Why I Became a Premillennialist
April 8th, 1984 @ 10:50 AM
End Times, Eschatology, Premillennial, Second Coming, Great Doctrines of the Bible: Eschatology, 1984, Luke
WHY I BELIEVE IN A PRE-MILLENNIAL FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-8-84 10:50 a.m.
And the Lord wonderfully bless the great multitudes who are sharing this hour on radio and on television. In these days and years, we are preaching the great doctrines of the Bible. One of my staff members reminded me this morning – he said, “Pastor, you’ve been saying you’ve been preaching three years. It has been four years. You began preaching this doctrinal series the first Sunday in January of 1984 – four years this year.” We are in the concluding and climactic sections of that doctrinal series, and this one concerns the second coming of Christ. This is the fourth message in that series on the second coming of our Lord, and today’s message is entitled Why I Became A Premillennialist.
In Luke 24, verses 25 to 27, is a background text. Our Lord said:
O, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He – diermeneuo, diermeneuo, He "interpreted," He "explained," – He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
There are three attitudes. There are three approaches that one can make to the great prophetic teachings of the Scriptures. There are some – used to be many – who are postmillennial. They are postmillennialists – postmillenarians. That is the interpretation of the Word of God that we’re going to get better, and better, and better. And we are going to preach and win people to Jesus. And finally, the whole world is going to be converted and everybody will be saved and safe – and the millennium then will come. We’re going to preach the world into the millennium; we are going to evolve into the millennium; we’re going to get better and better, until finally, with the angels and maybe some of us, archangels. That is postmillennialism! The Lord is going to come after the millennium. We are going to get better; we are going to win this world of Jesus; we are going to solve all of our problems, and confrontations, and then the millennium will come. And then, after the millennium, Jesus will return to the earth. That is postmillennialism.
A second approach to the prophetic Scriptures is called amillennialism. "A" in Greek is a negative; it negates. Like atheos, atheist. Theos is the word for "God." So atheist, "no God," doesn’t believe in God, atheism.
Now amillennialism is, "There’s not gonna be any millennium. All of these words in the Bible, all of these prophecies, are just so many enigmas. They have no pertinency; they have no message. There’s not going to be any millennium. We’re just going to go, and go, and go, until finally the thing ceases to exist" – amillennialism.
Then there is another approach to the Word of God, and to the prophetic Scriptures, and that is called premillennialism, a premillennialist, a premillenarian. And the teaching, the doctrine, of the premillennialist is this; that all the promises in the Bible are everlastingly yea and amen; that God will do exactly as He has promised; and that the program of the world, and the unfolding of its history, is according to a sovereign and divine plan. And there are five parts of the premillennial faith, and each one is going to come to pass exactly as the Scriptures have portrayed it.
Number one; the Lord is coming secretly, privately, furtively, clandestinely, softly. He is coming as a thief in the night to steal away His jewels. He is coming for His people, and that is called in an old Anglo-Saxon word the "rapture" of the church. All of us are going to be raptured up to heaven to our Lord. First the dead will be raised, and then all of us will be changed, immortalized, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. That is the first step in the program of the end of the consummation, the denouement, of the age. First is the rapture, when Jesus comes for His people.
Number two; that will be followed by the Great Tribulation – seven years of turmoil, and unprecedented sorrow, and trouble in the world.
Number three; that period of Tribulation will close with the war of Armageddon, the great battle of Almighty God, at the end of which war the Lord comes from heaven. He comes openly. He comes before the eyes of all creation – visibly, personally He comes. And, at that time, Israel is converted. The nation accepts their Messiah.
And then comes the millennium, with our Lord’s presence; and all of the evil, and injustice, and sorrow taken away. The Lord leads us into that period of blessedness so beautifully described by the prophets and by the apostles. Now, that is premillennialism. How did it come to pass that I became a convert to the premillennial faith? It started in a way that, for the life of me, I cannot recreate. I have thought ten thousand times, and still do, “How did this come to pass?”
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, where I was pastor, I had been preaching all the years of my life before, as I’d heard everybody else preach. I preached subject sermons. I preached topical sermons. I hadn’t heard anybody preach any other way. So, when I stood up to preach, for the years and the years of my first beginning ministry, I preached topical sermons, subject sermons. I’d preach on faith, or I’d preach on hell, or I’d preach on justification; I’d just preach topical sermons.
For some reason that I cannot recreate in my heart and memory, in Muskogee, I began preaching the Bible. Where I left off Sunday morning, I started Sunday night. And where I left off that Sunday night, I started again that Sunday morning. And I started preaching the Bible – paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, book by book.
