"A Different Gospel" G. VanDooren, M.Th. Burlington, Ont. Feb. 1992
Table of Contents
At the same time I was approached by some of our members who felt somewhat "pushed aside" by the forceful propaganda of those Bible-believers who, under the fresh impression of the Desert Storm, expect the Rapture one of these days, and then, after a brief but severe Tribulation, the arrival of the Millennium. They asked for some help.
Thus a series of sermons on Revelation was born, though a very incomplete walk was all we could take in only five weeks. A strong emphasis is put on the Reformed way of reading this last gift of God to His people and to the world. We will try to more fully understand book number 66 of the divine library in the light of all the books that came before.
No claim is made for any originality. But for myself, and I may add, for the congregation it proved to be an eye-opener to understand this vision to John as a summary of all the Scriptures.
Several requests for publication find their answer in this booklet. An attempt was made to serve two purposes at the same time. First, provide a booklet for study, discussion, for "answering the enemy in the gate", and even for outreach. Second, keep the sermon-form, liturgy included, so that they may be used in reading services. The reading elder may add "beloved" or "brothers and sisters" ad lib.
An insert in our bulletin that was used to prepare the congregation somewhat, is used here as an Introduction under the title A Different Gospel.
May the LORD bless this little booklet for those who love to search the Scriptures.
Burlington, Feb. 1992
G. VanDooren, M.Th.
Some introductory remarks on the Rapture and the Millennium.
Jesus, the Son of David, will come back to Jerusalem to establish the kingdom of David in that city among the Jews. That kingdom Will last one thousand years. Before it can come, "the congregation" or the Christian believers from the gentiles, will have to get out of the way. They will be "raptured", caught up in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17).
Since the Persian Gulf War, many books have been written by Millennianists. Some believe that this "rapture" will take place in 1993 at the latest.
In these notes we do not judge the persons who believe this, but we condemn their method of Bible interpretation.
A Different History of Redemption
We believe that the LORD God started with mankind, in Adam, and again in Noah. Even Abram's name was changed, to be father of a multitude of nations (Gen. 17). With Moses, the LORD set His chosen Israel apart, and built the wall of partition (Eph. 2:14) around it in order to be a light to the nations in bringing forth the Messiah, the Seed of the Woman. With Pentecost, this "particular" dispensation with Israel came to an end. The "middle wall" was broken down. Go to all nations! (Matt. 28:19, Acts 17, Eph. 2, 3, etc.). Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, replaced by the heavenly Jerusalem, the heavenly sanctuary, the eternal throne, until He comes again, when the Gospel has been preached to all nations.
Thus the "Moses period" was an INBETWEEN.
Millennialists, however, consider the CHURCH as an in-between. Christians will be "raptured" very soon, so that Messiah Jesus can complete what He FAILED to do with His first coming; that is, to rebuild (earthly) Jerusalem, the temple with altars and sacrifice, and gather around this earthly centre all the Jews. They call that "Israel" although only part of one of the 12 tribes has survived. Then He will rule from Jerusalem over the world for 1 000 years in peace. After 1 000 years, everything will be destroyed (we leave out the many, sometimes contradictory, details). Then comes the resurrection, and Judgment Day, as described in Revelation 20.
Thus the whole history of redemption is turned upside down. What is universal, becomes particular, and what is particular, becomes universal.
A Different Bible
We believe the Bible is one Book with two chapters. All the shadows,
ceremonies, sacrifices, promises have been fulfilled in and by Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20, John 5:59, and the
whole letter to the Hebrews). "Rapturists" believe that there are two Bibles. The New Testament is for
the (believing) gentiles. The Old Testament is the Bible for "old Israel". They say that God is faithful
to His old special people. Therefore the many promises to the Jews regarding the restoration of David's kingdom,
which were to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ during His first coming, will be fulfilled when He starts the Millennium.
He has to finish His work as Son of David among the Jews. Christians should not sing Psalms like Ps. 2, 24, 72,
110, etc. because they are not for us; they will be fulfilled during the Millennium. (N.B. No psalms are more often
quoted in the New Testament than Ps. 2 and 110, as fulfilled by Jesus Christ when He died and rose again!)
