Millennial Kingdom of Christ – What’s the point?

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The Purpose of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom

millennial-kingdomI always wondered why God would bother with the Millennium.  Why not just get on with heaven and skip Christ’s millennial kingdom?  What exactly is the point of this one-thousand year-long prelude to heaven?  The answer to that question may have several aspects but I believe that at least one of them is that it that Christ’s millennial kingdom reign is the time when God will distribute rewards and punishment to His people.

Paul wanted the prize of the high calling of Christ, which is a reward.  Why do people automatically think that the rewards that God refers to are limited to streets of gold and heavenly mansions? If God does in fact offer rewards then we should not think it improper to desire them.  There is nothing spiritual about despising what God offers.

Just in one sermon alone from Matthew 5:12 to 6:18 Christ spoke of rewards at least nine times.  The truth is that this whole section of Matthew’s gospel deals with receiving rewards. Are we supposed to respond to Christ and say “no thanks I am not interested?”  “No, I don’t want your rewards?”  “No, I am too spiritual for that?” God’s rewards are precious; we must not interpret them as mere trinkets.  The crown of righteousness is not an object of gold placed on someone’s head.  The crown is a symbol of recognition to those believers who have responded as overcomers in this life.

Once we recognize that the crown is merely a symbol, we can begin to understand the utmost importance of the difference between salvation and reward. The reward is the recompense of the believer.  What then is the difference between receiving salvation and receiving recompense?  Salvation relates to and points to eternal life however; receiving recompense points to the time when the Lord distributes rewards to those of His servants who were faithful, I believe that scripture teaches that this will happen during the millennial kingdom.  We receive salvation by grace, through faith, and not by our works.  The reward, on the other hand, depends on our merit.

Distinguishing Christ’s millennial Kingdom from Heaven – An illustration

Let us suppose that I am a very wealthy man, the owner of a school, and you are a poor ignorant person, that wants to study and learn.  So then, I offer to pay for your studies and for those of as many of your friends that wish to study with you.  The registration and tuition are free as well as all the other educational expenses.  That is what salvation is like.  Jesus was very rich and He paid all the expenses necessary for you to study and attend private school.  He paid for the registration, the tuition, everything!  There is not detail that He has left unresolved for the furtherance of our education.  Jesus has already paid the price for everything!

In spite of this, your diploma is not free.  It is necessary for you to attend the classes and study, to take the tests and pass them.  It would be absurd for us to think that the person who paid your expenses would also take your tests and study for you.  No, you know that you would have to study hard and work up a sweat to pass the course.  If you pass the final exam then you will be qualified to receive your diploma.  The tuition was free, but the diploma comes at a great cost.  Salvation is the tuition, by way of salvation (the new birth), all students are able to enter the school of God, but the diploma is the kingdom, the reward.  Some Christians just want to remain in the school, because they like the fellowship and company of the students, the recesses, and the classes.  However, all of this must result in good grades.  Many enroll in the school, but not all receive a diploma.  Many receive salvation, but not all will receive the recompense of the millennial kingdom.  Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).

Some people just want to be students for the rest of their lives.  Instead of studying to prepare for a profession, they study just to study.  There are many Christians like that today.  They do not care if they graduate or not, they just study year after year.  They do not want to develop a ministry they just want to study about the ministry and gain more and more knowledge about the bible and spiritual things.

Salvation is the paid tuition, the paid enrollment and expenses.  Jesus has taken care of all the educational expenses, but now you must work and study ardently.  This arduous work is the qualification necessary for receiving the diploma.  In the end, you will take the test, and if you do not pass the test, you will not receive the diploma of a good and faithful servant.

No school principal will expel students from the school because they got a bad grade on a test.  In the same way, nobody loses their salvation if they fail a test.  What happens to students who do not do well on the test?  They will have to repeat the school year or the course, or retake the test and maybe pay a fine.  What will the millennial kingdom be then?  The answer is the repetition of the course or school year.  The problem is that Christ’s millennial kingdom will last for a thousand years.  It is a much better idea to make the effort and pass the test here in this era!

We can only receive salvation through Christ.  Only the blood of the Lamb can wash, forgive and justify us.  The goal of sinners should be to receive salvation, but once we have already received salvation, our goal should be to receive the reward. Today we should be concerned about receiving the diploma at the end of the course.

If there is not clarity with respect to the difference between salvation and recompense, we will have a hard time understanding certain parts of the Bible.  There are verses that speak with respect to reward and many people apply these to salvation.  When they do this, they fall into error. That is why some people place salvation as something so difficult and unattainable, that it would be easier to yield to all of the demands of religion.  Salvation is in reality something very simple: it is enough just to believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that Jesus arose from the dead and is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).  Receiving the reward on the other hand is not so simple, it is in this regard that the millennial kingdom begins to make sense.

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