If you were here when I came to Dallas, almost immediately, I started doing the same thing. And I preached eighteen years through the Bible – started at Genesis and went clear to Revelation. How many of you were here in those days when I preached through the Bible? Would you hold up your hand? There are a good many of you, but a good many of you weren’t here. Well, what happened was, when I started preaching through the Bible, people who came to hear me went away and said, “That man is a premillennialist.” And that was universal; anybody that came to hear me preach went away saying, “That man is a premillennialist.”
Well, I never had a premillennial teacher in my life. Not one! Nor had I ever sat under the ministry of a premillennial preacher. I never had been introduced to it, not in all of my life. All of the preachers that I had heard, and all of the teachers that I had, were either postmillennialists or amillennialists, every one of them. I never had any teacher, nor did I listen to any preacher, who was anything else except a "post-" or "a-" millennialist. Yet when they heard me preach the Bible, they went away saying that, "This man is a premillennialist."
My Greek teacher was the greatest Greek scholar in the world. His name was Dr. A. T. Robertson. I not only studied Greek under him, but I began my doctoral work under him. And he died just as I was beginning my Ph.D. studies. I shall well remember, when in studying the syllabus of Dr. Robertson, we came finally through the Revelation – studying the syllabus and the New Testament – and when we came to the Apocalypse, Dr. Robertson stood at the podium, at the lectern, and he dropped the syllabus on the lectern just like that and said, "Young gentlemen, in my syllabus you will find the differing theories regarding the interpretation of the Revelation. They are futurist, or they are preterist, or they are synchronous historical, or they are continuous historical – and you just take your pick. Choose any theory you would like!" And that was my introduction – that was my study of the Apocalypse, of the Revelation.
I never had a premillennial teacher, nor did I ever sit under a premillennial preacher. Yet when I started preaching the Bible, just preaching the Word of God, people went away saying, “That man is a premillennialist.”
If I had time – what happened here at this church: an executive in the denomination wrote to the pulpit committee of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and said, "We hear that you are considering that pastor in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to be your pastor, to follow the great George W. Truett. I think, in all fairness, you need to know that that man is a premillennialist."
Well, the letter was given, of course, to the secretary of the committee, Orville Groner. Now, Orville Groner was the treasurer of the Annuity Board, and the executive leader of the Annuity Board was Dr. Walter R. Alexander. He was a tall, handsome Philadelphian, a cultured gentleman if ever there was one. You couldn’t help but love and admire Dr. Alexander. Well, Orville Groner took the letter to Dr. Alexander and said, "Dr. Alexander, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. I don’t know what to think. This man that we’re considering to be pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas is a premillennialist. Look at that!"
And Dr. Walter Alexander looked at that, and back to Orville Groner, and said, “Orville, thank God! Thank God! Praise the Lord!”
And Orville said to Dr. Alexander, “What?”
“Yes,” said Dr. Alexander, “for I am a premillennialist.”
And Orville said, “You are a what?”
And Alexander said, “I too am a premillennialist. Praise God! Praise God!”
Well, I didn’t even know what I was either. So I began to study, and that is the message this morning; why it is that I believe in the premillennial faith – how it came to pass that I became a premillennialist.
I began to study the Bible, not from the point of view of subjects as such, topics as such, but I began to study the Bible concerning what it said. What did it say about the resurrection of the dead? What does it say about heaven to come? What does it say about the judgment? What does it say about the return of Christ? What does it say about the life that we face after death? I began to study, began to pour my life into that Word, in the Hebrew, in the Greek. And I learned, first of all, concerning the teaching of the Scriptures – and I have nine points here to mention – some of the things in the Bible that you will find.
Number one; I have our Lord’s apocalyptic discourse in Matthew 24 is premillennial. In Matthew 24, verses 29 and 30: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall appear the … Son of Man in heaven." After the tribulation the Lord comes openly, then the millennium.
Number two; I studied and could easily see that the Revelation, the Apocalypse, the last book in the Bible, is absolutely and completely premillennial. It is nothing else. It starts off with an outline and then carefully follows that outline. And in Revelation 4:1, John is raptured up to heaven – a picture of the rapture of the church. And the church disappears from the earth until it appears, coming with the Lord, in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation – and then, in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, the millennium. The Apocalypse is absolutely premillennial.
