Why I Am a Premillennialist
November 27th, 1977 @ 10:50 AM
Amillennialism, Eschatology, Postmillennialism, Premillennialism, Second Coming, 1977, Matthew
WHY I AM A PREMILLENNIALIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-27-77 10:50 a.m.
It is a gladness also to welcome a great throng who are listening to the service on television and radio and who will be praying with us that God will bless the message to our hearts. Some two years ago I accepted an invitation to deliver two addresses at Moody Founder’s Week in Chicago this coming February. I suppose that is one of the great evangelical convocations in America and in the world. Then about two months ago they wrote me asking me to write out the addresses that I would make, because they wanted to publish them in a book, and wished that the book would be ready by the time the people come in February. And they gave me two assignments, two subjects: one, Why I am a Premillennialist; and the other, The Judgments of Almighty God.
In preparing those for delivery at the convocation and for publication, it was one of the most interesting and blessed of all the studies that I have ever made. So I thought that in my preaching through the Book of Acts, I would turn aside from this one Sunday and Sunday morning I would preach on Why I Am a Premillennialist, the first address; and then tonight at seven o’clock, the second one, The Judgments of Almighty God. And I pray that you will be able to listen to the message tonight on the judgments at seven o’clock, either here or on KRLD and KCBI.
Now the address for this morning hour, Why I Am a Premillennialist. I can easily understand why they would ask me to address myself to such a subject as that. My brethren in the Baptist Zion, for the most part, are anything but premillennialists. They are either amillennialists or they do not look forward to the coming of the Lord at all. And especially is that true in the academic community of university, college, and seminary. I can also see why they would be interested in my addressing myself to such a topic; the whole vast Christendom, outside of a few exceptions, the whole vast Christendom is amillennial.
Then how is it that I came to be a premillennialist? It is an interesting thing. About thirty-six or thirty-seven years ago, when I was pastor in a church in Muskogee, Oklahoma, I made a decision, a commitment, a turn in my pulpit ministry. Heretofore, I had been preaching subject sermons—sermons about certain things like faith, or regeneration, or inspiration, or Christian commitment—subject sermons, topical sermons. But in those days in Muskogee, I decided that I would preach the Bible and expound the Word of God as such. Where I left off Sunday morning, begin Sunday night, and where I left off that Sunday night, begin the following Sunday morning. So I began that kind of a pulpit ministry, just preaching, expounding the Word of the Lord.
Then something unusual came to pass. People who heard me went away and said, “Why, the man is a premillennialist.” I had never been introduced to premillennialism in my life: I had never had a premillennial teacher; I had never been instructed in that theological approach or interpretation. And yet, when people came to hear me preach, as I just expounded the Word of the Lord, they went away, saying, “The man is a premillennialist.”
When it was known to some of the people down here in Texas—unknown to me—that the pulpit committee of the First Baptist Church in Dallas was thinking of me as their pastor, a pastor here in Texas who later became a part of the official family of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, with offices there in the Baptist Building, he wrote a letter to the pulpit committee, and he said, “I think, in all fairness, before you consider calling that young man as your pastor, that you ought to know that he is a premillennialist.”
That letter was received by the secretary of the committee, Orville Groner, who was the treasurer of our Annuity Board. With great consternation Orville Groner took the letter to Dr. Walter R. Alexander, who at that time was the executive secretary of the Annuity Board, and he laid it before him and said, “What shall we do? This man is a premillennialist.” And Dr. Walter R. Alexander read the letter and then said to Orville Groner, “Orville, thank God! Praise God! I also am a premillennialist.” And Orville said, “You are what?” “I am a premillennialist.” Dr. Walter R. Alexander was a Philadelphian, one of the princeliest gentlemen I ever knew in all of my life. So against a background of exactly the opposite, I came to be known as a premillennialist. No time in my life was I ever instructed in that theological approach and interpretation; I never had a premillennial teacher.
I remember in the seminary, in our studying the Word of the Lord, that when we came to the last book in the Bible, the Revelation, the Apocalypse, my teacher, who was one of the most famous and gifted scholars who ever lived, when we came to the Revelation, he took his syllabus and he dropped it on the podium—just like that—and he said, “Young men, in my syllabus you will find the differing theories concerning the Revelation. You will find the preterist theories, you will find the futurist theories, you will find the synchronous historical theories, and you’ll find the continuous historical theories, and take your pick.” And that was all. That was the limit of my introduction to apocalyptic eschatological subjects.
