Timeless truths behind the debates over Christ’s return.

Christ is coming. We can all agree to that. He is coming to reign. Most would assent to that. Further details about our Lord’s return, especially its relation to the 1,000 years of Revelation 20, are hotly debated.

Will Christ come to start his millennial reign after a time of apostasy and tribulation, as premillennialists believe? Or will the beginning of his rule correspond with the Christianization of the peoples and cultures of the world, as postmillennialsts believe? Or are we wrong to think there will be a literal thousand-year reign on the earth, as amillennialists assert?

Faced with passionate defenses of each view, many evangelicals wonder which scenario is correct. But we would be mistaken if we merely weighed the evidence, chose one, and ignored the other two. The Spirit has something important to tell us in each of the three traditional views of the millennium. Each tells us about how we as the church ought to understand ourselves and our mission in the present age.

Postmillennial optimism

Postmillennialists confidently proclaim that Christ will reign through his obedient church, bringing to the world an era of peace and righteousness prior to the conclusion of history. Regardless of the correctness of the scenario, postmillennialism is the voice of the Spirit calling us to tenacious engagement. Postmillennial optimism encourages us to sanctified diligence as we realize that our efforts, although feeble in themselves, are linked with the invincible power of the Holy Spirit who works through us.

This optimism arises from two foundational truths. First, despite all appearances to the contrary, God is sovereign over history and is actively engaged in bringing his ...

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