Will the Church reign over the Millennial Kingdom without Jesus?
[Note: This series of questions about Jesus Christ’s coming Millennial Kingdom were sent in to Lamb & Lion Ministries and answered by Dr. David Reagan, Nathan Jones, and Tim Moore on our television program Christ in Prophecy.]
Dr. Reagan: Some churches teach that the Millennial Kingdom is indeed future and that it will occur on this earth, but it will consist of the Church reigning over all of the world for a thousand years, and without the presence of Jesus Christ.
Tim Moore: Such a view is called Post-Millennialism. That perspective teaches that the Church is actually gaining ascendancy and will eventually conquer the world for Christ. This view had been widely disproven in the last century due to the horrors of World War I and II. People realized the world wasn’t getting better and better, but rather it was getting worse and more secular. The Church before that time thought it was beginning to globalize the Gospel message and would soon evangelize the entire world. It saw itself as achieving a kind of Heaven on earth, but they were wrong.
Dr. Reagan: At the end of the 19th Century, back in the 1890s specifically, churches were flooded with articles and magazines predicting how the 20th Century was going to be the “Century of the Church.” The Church would take over the world through the proclamation of the Gospel. Nearly all Christians were Post-Millennialists in that sense. They anticipated that was about to be fulfilled, but then came World War I, and World War II, and the Great Depression, and the Cold War. Suddenly you couldn’t find a Post-Millennialist anywhere. Post-Millennialism is actually reviving today as the modern-day quality of living has improved.
Tim Moore: Yes, instead of the world become more Christian, what we have today is increasing Post-Modernism and those who are actually reverting back to pagan religions and pagan culture. Recent reports from our own country show a worryingly dramatic decline in the impact of the Church here. There has been a twelve-point drop over ten years in the number of people in the United States who identify as being Christian. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are truly Christian; that’s just self-identification. Generationally the rate is dropping precipitously to where for the Millennial generation less than half of them even claim a faith at all, let alone the Christian faith. And so, the Church is obviously not gaining ascendancy.
Why a Millennial Kingdom?
Dr. Reagan: I was raised in an Amillennial church and so I was taught Amillennialism to the core. When I first began to really read the Bible for myself and believe what it said and realized it teaches that Jesus Christ is coming back to reign over this earth for a thousand years, the first question in my mind was, “Why?” Why would Jesus need to come back? Why not just do away with this world, take all of His faithful to Heaven, and just be done with it. Why is there a need for the Millennial Kingdom?
Nathan Jones: Because there are so many prophecies and promises in the Bible that must be fulfilled by the Millennial Kingdom. Let’s start with Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus was promised to sit on the throne of David and rule over this earth. Sure, He can do that spiritually, both through the Church and providentially. But, the Bible includes many prophecies that promise that Jesus will rule and reign from Jerusalem and that King David will be a co-regent under Him as sort of like the mayor of Jerusalem. There are so many prophecies that say that Jerusalem will become the capital of the world, and it will be raised up above all of the other nations. All of the Gentile nations will flow to it. The inhabitants of the Millennial Kingdom are prophesied to grab the hem of a Jew and basically say, “Hey, you’re with Jesus, please take us to Jesus.” Is that happening today? No, it is not.
Dr. Reagan: Jesus is going to receive the honor and glory due Him during that time, the very glory He should have received the first time He came.
Tim Moore: Yes, He will. And, there are other reasons. One of the things that Amillennialists kind of seize on is the idea that goes all the way back to some of the earlier Church Fathers. Gnostics viewed the material world as evil; that it is inherently sinful. Such Greek philosophy had begun to infiltrate the Church, spiritualizing away any kind of material world or realm in order to eliminate the evil and the sinfulness of this world.
But, the Lord initially created the world in perfection. We are told over and over again in Genesis that the world was good. God’s creation was good. Mankind was declared as being very good. So, when peace, righteousness, and justice floods the world, then even the material world around us, such as the animal kingdom and the creation itself, will be restored to its perfected state. That is part of God’s goodness in the creation. Therefore, material isn’t inherently sinful, but it needs to be made “good” once more.