Well, there is a vast and tremendous difference in those approaches to the Word of God. Premillennialism is the belief that God’s Word teaches that sin is deep and desperate; that the world is lost and dark, and that our only hope of a heavenly kingdom lies in the intervention of God. Only in the second coming of Christ [Matthew 25:31-46], will there be that peace and heavenly refrain for which we pray in the goodness and grace of the Lord. That is premillennialism!
Postmillennialism is the belief that in the evolution of the species—and the doctrine is developed against the background of evolution—that in the evolution of the species, we shall get better, and better, and better, and better. It is the doctrine that, by the preaching of the gospel and by the influence of the Holy Spirit in the earth, we shall breed out of us the claw, and the fang, and the tiger, and the ape, and we shall finally come into that blessedness of purity and peace, at which time the Lord will come and reign over a world that is already millennial, beautiful in its life and program.
Amillennialism is the doctrine that there is no millennium at all. And increasingly those who espouse the amillennial position have come to believe and there will be no return of Christ whatsoever. All of these things that are taught in the Bible are figures of speech, they are symbolical, and they have no real meaning whatsoever. That gave rise to “spiritualizing”—that is, taking the words of the Bible and making them mean whatever the man chooses that they mean, spiritualizing it all away—the whole doctrine of the coming of the Lord, of His millennial reign in the earth, and every hope that we have in Him.
So when I was accused of being a premillennialist, then I began to look at the Bible and its Word carefully and earnestly to see if that was what I was and if that was what the Bible taught. So I looked at the great eschatological address of our Savior in Matthew 24 and 25, and I read things like this: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven” [Matthew 24:29-30].
Then I looked at the Revelation, the first chapter was the presentation of the glorified, resurrected, immortalized Lord Jesus [Revelation 1:9-20]. The second and the third chapters were the story, the course of the church represented by the seven [churches] of Asia [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. Then beginning at chapter 4, the church is raptured away [Revelation 4:1]. It disappears and it does not reappear until the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, when the church comes with the Lord in glory [Revelation 19:21]. Then in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation is the marvelous and glorious millennium, of which you read just now [Revelation 20:1-6]. And between the rapture of the church [Revelation 4:1]—the taking away of the church—and the glorious return of the Lord with all of His saints [Revelation 19:21], that is the tribulation period [Revelation 7:14], just as the Lord said, “And after the tribulation of those days… shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in glory” [Matthew 24:29-31].
This is typical of what I read in the Bible. And furthermore, I learned in reading church history that this premillennial belief is the faith of the ancient church, and it is the faith of the church fathers. I read Papias and what Papias said—Papias was the pastor of the church at Hierapolis, just across the Lycus River from Laodicea—and his word is premillennial. Then I read Clement of Rome, born about 40 AD, almost certainly the Clement mentioned in [Philippians [4:3], and I have what he says—his premillennial faith in the coming of the Lord.
Then Justin Martyr, and I have here what he said; he was born about 100 AD; then Irenaeus, the pastor of the church in Lyons, the friend of Polycarp, who was the disciple of the sainted John. And I have here what Irenaeus says—a premillennial faith. Then I have here copied from Tertullian, born about 150 AD, and Cyprian, born about 195 AD, and Lactantius, born about 240 AD, the teacher of the son of Constantine—all of them premillennial.
Then I copied the summation of the faith of our ancient fathers from Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which is the greatest history ever written. In that Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon sums up the faith of those apostolic and church fathers. I quote from him:
The ancient and popular doctrine of the millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of fathers, from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, men who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles, down to Lactantius, who was the preceptor—the teacher—of the son of Constantine. It appears to have been the reigning sentiment of all orthodox believers. It was productive of the most salutary effect upon the faith and practice of Christians—end quote.
But after the conversion of Constantine and after the early fathers who knew the apostles and their followers, there was a great theological millennial change. It was the change from “premillennialism”—that the Lord could come any moment, any day, any time—to “amillennialism”—that there is no millennium at all. The theological confrontation to the premillennial faith was born in the Roman Church. That Church teaches that the kingdom is the Church and the Church is the kingdom. This was made easy when Constantine was converted because the Church was no longer the object of persecution, and it became the state religion in the Roman Empire.
