For today’s post, we are sharing our 2015 Position Statements, recently published in our magazine and paralleling the theme of our Annual Fellowship.
15.01: The Importance of Prophecy
Although many believers avoid the study of Bible prophecy because of the misuse of prophetic passages and because of differences among interpreters, prophecy is a very important component of biblical revelation and properly understood is a great blessing to God’s people. We should preach the whole counsel of God, including prophetic portions. Promises and predictions of the future are an integral part of both Old and New Testament preaching.
Prophetic teaching serves as a warning to the unsaved. It is also profitable for the believer’s life and ministry. The Scriptures promise a special blessing on those who study and apply prophetic teaching. Specific benefits include a greater appreciation for the glory and trustworthiness of God, a fuller understanding of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the promotion of evangelistic zeal, a motivation for holy living and mutual exhortation, comfort in sorrow, encouragement in affliction, and a calming of fears.
15.02: Hermeneutics and Bible Prophecy
We advocate the grammatical/historical approach to hermeneutics. This is also called “literal” or “plain sense.” Covenant theology is ambivalent on hermeneutics, using literalism to interpret most Scripture but employing a form of allegorism or figurative interpretation on much of prophetic literature. This is done to uphold the generic unity and continuity of Israel and the church as the one people of God in the outworking of the one redemptive covenant of grace.
We reject the nonliteral position and advocate a consistent hermeneutic for the following reasons.
- Prophecy, indeed created language as a whole, was designed to convey a specific message. Without a consistent means of interpretation, there is no restraint on meaning.
- The fulfillment of prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming were literally fulfilled.
- An ambivalent literal/nonliteral hermeneutic robs the Old Testament of its real authority by denying to the people of the Old Testament the key to unlock its truths. If the meaning was allegorical all along, how could the prophecies have been genuinely meaningful to those who heard them? For the covenant theologian this key cannot be the self-contained meaning of the words themselves, so it must be an outside factor. For the dispensationalist, prophecy means in the New Testament what it meant in the Old Testament.
15.03: The Premillennial Return of Christ
We affirm the premillennial return of Christ, that is, His future literal and bodily return in glory and His subsequent thousand-year reign over all the nations of the earth. We also affirm that His return and reign will bring about the spiritual and physical salvation of the nation of Israel and the fulfillment of the kingdom promised to the house of David. We affirm premillennialism and reject amillennialism and postmillennialism based on a literal understanding of Bible prophecy.
15.04: The Pretribulational Rapture of the Church
We believe in the pretribulational Rapture of the Church to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. We believe that nothing remains to be fulfilled prior to the Rapture, thereby making it an imminent event. We believe that this view of the Rapture is correct for several reasons, including the following:
- The Holy Spirit’s influence through the church is removed prior to the Seventieth Week of Daniel and the Wicked One being revealed (2 Thess. 2);
- The church will be kept from the time of wrath that is to come upon the earth (1 Thess. 5; Rev. 3:10);
- The church is absent from the earth in Revelation 4–18; and
- This view is consistent with the contextual Jewish messianic expectations and ancient marriage customs and language used by our Lord to describe the events surrounding His return (John 14).
15.05: Prophetic Views and Separation
Regarding the reality of the return of Christ. The doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has always been considered one of the fundamentals of the faith. A denial of the return of Christ constitutes a denial of the veracity and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We would call on all true Bible believers to separate ecclesiastically from anyone who denies the return of Christ.
Regarding views on the Millennium. We are committed to a premillennial position on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy has made room for various positions on the Millennium. Nevertheless, the difference in hermeneutic between the consistently literal approach of premillennialism and the partially allegorical approach of amillennialism and postmillennialism has an impact on ministry philosophy, cultural application, and ecclesiology. Therefore this difference limits the level of cooperation between those who hold to these two views and those who hold the premillennial position.
Regarding the views on the Rapture. While faithful people, implementing a normal, literal hermeneutic, have come to different conclusions regarding the timing of the Rapture, we affirm the doctrine of a pretribulational Rapture. We believe there is clear and compelling biblical evidence that the Rapture will occur prior to a literal seven-year tribulation period as described in Revelation 4–19.
Views on the Millennium and Rapture do not demand ecclesiastical separation but do limit cooperation. See Position Statement on limited participation (FBFI Resolution 09.03). We consider it legitimate for local churches, fellowships, and ministry institutions to include such a doctrine in their defining doctrinal statements as well as to make agreement on this doctrine a condition for membership or employment.
(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2015. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)