Monday, November 12, 2018

Views on the Millennium

"He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:2).

There is only one passage in the Bible that speaks of a millennium (Revelation 20:1–6), and there is a great deal of debate over what it means. There are three basic schools of thought. 

The “premillennialists” believe that Jesus will return to the earth and rule for a literal 1,000 years, and then history will end and the new heavens and earth will arrive. The “postmillennialists” believe that Christianity will gradually disciple the nations and, before Christ returns, there will be a reign of peace. Most postmillennialists identify the millennium as a symbol for the entire Gospel age. The “amillennialists” also take the millennium as a symbol for the Gospel age, but they don’t believe in any future “golden age” for the Gospel before Jesus returns.

These technical differences actually summarize three views of the Gospel era. Although there are exceptions, almost all premillennialists believe that the present age is one that deteriorates until Christ returns. Thus, the premillennialist can fall into the trap of doing little to help society improve, focusing instead almost entirely on “spiritual things.”

Postmillennialists argue that God’s kingdom is growing at the expense of Satan’s, and though there are periods of setback, over the last 2,000 years Christianity has grown and brought much improvement to the world. Amillennialists believe that both God’s and Satan’s kingdoms are growing, in different ways, simultaneously. Thus, both “postmils” and “amils” pay close attention to the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:26–28. Both of these can tend to fall into the opposite trap from that which sometimes snares the premillennialists, and can become so preoccupied with social issues that they neglect the need for revival and spiritual cultivation.

Perhaps you have observed one of these dangerous tendencies in your own life. Do you tend to downplay your calling to minister to others because of a belief that there’s not much you can do to help society? Or do you get so caught up in social issues that you forget daily prayer and Bible study? Avoid both imbalances.