"To testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
**PUBLISHED AS A MISSION PROJECT OF PILGRIMS HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH**
By the Futurist, Wayne Camp
I recently received a letter from a brother who is a Gospel-millennialist. In his letter he referred to me as a "futurist." Having never been called that before I thought a little research on the matter was in order.
But before I proceed, I should explain what I understand a Gospel-millennialist to be. I am often asked, "What is a gospel-millennialist." There are various ideas among these brethren and this will by no means be exhaustive, nor is it meant to be slanderous to any. Basically, the gospel-millennialist believes that we are presently in the midst of the 1000 year reign of Christ, and that there is no future millennial reign of Christ on this earth. Most gospel-mil folks believe that the second coming of Christ is yet future. Some even believe there will yet be a time of great tribulation on this earth but it will be post-millennial, not pre-millennial. A few gospel-mil people believe that Christ came about 70 or 72 AD. They would be almost pre-mil since they believe we are now in the millennium and Christ came at, or near, the beginning. Those who believe that Christ is yet to come, at the end of the millennium, are basically, post-millennial, a term that may better describe them to some of our readers. I will not venture to suggest that all of these brethren are in complete agreement for I know they have diverse ideas just as those of us who are pre-mil have diverse ideas. I do not write this explanation to slander anyone but in the last year I suspect I have had no less than 100 people ask me, "What is a gospel-millennialist?" If you want to know what any brother who holds this position believes, ask him. I will not presume to be able to tell you more than I have in general and will not speak for any specifically. I will not be guilty of presuming or assuming what anyone believes on this matter. Most will gladly tell you what they believe if you ask.
Having said that, let me get back to this message, The Confessions of a "Futurist." When I read the letter from the brother (recently from Alabama, now on his way to another state), I went to the Dictionary to see what he was calling me. My Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary gives the following definition of a "futurist" when the word is used in theological matters: It is "a person who maintains that the prophecies in the Apocalypse (Revelation) will be fulfilled in the future." When I read that, I said to myself, "I am guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" Jesus said, Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I believe that prophecy, and I believe its fulfillment is yet future. I dont believe he came about 72 AD. I dont believe the resurrection of the saints is already past, as did some in the church at Corinth. Again John wrote, Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. And dear reader, I believe that is yet future. And I say with the apostle John, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
I believe in the future resurrection of all the saints as well as the wicked, so I am guilty of being a "futurist". Revelation 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Even if I held that to be a general resurrection, the resurrection of the saved and the damned at the same moment of time, I would still argue that that resurrection is yet future. This is a prophecy of the Revelation and I believe it is future. I guess that makes me a futurist. I plead guilty!
I believe there will yet be a time of great tribulation on this earth, tribulation which is worse than anything this world has yet experienced. That time is described in the book of Revelation. First, I believe that prophecy, and I believe it is yet future. Since I believe that time is yet future, and since a "futurist" believes the prophecies of the Revelation are yet future, I am guilty to the nth degree of being a "futurist".
I also believe that there is a time when all the damned will be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ and then cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Yes, that is a prophecy found in the book of Revelation. I believe that prophecy and I believe its fulfillment is yet future. If that makes me a "futurist", so be it. Amen! I will take my place in the congregation of the guilty, those guilty of believing in the future judgment of the wicked at the great white throne of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe in the future glorification of the bodies of all the children of God. Yes, I am guilty of being a "futurist". You see, folks, I believe some things Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian church and to which John also made reference in the Revelation, are yet future. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. This mortal has not yet put on immortality. But I believe one day it will! This corruptible has not yet put on incorruption; but, thanks be to God, I am certain it will.
Now I would remind you, Dear Reader, Paul was writing about something that was yet future for him, although he was already a saved man. He was not speaking of regeneration, as some proclaim the first resurrection to be. He was speaking of glorification at the second coming of Christ. Well, Paul, welcome to the clubthe "Futurist Club."
I also believe what Paul wrote to the congregation in Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Now, this is the resurrection of the saints at the second coming of Christ. I believe that Jesus is coming again in the future. I believe when he does come the dead saints will be raised incorruptible and the living saints will be changed. This is our comfort and consolation in the hour of sorrow. This is also referred to in the Revelation. I believe it. I rest in it. I anticipate it. I guess I am guilty of being a "futurist". But, so are Paul and John.
