“Well,” I said as we finished breakfast Wednesday morning, “are we all ready?”
“Almost,” Steve answered.
“Where are we going today?” Susie asked.
“Jackson,” I replied. “I thought we’d go to Jackson; it’s another hour and a half.”
“Well let’s go ahead and go,” Felicity stated. “Did you want your water?”
* * * * *
“Good evening,” Peter greeted us that evening as we walked into the church. “I’m Peter Burkholder.”
“Amos Kauffman,” I replied, and introduced the others.
“Do you have a ten-gallon hat?” I asked him.
He smiled. “No, but I ought to,” he replied.
“David told us you were from Texas,” I told him.
“Where ya’ll from?” Peter asked.
“Kearney,” I answered.
“Oh!” Peter exclaimed. “That’s a long ways away.”
“Only about seventeen hours one way,” I told him.
“Wow,” he replied. “Seventeen hours.”
“We’re staying here for the whole conference,” I assured him.
“Well I’d reckon you’d stay here; you couldn’t drive back and forth,” he replied.
Suddenly an idea struck me. “What hotel are you staying in?” I asked.
“Motel 6,” Pete replied.
“Really?” I asked. “Which room?”
“It’s on the lower story,” he said.
I chuckled. “We’re on the upper story in the same hotel,” I stated.
“Really?” he asked in disbelief. “That’s funny.”
“So now I’m going to ask,” Peter began, “just because I’m curious, how’d you meet Pastor Mast?”
“We get a newsletter from Antoine and his ministry, and he announced the conference,” I said. “David told us what everyone did and where everyone is from; we already knew about Antoine, but the rest were new.”
The prelude began. We departed to our seats and sat down.
After the opening, Pastor handed it over to Brother Daniel Shelley.
“Good evening,” Brother Shelley began. “Please take your Bibles and turn to Revelation 22:20-21. Revelation 22:20-21. My title is ‘I Come Quickly’.
“‘He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.’
“Jesus gave John the vision of the Book of Revelation,” Brother Shelley began. “In Revelation chapter 1, we see Jesus appearing to John on the Isle of Patmos. Jesus tells him to write what he’s seen and what he’ll see down, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia. Now, I don’t believe this church-age thing; the system of belief that Martin Luther was the angel of the Philadelphian age or the Reformation era; or that this certain church ‘father’ was the angel for this age; or that age; or that this ‘preacher’—whatever his name is, William Branham, I think—is the angel for the Laodicea age. I do believe, however, that the churches represent the entire course of church history, but like someone else pointed out, the Rapture could only be imminent if all the churches were to represent a period of time until the Rapture. I believe that each church represents one age that began at a certain time and will continue until the Rapture, but the Rapture could have taken place during any church period. For example, the letter to Smyrna mentions ‘tribulation ten days’; I believe Jesus could be referring to the ten periods of Roman persecution. But at any rate, John was given this revelation concerning things to come.”
Daniel looked around at the congregation.
“How many of you here believe in Amillennialism?” he asked.
No hands went up.
“How many of you aren’t entirely sure as to what you believe about eschatology?” he asked next.
A few hands went up; I almost put mine up. Felicity looked at me. We both had struggled with this subject before.
“I believe it was Brother Antoine who asked about Mennonites and Amish; how many of you knew that both of those groups believe in Amillennialism?”
A few hands went up, including ours.
“Amillennialism comes in two varieties: Preterism and Historicism. Historicists believe that the Book of Revelation has or is happening progressively over the course of church history. According to their own definition, historicism ‘contends that Revelation is a symbolic presentation of the entire course of the history of the church from the close of the first century to the end of time’. David Koresh of Waco; Texas was an historicist. Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Mormons are all historicists.
“Mennonites and Amish (and a few others) are Preterists. Preterists believe that all the events in Revelation up to at least chapter 20, verse 6 occurred around 70 A.D.; Nero was the Antichrist; Jesus was the Roman armies; those white rocks the Romans catapulted at the Jews were those seventy-five pound hailstones mentioned in Revelation 16; etc.”
