I was asked to explain my position on various theological perspectives that affect a person’s interpretation of eschatology. Addressing the various labels used to describe how people view the End Times helped me to clarify why I take the positions I do on Bible prophecy…
I came to Christ as a result of becoming convinced that the Bible had to be from God because it includes prophecies that have been fulfilled exactly as given. And I have been blessed by getting to know the Lord better through studying His prophetic Word as Revelation 1:3 promises. In the process, I investigated the different methods of interpreting Bible prophecy and found the best to be an approach that takes the most literal view of Scripture… if the plain sense reading of a passage makes sense, seek no other sense or you’ll end up with nonsense. There is obvious symbolism in some apocalyptic passages but this is a common literary technique that helps us better understand it and is usually even explained by the accompanying text.
It is interesting to note that the many prophecies about the Messiah’s first coming were literally fulfilled, so we should expect the many more prophecies of His return to be literally fulfilled as well. Scripture reveals that God has gone to great lengths enabling us to experience a personal relationship with Him. The Bible is the main physical resource God gave us for getting to know Him personally during this age. Having to depend on some scholarly human intermediary to tell us what God really said is inconsistent with the purpose of the Bible.
I would describe myself as a futurist since I believe that prophecies in the Bible do help us predict what will happen in the future. Historicists must spiritualize the Bible to apply prophecy to what is happening today. I know it may sometimes appear that I’m doing that because what happens today certainly foreshadows and sets the stage for a future fulfillment of prophecy. But most prophecies associated with the Lord’s return pertain to the Tribulation period which we are not in yet.
I am certainly not a proponent of preterism which holds that most or all of the End Times biblical prophecies refer to events which have already happened in the first century after Christ's birth. It is pretty obvious that Jesus has not returned yet. Anyone reading passages about the Lord’s return thinking they were fulfilled during His First Advent would have to apply a pretty non-literal interpretation.
I am a dispensationalist. It does make sense to me that God has related to human beings in different ways throughout history. While “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), Scripture is clear that God has used diverse ways of revealing Himself to us during different periods of history. Replacement Theology is flat wrong. The Church has not replaced Israel as would have to be concluded from any honest reading of Romans 11.
I am a premillennialist. I believe there will be a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth prior to the eternal state as God has promised in Revelation 20:4. And I also believe that the Rapture of the Church will occur before the 7-year Tribulation. I’ve looked at the arguments for the different views on the order of End Time events and found premillennialism to be the one that takes the most literal view of the Bible and has the fewest unresolved conflicts.
I am a young-earth creationist. I take the Genesis creation account literally. If God truly is Almighty, why didn’t He bring about the Creation exactly like He told us He did? If we start having to apply some spiritual interpretation to the plain sense meaning of the Bible in Genesis, where does this stop? How can we believe anything the Bible says? This is a fundamental issue because, “if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). In other words, if you don’t believe the Genesis account of creation, you will not believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. There is a lot of scientific evidence supporting the idea that the earth is only thousands of years old that materialists can not explain.
I am also a Protestant. The main reason for that is sola scriptura along with the other “solas” representing the key theological beliefs of the Protestant Reformation which disagreed with the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. Wikipedia has a good description of these beliefs. I believe the five “solas” to be fundamental issues… Not having a right view of these fundamentals is a critical matter of salvation because it reveals a wrong view of God as revealed in His Word. As Jesus said in John 8:24, "if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." Most of my other labels are “disputable matters” that have no bearing on salvation (Romans 14:1). Where a person stands on the five “solas” does reveal the status of their relationship to God.
It is helpful to consider which labels we’d use to describe ourselves since we should, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, NKJ). I’d encourage you to make sure you understand what you believe and why you believe it. We can’t always predict when we’ll have an opportunity to defend the faith.