Do you feel that Christians will be able to bring about peace on the earth and win everyone in the world to Christ?
No, I do not. Your question brings to my mind two words—“evangelize” and “Christianize.” There is a world of difference in these two words. Each is also associated with a certain group of people of opposite views: premillennialists, with the word “evangelize,” and postmillennialists, with the word “Christianize.” What is the difference?
Take the town you live in or the town I live in. To evangelize it, believers go about the business of reaching the lost with the message of Jesus Christ. A church is started, where people can hear the good news of the gospel and trust Christ as Savior as well as be built up spiritually. Through personal witnessing by life and word in the neighborhood and on the job, as well as numerous other planned and available outreaches, believers win others to Christ. After all, we are born “to reproduce.” We as believers have a mandate to spread the gospel wherever possible, both at home and to the uttermost part of the earth: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Some will believe; others will reject the gospel.
Though we have an important job to do, we have no indication that one day everyone on earth will have experienced the new birth. In fact, we know from the Scriptures that unbelievers will stand before Christ and be sent to eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15). These multitudes are not saved, though every individual will stand without excuse, as every living person will have had an opportunity sometime in life to hear about and to know Christ.
The premillennialist sees indications in the Scriptures that someday this earth will be far different. The Bible speaks of a thousand-year period to come (Rev. 20:6). But the premillennialist also sees Who will be doing the changing—Christ Without Christ, this new order could never happen—not with sinful men, even Christians included.
Now we go to “Christianize.” The postmillennialist saved person believes that we as believers can somehow take over and completely transform society and usher in a new social order that would follow the principles of the Bible. Only after we accomplish this will a pleased Lord Jesus come back to earth for us. Postmillennialists say our job isn’t to evangelize only but to “Christianize.”
Many religious liberals, who don’t believe in salvation by grace, are also postmillennial. They believe that man will become better and better as time goes on and as he learns to do good and live at peace with one another. History has repeatedly hurled setbacks at adherents of this belief. And mankind is getting worse and worse. The newspapers tell us that. If these utopians would read and believe their Bibles, they would appreciate 2 Timothy 3:13, which says that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” as the end of time gets nearer and nearer. Or, as the apostle Paul wrote in the first verse of this chapter, “In the last days perilous times shall come.” Note that he said perilous times, not peaceful.
The Scriptures teach that when Jesus Christ comes the second time (and we need to differentiate here between His second coming after the Tribulation and the Rapture in which He doesn’t come all the way to earth but draws all true believers up to meet Him in the air), it will be in judgment, not to a world in peace that is stretching out its arms to Him.
Paul described Christ’s coming this way:
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be. glorified in his saints (2 Thess. 1:8‒10).
Or read Revelation 19:11‒21. No completely converted world is here welcoming Christ as King, though He is coming for that purpose—to set up His millennial reign right after overthrowing the Antichrist.
The problem with the postmillennialist (as well as the amillennialist) is that he will not take the Word of God literally. Instead he must spiritualize or say that something recorded actually means something else. Then these truths of the Word can be open to all sorts of guesswork, conflicting ideas, speculation, and false teaching.
How refreshing to take the Word of God, rightly divided, and believe what it says.
The Bible makes it plain that the millennial Kingdom cannot be set up until Satan is bound, and that does not take place until Christ comes. If there is to be a thousand-year reign of peace (the Kingdom of Righteousness), Satan has to be taken out of the way. Who but God can do that? Surely not man.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season (Rev. 20:2, 3).
Christ comes before the millennial Kingdom, not after.
We also see from Scripture that Christ comes immediately after the seven-year Great Tribulation, not a millennium later. Matthew 24:29 and 30 state:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Man throughout the centuries has tried to bring about lasting peace. He has failed every time. World War I was supposed to be a war to end all wars. Think of all the wars we have had since 1919. They will be nothing compared to the great Battle of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation just prior to Christ’s second coming to earth.
Christian people are never asked to do something only God can do. Bringing about world peace—to say nothing of a completely new order upon earth—is God’s task. Our task is to share the gospel so that others might experience the new birth. That directive was given by Christ as He was about to return to Heaven. Let us never lose sight of it! Let us never get sidetracked. And, incidentally, let us never give up the joy and reality of the any-moment Rapture of believers. Some these days are trying to say we should be looking for the Antichrist instead, but Paul wrote,
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.