Dr. Reagan: Greek philosophy had just invaded the Church when the Church began to be dominated by the Gentiles. Influential men such as Augustine brought Greek philosophies into their biblical teachings.
There was another heresy, too, that had begun to infiltrate the Church, and that was Antisemitism. Replacement Theology teachings propelled the view of Amillennialism, because the kingdom that is portrayed in the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, is going to be a Jewish kingdom where Jesus is going to reign from Jerusalem. All of the blessings of God are going to go out through the Jewish people. In fact, the Bible says that the Jews during the Millennial Kingdom will be so honored that ten Gentiles will grab hold of a robe of a Jew and say, “Can we walk with you because we know God is with you?” These Early Church teachers just could not accept that. They were insistent that God had washed His hands of the Jews, and so there is not going to be any future kingdom where Israel stands apart as the prime nation of the world.
Tim Moore: Not only will the Jewish nation have all of these promises being fulfilled within that thousand years, but the Creation itself is groaning for the return of the Creator, for the restoration of the perfection that He established. During the Millennial Kingdom, the world will again approach nearly the purity of the Garden of Eden. The world will once again during the Millennial reign see the curse partially lifted.
Dr. Reagan: God has also made some promises to the Church for Christ’s Millennial reign. He’s got to fulfill them.
Nathan Jones: Those Christian who will be resurrected — the Church Age Christians — that’s you and me, during that time period will be resurrected to rule and reign with Jesus. There are so many promises that the Lord has made to the Church.
Dr. Reagan: Resurrected Christians will live in our glorified bodies and reign over those who remain in their natural bodies. Those people are the one ones who got saved during the Tribulation and survived until its end, along with their children born during the Millennial Kingdom.
Nathan Jones: A believing Jewish priesthood will also be instituted over the earth, living in their human, physical, earthly bodies and are comprised of the 144,000 and others from the Jewish remnant who were saved out of the Tribulation. Those saints already in Heaven will come down and reign over the earth in their glorified bodies.
Dr. Reagan: Every president, every governor, every member of a school board or a city council, they are all going to be a person in their glorified bodies ruling the world under Christ. No wonder the world is going to be flooded with peace, righteousness, and justice!
Nathan Jones: Yes, the only law will be coming out of Jerusalem, and it will be God’s law.
Was the Millennial Kingdom written about in the Old Testament?
Dr. Reagan: I’ve actually had people tell me there is no mention whatsoever of the Millennial Kingdom in the Old Testament.
Tim Moore: Well, that would be incorrect. There are many mentions of the kind of world that we can look forward to during the Millennium spread throughout the Old Testament, though not necessarily titled “Millennial Kingdom.”
Dr. Reagan: Isaiah 2 describes Christ’s Millennial reign in detail. Or, take Micah 4, which provides many details about the Millennial Kingdom, all described in detail in the Old Testament.
Nathan Jones: Isaiah 9:6-7 is that famous Christmas passage that prophesies that the government will be on the Lord’s shoulders. Jesus is now not here ruling and reigning physically, right? No, He is not. Jesus still needs to claim that role as the head of the world’s government as prophesied in Isaiah.
Dr. Reagan: Jesus didn’t claim that role during His First Coming, so that prophesy still has yet to be fulfilled at His Second Coming. The Millennial reign of Jesus Christ remains the central theme of the Millennial Kingdom, and we have yet to reach that glorious time.
In the fourth part of our series answering questions about the Millennial Kingdom, we’ll discover more about who the Church will rule over during that time.
This Q&A series is also available in a video album which contains two DVD discs that feature seven television programs in which David Reagan, Tim Moore, and Nathan Jones respond to questions about the Bible and Bible prophecy. These programs are great for both individual and group study and provide an excellent starting point for discussion.