It had been quite a while since I read through Romans, and whenever that was, I was most definitely not a postmillennialist. For much of my Christian life I was a “pan-millennialist,” because eschatology all seemed like worthless speculation and the Bible was all too confusing about it. I concluded it will all pan out in the end, so why bother. Then in 2014 I was presented with an in depth biblical case for amillennialism, or so it seemed, and I embraced it. Then in August of 2022 something completely unexpected happened; I embraced postmillennialism. Unexpected as in earthquake unexpected; you find it hard to believe the earth is moving under your feet, but you can see it and feel it. My “conversion” to postmillennialism was like that.

Other than knowing absolutely nothing about it, I had never had any kind of coherent presentation of exactly what it means. When I finally did, and it was not something I was looking for, I was shocked that it seemed to make biblical sense. What most impressed me was that the case being made for it was primarily exegetical, meaning coming out of the text of Scripture. It wasn’t relying on speculation of any kind. The other thing that impressed me, and quickly won me over, was that unlike the other two options, a-mill and pre-mill, it was an optimistic eschatology, an eschatology of hope for the here and now, not just for the eternal by and by, the next life. Christ came to push back the fall, as the Christmas hymn says, as far as the curse is found. That means the blessings promised to us by God through Abraham, are not just for our personal or interpersonal lives, but for our lives lived in community, including the communities of cities and counties and states and nations, wherever the curse of sin rears its ugly head.

The Gospel to the Nations
For our discussion, we can view the gospel primarily two ways. The way most Christians view it is solely or mostly in personal terms; it’s about going to heaven when we die, and personal holiness on earth. At best its influence extends to our closest interpersonal relationships. By contrast, the way postmillennialists view the gospel is that the personal effects are like ripples in a glass still lake; once the gospel rock hits the surface of our lives, it transforms everything we touch, literally; ripples that never end. The gospel’s purpose in the world is fundamentally transformational. This transformation happens the instant we are saved, brought from spiritual death to glorious spiritual life in Christ. The veil is lifted, and like the man born blind Jesus healed in John 9, we cry out, “I was blind but now I see!” Think of it like gospel glasses we put on and everything comes into focus. And when I say everything I mean every single thing. We go from secular blindness thinking we’re lucky dirt, to a God drenched reality where each molecule is His, every tree and rock, every apple and egg, every word, thought, and idea, all brought captive “to make it obedient to Christ.”     

This means that when God told Abram nations would be blessed through him, he meant it. Here are some of those declarations. In Genesis 12 God tells Abram that he will bless him and that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. The Hebrew word used for peoples means clan, an ancient way to say nation. In Genesis 18 as the Lord is considering destroying Sodom he again mentions blessing:

17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Here a different word is used meaning nation or people. This passage in Genesis 22 is especially powerful. After God tested Abraham with Isaac and he passed the test by trusting the Lord in obedience, the Lord says:

16 “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Here the blessing is again to Abraham. His descendants will literally be innumerable, but it isn’t just the numbers that are important, but what these people do and where they do it.

Not Just Testifying but Transforming
This is a critical point in the never ending debate about eschatology. In the a-mill and pre-mill understanding, the Great Commission (Matt. 28) is focused on individuals, and ignores the nations part, but the gospel is transformational of everything it touches, including nations. The following quotations are from Lorraine Boettner’s book, Millennialism. The first is about this transformational character of the gospel:

The changed character of individuals will be reflected in an uplifted social, economic, political, and cultural life of mankind.

My response is, how can it not! Unfortunately, most Christians retreat behind a Pietism that doesn’t see the purpose of the gospel as transformational of all things. It isn’t so much that secularism took over the once Christian West, as it was Christians surrendered it to them.

The other is about Jesus using the word “disciples” in the Great Commission:

Christ Himself assures us He is present and is even now with us in our work . . . To reduce this great commission to the premillenarian program to preach the gospel as a witness to a world that is to grow worse and worse until it plunges into its doom in destruction is to emasculate the gospel of Christ and wither it into pitiful impotency. This is to send the gospel out into the world as a futile thing, foreordained to failure from the start. No, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and Jesus Christ, marching in the greatness of his strength, sends us on no empty errand of uttering a message that will die away in the air on an unheeding and hostile world, gathering only a few out of its innumerable multitudes and consigning the fast majority to destruction, but He sends us to “make disciples of all nations” and thereby win the world itself.

I don’t see how you read that paragraph and not become postmillennial on the spot! It gives me chills.

The last thing I will address before I get to Paul’s post-mill passage, is Ephesians 2 and Revelation 5 about Christians reigning with Christ. In Ephesians, Paul is speaking about our God making us alive in Christ “when we were dead in transgressions.” Then he blows our minds with this:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Do you know where Christ is seated this very moment? At the right hand of the Father, as Paul says in chapter 1, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be named, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” This is happening in the present age! Now, today, at this moment. The reason Jesus could give us the Great Commission was because “All authority in heaven and on earth” had been given to him, therefore, he says go. And we can tie together the Ephesians passage about where we are seated, and what we are doing there, with this passage in Revelation 5:

And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    people from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”

We are saved to reign on earth, not in heaven! We are reigning with Christ on this fallen earth to bring the kingdom of heaven to overcome the works and the wiles of the devil.

The Gospel: The Obedience of Faith
Which brings me to Paul’s declaration in the final words of Romans and how we do this:

 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Our gospel job is not only to preach personal salvation to the nations, but to preach and teach Christ as Lord and king not only over our own lives and the lives of our families, but over the nations. The objective of every Christian is to bring “all nations” to “the obedience of faith.” This was Jesus’ command in the Great Commission:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The command is specifically given to what we now consider nations, not merely to individuals, but to individuals in every position in society and culture. The obedience of faith means taking seriously what Jesus said about obeying “everything” he commanded them, whether that applies to business, economics, law, governing, family life, art, architecture, science, all aspects of culture; it is complete all encompassing.

What happened in what we used to call Christendom was the disaster of Pietism, a 17th century German Lutheran movement that turned Christianity from a centrifugal movement, something that moves away from a central point or axis, to a centripetal one, a force that brings things toward the center. Over time, through the First and Second Great Awakening in the 18th and 19th centuries, to fundamentalism in the 20th, secularism took over Western culture because Christians narrowed the focus of Christianity to going to heaven when we die and personal holiness. What that did was completely enervate the gospel for any kind of cultural influence, and we are now living with the consequences. That must change if we are to bring ourselves and the nations “to the obedience of faith.”

That means we begin to learn about Christianity as a profoundly powerful centrifugal force. Fortunately, we live in incredibly exciting times because there is a revival not just of postmillennialism, but of Christians whatever their eschatology realizing that their faith applies to all of life, including politics and culture. The beauty and power of postmillennialism, though, is that it gives us the theological framework for optimism, or in the title of a book I’m currently reading, it is “An Eschatology of Victory.” Christ did not become a man, suffer and die and rise again, then ascend to the right hand of God to lose! We can count on his words in our prayers and actions, that His kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.


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