The Present Reign of Christ
The reign of Christ demands the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. There can be no reign of Christ separate and apart from the kingdom of Christ. To establish the kingdom of Christ is to establish the reign of Christ.
The day of Pentecost (Acts 2) marks the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. The beginning of the kingdom of Christ on earth, in the city of Jerusalem, on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of our Lord was the fulfillment of many prophetic statements (Dan. 2:44; Zech. 1:16; 6:12, 13, 15).
As there can be no reign of Christ apart from the kingdom of Christ, and as the kingdom was established on Pentecost, therefore the day of Pentecost marks the beginning of the reign of Christ on the earth, and every Christian reigns with Christ, the King, in His kingdom now.
After the coming of the kingdom of God on Pentecost, people were said to be in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:9). The kingdom was here on the earth in the time of the apostle Paul, and men were translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Paul wrote, “Who hath delivered out of the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). To deny that the kingdom was set up on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, and the present reign of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, contradicts every fact and truth that has any bearing on the subject throughout the entire Bible.
Jesus is now in heaven on David’s throne reigning over His spiritual kingdom. God’s people in the kingdom of Christ are an “elect race, a royal priesthood, an holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9). “A royal priesthood”—kings and priests reigning with Christ, their King. Paul says, “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Christians receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness in this life. Therefore they reign with Christ in this present life.
This present reign of Christ will continue until the last enemy is destroyed, then he will deliver up the kingdom to God.
Then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:24-26).
This is the end of things.
The Thousand Years
The theory of a millennium and a reign with Christ on earth is a great system of doctrine called “premillennialisn.” The theory is based upon a false application of Revelation 20:1-10. A thousand years is mentioned six times in Revelation 20. The whole structure of millennialism depends upon a false application of this scripture.
We read in verse 6, “…but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” With some, an earthly reign of Christ for 1,000 years becomes the leading thought of the Bible. It is the keystone of the whole structure. The very heart of the doctrine of a literal thousand year reign is assumed, not stated.
The system of doctrine called premillennialism has many essential elements and Revelation 20:1-10 is made the heart of the Bible’s prophetic teaching by millennialists. Following is a list of some of the essential elements of millennialism:
The second coming of Christ.
An earthly reign of Christ.
David’s literal throne in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem the capital city and religious center of the world.
National conversion and restoration of fleshly Israel to Palestine.
Restitution of all things.
Tabernacle of David.
Rebuilding the temple.
One thousand years between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked.
All of these elements are wanting in Revelation 20.
Revelation 20 does not mention a definite period of time of one thousand years called the “millennium,” during which time there will be an earthly reign of Christ with His saints. Just remember that a literal time measure of 1,000 years between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, the very heart of the doctrine of an earthly reign of Christ, is not mentioned from the first chapter of Genesis to the close of the book of Revelation. It is simply in the realm of man’s opinion. The keystone of the whole premillennial structure is wanting in Revelation 20.
Let us consider prayerfully two passages of Scripture in regard to the subject under consideration.
First, John 5:28-29. “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
John says, the hour cometh in which all that are in the graves (both righteous and wicked) shall hear his voice and come forth. Now, by what authority does one say there will be an age of 1,000 years—a millennium—between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked? According to John, the righteous dead and the wicked dead are raised at the same time.
If one says that the “hour” of the passage does not necessarily mean that the righteous and the wicked shall be raised at the same time, that is merely a “dispensational hour,” then you destroy the theory of a “first” and “second” resurrection, and the structure falls. Let us keep in mind that the writer of Revelation 20 also wrote John 5:28-29. Does Revelation 20 clash with, or contradict, John 5:28-29? No, for John does not say in Revelation 20 there is to be a period of 1,000 years between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked. The inspired apostle absolutely leaves no room for a millennium and a reign with Christ on earth between two resurrections.
Second passage, Matt. 16:27: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.”
In this passage we are told plainly that Christ will render unto every man according to his deeds. Rendering unto every man must include both the righteous and wicked. When will Christ render unto every man according to his deeds? Answer: When He comes in the glory of His Father with His angels. Note the word then. That means when He comes. This should be final with all lovers of truth. Christ could not render unto every man when He comes, if He only raised the righteous dead and then reigned for a literal time period of 1,000 years on the earth before the resurrection of the wicked to render unto them according to their deeds.
We have found in this study that Christians are now reigning with Christ, the Head of the church, and in view of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should “give diligence that we may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless in his sight” (2 Pet. 3:14).