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The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be
A Brief Look at the Long History of Hope
I am an Optimillennialist. No, I didn’t mean opthamologist (even though we may be engaged in the same type of work). An Optimillennialist is one who is hopeful concerning the future history of God’s world.
Optimillennialism is the artist formerly known as Postmillennialism.
“Postmillennialism” sounds old and dusty. Postmillennialism sounds like he could be Old Man Caruthers who lives in the shanty on the edge of town; he’s nice enough, he was the bees knees back in his day, but he really shouldn’t be allowed to drive anymore.
The purpose of this re-branding is to circumvent the idea that Postmillennialism "sounds" old, or otherwise creaks with the brittle bones of decrepitude. People hear "Post" and think that it is past its sell-by date.
Some think of Postmillennialism as that wonderful "Golden Age" eschatology that enjoyed a long time in the spotlight, right up until it was killed by Little Boy in WWII. But the reports of the demise of eschatological optimism have greatly exaggerated.
Optimillennialism is a cheerful eschatology with a mischievous grin. It can watch the news with a smile, and do so without rushing off to purchase truck loads of dry beans and powdered milk for the bunker.
Optimillennialism is sleek and stylish; debonair with that old world flare. He wouldn’t look good wearing Premillennialism’s tinfoil hat or Amillennialism’s mourning shroud.
Optimillennialism has a pleasant disposition and a well-ordered constitution. He doesn’t suffer from the fits of anxiety or bouts of depression that chronically afflict his eschatological cousins.
But if you aren’t sold on charm alone then consider his creed. What does he believe?
The following is a short list of guiding principles. This is not meant to be comprehensive or chronological. I am simply drawing my bow at a venture. Providence will do what He pleases.
1. God created the material world in order to show and share. That is, to display his glory and allow his crowning creation—humans made in his image—the privilege of reigning with him, world without end. Amen
Man was to guard the Garden (the original temple) and fill the earth for God's glory. This holy vocation was never rescinded. Though the ability to faithfully undertake the charge was forfeited in the Fall, the responsibility to perform that sacred duty remained. That ability, legally lost in Adam, was righteously regained in Jesus. Further, the Great Commission is simply a restatement of the mandated mission given in the garden: Fill the world with the glory of God until the earth is as glorious as the seas are wet.
2. The promises of God to Abraham weren’t fictitious. God swore to grant Abraham seed and soil; a lineage and a land. Abraham’s “seed” would include all who name the name of Christ; the “land” would include every inch of dirt beneath their feet. Any position that restricts this promise to a single ethnicity and 100 miles of desert fails to recognize just how God keeps promises.
3. Jesus died to save the world. Like for real.
4. Salvation is impossible. Thankfully, we serve a God who only takes impossible cases. Moreover, saving an entire world is no more difficult for God than saving a single soul.
5. The cross of Jesus really saved the world, the resurrection really brought the promise of life-transforming power to the world, and the outpouring of the Spirit really effects the restoration of the world.
6. The Great Commission is actually predicated upon victory and a expects success. Jesus did not say, ‘Go into all the world.” He said, “Therefore, Go…” “All authority in heaven and earth is given unto me. Therefore, go into all the world…” Furthermore, He didn’t say, “Give it the ole college try.” He said, “Disciple the nations.”
Such was the love-gift sworn to Him by His Father: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” The nations! That’s what Jesus died for, that’s what He purchased, that’s what His Father promised Him, that’s what He shall have.
7. The triumph of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus in the middle of history is the pattern for the triumph of God through the death and resurrection of the Church throughout history. Suffering leads to glory—perennially, invariably, finally.
8. The world is a better place because of the work of Jesus, the coming of the Spirit, and the power of the gospel.
9. The world will be a better place because of the continuing work of Jesus, through the Spirit, by the power of the gospel.
10. The “Gates of Hell” are not offensive but defensive measures. The portrait of the Church Militant is the portrait of a Church making progress against insurmountable odds in the most unbelievable of places. Eventually those Gates will fall. Songs of praise will rise from the belly of hell. This time the prophets will swallow the whale. God will give beauty for ashes. This very confession is the bedrock on which the Church is established.
11. “Until” is the hinge upon which eschatology swings. “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand UNTIL I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:35; Heb. 1:13). Until “until” happens he’s staying put.
12. The book is always better than the movie versions.
I have shortened my list for the elect's sake.
The future is bright, dear saint. Rest in hope.
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