Number three; the tribulation is premillennial. The great tribulation is described in Revelation, chapters 6 through 19, and that’s before the twentieth chapter, which is the millennium. You will find that all through the Word of God–Matthew 24:21, 22, 29, 30; Luke 21:22, 30 – all the way through.
Number four; the appearance of the final Antichrist, the world dictator, is premillennial. He is destroyed by the brightness of the coming of our Lord. That’s in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2 – the entire chapter. There is no millennium, there is no peace in this earth while Antichrist rules the world. It is given unto him, as Daniel 7 says, to wear out the saints.
Number five; before the millennium, the seven-headed, ten-horned beast, that bore on his back the scarlet woman drunk with the blood of the saints, will exist to persecute the church until Christ comes [Revelation 17:1-18].
Number six; before there can be a millennium, Satan must be bound. And the Scriptures teach that he will be bound, in Revelation 20:1-3, and then comes the millennium.
Number seven; the condition of the earth is tragic, not euphoric, before Christ comes. That is universal in the prophetic Word – Matthew 24:37 and following; Luke 18:8; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-13; 2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 12 and 13. The whole Bible is that way. The condition of the world, of this earth, before Christ comes is not millennial. It is not euphoric. It is not at peace. It is at war, and it’s plunged in blood.
Number eight; the tares are to be gathered out of the kingdom at the coming of Christ, before the millennium, in Matthew 13.
And number nine; the restoration and conversion of the house of Israel will take place at the return of Christ, and before the millennium. This is in Zechariah, chapter 12; Zechariah, chapter 13; Zechariah, chapter 14; and 1 Corinthians 15:8, and a thousand other like Scriptures.
Not only in my study of the Word of God did I find the premillennial faith, without exception, but as I reviewed history – should have been aware of it when I was studying it – the ancient faith of all of the church fathers was premillennial. There is no exception to that. For the three hundred first years after Christ, when the church was persecuted, all of those great church fathers were premillennial; Polycarp, Papias, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Rome, Tertullian, Lactantius – the whole group. There’s no exception to it. They were all premillennial.
I have here, in the Bible, a summary of that by Edward Gibbons. He wrote the greatest history that has ever been penned by a man. It is called, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And Edward Gibbon writes, I quote:
The ancient and popular doctrine of the millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of church fathers from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, men who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles, down to Lactantius, who was the preceptor of the son of Constantine.
It appears to have been the reigning teaching of all orthodox Christians. It was productive of the most salutary effect upon the faith and practice of the disciples of the Lord. When the church was persecuted, their hope was in Christ, and they believed that He was coming, and that He Himself would set up a kingdom of righteousness in the earth.
All of the fathers, every one of them, was a premillennial believer. Then, after the conversion of Constantine, the church became the lapdog of the court. It was petted, and the whole system of Greek religion – its basilicas, its temples, its priests, its vestments, its images, its liturgies, its rituals – all of it was baptized into the Christian faith. And there was a great change in the theological teaching and doctrinal outlook of the church. It followed Augustine, who was an amillennialist, who spiritualized all the teachings of the Word of God. And the church ceased to look for the coming of the Lord, and it ceased to expect a heavenly kingdom established by the visible appearing of Christ Himself.
But the premillennial faith never died. What we call the “morning stars of the Reformation” preached it; Savonarola of Florence, John Wycliffe of England, John Huss of Bohemia. And it was preached by the great reformers themselves – the premillennial return of our Lord – Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin, Zwingli. And it was preached universally by the Anabaptists – who laid down their lives as martyrs by the uncounted thousands. And it was preached by our Baptist forefathers, in their confession of faith delivered to the King of England they emphasized the premillennial return of our Lord.
And when the Puritans came to the new land of America, they preached the premillennial faith. Increase Mather, who was born in 1639, said – and I quote from one of his sermons: "That which presseth me so, as that I cannot gainsay this millennial opinion, is that the thousand apocalyptic years are not past, but future. There will be a glorious day for the elect upon the earth." And his son, another great Puritan preacher in Boston, was named Cotton Mather, born in 1663. And from a sermon by Cotton Mather:
It is well known that in the earliest of the primitive times, the faithful did, in a literal sense, believe in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the rising and the reigning of the saints with Him a thousand years before the rest of the dead live again. This doctrine of the millennium is true.
From those Puritan preachers who came to America, I learned then that the original primitive faith was premillennial, that it is not a later doctrinal development. And I learned concomitantly that postmillennialism, and amillennialism, is a later doctrinal development. It is not the preaching of the Word of God, and it was not the primitive faith of the church. That did I learn in my study.
