Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Millennium, Part 3)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.

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Revelation chapter twenty must be interpreted in light of its genre: Revelation is a book full of symbolic visions and numbers.

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, [Unless there are literally seven Holy Spirits, the reader has to acknowledge a symbolic use of numbers here.]
Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven What The Bible Says About The People Of Godchurches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation 17:9-12 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

In other places in Revelation, the final consummation of all history has already been reached; therefore, chapter twenty is likely another “recapitulation,” a different symbolic way of describing the New Testament era, followed by a description of the end of history.

Revelation 11:15-19 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
Revelation 14:14-16 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Revelation 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
Revelation 19:11-21 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

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Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Millennium, Part 2)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.

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The rescue of the church and the eternal destruction of the wicked will occur at the same time.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospelWhat The Bible Says About The People Of God of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
Matthew 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
1 C0rinthians 15:51-57 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:3-14 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. [Here, immediately before the dissolution of the heavens and earth in fervent heat, people are saying that all things are continuing in the same way they always have; which could not be said following all the events of Dispensational eschatology. Furthermore, the delay is intended to bring in the
full measure of those who should repent and be added to the Church, and also provides a basis for Peter's exhortation to contemporary believers to be watchful, looking for this
final, catastrophic day. He does not exhort us to be watchful for the appearing of Christ as that which rescues us from the earth, but leaves one-thousand-seven years of history afterward; but for the appearing of Christ as that which brings the final destruction of the world.]

The resurrection of the righteous dead and the wicked dead will occur at the same time.

Daniel 12:1-2 ‘At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your peo­ple shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrec­tion of judgment.

Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) October 4, 2014 – Tim Conway: Men’s Systematic Theology Study #3

Using Robert Reymond’s “A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith” as the supplementary textbook after the primary text, the Holy Scriptures. The next class is scheduled for October 25 at 9am Central time. Please check the GCC Livestream channel for streaming availability.

Today’s class: Chapter Two.

Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Millennium, Part 1)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.

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The Millennium

The rapture of the Church will occur after the revealing of the “man of lawlessness,” whom most Dispensationalists believe to be the Antichrist.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. ForWhat The Bible Says About The People Of God that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? [Most Dispensationalists say that this sitting in the Temple will occur at the midpoint of the tribulation; hence, the rapture of the Church cannot take place at least until the second half of the tribulation (in the Dispensational scheme).]

The rapture is called a “meeting” in the air, which was originally a technical term used of the procession that would come out of a city to greet a visiting dignitary, and escort him immediately back to the city, in great splendor; and later came to be used when one would go out to meet a person, and then follow him along the way in which he was already going; hence, the term likely indicates that the rapture will be a similar event, in which the saints are gathered up to meet Jesus, and follow immediately behind him as he continues on to judge the earth.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet [Greek, "apantesis"] the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Acts 28:14-15 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet [Greek, "apantesis"] us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.
Mark 14:13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet [Greek, "apantao"] you. Follow him,
Acts 16:16-17 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met [Greek, "apantao"] by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Kingdom Of God, Part 2)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.

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Christ is now reigning from the throne of David.

Acts 2:30-36 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. BeingWhat The Bible Says About The People Of God therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
1 C0rinthians 15:20-28 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Ephesians 1:18-23 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Kingdom Of God, Part 1)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.

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The Kingdom of God

Christ announced the arrival of the Kingdom, he did not merely “offer” it.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 11:11-12 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of What The Bible Says About The People Of Godheaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. [Here, Christ speaks of the Kingdom as of something that people have already been entering since the days of John the Baptist; hence, he could not be referring to a future, physical kingdom that he was only offering — no one would have entered that Kingdom yet. But Dispensationalists will say that even today no one has entered it.]
Matthew 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. [Jesus did cast out demons; therefore, according to him, the Kingdom had already come.]
Matthew 16:18-19 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Here, the establishment of the Church is seen in parallel with entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.]

If Christ had truly been offering a physical Kingdom, the Jews would not have rejected it.

John 6:15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Christ and the apostles spoke of the Kingdom as one that now has only a spiritual presence, in our midst.
Luke 17:20-21 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
John 18:36-37 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Church today is the Kingdom, and Christians are Kingdom citizens.

Mark 9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” [Since the entire generation alive when Christ was on earth has died, the Kingdom must have come already; therefore, it cannot be a future, thousand-year reign.]
1 C0rinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
[The power that Paul was speaking of was already operative in the Church, as the con¬text makes clear; therefore, the Church was to him essentially the same as the Kingdom.]
Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Revelation 1:5-6 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Christ sent the apostles out to proclaim the same gospel of the kingdom that he had proclaimed.

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
This the apostles did.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 20:24-25 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
Acts 28:23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
Acts 28:30-31 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

David Wells: Sin And Culture

From God In The Whirlwind: How The Holy-love Of God Reorients The World.

In recent decades, this self-orientation has been given unusually powerful validation in our postmodern culture as it has turned inward. In place of God’s salvation, our therapeutic age now empowers its alternative. It is our self-preoccupation, self-promotion, and self-pursuit. This, our culture supposes, is a way to find psychological wholeness. The language of self-esteem is the new language of Zion. It assumes that the pursuit and care of the self-serving creature can actually be redemptive.

This therapeutic world, as Christina Sommers and Sally Satel observe in One Nation Under Therapy, is built on the belief that the American psyche is now so fragile that it is in danger of falling apart. It starts from the assumption of our desperate, wounded vulnerability. That is why we need to turn inward, to focus in on our self, to express our wounds, and to share our feelings. This inner anguish, this unfulfilled and undirected yearning, this broken self, requires a massive army of trained therapists. It has spawned sensitivity counselors and grief counselors. It employs guardians against gender, ethnic, and sexual bias, many of whom are let loose on the workplace, hired by corporations and by government, and paid to serve as our secular priests. It sponsors workshops to explore this hidden world of the self. There is now a flourishing literature of self-help techniques that enable—indeed, empower— us to make our way through life. There is such a thing as “emotional correctness.” And being emotionally correct has the power, we apparently believe, to heal some of the inward tatters in which the self now lies.

This, of course, reflects our American paradox. Never have we had so much, and yet never have we had so little. Never have we had more opportunities, products, options, and access to people. But never have we been as depressed as we are now, as anxious, or as empty. This is all very real. The triumphs of modernization have filled our world with plenty, with technological triumphs, and with countless wonders. But this modernized world has also worked havoc on the human spirit, on our human relations, and on our capacity to think clearly about ourselves and about life. It has emptied us out.

Wells, David F. (2014-01-31). God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World (Kindle Locations 3748-3763). Crossway. Kindle Edition.