A Different Saviour
With all good intentions, the Saviour as believed by the Millennianists is not the same as the One we believe in. In our Catechism, Lord's Day 11, we confess that those who seek their salvation "somewhere else", in fact deny the only Saviour. Either Jesus is not a complete Saviour, or you must find in Him, as He died, rose, and ascended, ALL that is necessary for your salvation. We believe in the one Saviour who now serves in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 3, 4, 5, etc.), in the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians, Rev. 21, 22). Aaron made room for Melchizedek; the curtain of the temple was torn apart. Jerusalem on earth is not free, but in slavery (Gal. 4:25, 26).
Millennianists want us to believe that we do not have a complete Saviour, because He did not fulfil and complete His work as Son of David. He must come back to the earthly Jerusalem. He has to leave the heavenly sanctuary to minister in the temple in Jerusalem that will be restored. Altars are already being made, and the implements for the Mosaic sacrifices prepared, notwithstanding all that is written in Hebrews 8 (read it) and all over the New Testament.
Do you recognize your Saviour in such a Millennial "King David?
A Different Church
We believe a holy, catholic or universal church, from the beginning of the world until the end, from all nations, the one body of the one Head, Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter wrote his letters to the Christian church of his day, addressing them as the exiles of the dispersion (1:1). He assigned to them all the names that God gave to His old covenant people. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people (1 Peter 2:9-10). He added, Once you were no people, but now you are God's people . Seealso Ephesians about the unity of Jews and gentiles, and Galatians, where the believers are called the children of Abraham.
The Rapture-Millennium enthusiasts, however, believe that there are two peoples of God, the Christian church, and the Jewish nation-to-come. After the "gentiles" have had their turn, the LORD starts again with the leftovers of His old covenant-people here on earth, with the old temple in the centre!
The expression is borrowed from Dr. Jay Adams, The Time is at Hand. The Rapturists suffer from this "double vision". While overlooking the fact that over a billion Chinese and nearly 1 billion Indians have hardly been touched by the Gospel, and that Mongolia has just been opened for the Gospel, they concentrate all their attention on what is relatively only a handful of Jews. Thus they seem to hardly have read and understood the epistles of Paul, Peter, John, etc., Hebrews, and Revelation. They talk about some chapters of Ezekiel and Daniel as though the key to their understanding is not in the New Testament, in the Name of Jesus. Because of the "double vision", they claim that the same things will happen twice.
From Rev. 20 we learn of SIX events at the end of "1000 years":
1 . rebellion
2. the man of sin (id.)
But they believe that the same six events will ALSO take place BEFORE the Millennium:
1. rebellion (2 Thess. 2)
2. the man of sin (id.)
3. Armageddon (Rev 16:16)
4. fire (2 Thess. 1)
5. resurrection (1 Thess. 4)
6. Judgement Day (2 Cor. 3:10)
Not a Jigsaw Puzzle!
Millennianists believe that the Bible is inspired, and that Jesus died for their sins. But with regard to the 'kingdom of David', prophecy, the Jews, and "the end of the age," they cut up the one Scripture into hundreds of pieces, "texts'' out of context. They have no regard for when and why something was written, by Ezekiel or Daniel. They take symbolical numbers (like 1000, 42 months) and names (like Gog, Armageddon) literally, and then piece these "texts'' from left and right together in a jigsaw puzzle. Although they differ a lot among each other as to details, they assure us that they can predict coming events in detail. Walvoord, in Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East, presents three "checklists" in chronological order. One list is for the church, 13 "dates" one for the nations, 22 dates, and one for "Israel", 17 points. They all end in the Millennium which he believes is Christ's thousand-year reign on earth from the throne of David, a final fulfilment of the prophetic promises to the nations (?) of Israel, p 225. Ron Reese, in What's Next?, gives this time-table: between 1991 and 1993, the Rapture; 1993-2000, the Tribulation; 2000, the beginning of the Millennium.
Reformed believers wholeheartedly believe that Christ bound Satan for 1000 years (Rev. 20:2) and that the church will be caught up in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17). But we also believe that the little scroll of Rev. 10 was sealed up, containing mysteries that cannot be known before they happen, that we should not even try to solve (L. Selles, Outlines on Revelation, 1, p 106). He refers to 2 Cor. 12:4: Paul heard things ... that cannot be told, which man may not utter. . .. We add 1 Cor. 4:6.... that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written.
The Bible, including the Revelation to John, is not a jigsaw puzzle, but the one message of the only comfort in life and in death.
In the coming weeks we hope to understand this a bit better. In the meantime we sing:
No one knows the day or moment
When the Bridegroom shall appear,
Let us then be ever watchful ...