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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Second (In the End)

This week I felt I needed to talk about what we've learned about the end of this age.  I'm not talking about all the seals, trumpets and bowls of wrath in Revelation.  I'm also not talking about when this heaven and earth pass and a new heaven and earth come.  I'm talking about the time between those things, and something that was hidden from me and from a lot of people for a very long time (which is interesting considering it's there in Revelation plain as day).  It's also something that causes confusion when certain passages of scripture seem to contradict each other. 

First, let me not gloss over the fact that Jesus and John were clear that everlasting life is promised to all who believe in Jesus as their Savior (John 3:16, John 3:36).  This is given to us sinners by the grace of God through Jesus Christ (John 1:16,17) based on his death on the cross.  Grace being the "free and unmerited favor of God," (dictionary definition) meaning He requires nothing from us in order for us to receive this everlasting life.  All we have to do is believe that Jesus died for our sins.  In fact, in Romans 11:6, Paul talks about the fact that if grace requires works then it's not grace.

So that makes it confusing when you read passages where Jesus says, "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also..." (John 14:12), and Paul talks about running a race (which requires work) to receive "the prize," which is an incorruptible crown (1 Cor 9:24,25).  In his letter to the Philippians, he talks about pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," (Phil 3:14).  What is this prize, and why would Jesus say we should do works if we believe on Him, when God requires nothing for us to receive eternal life? 

Some might say we should do works because that's what Jesus did and we should be like Him.  Others might say our works show others God's love.  I don't disagree with either of these statements, and these are good enough reasons in and of themselves for us to do works.  However, there is a much more exciting reason (at least to me!), and it's something that I had never heard in all my years of going to church or Sunday school. 

This exciting reason is in Revelation 20:1-6.  In this passage, an angel comes from heaven and binds Satan in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.  And the people that stayed true to God "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years," and they are "priests of God and of Christ."  This is not just a metaphorical or allegorical 1000 years that represent heaven, because after the thousand years Satan is released to deceive the earth once more (Rev 20:7,8), and the new heaven and new earth are brought forth later (Rev 21:1).  This is an earthly 1000 years where Christ reigns and rules His kingdom in righteousness and truth since there is no Satan to cause deception or darkness to lead people away from Him.  More than that, it will be a time without war, as Isaiah 2 describes "...in the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established...and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore," (vs 2,4).  It will be a time without sickness, as Isaiah 35 describes "...when God will come with vengeance...and save you.  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped...lame man leap...tongue of the dumb sing," (vs 4-6). 

Does everyone make it into the 1000 year (or millennial) kingdom of Christ?  Unfortunately, no.  This is where some previously confusing passages start to make sense.  Paul was the guy that used to persecute Christians and was then converted by Jesus himself (Acts 9:1-20).  In other words, he is clearly someone that has received everlasting life in the new heaven by the grace of God.  But he says, "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead," (Phil 3:11), which means he's concerned about whether or not he will be resurrected.  And I already mentioned him talking about the "prize" in Phil 3:14.  The key to Phil 3:11 is the word resurrection, and Paul uses a Greek word here that's used nowhere else in the Bible: exanastasis.  This is a derivative of the word anastasis (the word used in the rest of the scripture for resurrection), which literally means "to stand again," and it adds the prefix ex, which means to come out from.  So Paul is talking about coming out from those who will stand again, which is exactly what those chosen for the millennial kingdom will do when everyone gets resurrected.  Continuing until verse 21 reveals that those chosen will receive a "glorious body" for that kingdom.

So how is it determined whether or not you go to the millennial kingdom?  This is where works come in.  God gives us gifts, coincidentally (or not?) called talents in Mat 25, to use for His glory actively and earnestly.  The parable of Mat 25:14-30 describes servants that were given talents.  Some made more for their master, and they were rewarded by being made rulers over things (i.e. in the millennial kingdom), but one hid his talent and he was cast into the "outer darkness," where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth."  This description is used in a few different places to let us know what will happen to us based on if certain criteria exist in our lives like not having faith (Mat 8:12), not having works (Mat 22:13), abuse of goods and people/not looking for the Lord (Mat 24:51), being wicked/slothful (Mat 25:30), or not knowing the Lord even though you're working for Him (Luk 13:28).  While there's no more description of the outer darkness in scripture to tell us where it is or when people go there (although the passages do suggest it's following our visit to the Judgment Seat of Christ), it seems to be a sort of time-out for believers where they don't get to live in the millennial kingdom and experience Jesus' reign on earth.

I hope this has provided some hope for the end, and some insight to some passages that may have been confusing before.  This is just a brief overview of the millennial kingdom, so if you have any questions or need more clarification or scripture references please ask!  Also, there is a very detailed description of all about the millennial kingdom and how to make sure you are a part of it in the book "Will you make it or miss it? The 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the Earth," by Dale M. Sides. 

I hope this email also shows that Revelation is not the only part of the scripture that talks about the end.  More than just the parts I referenced provide keys and clues to figuring out what the end will entail.

Love you all, and God bless you

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