And, I also believe that prophecy found in Revelation that Satan will one day be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet will have already been cast. Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Since a "futurist" is one who believes that the prophecies of the book of Revelation are to be fulfilled in the future, and since the brother who wrote and instigated this article infers that he is not a "futurist", I wonder when the devil WAS (past tense) cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, in his chronology of events. Since he apparently does not believe the prophecies of Revelation are yet future, he must believe this has already happened. I base this on the fact that he referred to me as a "futurist" in contradistinction to himself and on the definition of a "futurist" as found in the Dictionary.
Satan still had a seat in Pergamos when John penned Christs message to that assembly. Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. He could not have had a seat there if he was in the lake of fire and brimstone. He still had children around in the days of Paul. Acts 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And, he had children around when John wrote his first epistle. 1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. Had he already been cast into the lake of fire at this time. How was he still begetting children from his torments in hell? Strange!
He still had a synagogue when John penned the letter to the persecuted church at Smyrna. Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. And, at this time the Lord was warning the church at Smyrna that in the future some of them would endure more suffering at the hands of the devil. Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. If I understand this prophecy of the devil casting some of them into prison, it was yet future at that time. In order for the devil to do it in the future, even if it were the near future, he could not have been yet cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. He was still walking about as a roaring lion in the days when Peter wrote his first epistle. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. How could he walk around seeking out people to devour if he were already in the torments of hell? If he were still loose and walking about when John penned the book of Revelation, when, since that time, was he cast down into eternal torments in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.
When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, he referred to some who had already turned aside after Satan. 1 Timothy 5:15 For some are already turned aside after Satan. How could this be if Satan were already in the flames and torments of the lake of fire and brimstone? Or, did Paul simply mean they had gone to hell as had Satan? Or, if Satan were still walking about and causing people to turn aside after him at the time Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy, when was he cast down to hell?
Now, being a "futurist", I believe his being cast into hell is yet future. I will be interested to see at what time in history my non-futurist brother places this. Since he is apparently not a "futurist" as I am, he could not believe this prophecy, or any other found in the Revelation, is yet to be fulfilled. Otherwise, why would he designate me as a "futurist" in contradistinction with himself?
Even if we are in the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan could not already be in the lake of fire and brimstone in his eternal punishment for he is yet (Oops! More futurism!) to go forth and deceive the nations again when the thousand years are expired. Revelation 20:7-10 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. If I understand the English language at all, I perceive that Satan will not be cast down into the lake of fire and brimstone until after the thousand years are finished. Even if you spiritualize the first resurrection and make it regeneration, and even if you spiritualize the 1000 years and make them a long period of time, and even if we are in the millennium now, or if it is yet future, this incarceration of Satan in the lake of fire and brimstone does not take place until after the 1000 years are expired. Supposing that we are now in the glorious millennial reign of Christ, does that not make the casting of Satan into hell yet future? I believe both the 1000 year reign, the chaining and loosing of Satan, and the final casting of Satan into the lake of fire are yet future. But, if one is not a "futurist" as I apparently am, he believes that the prophecies of the book of Revelation have already been fulfilled. Therefore, I am asking, "When in the past was Satan cast into the lake of fire and brimstone?" Since I am a hard headed Baptist "futurist", who also believes one ought to have Scripture for any position he takes on anything theological, I would like some Scripture backing up the date or time-period in which this occurred. If Satan is in the lake of fire and brimstone now, why do I still have trouble with the rascal? We know from the words of Jesus that once one is cast down into hell, there is no escape and no furloughs (See Luke 16:19-31) from that awful place. If Satan still has any influence in this world, he cannot be in the torments of his final and eternal place of suffering. Once there, he can bother none of us anymore.
I believe that in the future, after the one thousand year reign of Christ, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Revelation 21:1-5 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. If believing in this prophecy of a new heaven and a new earth convicts me of the crime of "futurism", I plead guilty. I admit to being a "futurist". Since a "futurist" is one who believes the prophecies of Revelation are to be fulfilled in the future, and since the brother has classified me as a "futurist" in contrast with his own views, I would like to know if he believes this prophecy of the new heaven and new earth have already been fulfilled. If he believes they are yet future, is he not also a "futurist"?
