The Premillennial Faith
March 28th, 1988 @ 12:00 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-28-88 12:00 p.m.
Remember this is your busy hour. You stay as long as you can, leave when you must, everybody understands. Right in the middle of any sentence that I say, if you have to leave it is all right.
The theme of this year is "The Second Coming of Christ." Today, The Glory of the Premillennial Faith; tomorrow, Tuesday, Why I Became a Premillennialist; on Wednesday, The Signs of His Coming; on Thursday, The Time On God’s Clock; and on Friday, Christ the King of Forever. Today, The Glory of the Premillennial Faith. This is the premillennial faith:
I saw heaven opened – John writes in Revelation :11 – and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True…
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns…
He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God…
And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
He is the promised and covenant King of Israel. In an unconditional covenant, God promised to Abraham that the land of Canaan, the land of Palestine, should be his and for his seed forever [Genesis 12:7, 13:14-18, Psalm 105:8-11]. The land belongs to them. The same Lord God made a covenant with David that he should have a Son who would sit upon the throne of his kingdom and reign forever [2 Samuel 7:12-13,16]. The prophet Isaiah spoke of that promised and covenant King:
For unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall rest upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government,there shall be no end, upon the throne of His father David, to establish it in justice and peace for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.
Seven hundred sixty years later the angel Gabriel was sent to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin Jewess named Mary; and announced to her that she would be the mother of this foretold, foreordained Child [Luke 1:26-35]. And upon a night of nights, when the heavens were filled with the glory of the presence of God, when the very air was resonant with the rhythm of infinite harmonies, with each star like a golden lamp was lowered by invisible hands to the earth, the Child was born. The angel of the Lord appeared to the startled shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem, saying. "Go in to the city and see for yourself" [Luke 2:8-12].
And then, all heaven resounded with the glory of the angelic choirs, waiting since the dawn of creation to glorify God in the coming King. They flung upward to the throne, the paean of their praise, "Glory to God in the highest!". And then flung earthward their heavenly benediction, "And on earth, peace, good will toward men" [Luke 2:13-14]. The King was born.
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1], Jesus, then being about thirty years of age [Luke 3:23] was baptized by John in the Jordan River [Luke 3:21-23] and went forth to announce the covenant kingdom and to present Himself as the promised King [Matthew 4:17]. He bore with Him, through His mother, the credentials of His kingly birth, born the Son of David through Nathan [Luke 3:31]. He bore with him the credentials of His Father in heaven and on earth, the husband of Mary, Joseph, who was the son of David through Solomon [Matthew 1:6-16]. By birth, and by legal right, He was born a King. Even the wise men, the magi from the East, came from Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He that is born king of the Jews?" [Matthew 2:2]. He bore with Him the credentials of a sinless life [Hebrews 4:15]. He bore with Him the credentials of wonderful words, "Never a man spake like that Man" [John 7:46]. And He bore with Him the credentials of marvelous miracles, "It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33].
Upon the day of days, at the exact moment foretold by the angel Gabriel to the statesman Daniel [Daniel 9:25], in the exact manner described centuries before by the prophet Zechariah, He came riding up the slopes of Zion into Jerusalem, the promised King and the promised kingdom [Zechariah 9:9]. The whole multitude burst forth in the paeans of glory and praise, "Hosannah in the highest, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, Blessed be the Son of David" [Matthew 21: 2, 4, 5-9] When those critical objected, our Lord replied, "If these were to hold their voices, the very stones would cry out" [Luke 19:40]. The covenant day in all history had arrived. The kingdom had come and the Lord Christ, God’s Son from glory, presented Himself as the leader of His people [Matthew 21:5].
He is a rejected king [John 1:11]. He was arrested and arraigned and tried. And the high priest rent his garment saying, "You have heard His blasphemy! saying He is Christ, the Son of God, a King, what think ye?" And the Sanhedrin replied, "He is guilty of death, Let him be crucified" [Matthew 26:65-66].
