In general the premillennial system may be characterized as follows.
Premillennialists believe that theirs is the historic faith of the Church.
Holding to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, they believe that the promises made to Abraham and David are unconditional and have had or will have a literal fulfillment. In no sense have these promises made to Israel been abrogated or fulfilled by the Church, which is a distinct body in this age having promises and a destiny different from Israel’s.
At the close of this age, premillennialists believe that Christ will return for His Church, meeting her in the air (this is not the Second Coming of Christ), which event, called the rapture or translation, will usher in a seven-year period of tribulation on the earth. After this, the Lord will return to the earth (this is the Second Coming of Christ) to establish His kingdom on the earth for a thousand years, during which time the promises to Israel will be fulfilled.
Opponents of the premillennial system have attempted to obscure the main issues involved by inventing distinctions between historic premillennialists, pretribulationists, dispensationalists, and ultra-dispensationalists.1 Such distinctions are not warranted since the differences involved are so minor and since the roots of premillennialism go far deeper.
1 See Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, pp. 6–15, and Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial Faith, pp. 21–30.
Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (Dubuque, IA: ECS Ministries, 2005), 12.