That Roman theology of amillennialism had its origin in the teachings of Augustine or “Augustine.” He taught that—Augustine died in 430 AD—Augustine taught, one; the binding of Satan took place during the earthly ministry of our Lord. Two; the first resurrection is the new birth of the believer. Three; the devil is bound and expelled from the hearts of those who believe in Christ; that is the binding of Satan for a thousand years [Revelation 20:1-3]. Four; the reign of the saints is their personal victory over sin and the devil. Five; the beast is this wicked world and his image is hypocrisy. And six; the millennium is this present period of church history; we are in it now. All of amillennialists believe that we are in the millennium now; this is the millennium.
That is one of the most amazing theological persuasions that I could ever come into in my life: that we are now in the millennium; this is the millennium! Why, I think of a thousand Scripture passages describing that glorious millennium, such as Isaiah 11:6-8:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid…
And the lion shall eat straw like an ox…
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
That is now? This is that—the millennium of God? It is to me unthinkable! Turning aside from the premillennial faith makes the Bible a book of impossible, jumbled enigmas. It finally comes to have no meaning whatsoever. The loss of biblical distinctions makes for hermeneutical confusion—“hermeneutics” is the law of interpretation.
There are, for example, in the Bible three distinct classifications. According to the Word of God all mankind is divided into Jew, Gentile, and church. That’s according to 1 Corinthians 10:32, where Paul says all humanity is divided into three parts: the Jew, the Gentile, and the church. Amillennialism is the tragic, human interpretation that loses sight of those three distinctions, and it makes the Bible increasingly meaningless. And the Scriptures finally are looked upon as nothing other than a piece of antique literature. This thing is just the product of those tribes and people who lived thousands of years ago, but has no pertinency to us today, and they spiritualize the things that are revealed here in the Word of the Lord.
May I give you an example of that spiritualization, losing the distinction between Jew, and church, and Gentile, blotting out those distinctions that the Bible clearly makes [1 Corinthians 10:32], and spiritualizing it, making it mean whatever you would like. Now, for example, I have in my hand a very beautiful and expensive Bible. I would never buy one like this—costs, whew!—this is a very expensive Bible I hold in my hand, and it was given to me. I am too penurious and stingy to buy such a beautiful Book. It is a “text” Bible; that is, the print is very large and has in it just the text—no commentary, no concordance, no dictionary, just the text.
So I open the Bible at Isaiah 43, and here are headings at the top of the page, and the heading at the top of the page is this: The Church Comforted. So I come down here, expecting to read about the church, instead, this is what I read:
But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name….
He puts up here, The Church, but when I read the text, it says, “O Jacob,” “O Israel” [Isaiah 43:1].
I turn the page and here is chapter 63 in Isaiah. And he has up here, Christ’s Mercy Towards His Church. So I would expect to read down here about Christ’s mercy towards His church. And this is what I read:
I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He hath bestowed on them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His loving-kindnesses….
Then He remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people….
Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: but Thou, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer; Thy name is from Everlasting.
[Isaiah 63:11, 16]
Nothing about the church; it is about Israel, and it is about Moses, and it is about the people of Jerusalem.
I turn the page again; it says here, The Church Prayeth to God. Then I look down here in Isaiah 64, and I expect to find the church praying to God, and this is what I read:
Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem is a desolation.
Our holy and our beautiful house, wherein our fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire; and all our pleasant things are laid waste.
Wilt Thou refrain Thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt Thou hold Thy peace, and afflict us very sore?
The caption is, The Church Prays, but when I read the text, it is the cry of the people of Israel over Zion and Jerusalem and their beautiful temple that is burned with fire—that is spiritualizing! [Isaiah 64:10-12].
I turn the page again, and this is the most astonishing one I could ever imagine, the great heavy caption up above is The Stability of the Church, so I expect to read about the stability of the church. And when I read the text—this is in Jeremiah 31, I read it:
Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea…The Lord of hosts is His name;
If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.
Thus saith the Lord; If heaven [above] can be measured above, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then I will also cast off the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.
That is captioned The Stability of the Church. But what the text says is, “As long as there is a sun to shine in the sky, as long as there is a moon to give light by night, just as long as there is a heaven above us and an earth on which we stand, just so long will there be an Israel to live in this earth and to stand before Me” [Jeremiah 31:35-37]. Did you ever imagine, did you ever imagine such spiritualizing in your life? But you have to do that in order to embrace the amillennial belief.
