There are many forms of the false teaching called millennialism. Millennium is a Latin word meaning “one thousand years.” The basic teaching is that before Jesus comes on judgment day, there will be one thousand years of peace and prosperity on earth.
One version, called postmillennialism, says that Jesus will come back after the one thousand years of prosperity, during which the church continues to grow.
Another version, called premillennialism, says that Jesus will come back one thousand years before the Last Day to rule the world physically with believers.
Common to both ideas is that Jesus will reign on earth. Those who are unbelievers still will have a chance to come to faith and be saved.
What are the spiritual dangers of either version of millennialism?
The focus of either version is on the world we know with all its beauty and blessings. They both promise “peace and prosperity” for humanity here and shift us away from what Jesus promises in his “Father’s house” with its many rooms (John 14:2).
In the promise of a material world that is perfect there is a distortion of Jesus’ words about his coming in Matthew 25:31-46, the resurrection Paul wrote about in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, and the way Peter describes the Last Day (2 Peter 3:10)
Now is the time to know Jesus while we have our time of grace. We should not wait for a second chance after Christ returns, and we should not pin our hopes of eternity on the physical universe, which is flawed. As the writer to the Hebrews says, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14).
Perhaps one of the greatest dangers is to fail to use two of the principle rules of interpretation: l) Let a clear passage of Scripture interpret one that is difficult or unclear and 2) Make sure you understand the difference between figurative language and that which is not figurative.
Jesus will judge on the Last Day
So often we feel as though the things we do day-to-day don’t really matter.
Read Matthew 25:31-46.
This section of Scripture reminds us that what we do now for Jesus will be remembered in eternity. Don’t miss the kinds of things Jesus lists. He points to what we so often think is mundane. There is no mundane in the service of a Christian. Our Christian lives do not go unnoticed by our Savior.
On the basis of these verses from Matthew, describe the Last Day for the believer and for the unbeliever.
Believers will be brought to eternal life. They are filled with joy and peace. Unbelievers will “go away to eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46). They will not have joy or peace.
Read Ephesians 2:8,9; Hebrews 11:6; and James 2:17,18.
Some look at the Matthew passage and wrongly conclude that we will be judged on the basis of our good works and not faith since Jesus points to the things we did for him. Using these other sections of Scripture, answer that claim. Hint: Notice that no sin is listed for the believer!
Romans 8:1 reminds us that in Christ there is no condemnation. We have been cleansed of our sins. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that we are saved by grace not by works. It goes on to say that we are believers and God’s handiwork “created in Christ Jesus so do good works.” God changes us so that we live as his children here. The passage from James notes that important change: Faith is accompanied by action. If faith is not accompanied by action, it is not faith at all. That’s the teaching of all of Scripture. Consider Romans chapters 3 and 4. Hebrews 11:6 recognizes how important faith is. Without it, nothing we do pleases God.
The Last Day is encouraging
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
What does this portion of Scripture add to your understanding of the Last Day?
On the Last Day, there will be a resurrection of all the dead. The believers who are resurrected and those who are still living when Jesus returns will be gathered together with Jesus where they will live forever.
After describing the Last Day, the apostle Paul says, “Therefore encourage each other with these words.” God wants the truth of the Last Day to fill us with hopeful anticipation, not fearful dread.
When I was a child and I knew that I was going to a theme park called Great America at the end of the week, do you think that truth impacted my life that week? You bet! First, I was excited all week because I had something to look forward to. Second, I told people about it because I was so excited. Third, I wanted to behave knowing that my parents were giving me this gift! You are going somewhere so much better than Great America!
You are going to live in perfect bliss in heaven all because of Jesus.
List three things about which the truths of the Last Day change your perspective when it comes to your daily life.
Read 2 Peter 3:10-18 for some ideas. You may wish to restate Peter’s thoughts in your own words or create a list from this passage.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 9
Issue: September 2021