If you are a regular reader of my blog postings, you have probably picked up at least a hint of the theological foundation from which I am writing. The title of the blog itself, The Two Edges of the Sword gives that foundation away. I love to be organized, so this posting is dedicated to my readers who are interested in “from whence I come!” “Andrews, where in the world did you get these crazy ideas?”
To try to answer that question, let me say that in my posts, I am always trying to follow Martin Luther’s lead by proclaiming both messages that God preached in the Bible: 1.) the Grace of God in terms of our relationship with God Who is “above us,” and 2.) the Law of God that relates to our activities on the earth, which are “beneath us.” Luther believed that all God’s Word can be divided into these two categories.
These ideas would have been from a different planet and in a foreign language in my world growing up in the Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma. We were completely a-theological. All I learned about theology (which is really only “What is God like?”) was “once-saved-always-saved”—and you got saved by walking the aisle at church at the invitation after the sermon, shaking the preacher’s hand, joining the church, and being baptized. Wanting to fit into my world, I did this at about nine or ten years old, as did all my church friends.
My first taste of any organized Bible information was through the ministry of the campus Christian organization where I genuinely met the Lord as a Junior at the University of Oklahoma. I automatically absorbed the theology they were teaching—which was only incidental to the all-consuming task of “winning the campus for Christ today; the world for Chrst tomorrow.” I enthusiastically joined this evangelistic ministry full-time upon graduation and was on their staff for seven years.
Only after I left this organization, did I learn that this theology I had absorbed was called “dispensationalism.” It was the very first “theological camp where I pitched my tent” on my journey to the Eternal City. In those days, I was not particularly interested in theology and did not think in those terms. I remained a default dispensationalist, although I never thought much about this theology’s teaching of the imminent return of the Lord, one of its main tenets..
In 1985 this stable, settled theological world I had unknowingly erected for myself was rocked! A good friend of mine, at that time enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary (then one of the main proponents of dispensationalism), gave me several books to read that He thought I would like. One of them was Paradise Restored, by David Chilton, and I couldn’t put it down.
It was totally different from the dispensationalism my friend who gave me the book was learning at seminary. In it, Chilton masterfully presented a theological idea I had never heard before, called “postmillennialism.” I had been taught that Jesus will return first (“pre” – the next main event on the prophetic calendar) and He will then establish His millennial kingdom on the earth (after He defeats His enemies in physical battle in the Great Tribulation). In dispensationalism, His return is before His kingdom is established, thus “premillennial.”
However, in Chilton’s book, he points out that the millennial kingdom was given to Jesus by His Father immediately after He was anointed King at His ascension (Daniel 7:13, 14, 18) and then this kingdom was given to us at Pentecost (Acts 2:32-36). Now, our mission as the church is to gradually extend this already-established kingdom over the whole earth.
This 1000 year millennial kingdom (a metaphorical number signifying a large number of years, as in “God owns the cattle on 1000 hills”) has now already been in existence for almost 2100 years. When we have accomplished our mission and made the earthly rule of Jesus’ not only true in fact, but also in experience, Jesus will finalize His rule by His return, thus it is “postmillennial!”
If postmillennialism is true, this is a game changer. It ensures victory in time, on the earth, in this life. In our allotted years here we have a purpose for living, a commission we each have a part in fulfilling. The “heroes of the faith” in Hebrews 11 “saw” the City with Foundations, the New Jerusalem but never physically saw that vision fulfilled—only BY FAITH: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having SEEN THEM AFAR OFF, were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . . .But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13, 16).
We are in that train of believers! Do you see it? The first edge of the sword, the law, cuts us open and exposes our sin so we can repent as we walk in the light together. The second edge, the gospel, cuts out that sin and frees us from it, naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously.
When the sword is slashing both ways in our lives, we are indeed dangerous. We will see that kingdom we have been given expanding wherever we go, and with whomever we touch, NSU!
Postmillennialism for me was a paradigm shift, a whole new way to look at the Bible. However, there are many who don’t intellectually see or believe this. However, they are actively and unknowingly touching lives wherever they go too, as wonderful, spirit-filled Christians, and they are right on schedule in their theology!
God loves us all, and has all of us each on a unique path to the City. For those who are interested in digging a bit deeper into these ideas, another book (besides Chilton’s mentioned above) is, Before Jerusalem Fell, by Ken Gentry. My book. Two Edges of the Sword, looks in detail at the Law, the Gospel and the Kingdom in daily life. This book is available free in PDF form for those who request it via Email, or the published book can be ordered on my web page.