The Church’s Hope: The Reformed Doctrine of the End (Volume One: The Millennium), by Prof. David J. Engelsma (Jenison, MI: RFPA). $29.95 soft. 350 pages. Reviewed by Rev. Garry Eriks.

The clear message of this volume on eschatology is the church’s hope that Jesus Christ is coming again to bring His church to live with Him in body and soul forever. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ needs this hope because of the attacks upon her and the hardships she faces in an increasingly wicked world. From beginning to end Prof. Engelsma warmly reminds the church of her hope. The book is not simply written to identify false teachings in the church today (which it does with a bold voice), or to explain the truth of amillennialism (which it does clearly), but it is written to give the church hope.

This message of hope is addressed in all the major sections the book, which cover the main subjects of Reformed eschatology. The first section explains the hope found in the end or goal of all history, which is the coming of Christ to bring the church to Himself. In the second main section, Prof. Engelsma encourages the reader with the hope of the intermediate state, which is the state of the soul of the child of God after death and before Christ’s return. The hope for the child of God is that our soul will be with Christ in heaven. In the rest of the book, Prof. Engelsma explains the millennium of Revelation 20, after which he defends Reformed amillennialism against the errors of postmillennialism and premillennialism. He exposes how postmillennialism and premillennialism rob of the child of God of true, biblical hope. Our hope is found in the victory of Christ that is explained in the biblical and Reformed truth of amilleninalism.

Because Prof. Engelsma writes for the practical purpose of giving the church hope, this is a book for all members of the church to read. Those who read the book will be rewarded with growth in their understanding of eschatology and with a hope that is renewed because of what Christ is accomplishing until the day of His return.

There are many other qualities that characterize this book. This volume is confessional and scriptural. Prof. Engelsma roots his conclusions in the Reformed confessions and careful exegesis of Scripture. He refers throughout the book to the rich Reformed tradition handed down to the church today in the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, Westminster Confession, and the Second Helvetic Confession. Thus the book is clearly and distinctively Reformed. Not only does the writer look back at the Reformed tradition, but he provides careful exegesis of many of the passages in the Old Testament and in the New Testament to expose what is false and to prove what is truth.

As you would expect from Prof. Engelsma, he dissects with strict precision and relentless thoroughness the evil errors in each of the main sections of the book. What is especially valuable is his careful explanation of and analysis of the errors of postmillennialism and premillennialism. Explaining the various nuances of these errors can be extremely difficult, but the author does this well. If you want a better understanding of these errors in the church world, read the book. With precision, the author wields the scalpel of the Scriptures and confessions to demonstrate thoroughly these evil errors that threaten the church. For him, it is not simply a matter of being right according to Scripture. He warns the church of these errors with a pastor’s heart, wanting the church to find hope in Christ and His victory. He clearly demonstrates how Satan uses the errors to draw the church away from the hope and victory of Christ.

Prof. Engelsma does not merely regurgitate what the church in the past has said. This volume develops the truth of eschatology. He provides fresh exegesis of pertinent passages and a confessional defense of Reformed eschatology. Read the book because you will find rich insights into eschatology. This includes even critiquing Herman Hoeksema, who is loved in the Protestant Reformed Churches, concerning an aspect of his view on Revelation 20. This demonstrates that the author is not simply a follower of men, but one who must submit to the authority of God’s Word. The reader should not be alarmed at this. Prof. Engelsma does also praise one of the greatest devotionals on the book of Revelation, Behold He Cometh, written by Hoeksema.

The Protestant Reformed Churches and the Reformed church world are indebted to Prof. Engelsma for writing this volume, which arises out of his many years of studying, teaching, and preaching on the return of Jesus Christ. I am thankful personally, as a pastor, for this volume on Reformed eschatology. It is polemical, confessional, biblical, Christ-centered, and hope filled. May the Lord use this work to bless Reformed churches until the day of our Savior’s return.