Now another thing about the Word of the Lord: these who obliterate the distinction between church, and Israel, and the Gentiles [1 Corinthians 10:32], these people put the church in place of Israel and Israel in place of the church. But the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians says, and Paul expatiates upon it—the church was a mustērion: it was a secret kept in the heart of God until He revealed it to His apostles! [Ephesians 3:1-11]. There is no church ever seen by the prophets [Ephesians 3:4-11]. There is no church in the Old Testament, they never saw it. They never knew it, this church age in which we live, this age of the Spirit, of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [Ephesians 3:2], this age of the calling out of a new body made up of Jew and Gentile, called the bride of Christ. This age was a secret in the heart of God, and no prophet ever saw it until God revealed it to His holy apostles [Ephesians 3:5]. Therefore, when I read the Old Testament, I’ll read about the Jew, and I’ll read about the Gentile, and I’ll read about God’s purposes in bringing us to a glorious millennial kingdom. But I will never read about the church until I come to the New Testament [Ephesians 3:1-11].
All through the Scriptures Israel means Israel, the Jew means the Jew, Gentile means the Gentile, and the church means the church [1 Corinthians 10:32]. And if you will just let God say what He says, and let God be true to His revelation, you will find the Bible like a glorious, marvelous, beautiful mosaic, and every little piece will fit perfectly. But if you spiritualize it, and make the church Israel and Israel the church, the Bible becomes an enigmatic, insoluble riddle; and finally in disgust you’ll be like the rest of these who move away from the Word of God, you will junk it as a piece of antique literature.
I want us to pause for a moment and look at that “spiritualization.” The amillennialist teaches that God is through with Israel. He teaches that Israel has no future, there’s no remembrance, there’s no anything for the Jew. God is through with him, God is done with him, God has cast him off. Even though the apostle Paul will say in Romans 11, “Hath God cast away His people? God forbid!” [Romans 11:1]. Then he speaks about God’s mercies towards Israel [Romans 11:2-36], but the amillennialist and the spiritualizer say that there is no future for Israel, no future for the Jew, God is done with him.
But, but, if God breaks His promise to Israel; if God doesn’t keep His word with the Jew, how do I know that He will keep His word to me? If God lies to the Jew, how do I know but that God will lie to me? In Numbers 23:19, there is a descriptive sentence about the Lord that is beautiful, “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent: hath He said and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?
God made many promises to the Jew, and God makes many promises to me. And if He lied and deceived the Jew, then I don’t know but that He would lie and deceive me. But God doesn’t lie. He keeps His word, He is going to keep His word to that Jew, which gives me the foundational hope and assurance that the Lord God will keep His word to me. Let’s look at that word to the Jew just for a moment: Jesus said he will be here when He comes to earth again. In Matthew 24:34, the Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled,” the word there, genea, this genea, translated “generation.” The Latin form of it is genus. The English form of it would be this kind, this race, this species. “This Jew,” Jesus says, “will be here when I come again,” when all these things are fulfilled [Matthew 24:34].
And I love to give, to me, a facetious illustration of that. Back there in the Old Bible you read about the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and the Moabites, and the Ammonites and all those other “-ites.” Now I want you to tell me, did you ever see anybody, who ever knew anybody, who ever heard of anybody who ever saw a Hivite? Did you ever see anybody, who ever heard of anybody, who ever saw anybody that ever heard of an Ammonite, or a Moabite, or a Jebusite, or any of those other “ites?” Man! They have been gone from the earth so long that nobody ever saw anybody, who ever heard of anybody who ever even was introduced to them. But the Lord God said, “The Jew will be here till I come again, he will be here” [Matthew 24:34].
You want to walk with me down the street of the city of Dallas? I’ll go into those stores; every big store in Dallas is run and owned by the Jews. Would you like to see a great big one right here in the audience? Barpofski? Stand up over there for a minute; there’s one of them, there’s one of them. That’s God! The Lord said “He will be here till I come again [Matthew 24:34]. “ Another thing, the Lord God said they will be a people, they will be a nation. And in that passage that I read in Jeremiah 31:
As long as that sun shines in the sky, and as long as that moon gives its light by night, as long as there is a heaven arching above us, and an earth on which we stand, just so long will Israel be a people in the presence of the Lord.
Another thing, the Lord God says that the land of Palestine belongs to him—the land of Canaan belongs to the Jew—it belongs to Israel. In the one hundred fifth Psalm I read:
God hath remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and unto Israel for an everlasting covenant; saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.