I believe that in the future there will be the marriage of the Lamb and his bride as described in the book of Revelation. Revelation 19:7-9 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. That is a prophecy of the Revelation and I believe that marriage is yet future. I assume that makes me a "futurist" and I gladly plead guilty.
I believe there will be a new Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth. And, I believe this New Jerusalem will be the dwelling place of the bride. Revelation 21:9-27 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. 10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. Let me be first in the line of "futurists" and say, "I believe the day when this beautiful abode of the bride will come down from God out of heaven is still in the future. All you other "futurists" can fall in line behind me, or beside me. I have no shame, no embarrassment, no regrets, and am not offended at being numbered with all others who believe the prophecies of the book of Revelation. It does not offend me to be classified as one who believes that a good number of those prophecies are yet future. If that makes me a "futurist" so be it!
I also believe that God will receive glory from his churches throughout all ages, world without end. Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. I believe that Christs churches are currently bringing him glory, will bring him glory until this age ends, and will bring him glory into the ages of the ages. There is another piece of evidence to any who want to convict me of "futurism." I will not take the fifth amendment. I will gladly give you the evidence to convict me of being a "futurist."
I believe that in the ages to come God will reveal to us the exceeding riches of his grace. Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. I believe the ages to come are yet future. But, this brother who has branded me as a "futurist" believes we are now living in the eternal ages and the exceeding riches of Gods grace have been fully revealed to him.
If the English language means anything, if tense means anything, the ages to come are yet future. I guess believing that makes me a "futurist". Cast me in a dungeon as they did Jeremiah, if you will. Put me in stocks and let the people pass by and spit on me or make fun of me. Put an inscription over my head that reads, "Wayne Camp, Convicted of the Crime of Futurism", if you will. I will run through a brick wall before I take it back. I am a "futurist."
I believe that we shall spend forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, in the glorious presence of Christ in heaven. Jesus prayed, John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. I believe the answer to that prayer is yet future for those of us who are living and "looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing" of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the fulfillment of his promise to come and receive us to himself is yet future. John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. I believe "it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." I daily look forward to the blessed hope and glorious appearance of the great God and our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. I anticipate with thrilling expectation the time when he shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. I humbly, eagerly, rejoicingly plead guilty to being a "futurist".
IF NOT A "FUTURIST", ARE YOU A "PRESENTIST" OR A "PASTIST", OR BOTH?
I have considered the opposite of being a "futurist". The brother who wrote clearly infers that he is not a "futurist" as I am. After considering the matter, and checking various words in my dictionary, I came to the conclusion that the opposite of a "futurist" is a "presentist" or a "pastist", or both! One who is not a futurist, must NOT believe the prophecies concerning the future, especially those found in the book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is why I am hearing of some who have espoused the idea that Christ came about A D 72. The promises of the second coming have been fulfilled so there is nothing but the present and the pastno future. We are not only in the midst of the millennial reign, we are in the new heaven and the new earth. Revelation 21:4 has already been fulfilled. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. There is no death, no sorrow, no crying, and no pain.
Excuse me for being a futurist, but I assure you, Dear Reader, in the future, I will continue to be a futurist, because I believe that my future as a Christian is going to be much better than my past or my present. I am not what I used to be; I am not what I want to be; but, Praise God! I am not what I am going to be in the future! When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is! He shall one day change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. I will cease being a "futurist" when I am living in the eternal now and time shall be no more.
MY SYMPATHY FOR THE NON-FUTURIST
My sympathy goes out to those who have no hope for the future! I am deeply sorry for those who speak negatively of "futurism". 1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. It must be sad to live ones life without a future to look forward to. No happy expectations! No blessed hope! All the prophecies of Revelation already fulfilled! Sad!
Being a "futurist" I am, with Paul, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Being a "futurist" I rest on the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Being a "futurist" I can, with all other "futurists" declare that our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Let me also say with another "futurist", Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Then, let me say with that renowned "futurist", the author of The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Thats the last book of the Bible), Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
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This article last modified Friday, March 04, 2011.