s symbolic language. Jesus’ called the Rose of Sharon. He’s called the Bread of Life. He’s not called the Tumbleweed of Texas, because that has a meaning that doesn’t go with the personality of Jesus. But symbols do have literal meanings and always we need to look for the plain sense meaning. Folks, my rule of interpretation of the Bible from the beginning to the end is if the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense or you will end up with nonsense.
Dr. Reagan: I want to thank you for tuning in this week. I hope the program has been a blessing to you and I hope you will be back with us next week when we’ll discuss questions concerning life after death. Questions like, is there consciousness after death or do we remain comatose until the resurrection? Do we retain our identity and personality in a new body or do we become bodiless spirits like the angels? Until then this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb and Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”
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