That is an unconditional covenant that God made between Him and the seed of Israel. Look again how God emphases that. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Leviticus:
These Israelites despise My judgments, and their souls abhorred My statutes.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, scattered all over this world, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.
I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham; and I will remember their land.
This is a covenant that God has sworn forever. The land belongs to the Jew. There is plenty of room in this world for the Arab, the children of Ishmael. There’s plenty of money over there to resettle every one of them; Saudi Arabia alone has enough to take care of them forever. There is plenty of room in this world for us Gentiles; there is one place God says in this world that belongs to Israel, and that is the land of Palestine, the land of Canaan. And wherever there is a Jew, there you will find his heart in that homeland. He can’t help it. God says in Amos 9:11, 14, and 15, God says that they are going to return home, and the day will come in this millennial reign when they will never be rooted up again. “In that day,” says Amos, in his last chapter:
I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, close up the breaches thereof; I will raise up his ruins, I will build it as in the days of old . . .
And I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; plant vineyards . . . eat of the gardens.
I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord of hosts, the Lord God.
[Amos 9:11, 14-15]
Israel is going back to Palestine. And God is giving them that land, and someday in peace they will–in millennial joy—they will never be uprooted again.
And last: God says that Israel is going to be saved, they are going to accept their Lord. Listen to this Word of God:
Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
How is that going to be? In the Book of Zechariah chapters 12, 13, and 14, he describes how that’s going to be. When the Lord comes again, He is going to appear to His people, regathered in Palestine. And this is the way it’s going to be.
I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced. . .
In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness… And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? And He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends…I will hear them: I will say, These are My people and they will say, This is my Lord, God . . .
[Zechariah 13:1, 6, 9]
And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem . . . And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name, one.
[Zechariah 14:4, 9]
That is not unusual. The Lord appeared unto His unbelieving brethren, James, and Joseph, and Jude, and Simon [1 Corinthians15:7]. And He won them personally to the faith in Himself [Acts 1:14]. The Lord appeared to another of His brethren [Romans 11:25-26]. He appeared to Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:1-6]. He described the experience as of being an abortion, as being one born before the time [1 Corinthians 15:8], before this glorious day when the Lord appears to Israel, He appeared to Saul of Tarsus. And someday He will appear to His people, His brethren, and then will come to pass that prophecy in Isaiah, when a nation will be born in a day, converted in an hour [Isaiah 66:8].
Now I must close. We see the confirmation of this interpretation, this belief in the literal meaning of the Word of God, we see that confirmation in present day history. Number one: there is not a postmillennialist left in the earth, not one, not one. When I was growing up, every preacher I ever heard and every teacher I ever sat under was either a postmillennialist—practically all of them were that—or they were an amillennialist, didn’t care one way or the other. But there is not a postmillennialist to be found in the earth today. After World War II, and after the atrocities and terrors that manifested and opened to view the depths of the depravity of the human heart, there’s not a man in the pulpit or in a professor’s chair today that will stand up and teach postmillennialism, that we are going to get better, and better, and better, and better until finally we will have universal purity, and peace, and righteousness. That’s God! That’s God! It wasn’t in the Bible; that was a figment of a man’s imagination.
Number two: the historical confirmation of this literal meaning of the Word of God. In your day and in my day, on the fifteenth day of May in 1948, Israel—that nation had been buried among the peoples of the earth since 70 AD—for one thousand eight hundred years, she was buried among the peoples of the earth, never digested, never destroyed, never obliterated, and on the fifteenth day of May in 1948 in Palestine, there is a new nation; namely, Israel. According to Ezekiel 36:24-28 which I haven’t time to expound upon, “She shall return,” God says, “in unbelief.” And most Israelis over there are atheists, “Return in unbelief.” But God is not done with them; this great conversion shall happen before the millennium [Romans 11:25-26]. And God says that the denouement of history is there.
What do you think about that? God says the end of the age will unravel there. The battle of Armageddon will be fought there [Revelation 16:16]. The great, final confrontation of the nations of the world will be there [Revelation 19:17-21]. I see that in history and in every headline of every daily newspaper. The attention of the world is riveted there, and the nations are gathering there.
I was lecturing on top of Armageddon—the Hill of Megiddo—and while I was lecturing, those American Phantom jets that belong to Israel roared overhead and roared back again. And the resounding thunder of those Phantom jets sounded like the very tide of the judgment of Almighty God! That is where God says the final confrontation will be, look in your newspaper!