Now, may I make three or four remarks concerning what happens when you depart from the premillennial faith? First of all, it makes – when you depart from the premillennial faith – it makes for hermeneutical confusion of the highest, deepest, darkest order. Hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation. And when we depart from the premillennial faith, the Bible becomes a book of impossible, jumbled enigmas.
For example, in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:32, there are three divisions of mankind: the Jew, the Gentile, and the church. Amillennialism is the tragic human interpretation of the Scriptures that loses sight of these three distinctions – the Jew, the Gentile, and the church. And it makes the Bible meaningless. Finally, the Scriptures, to them, become a heterogeneous collection of pieces of antique literature, and they go off and preach something else.
Now, let me show you what I mean. I have here in my hand a beautiful Bible given me with my name written on the outside in gold. This is the Oxford Press’ most beautiful Bible that they – and the most expensive – that they publish. Now, when I open this beautiful Bible, I read up here at the top the caption before Isaiah 43, “The church comforted with God’s promises.” So I look down to read about the church comforted with God’s promises, and this is what I read, "Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not, for I am with thee." I don’t see anything about the church. It is talking about Jacob. It is talking about Israel.
I turn the page, and there I read that caption, “The church comforted with God’s promises.” And this is what I read, "
Hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb. Fear not, O Jacob, My servant; and thou, Jesurun – that is a little pet name for "my angel baby, my little sweetheart, my chubby chub-chub." That’s; that’s just a "sweet thing" for Israel.
Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, My little baby doll, Israel, whom I have chosen.
[Isaiah 44:1, 2]
I don’t see anything about the church there!
So I turn the page, and I read up here the caption; “The church’s joy.” And I read down there in Isaiah 52, "Break forth into joy, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem." [Isaiah 52:9] I don’t see anything about the church!
So I turned the pages and I read here in Isaiah 63; “Christ’s mercies toward His church,” and I read about the great goodnesses of God toward the house of Israel and how He remembers the days of old and Moses, "Yea, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledges us not – because of our sins – yet the Lord, our Father, our Redeemer," [Isaiah 63:16] He remembers us. I don’t see anything about the church there!
And then I turn the pages and come to Jeremiah. And here in Jeremiah 31 the caption is; “The stability of the church.” And I look down there to read about the stability of the church, and this is what I read, "Thus saith the Lord God, as long as the sun shines up there in the sky by day, and as long as the moon shines up there in the sky by night, just so long will Israel be a nation before me for ever." [Jeremiah 31:36]
Now, that is amillennialism. It has no pertinency to what the Bible is saying whatsoever. It takes what the Bible says and makes it mean anything that anybody chooses to make it mean. It spiritualizes it.
Now, the church is a musterion. It is a secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it unto His holy apostles. The prophets never saw the church. The church never appears in the Old Testament Scriptures. They never looked at it. They never saw it. They never prophesied it. They never described it. They never were introduced to it. They knew nothing of it.
The church is a secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it unto His apostles. The Bible calls it a musterion. When you take that Greek word and spell it out in English, it spells out "mystery." It’s spoken of in Romans 11:25, in Romans 16:25, and Ephesians 3:3, 4 and 9, and Colossians 1:26 – all of those passages in the New Testament declare that the church is a secret God kept in His heart. This whole age of grace, this period of the church, this interlude between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth weeks of the Book of Daniel, was a mystery. It was a secret. The apostles were introduced to it. It was revealed to them. The prophets never saw it.
The only way, the only way that the amillennialist can teach the Word of God in a amillennial faith is to spiritualize the plain teaching of the Scriptures; that is, to make them mean something else besides what they say. For example, I’ve taken Augustine, who was the father of the amillennial doctrine when the church became the lapdog of the luxurious fawning of the court, and the whole world was baptized into it. The amillennial teaching of Augustine – which became the accepted teaching of the Roman Church – now, you look at his spiritualizing.
One; he says the binding of Satan took place during the earthly ministry of Christ. He spiritualized the fall of Satan.
Number two; he said the devil is bound and expelled from the hearts of those who believe in Christ. He spiritualized our conversion in the Lord and our blessed hope.
Number three; he said the first resurrection is the new birth of the believer. He spiritualized the resurrection from the dead.
Number four; he said the reign of the saints is their personal victory over sin and the devil. He spiritualized the whole concept of the kingdom coming.
Number [five]; He said the beast is this wicked world, and his image is hypocrisy. He spiritualized the coming Antichrist.
