By Ron Halbrook
For the truth’s sake, we must “keep the unity of the Spirit . . . even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:3f). When men obey the gospel of Christ, they are thus united by Christ in the ONE HOPE of Scripture. At the final resurrection of all the dead, men will be judged according to their lives (Jn. 5:28f; Eccl. 12:13f). The wicked will depart “into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:31ff). Christians are begotten “unto a lively hope,” “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN for you” (1 Pet. 1:3ff). This reward by God’s love, mercy, and grace, Christians joyfully anticipate-“for we are saved by hope” (Rom. 8:24). God’s plan for unity includes the ONE HOPE.
A major cause of religious division is the popular fascination with various Millennial speculations. There are as many hopes as there are Millennial theories today, creating confusion, contradiction, and division in the name of religion. False predictions, empty promises, and twisted interpretations of Scripture abound. Souls are subverted. Skepticism is a result. A prime example of such unscriptural speculation is a series of articles entitled “Repent, Repent He Cried,” circulated by one Stephen Tolin of Antioch, Tennessee. We must “search the scriptures” in order to “try the spirits” (Acts 17:11; 1 Jn. 4:lff). The great traditions of freedom of religion and of the press guarantee the reading public the right to examine both sides of any proposition. Intelligent study and debate are essential to informed faith and practice in religion, as in all walks of life.
1. Notice that the foundation of all millennial theories (theories of Christ returning for a physical kingdom on earth) is the old Jewish error concerning the nature of the kingdom promised. The Jews wanted Jesus to establish a physical kingdom on earth and would have accepted him on that basis (Jn. 6:15). They rejected him because his message was of spiritual life and not national power (Jn. 6:63). “My kingdom is not of this world’=no political promises, no fleshly armies, no physical battles, no earthly crowns (Jn. 18:36). Christ is NOW sitting on his throne (Acts 2:33-36). His kingdom is a spiritual rule in the hearts and lives of men, in spiritual battle, with spiritual promises (Acts 2:37ff; Rom. 14:17; Eph. 1:3; 2:19; 6:l0ff). When we are buried with him in the waters of baptism because of faith in God, we are delivered “from the power of darkness” and are NOW “translated into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13; 2:12).
2. Mr. Tolin says Christ announced the kingdom of heaven as “at hand.” It was a promise to the Jews which God would never annul-a promise of the Kingdom to be “set up in Jerusalem” with “Our Lord as King.” Mr. Tolin confuses the physical promises of “a great nation” and “a land” with the ultimate promise of a spiritual kingdom: “In thee (Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:lff). The former two were fulfilled in history, as God was preparing a land and people for the appearance of a Savior (Josh. 21:43ff). Nothing remains of those promises yet to be fulfilled, for the ultimate promise has been fulfilled in Christ (Gal. 3:8-29). Christ is NOW king in keeping with the promise (Acts 13:32ff; 2:36). The day when “the Lord shall be king” and “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem” is the same day that a fountain is open “for sin” (Zech. 13:1; 14). `Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2; Matt. 26:28). We obey the gospel, are washed in his blood, and he rules over us!
3. For denying Christ, the Jews have been in “outer darkness . . . until 1948, a sign of our Lord’s coming,” says Mr. Tolin. Date setting and reading characterize Millennial theories, but modern Israel is not in Luke 21. Christ spoke there of events to happen in the time of his listeners, i.e. Jerusalem’s fall and the end of the Jewish system (v. 32).
4. Mr. Tolin says the Holy Spirit “hinders Satan and His anti-Christ,” so while Christians are on earth (awaiting a theorized “Rapture”) “the Anti-Christ cannot be revealed.” Anti-Christ just means opposed to Christ and his will, hence lawless or sinful. The spirit of lawlessness was working in Paul’s time, though the inspired men labored to restrain it (2 Thess. 2:7). The Apostles warned that this spirit of sin would work even among some of God’s people, and John said in his time, “Even now are there many anti-christs” (1 Jn. 2:18; 2 Jn. 2:7). There still are!
5. The Jews were not forgiven in the Age of Moses nor “In this age of grace” but will be “in the Millenium (Kingdom Age),” claims Mr. Tolin. Christ is on his throne now, the day of salvation or forgiveness is now, and both Jew and Gentile are saved by the gospel of Christ now (Acts 2:33; 2 Cor. 6:2; Rom. 1:16). Tolin’s theory involves a national, physical salvation.
6. The “New Birth” occurs “the second” we believe in Christ, says Mr. Tolin, as with Abraham. The question is, when does faith save? The faith that. saved Abraham “obeyed” God, and our new birth is “of water and of the Spirit” (Heb. 11:8; Ja. 2:21ff; Jn. 3:5). When faith moves us to repent of sin, confess Christ, and be baptized in water, we are born again by faith (Jn. 3:5, 16; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10; Gal. 3:26f).
7. Mr. Tolin offers two distinct hopes, but the Bible requires “one Hope.” The Jew has the hope of remission of sins in Christ (“Heavenly things,” “spiritual seed”), but, again, he can hope to “inherit the Land of Palestine” (“Earthly things,” “carnal seed”). Tolin identifies the latter with prophetic statements about the blessings of David’s rule, but Peter said that is fulfilled in Christ’s present rule (Acts 13:32-38).
8. Mr. Tolin claims the testing of 1 Cor. 3:9-15 means in our final reward, “All Christians won’t be happy over there.” Final Judgment-a test “as by fire”-will reveal whether one’s converts to Christ have continued faithful. In any case, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” so that the bliss of the righteous in eternal fellowship with God will be complete!
Rather than dividing over many speculative hopes, believers in Christ can unite upon the one Hope revealed in scripture (Eph. 4:4; 2 Jn. 9).
Truth Magazine XXI: 46, pp. 725-726
November 24, 1977