At that time capital punishment had been taken from the hands and authority of the Jewish leaders and was placed in the hands of the Roman governor. They carried Jesus to Pontius Pilate and accused Him of sedition and insurrection, saying, "He says He is a king" [John 19:12, 21].
And Pilate turned to the Lord and said, "Art Thou a king?" [John 18:37]
And our Lord replied in the strongest Greek affirmation, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" [John 18:37]. And Pilate went out to the angry throng and said, "I find in Him no fault at all" [John 18:38].
And they replied: "Let Him be crucified. We have no king but Caesar" [John 19:15].
And Pilate delivered Him into the hands of the Roman soldiers, who nailed Him to a tree [John 19:16-18]. And above the cross Pilate wrote that superscription, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING" [John 19:19]. He died a King!
They said to Pilate, "Not write He is a King, but that He said He was a King."
And Pilate replied: "Gegrapha, gegrapha, "What I have written, I have written" [John 19:21-22]. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" [John 1:11].
The King of glory, He is an exiled king. As He described in the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, "The nobleman went away into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself, and said to his subjects, ‘Occupy until I come’" [Luke 19:12-13]. This is the great interlude, the vast intermission.
How Satan must have rejoiced and exalted when Jesus was crucified, "Israel hath slain her own Son. The chosen people are in unbelief, and every prophecy of God shall fall to the ground. Sin shall reign forever. Darkness and death shall be regnant forever, and I, Satan, shall be king over God’s creation forever."
But no. There was a mustērion, translated in the Bible, "a mystery." There was a mustērion, a secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it to His holy apostles. Namely, that there should be an oikonomia, a dispensation of grace of the Holy Spirit, of the church, of the gospel, when all men everywhere would have opportunity to be fellow heirs in the kingdom of God [Ephesians 3:1-11], a wild olive branch engrafted in the tree of the family of the Lord [Romans 11:17-24]. This is the day of the preaching of the gospel, of the outpouring of grace, of the Holy Spirit, of the cxhurch.
But what of the kingdom and what of the King? Is there to be no kingdom? And is there no coming King?
Ah, ah, the Lord just placed in another dispensation, in another oikonomia, in another era, the King and His kingdom. As Paul wrote in Romans 11:25, "Until the plērōma, until the Gentiles, until the fulfillment," until the last Gentile be come in. When that last Gentile comes down that aisle and gives his heart to the Lord Jesus, when the last one written in the Lamb’s Book of Life accepts the Savior, when the angel, recording in heaven, checks off that last name, "the plērōma, the fullness of the Gentiles be come in," then, then, the coming kingdom and the coming King [Romans 11:26].
He is coming under a twofold simile. He is coming as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], and He is coming openly and publicly as the livid lightning splits the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming, first, clandestinely, furtively, secretly with sandaled feet to steal away His jewels, His pearl of price [Matthew 13:45-46], His people, His church. We all shall go to meet Him. He is coming for His people. These who have fallen asleep and buried in the heart of the earth, and we who are alive and remain unto His coming [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], all of us changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, "For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we, we shall all be changed" [1 Corinthians 15:52].
Not the least of God’s saints will be left behind. There will not be a bone in the realm of darkness for Satan to gloat over. There will not be a relic for him to triumph over. We all shall be caught up, these who are asleep, and these who remain and are alive. "As it was in the days of Lot," the angel said, "I can do nothing until thou become thence" [Genesis 22:21-22]. As long as there is one child of God in the earth, the judgment cannot fall. As it was in the days of Noah, the flood could not rise until Noah was safe in the ark [Genesis 6:17-18, 7:16-23]. When God’s sainted people are caught away, the judgment shall fall.
Two shall be in a bed; one shall be that taken, and the other left.
Two shall be grinding a mill; one shall be taken, and the other left;
Two shall be working in a field; one shall be taken, and the other left.