And number six; he said the millennium is this present period of the church age. "We’re in it now. We’re in the millennium now." That is the teaching of the amillennialist. My brother, if I’m in the millennium now with all of the headlines I read in the paper; and all of the bloodshed and suffering in this world; and sin and death – if this is the millennium, words have lost their meaning, and the Bible is truly, as they say, an enigmatic jungle of impossible revelations.
I want to point out a second thing. When we depart from the premillennial faith, we lose our assurance that the Lord God will keep His promises to us. The amillennialist teaches that God is through with Israel, that they have no future and no remembrance and no anything. But let me tell you truly, as a prophet from heaven and preacher of the gospel, if the Lord God breaks His promises to Israel, how do I know but that He will break His promises to me? What assurance do I have if God forgets, and denies, and negates the promises He’s made to Israel, how do I know that He won’t do the same thing to me? What assurance do I have of any future in heaven if God doesn’t keep His word?
Numbers 23:19 says, "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 has promised several things about Israel. Number one; you just heard me refer to Jeremiah . God said, "As long as there’s a sun to shine in the sky by day and a moon to shine in the heavens by night, just so long will there be a nation of Israel to live before Me."
Look again. God has said that the land of Palestine is His. I wish I had time to read these references, such as in Leviticus 26 and Psalm 105. The land of Palestine belongs to Him, God said. The Lord God said that He will return to His Palestinian home, to dwell there forever.
In Amos 9 God has said he will be converted, the nation will. He will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and Messiah. That’s in Romans 11:25 to 29 and Zechariah 12, 13, and 14.
Christ appeared to His brethren, Joseph and Jude and James and Simon. And He won them personally to the Lord. God appeared to Saul ektroma, as one born before he should be born; born in an abortion; speaking of the fact that someday he is going to appear before his people, his brethren, and they’ll be won to the Lord. That is the promises of God to Israel. And if God breaks those promises to Israel, I have no assurance at all but that He’ll break His promises to me.
Now, look again. We see the confirmation of this premillennial faith in history. Just look around you. First of all, the death of [post]millennialism. There is not a [post]millennialist in the world today, not one. If a man were to stand up today and preach [post]millennialism as I heard all of my life, as I was taught all the days that I went to school, they would think he had lost his balance. They would accuse him of insanity. No, man today preaches that we’re going to evolve – that we’re going to get better and better, and we’re going to finally convert this world, and then the millennium will come, and then we’ll give it to Christ. Nobody believes this today.
Yet, when I was a youth, growing up, every teacher I had and every preacher I heard was a postmillennialist. "We’re going to get this thing going. And we’re going to do it; don’t need Jesus here; not even looking for Him. We’re going to do it ourselves." There is not a postmillennialist in the earth today, not one.
Number two; the affirmation of history to what God has said in His book. As you know, for two thousand years, there was no nation of Israel over there. After 70 AD they were scattered, and buried among the peoples of the world. On the 15th of May in 1948, there was born the nation of Israel. God said they will return in unbelief, Ezekiel 36:24-28. And there they are, just according to the word of God. If I were to call the Israelite nation one thing, I’d call it an atheistic nation. They don’t believe anything. They don’t believe in God. That’s what the Lord said they are going to return in unbelief.
Number three; the consummation of human history is there in the Middle East. Armageddon is there. The attention of the world is there. There are no more people in Israel than there are here in the metroplex but the attention of the world is there. The headlines of the world are there.
In the days when I used to be invited to the White House, upon this occasion in the Oval Office, we were with Henry Kissinger – the little group of us, the little handful of us – and he was briefing us on the foreign policy of the American government. It was in the days when the war was raging in Vietnam. And while we were talking, I asked Mr. Kissinger, then Secretary of State, I said, “Do you believe that over there in Indonesia, over there in the Orient, over there in Vietnam, there will be this confrontation between the east and the west that results in atomic war, in Armageddon?”
He said, “Not at all, not at all.” He said, “The great confrontation among the nations of the world will be in the Middle East, Middle East.” Just according to the Word of God. If you read the headlines of the papers, and read the Bible, you’ll find them congruent. One confirms the other throughout the generations, and I think until Jesus comes again.
May I say another avowal? We see the confirmation of the premillennial faith in the effective message and messenger. It is difficult to face a lost world with a message of conversion and believe that the Bible is a jumbled mass of enigmatic words. It’s hard to do it. In fact, you can’t do it. And I have a good illustration of that here.
There came to Dallas, about the same time, two world theological figures. One of them preached in a Presbyterian church here in the city, preached for a week. For years and years he was the darling of the liberal neo-orthodox theological community. For the years and the years he was professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He preached for a week here in Dallas.
