Question #56

What is the millennium?

What does the church teach as to what the millennium is?

The Answer:

As always, I must emphasize that it doesn’t matter what the church teaches unless the church teaches that which the scripture teaches. Questions should always be framed in terms of seeking answers from the Bible.

There are three positions taken by various groups concerning what the Millennium is and when it occurs in history. Postmillennialism views Christ as returning after the Millennium. Premillennialism views Christ as returning before the Millennium and reigning upon the earth for a literal thousand years. Amillennialism contends that there is no Millennium in the sense of a literal thousand years.

Most, if not all, teach that the only explicit passage upon which the various millennial views are based is Rev. 20:1-6. Both pre- and post- millennialism interpret these verses literally; thus, whenever the Millennium occurs it is a literal thousand years. Amillennialism understands these verses to be figurative, with no reference to a literal thousand years.

Of the three, the amillennial view comports with scripture. All of the numbers in the Book of Revelation, with the possible exception of the seven churches, are figurative. Ten is the number of perfect completeness. Ten times ten times ten is absolute completeness. Most of those who hold pre- and post- positions accept the figurative nature of the numbers in Revelation until they get to 20:1-6. Then for some strange reason they take these numbers as literal, and, having done so, interpret all of the rest of scripture based upon their understanding of 20:1-6, an admittedly difficult passage. Such an approach violates one of the basic rules of hermeneutics – the obscure is always interpreted in the light of the plain.

Taken figuratively, the concept of completeness is understood by some quantitatively and by others qualitatively. The quantitative view understands the term to apply to a period of time, the time between Christ’s first and second coming. The qualitative view understands the term to refer to the complete and absolute binding of Satan.

The greatest objection to the amillennial view (other than its figurative understanding of the passage) is that the first and second resurrections are taken to mean two different kinds of resurrections, the first spiritual and the second the literal bodily resurrection. It is suggested that there is nothing in the text that requires them to be taken differently. Of course, they are called the “first” and the “second,” which in itself indicates that they are different in time. Why could they not also be different in nature? After all, John spoke of two resurrections, one spiritual and one literal in John 4:25-29. In 4:25 he spoke of a time that “now is,” i.e., “is” at the time John was writing. That was a spiritual resurrection that would bring spiritual life to those who had been spiritually dead. In 4:29 John spoke of those would come forth from the grave unto everlasting life or condemnation. While he did not use the word “resurrection,” it cannot be denied that he described two resurrections, one spiritual and one literal.

Entire books have been written on this subject. Only the surface, and only a portion of the surface, has been touches here. You will find many references to the doctrine of millennialism at this web site. While many are scattered throughout various classes, the reader my wish to especially consult the material on Revelation, Daniel, and Ezekiel.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)