[Luke 17:34-36, Matthew 24:40-41]
When He comes secretly as a thief, clandestinely, furtively to steal away His jewels, His pearl of price, you.
And He is coming openly. As the lightning shines from the east to the west, He is coming publicly. And every eye shall see Him. As Jude has written it, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints" [Jude 14]. He is coming in the glory of God the Father as the Son of God, and God the Son. He is coming in the glory of the angels as the Captain of the host of heaven. He is coming in the glory of the church as the Bridegroom with the bride. He is coming in His own glory as Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the virgin-born Man, the crucified Man, the risen Man, the God-Man, Christ Jesus. He is coming as the King of Israel. He is coming as King of the nations. He is coming as the Lord God, pantokratōr, as the earth’s restorer and re-creator. He is coming as the Lord of all heaven and earth.
Then shall be brought to pass those marvelous prophecies. Micah:
We shall beat our spears into pruninghooks; and our swords into plowshares: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Every man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And there shall be none to make them afraid.
[Micah 4:3-4, 1 Kings 4:25, Zechariah 3:10, Isaiah 2:4]]
And the prophecy of Isaiah,
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
And the carnivorous, omnivorous lion will eat straw like an ox,
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all of God’s holy mountain: for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
it may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus comes for "His own."
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.
["Christ Returneth," H. L. Turner, 1878]
And the Book closes, "Even so, come, blessed Jesus" [Revelation 22:20]. If I know my heart. If I know my soul, I am ready. Come, blessed Jesus. This is the premillennial faith.
THE PRE-MILLENNIAL FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The promised King
A. By an unconditional covenant, God promised to Abraham the land of Palestine forever
B. Same Lord God promised to David a Son to sit on the throne forever
1. Isaiah spoke of that promised and covenant King (Isaiah 9:6-7)
2. 760 years later, angel Gabriel sent to Nazareth to announce to virgin Mary she would be the mother of this foretold Child
a. Upon a night of nights, the angels sang glorifying God – the King was born (Luke 2)
II. The rejected King
A. In fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Jesus was about thirty years old, and was baptized by John in the Jordan
1. He went forth to present Himself as the promised King
B. He bore with Him credentialsâ€¦
1. Of His kingly birth, through His mother, born the Son of David through Nathan
2. Of His Father in heaven and earth, through Joseph, son of David through Solomon
a. The Magi came asking for the King of the Jews(Matthew 2:2)
3. Of a sinless life
4. Of wonderful words (John 7:46)
5. Of marvelous miracles(Matthew 9:33)
C. At the exact moment foretold by Gabriel to Daniel, in the exact manner described by Zechariah, He came riding into Jerusalem, the promised King of Israel(Matthew 21:9, Luke 19:40)
D. He was arrested, arraigned and tried(Matthew 26:65-66, John 18:37-38, 19:12, 15, 19-22)
1. Carried Him to Pontius Pilate, accusing Him of sedition, insurrection
2. Though Pilate found no fault in Him, the people demanded His crucifixion
3. Superscription above His cross said, "This is Jesus the King"
4. His own people rejected Him (John 1:11)
III. The exiled King
A. Like the nobleman who went away into a far country to receive a kingdom – "Occupy until I come"(Luke 19:12-13)
B. The great intermission
1. How Satan must have rejoiced when Jesus was crucified
2. But there was a musterion in the heart of God – that there should be an oikonomia, a dispensation of grace, the day of preaching the gospel
3. The Lord has placed in another dispensation, another era, the King and His Kingdom(Romans 11:25)
IV. A coming King
A. Coming under a two-fold simile
1. As a thief in the night to steal away His jewels(1 Corinthians 15:52)
a. Not the least of God’s saints will be left behind (Genesis 22:21-22, Matthew 24:40-41)
2. As lightning, openly, publicly(Jude 14, Revelation 1:7)
B. Then shall be brought to pass the prophecies (Micah 4:3-4, Isaiah 11:6-9)
1. Poem, "Christ Returneth"