I asked an elder in the church, who had been there every service, I said, “How was it?”
And he said, “Sir, I listened to him for a week, and to this minute I can’t tell you a thing that he said. I couldn’t understand even what he was talking about. It had no meaning, no pertinency whatsoever.”
About that same time, there came to the city of Dallas, and to the Texas stadium, the world-famed evangelist who belongs to this church. And many of you went out there. I went out there. And I saw people come to the Lord by the thousands and by the thousands. That’s the difference. An amillennialist is always moving away from the Word of God; further, and further, and further away. Pretty soon, like Union Theological Seminary, they haven’t produced a preacher in over fifty years, not one. They go out to teach; they go out to counsel; they go out to a thousand other things. But they don’t have any message. They don’t have any Word of God.
A preacher is doing one of two things. He’s moving away from the Word of God, moving away from it, or he’s moving toward it, and deeper in it. He’s doing one or the other every day of his life. And I found that true with me. As the days pass, and do pass, more and more and more, I’m beginning to see the infinite treasures of the depths of the wisdom of God in these holy pages, moving toward the Word of the Lord.
There is not a premillennialist in the world who is other than a believer in the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God. There’s no exception to that.
Now, I must close. The time has passed. I want to close with a tribute to my old teacher. I don’t want to leave it as I said it. Dr. A. T. Robertson, as I said, was the greatest Greek scholar in the world. Dr. Merrill, don’t you use his grammar there in the seminary? There’s a textbook that was my textbook. It’s about that thick, and weighs about fifteen pounds, and you had to learn every syllable of it – Dr. A. T. Robertson.
Dr. Ironside, in his book The Lamp of Prophecy – Dr. Ironside, as you know, for many, many years was pastor of the great Moody Church in Chicago – he writes, and I quote him:
Some years ago it was my privilege to sit at the feet of Dr. A. T. Robertson as he gave a course of lectures on the Epistle to the Colossians, directly from his Greek Testament." – We always studied from the Greek Testament. When I first came here to Dallas, I used to preach from my Greek Testament, but you people thought I’d lost my mind, so I quit it. There in the Greek class, and Dr. Robertson – it was very fine. He was speaking directly from his Greek Testament – "in Calvary Baptist Church in New York City. He was conducting a ministerial conference. And it was my privilege in that conference to give a series of addresses from my English Bible. And I was rather gratified to see that the great scholar sat before me every day.
I recognized Dr. Robertson is undoubtedly the outstanding Greek scholar of America, if not of the world. And yet that dear, kindly man of God set and listened to a poor insignificant person like myself. And he was just as gracious and just as attentive as anyone could possibly be.
I went through the two letters to the Thessalonians. As you know, the five chapters of the first letter, the three chapters of the second letter, all of them end with the coming of our Lord.
I went through the two letters to the Thessalonians and at the close of the last address, Dr. Robertson came to me and said, “Well, this is the first time that I have ever listened to anyone go carefully through the epistles from the premillennial standpoint.
And I must say that my judgment has gone with you through the entire series. I have never definitely declared myself a premillennialist, but I think if I had my life to live over again, I would be much more positive concerning this doctrine, for I have never in all of my ministry known a premillennialist who was a modernist.
We’d say a liberal. We would say a man who doesn’t believe the Word of God. Well, God bless my old teacher and his home in heaven. And God bless the open-heartedness with which he listened to a premillennial teacher of the Word of the Lord. And God bless you for being so open-hearted to the faith that I have learned to embrace in these days and years and years that I have studied and tried to preach the Word of God.
We must sing our hymn of appeal and while we sing the song, a family you coming to put your life with us; a couple you; a one somebody you, "Pastor, today, I have opened my heart heavenward and God-ward and Christ-ward and I am on the way. Here I am." May the angels attend you as you come. "I want to reconsecrate my life to Jesus today. I am going to open my heart and house and home to the blessed Lord today." It is the most precious and comforting thing you could ever know in your life is to give your heart to Jesus. There is a man listening to me right now on the radio that I went to see yesterday and he says, "Pastor, I don’t think I will live. I want you to pray for me." And he said, "It will be better over there than to be down here as sick as I am." That is the truth, that is the hope, that is the comfort. You never lose giving your heart to Jesus. He is the best friend you will ever have now; guides you through every decision and He will stand by you in that ultimate and final day when we come to see God face to face. Oh come! And bless you as you answer with your life while we stand and while we sing.