Baptists and the Thousand-Year Reign
Michael Lawrence is pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. Lately, he has been preaching through Revelation and I wanted to highlight his excellent sermon on Revelation 20: The Reign of the Saints.
Dr. Lawrence works with a ministry that I love, the Charles Simeon Trust. This is a preaching fraternity that hosts workshops around the world to help experienced ministers refine their expositional preaching. I have attended a workshop myself. Michael also wrote a nice little book on biblical theology in a world filled with outlandishly large books on biblical theology. His is called, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry.
His sermon from Revelation 20 reminds me that not all Baptists believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture, followed by a rule of the anti-Christ, followed by a Second Coming, followed by a thousand year messianic reign (or some such formulation).
To get up to speed, Revelation 20 is where we read about the binding of Satan for a thousand years (Revelation 20.2-3), those who “came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20.4, 6),” and the “first resurrection (Revelation 20.5).” Thorny stuff. There are four frameworks that theologians have come to employ in order to make sense of Revelation 20 and “last things” (that is, eschatology): Historical Premillennialism; Postmillennialism, Amillennialism, and Dispensational Premillennialism.
Not enough? Here is a brief article, The Millennial Maze, from Keith Mathison. Here is a lengthier examination from the free online study Bible, Blue Letter Bible. Here is Tom Schreiner writing for Crossway, What is the Millennium? (Revelation 20) and Alan Bandy over at the Gospel Coalition. If you just want a chart, so be it.
Michael Lawrence is brave to tackle Revelation 20, but he does an admirable job capturing my personal view, more or less. I take umbrage when he favors pessimistic amillennialism, but this is minor. His sermon is clear, well-structured, astute, and solidly expositional. That’s not to say his (or my) argument is ironclad or monolithic; this is a difficult subject, one in which outstanding scholars disagree, and one in which God has seen fit to keep a few secrets to Himself, … which is His prerogative (Deuteronomy 29.29). Nevertheless, take a listen to, The Reign of the Saints, to see that not all Baptists follow Premillennialism.