The So-Called Postmillennial Proof-texts in Holy Writ

The Infallible Key Of Knowledge 

In Luke 11:52 Jesus speaks of the "key of knowledge." He has a word of rebuke and reproof for the Bible teachers of His day, the "lawyers" who give instruction in the schools and in the synagogues. These "have taken away" the key of knowledge, so that they are become blind men who lead the blind. They are very evil teachers; they do not enter the kingdom themselves, and them who were entering they hindered, by confusing them with their legalistic teaching which denied the glad-tidings. Now, we must beware that we do not fall under this rebuke from Christ in our own writing. It is a fearful thing when Christ says to a writer, "Woe, I say unto you." We must be workmen who rightly divide the word of truth, workmen who are not put to shame before the Lord. We must find the "key of knowledge" and follow sound hermeneutical principles laid down by Christ Himself and by His holy apostles. 

It is a remarkable thing that Christ, after His resurrection, gave His apostles such hermeneutical principles, and gave an infallible interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures. When He had not yet died and risen again He said that He had many things to say to them, but that they could not receive them now (John 16:12). Yet when the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth. But immediately after Christ's resurrection He taught them, "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3b). We have the record of this instruction in Luke 24:25-27 and in Luke 24:44-48; it is the instruction in which we have given to us the "key" to understanding the Scriptures of Moses and of all the prophets. The latter includes also the Messianic Psalms. And we ought to notice that this instruction gives us pure principles of hermeneutics, the science of Biblical interpretation. For the term "expounded" in the KJV is the translation of the Greek verb ''di-ermee neuein": to interpret, to make veryclear (dutch: verdeudelijhen); it means to unfold the meaning of what is said, explain, expound. That is Christ's hermeneutics to His apostles. And thus He gives us, His church, the "Key of knowledge," knowledge of the things of the kingdom of God. 

What is particularly striking in Jesus' interpretation is that He interpreted the entire Old Testament Scriptures to His disciples, setting everything into perspective, in such a clear and understandable way that the two travelers to Emmaus exclaim later, "were not our hearts burning within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:32). And what had Jesus done in interpreting the Scriptures, opening them? He had chided these two sorrowful and bewildered and groping men that there was really no need of their deep perplexity, if only they believed "all of the Scriptures." They must believe not simply certain parts, but they must believe all of the Scriptures. They were such that they could not put all the teachings of Scripture in perspective, see the unity of their message, as all is comprehended in the simple, brief, and clear statement: The Christ, the Messiah, must suffer all these things and thus enter into His glory! That is the "pattern" of the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:26). He spoke of the things concerning Himself (ta peri heautou). Yes, Jesus is the great subject of the entire Old Testament Scriptures, that He through suffering must enter into His glory. Furthermore, Jesus, a bit later in this resurrection day evening, also interpreted the Scriptures to the apostles in the upper room at Jerusalem. He here sets in perspective His teaching to them which He had given them while He was with them before His death and resurrection: all things must be fulfilled which were spoken by Moses and the Prophets, the entire Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:44). Yes, "thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." This was Jesus' interpretation of the central thrust and fulfillment of all the Scriptures: Moses, Psalms, and all the prophets. 

Here we have the infallible "key of knowledge" of which Jesus spoke to the lawyers of His day! 

Here we may pause and note that this does not yet say anything concerning the doctrine of the last things, although the text speaks of "all the nations" hearing the preaching of the gospel of Christ. We shall return to this matter of "all nations" later in another connection. What we are interested in doing here is to show that here is a' certain "pattern" of teaching indicated. It is the same pattern which Paul signals in, II Timothy 2:8, where we read, "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel." 