In the days when I had access to the White House, I was seated in the cabinet room; in one of those chairs with the president of the United States and with Henry Kissinger, who was the secretary of state, right next to the Oval Office. It was in the days of the Vietnam War, and the secretary of state was briefing us on the foreign policy of the United States. And I asked the secretary of state, “Do you think that in this confrontation in Vietnam, that great powers will be drawn into it like Russia, and like Western Europe, and like China, will it be?” And he replied, “No.” He said, “Vietnam is a war contained just in that little country, and it will not spread, it will not go beyond; however it comes out, it will always be just there.” Then I asked the secretary of state one other question, I said, “Do you think that there is a development and that there is a place in the earth where there is a possibility of an atomic confrontation of the great powers of the earth?” And he said, “Yes.” I said, “Where is it?” He said, “In the Middle East, in the Middle East.” That is according to the Word of God, and that is according to what we see today. Just as the Lord has written in His Book, the great denouement of time, and of the nations, and of the judgment, and of the last great war will be in Armageddon in Palestine [Revelation 16:16]. There will the end time come to its ultimate consummation.
Bear with me just one more moment. I see the confirmation of this truth of the millennial, literal interpretation of the Word of God, I see it in the effective messenger and in his effective message. There came two world-famed men to the city of Dallas to preach in a series of services. One of them went out to the Cotton Bowl, and we were there by the thousands and the thousands, listening to the premillennial evangelist. And there were thousands turned to the Lord. About the same time, Paul Tillich came to Dallas. Paul Tillich is the darling of the liberal, neo-orthodox theologian, for years until he died, professor of theology at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He also came to Dallas; he was in a church here for a week. You never heard of his being here. He had a little handful of people there, and I talked to one of the elders in the church, and he said to me, “I’ve been every night and I cannot tell you one thing that he said. I have no idea what he is talking about.”
The minister in the pulpit is always doing one of two things. He is either moving toward the Bible, ever deeper and closer into the Word of God, or he is moving away from it. The minister in the pulpit, as he continues his ministry, is always doing one of those two things: he’s moving closer to it, deeper into it, pouring over its words, or he is gradually moving away from it. I do not know of a premillennialist in the earth but who is a man who believes in the literalness of the Holy Scriptures and its meaning. I close.
In the years gone by, Youth for Christ, right after the Second World War, Youth For Christ was a dynamic instrument of God for the evangelization of America. There were two remarkably gifted men in Youth for Christ. Oh, those men! Like a fire, like a flame, both of them could preach! Calling together thousands and thousands, great preachers, effective; those two men, in Youth for Christ; one of them gradually moved away from the Bible, moved away, moved away. Finally, he quit the ministry, he is no longer a preacher, he quit completely. The other of those two Youth for Christ preachers moved more and more and more toward the Word of God; a marvelous premillennial evangelist. I won’t name the first one, why should I? It is sad, it is a cause of tears; he has quit the ministry. I will not name him. I name the other one: the Youth for Christ preacher that moved more and more and more toward the Word of the Lord—a great premillennial evangelist—is your fellow member in this church for twenty-five years. His name is Billy Graham.
That is always true, the minister is either moving toward the Word of the Lord, deeper and deeper in it, or he is moving away and away until finally his ministry is made up of book reviews, and picture shows that he’s seen, and articles in Reader’s Digest, and economics, and politics, and all of the ephemera of the day. O God! That every church might have a pastor—and every evangelist, Dr. Morris, might be a man who stood before the people—just an echo, just a voice, not originating his message, just turning the Word of the Lord open and expounding, “Thus hath God spoken to our souls.”
What can save us from hell and damnation? What can deliver us out of the depravity of our sin? Who can write our names in the Book of Life, and in whose power can we raise our children and seek blessing upon our people? That is God’s grace, revealed to us in this holy, and immutable, and everlasting Word [Ephesians 2:8]. And it’s on the basis of the promise of God that He will save us [Romans 10:9-13], and He will keep us, and that someday He will raise us from the dead, if we fall asleep before He comes [1 Thessalonians 4:16], and He will give to us a kingdom, a heaven [Luke 12:32]; if you believe that and will trust God for it [Acts 16:30-31], come and welcome. Bring your family with you; rear those precious children in the love and nurture of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4]. Worship God with us, a thousand times welcome, and angels multiplied attend your way as you come. Out of the balcony, down one of these aisles, answer with your life, “Lord, yes! I’m on the way.” While we stand and while we sing.