In a recent live Q & A session, Chalcedon’s vice-president Martin Selbrede identified one of the great problems of the church in the last century. After discussing an overview of postmillennial perspectives, he cautioned against operating in terms of eschatological prophecy. We operate in terms of God’s commands, not His prophecy, he warned. That seems counter to Chalcedon’s postmillennial emphasis on the victory of the kingdom in time and history; doesn’t it? In reality, it is not.
We never fully understand prophecy until it is fulfilled. Not even the atonement was understood until after the resurrection. The same can be said for one fulfilled prophecy after another. To operate in terms of our very partial understanding of future prophecy will cause us necessarily to operate in terms of some mis-understanding. Our rational mind then becomes our criteria of obedience; we end up obeying our mis-conceptions.
In a parable, Jesus told us to “Occupy til I come.” The Greek word of “occupy” refers to trade or business activity. It was a command to us as His servants to stay engaged in our work, our business.
Prophecy acts as a “big picture” understanding of the future. It is a general understanding of God’s work that should strengthen us in our day-to-day responsibilities. In those duties, however, we obey God’s commands, His law. They are our marching orders.
I believe postmillennialism is the “big picture” of future history, and it teaches that my present work as a servant of God has a purpose in His Kingdom. However, I cannot, know the specifics of what is going to endure and what is relatively wood, hay, or stubble. I can, however know His law as it pertains to me, and I can follow those commands and be found faithful. We operate in terms of commands, not prophecy.
[If you would like to watch Martin Selbrede’s Q & A session live, go to either Chalcedon’s Facebook page (“Chalcedon Foundation”) or our website (https://chalcedon.edu/live). Martin’s Q & A begins at 12 noon (Pacific) on Sundays, right after my Chalcedon Chapel Sermon, which begins at 11:10 am.]