Calvin Presbyterian Church
Calvin Presbyterian Church
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This is the third and final installment of a series on the second coming of Christ. You will recall that the first article talked about how people read the Bible differently, and how that affects what you believe. We spent some time with Chapter 24 of Matthew’s gospel about the signs of the end of the age. Several months ago, we discussed the apocalyptic kind of writing that we find in the Revelation to John, and how a large segment of Christianity looks at this writing, particularly Chapter 20, in a very literal sense. These people have been called Premillennialists, and they have fashioned a second coming that is characterized by a number of events that will happen when Christ returns; events that include the rapture, the tribulation, the 1,000 year reign of our Lord, a final battle called Armageddon, and ultimately the establishment of the New Jerusalem. Today I want to tell you about two other Christian beliefs regarding the second coming of Christ. They are POSTMILLENNIALISM and AMILLENNIALISM.


Many folks believe that, when Christ came, it marked the beginning and the establishment of his kingdom here on earth. In other words, we are already in the millennium, and the kingdom of God is being extended and promoted through the church and Christian teaching. As a result, the world is being Christianized and will eventually enjoy a long period of peace and righteousness. The new age will not be essentially different from the present, but it will emerge gradually as an ever larger share of the world’s population is converted to Christianity. Evil is not eliminated, but is reduced to a minimum as the moral and spiritual influence of Christianity is heightened. During this age the church assumes a greater importance and many social, economic and educational problems are solved. The period closes with a second coming of Christ, at which time the dead are raised and the last judgment held.


People who are Amillennialists do not believe the Bible predicts a period of unusual peace and righteousness before the end of the world. Instead good and evil coexist until the second coming, at which time the dead are raised and the last judgment held. Most mainline churches, including Presbyterians, lean toward this position. The basis for that belief is that Revelation is a symbolic book, filled with codes, and to read it literally is to confuse the intentions of the author, and to miss the intent of the book.

So there you have it. When you reflect on the second coming of Christ and end times, which position are you most likely to adopt? Or do you have an alternative position?: While I enjoy the stories associated with Premillennialism and even like the idea of a rapture, I have a great deal of trouble reading the Book of Revelation literally. I believe John was writing in codes and symbolically about the Roman Empire and not describing in detail a time in the future when Christ will come again. That makes me an Amillennialist. The good news is that, as Presbyterians, there is not a prescribed belief to which you must adhere. On the other hand, the second coming is a fundamental belief of us Christians, and studying scripture and arriving at a position is a goal we should seek to achieve.

Bob Bridges, Adult Sunday School Leader