Christ’s Prophetic Plans: A Futuristic Premillennial Primer

by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, Eds (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012), 220 pp., paper $19.99.

Joining MacArthur and Mayhue in this work are three other members of The Master’s Seminary (Michael Vlach, Matthew Waymeyer and Nathan Busenitz). Together they write a solid understanding and defense of premillennailism, with MacArthur laying out the thesis of the book on the first page:

This primer (basic, introductory book) intends to provide a clear and convincing biblical explanation for the interpretive approach to Scripture that results in a knowable futuristic view of Christ’s millennial reign on earth, the certain validity of God’s promises to future Israel, and the crucial differences between Israel (as a people and a nation) and the NT church.

The authors are not only presenting a case for premillennialism in general but for dispensational premillennialism in particular. MacArthur writes that dispensationalism results from three things: interpreting Scripture normally, understanding Old Testament restoration promises to Israel, as well as the book of Revelation, as future, and distinguishing decisively between Israel and the church (p. 10). But it is Vlach who lays out the dispensational case, powerfully and clearly, in chapters two and three (both of which can be found in his booklet Dispensationalism, which provides a fuller treatment of the subject). Vlach is correct that the main difference between dispensationalists and nondispensationalists is their hermeneutical approach to Scripture (see p. 23). Vlach expands on previous definitions of dispensationalism, including Ryrie’s famous Sine Qua Non, by offering six essential beliefs (pp. 24-35). Later Vlach adequately debunks five common myths that covenantalists have promoted about dispensationalism (pp. 42-54).

Waymeyer writes a helpful chapter exegeting Revelation 20 (chapter 6) which is the watershed text of Scripture for much of eschatological disagreement. He offers four proofs that Revelation 20 presents futuristic premillennialism: the timing of Satan’s binding, the nature of the first resurrection, theduration of the millennium, and the chronology of John’s vision (pp. 123-138) (for a more thorough treatment of Revelation 20 see Waymeyer’s book Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate).

Busenitz provides a historical perspective in his chapter “Did the Early Church Believe in a Literal Millennial Kingdom?” (it did). Busenitz also details the early rise of amillennialism due to the increased acceptance of an allegorical method of hermeneutics (pp. 185-192). MacArthur adds chapters explaining how Calvinism leads to futuristic premillennialism (7) and demonstrating that the New Testament teaches the same (8). This latter chapter is most enlightening, showing how the New Testament references Israel as an ethnic people everytime Israel is mentioned (i.e. Israel is never confused with the church).

Richard Mayhue adds the introduction and a good chapter on the pretribulation rapture (chapter 4). He also writes my favorite chapter in the book, “Why Futuristic Premillennialism” (chapter 3), in which he maps out a framework that leads to a futuristic premillennial understanding of eschatology. This framework comes in the form of eight pieces of evidence to support his and the other authors’ positions (pp. 62-84).

The book is true to its subtitle, A Futuristic Premillennial Primer, but it is much more. It is a clear, powerful and convincing treatment of dispensational premillennialism which is readable and insightful. Any serious student of the Word will find this volume of substance and value.

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