A quick look at the doctrine of the Millennium and the consequences of ignoring it.
I have to admit: Before I cracked open the books, I didn’t give the doctrine of Jesus’ thousand year reign a second thought.
Shoot–I hadn’t even given it a first thought.
But am I any less of a Christian?
And could I continue as a healthy, functioning Christian without this doctrine?
In other words, can Christians safely neglect the doctrine of the millennium?
Before we answer that question, let’s explore three different positions on this particular doctrine: amillennialism, postmillennialism and premillennialism.
According to this position, we are in the millennium. At Christ’s death, God reduced Satan’s power so the gospel could be effectively preached in this age.
This position declares that Christ’s one thousand year reign [a figurative number by the way] is a heavenly–and not an earthly–kingdom.
That means Revelation 20 is being fulfilled as we speak. It also means that there WILL NOT be a future kingdom.
This is it.
This reign will continue until Christ’s return when unbelievers will be raised to judgment and believers to eternal bliss.
This view holds that Christ’s return will occur AFTER the millennium.
In the meantime, this view sees the power of the gospel gradually growing over a very long time [the millennium, again, is a figurative thousand years] so that the world becomes more and more Christ-like…culminating in his second return.
As you can guess, this doctrine becomes very popular during times of pervasive peace and prosperity when we see strong influences of Christianity dominating our society.
This view sees Christ’s return BEFORE the millennium–but AFTER the tribulation. In other words, Christ’s return inaugurates his thousand year earthly reign.
At the beginning of this time Christ will cast Satan into the bottomless pit and believers will be raised from the dead.
At the end of this period Christ will release Satan from his prison who then attempts one last time to defeat Christ but is in turn summarily defeated.
Warning: Be Careful with This Doctrine
Listen: As with any prophetic, future doctrine interpreting the exact meaning of the millennium is both complex and difficult.
Our conclusions will be less certain than with other doctrines…
And although I think a strong case can be made for one position over the others [I'll explain in a minute what that is], I also think it is VERY IMPORTANT to extend a large measure of grace when discussing this topic.
Putting aside questions of positions for a minute, what are we supposed to do with this doctrine? What’s at stake if we neglect it? Can we achieve personal applications from it?
Questions to Ask Yourself about the Millennium
Do you have any conviction about Christ’s return: Whether it is amillennial, postmillennial or premillennial?
Yes. I affirm it is premillennial. I believe the stronger scriptural case lies with premillennialism. Furthermore, I believe the other positions create problems they can’t solve like amillennialisms slip into two returns for Christ .
How does your present view of the millennium affect your Christian life?
This is hard. Because it is in the distant future. But I would have to say it compels me to make my salvation sure, stimulate the faith of other believers and evangelize unbelievers despite my fears.
What do you think it will be like to live in a glorified body with Christ as King over the world? What sort of emotions and attitudes might you experience?
To the first question, weird. I don’t think I could confidently talk about such a state. I have zero reference point–expect for Christ’s resurrected body. So it may be the same, except without sin, disease or death. As far as emotions, I can only say it will probably be a deep sense of gratitude.
Lastly, do you really look forward to such a kingdom?
I confess: Not until I brushed up on the topic. I do now, though. In fact, I have a growing desire to learn more, because if you think about it contemplating such a kingdom and our place in it can only cause a far-reaching hope that sinks into every corner of our lives–changing us in ways Christ intended.
What about you? How would you answer these questions? Leave your answers in the comments.
And naturally your answers will depend on what position you hold, but don’t be afraid to share if we don’t agree. I’d still love to hear from you. I want to grow together.