Daniel took a drink. “We don’t have time to cover everything there is to cover about Amillennialism, but I want to cover a few things. Number one: the origin of Amillennialism. Amillennialists think that dispensationalism came from Darby, Scofield, and Irving; to the contrary, dispensationalism began with the Bible, and, more specifically, with the Apostle Paul himself. Four times Paul uses the word dispensation: 1st Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1:10 and 3:2 and Colossians 1:25. 1st Corinthians 9:17 says, ‘For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.’ Ephesians 3:2 says, ‘If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:’. So don’t tell me it was some heretics that started dispensationalism; it is founded upon the Bible and the Apostle Paul himself.
“Now in all actuality,” Daniel continued, “it was heretics that began Amillennialism. When you study church history, you find two heretics—well, two of many, but nevertheless—you find two heretics named Origen and Augustine. I hear gasps when I mention Augustine; that ‘great church father’. Origen, the Great-Great-Grandfather of all the modern so-called Bible versions declared in his book De Principus, book 4, chapter 22: ‘And we say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition. For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. It accordingly [behooved] that city where Jesus underwent these sufferings to perish utterly, and the Jewish nation to be overthrown, and the invitation to happiness offered them by God to pass to others, “the Christians”.’ Origen also believed in Replacement theology, as we can see here.
“Now Augustine, good ol’ Augustine that so many people refer to, that ‘great church father’ said, ‘This opinion [a literal physical, 1,000-year reign] might be allowed, if it proposed only spiritual delight unto the saints during this space (and we were once of the same opinion ourselves); but seeing the a vouchers hereof affirm that the saints after this resurrection shall do nothing but revel in fleshly banquets, where the cheer shall exceed both modesty and measure, this is gross and fit for none but carnal men to believe. But they that are really and truly spiritual do call those of this opinion Chiliasts.’ (City of God, XX, page 7).”
Daniel paused for a minute, and then went on: “I don’t have time to go into Replacement Theology; that’s for another time. But it was these two ‘church fathers’ that began Amillennialism.
“Number two: we see the hermeneutics of Amillennialism,” Daniel went on. “Hermeneutics has to do with interpretation. Amillennialists tend to spiritualize things; that Antichrist was a spiritual energy that was embodied in Nero; that Jesus was the Roman armies; etc. Though amazingly, Amillennialists interpret Revelation 16:21, where John mentions ‘a very great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent’ literally! ‘Don’t you know,’ they say, ‘those are the huge white rocks the Romans shot at the Jews during the siege!’”
“Actually,” Brother Shelley said as everyone settled down, “the Romans ended up painting those stones black so they would actually do some damage, since the Jews were dodging the white ones.
“Number three,” Daniel continued, “we see the problems with Amillennialism; more specifically, the Scriptural problems. Turn to Revelation 13. Here in this chapter we find the Antichrist. It says in verse five he’s given power ‘forty and two months’. That’s three and a half years; Nero ruled longer than that. Furthermore, Daniel makes it clear that the Antichrist is a man, not some energy or spirit.
“Revelation 13 also mentions that the Antichrist controls the world with a number. This has never been possible until recently. And does anyone here know if the Romans controled the whole world? No; they didn’t.”
Daniel took a drink. “Here’s another thing to consider, and then we’ll close,” he stated. “All across the Book of Revelation, we find the judgment of God. We see plagues and disease and earthquakes and such. In Revelation 8, for example, a third part of the sea becomes blood; the waters become bitter; a third part of the day and night become dark, etc. Do you see what I’m saying? None of this happened yet, and it has to be literal and can’t be blamed on a certain person or country. It will be obvious it’s from God, not anyone else..
“So in conclusion,” Daniel concluded, “we see that Jesus is yet to come, and He told us to watch. If it all happened back in 70 A.D., there would be no use to watch.
“Revelation 22:20-21,” he said, and read:
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”