Sunday, June 25, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Millennium ]

Lonnie Branam

In this message I want to make a few comments on Revelation 20:6 which says, Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:1-6 is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand, and there is little or no agreement among Bible scholars on this passage. However, most all of Christendom have accepted the interpretation of their prophecy preachers that this thousand year period will not begin until Christ returns. The theory is that when Christ returns, He will raise all saved people from their graves, and they will be caught up to meet Jesus in the sky; and He will take them to heaven for seven years. The unsaved dead all remain in their graves for a thousand years, and then the second resurection will take place. After seven years Jesus will return with all the saved people of heaven and set up the kingdom of God on the earth for the first time. Christ will reign on David's throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years. Satan will be bound and great numbers of people on earth will be converted and saved. After the thousand year period ends, Christ will raise the wicked dead from their graves; Christ will judge the world, and the saved will be taken to heaven and enjoy eternal life. They call this the Millennium which is another term for a thousand years. Bible scholars in the brotherhood of Churches of Christ reject this interpretation because it contradicts other clear teachings of God's word about the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the day of Judgment and our entrance into heaven. It is a wise rule of Bible interpretation not to interpret a difficult passage in such a way as to contradict a clear passage.
However, this commonly accepted theory has greatly impacted the lives of millions of the followers of Christ. It has divided all Christendom into two groups: premillennarians and postmillennarians. Premillennarians believe Christ will come before this thousand year period begins, and postmillennarians believe Christ will return after the thousand year period. Those who believe Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years take this hope seriously. I read of one family who provided in their will a large sum of money that was not to be used to preach the gospel until the millennium begins. I wonder how many people have money in their will for the millennium. I read of another couple who lived just outside Knoxville, Tenn. in the town of Alcoa. In that city there is a very unusual stone house called Millennium Manor. The house was built over a nine-year period from June 1937 to December 1946. It was built by William Nicholson and his wife Fair. The Manor was built using Roman architecture. This was important because it was built to last a thousand years, and for this reason, it was given the name, Millennium Manor. The Nicholsons did all the work on the house themselves, without the aid of machines. It was a remarkable feat, since both
were small. How they had the strength to carry and lay all that marble remains a mystery. The thinnest inside wall of the 14 bedroom house was 19 inches, and the thinnest outside wall was 25 inches. The roof is more that three feet thick, and the floor is more than four feet thick. The roof alone supposedly weighs 423 tons. Over 4,000 bags of cement were used. In theory, however, it should be possible to remove all the cement from the entire building and it would remain standing, since the only function of the mortar was to fill gaps and not bear a load. .
Now why do you suppose the Nicholsons built such an imposing structure? It's a very interesting story. They were very religious people who believed in a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” They truly believed that, if they had enough faith, they could live a thousand years with Christ on earth. And thus, Millennium Manor was built to survive the battle of Armageddon and a thousand years beyond. However, in 1950 Mrs Nicholson died of cancer at the age 72. They had been married more than 50 years. Her husband was quoted as saying his wife died because she was weak in faith. He didn't expect the same fate for himself. He believed he would live in Millennium Manor for a thousand years. Fifteen years later, nevertheless, at the age of 88 and nearly blind and deaf, Mr Nicholson joined his wife in the local cemetery. We are amused at the deception of this couple about the Millennium theory, but down through the centuries many well-meaning people have been tripped up by this widely believed theory. I agree with the Bible scholars who believe that the first resurrection is our spiritual resurrection at the time of conversion. Scripture teaches clearly that at the time of conversion, we were spiritually dead in sins, and we buried our past life in the water of baptism. From the water of baptism, which symbolizes Christ's death, burial and ressurection, we were raised up from baptism to begin a new life in Christ. Romans 6:1-6. It is an indisputable teaching of scripture that all Christians were once dead in sins and trespasses, and Christ raised us from death to a new spiritual life in Christ. One thing is certain; every true Christian has a resurrection in kind, a spiritual resurrection. That is the only other resurrection mentioned in scripture than the literal resurrection of our bodies at the coming of Christ.At least this interpretation does not conflict with any other clear teaching of the New Testament. As to the thousand year period in Revelation 20, I agree with those thinkers among us who suggest the Millennium is a future period of church history. Not necessarily an exact period of a thousand years, but a long, indefinite period of time. The thousand years may be a symbolical number for a large time perod. Perhaps a time when the church may have the the greatest success in Evangelization that has yet occurred. If that be so, the only thing that can bind Satan is a vigorous proclamation of the gospel of Christ. The church is the only power on earth that can control the power and influence of the Devil. This pwerful angelic being cannot be bound with a literal chain. That is figurative language. As closing thought turn in the Bbile to Luke 21:25-28 and read it. No one knows what forms these signs will assume near the second coming of Christ. I suppose those who are alive at that time will be able to identify them and connect them with the return of Christ. It sounds like it will be a fearful and distressful time for the human race. Verse 27 says,“ Then they shall see the Son of Man coming a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. The redemption here spoken of is our redemption from the grave. That will be the second final resurrection of the entire human race. Jesus said that the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth"(John 5:28). No evidence here of the saved being raised from the dead a thousand years before the wicked. These words of Jesus are very solemn, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. When these things begin to take place,look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.” Christ tells us to be prepared, and this is the time to prepare. Christ said, “Be always on the watch. and pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the son of Man.”
There was an amusing story in Reader's Digest of a person who was attending the wedding of a dear friend. It was held in a large church building with a long aisle. The bride who was a bit nearsighted, chose not to wear her glasses for the occasion. As she walked down the aisle on her father's arm, the bride turned to her father, and her words echoed through the building, “Is he there?” she asked. She wanted to make sure the groom had made it to the wedding. The church is the bride of Christ. He has called us His bride, and has invited us to the marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Bible says, “Every eye shall see Him. ” The last book in the collection of Christian writings we call, The New Testament” ends with these words, “Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

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