Peter must have learned his lessons in Scripture interpretation well. We see this in that great sermon address which he spoke at the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, as he shows from the Old Testament Scriptures Christ's death, resurrection (Psalm 16:8Acts 2:25), ascension (Psalm 16:10Acts 2:27-30). However, what Peter writes in his first epistle demonstrates beyond a. shadow of doubt the great perspective and hope of the grace which is to be ours in the "last time." In I Peter 1:3-12we deal with a section which gives us eschatological perspectives of the "last time." And it ought to be clear that in this perspective of the very last time, just before the return of Christ, no mention is made of the great and wide influence which the church shall exert in the world, but that this last time is the very moment when we shall have the "revelation" of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:8,13). This "last time" when the "salvation," the final glorious eternal salvation, of the eternal state shall be ushered in. That is now the hope that is "ready to be revealed in the last day." It is the living hope, the inheritance which is ours, and which is incorruptible, undefilable, and which does not fade away. It is the state of eternal immortality in Christ (I Peter 1:3-4I Cor. 15:53-55). It is the inheritance which is ours in the ages to come after Christ's Parousia (Matt. 24:3), that is, in the consummation (sunteleias) of the ages (Matt. 28:20). This is not a time, a proper time (kairos) shortly before the last and visible appearance of Christ, but it is the final return of Christ, when He shall come with the sound of the trumpet and with the voice of the archangel, when the redeemed church shall be caught up in the air, and thus ever be with the Lord (I Thes. 4:16-17). 

When Peter speaks, in I Peter 1:10-12, of all the prophets of the Old Testament dispensation "searching out what time or manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify; when it testified beforehand the sufferings to come upon Christ and the glory to follow," he is employing the "Key of Knowledge" (Luke 11:53) which the lawyers in their hermeneutical Jewish principles took away. They deliberately kept the truth of the gospel down in unrighteousness. Here Peter rightly divides the Scriptures, giving us an infallible pattern of sound doctrine, so that we may enter into the kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven in hope, and presently in abiding possession in the ages to come. Post-millennial writers of our day like to speak of anEschatology of Victory, as does Marcellus Kik, but Peter gives us an eschatology of victory which shall be ours in the revelation of Jesus Christ, that is, the "glory to follow" in the eternal state. That is victory, the victory when death shall be swallowed up in victory (I Peter 1:12). This will, be the "glory after these things" (tas meta tautas doxas). 

We do safely when we follow this hermeneutics concerning the concept "last times" as far as the "glory" is concerned of which the Old Testament prophecies are so replete. For the Old Testament often speaks of the glory which shall be seen in the last days, when the whole earth shall be full of His glory (Numbers 14:21). We shall need to show in succeeding chapters of this study that this Scriptural pattern concerning the doctrine of the last times, as we have attempted to elicit this from the various Scripture passages, is the "key" to understanding prophecy, when it speaks in many passages and by various prophets and in divers times (Heb. 1:1) of "all nations," "kindreds of the nations," and "uttermost parts of the earth," and "the last time," etc. If we do not use this "key," as given in the New Testament' Scriptures, we will need to start comparing passages in the Old Testament ad infinitum, and come only to the Jewish interpretation of them: somehow a kingdom of Godhere on earth, prior to Christ's return from heaven upon clouds. Then that reign shortly, before the return of Christ will need to be fulfilled here up earth! 

Dr. Lorrain Boettner writes on Page 14. of his "The Millennium" as follows:

We have defined Postmillennialism as that view of the last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually will be Christianized, and that the return of Christ shall occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the "Millennium".... 

The Millennium to which the Postmillennialist looks forward is thus a golden age of spiritual prosperity during this present dispensation, that is, during the Church age, and is to be brought about through forces now active in this world. It is an indefinitely long period of time, perhaps much longer than a literal thousand years. The changed character of the individuals will be reflected in an uplifted social, economic, political, and cultural life of mankind. The world at large shall then enjoy a state of righteousness such as the present time has seen only in relatively small groups, as for example in some family circles, some local church groups and kindred organizations. 

This does not mean that there even will be a time on this earth when every person will be a Christian, or that all sin will be abolished. But it does mean that evil in all its forms will be reduced to negligible proportions, that Christian principles Will be the rule, not the exception, and that Christ will return to a truly Christianized world.

Truly, we are called upon to study the representative Scripture passages of Scripture which Postmillennialists cite for this rather bizarre and fantastic presentation of the Kingdom of Christ on earth and we shall need to apply sane and Biblical methods of exegesis, to say the least.