At some level, all believers share in the sufferings of Jesus. We may not face torture and martyrdom for our faith as many of our brothers and sisters in Christ experience throughout the world. But nonetheless, we know the pain of rejection and ridicule as a result of our love for Jesus and His Word.
In the United States, we feel the rising tide of hatred toward those of us who espouse biblical values. If the trend continues, the persecution will turn violent and perhaps deadly at some point.
Jesus said this about the world’s opposition, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The world’s hatred toward us is nothing new.
However, just as we share in Jesus’ suffering, we will also someday share in His triumph. Now we endure the ridicule and persecution of those who reject the Savior; in the future we will reign with Jesus.
As you might expect, our triumph starts with Jesus.
Jesus Won the Victory for Us
Our confidence rests solely in Jesus’ victory over sin and death on the cross. He died in our place; He endured God’s wrath for our sins so that we might possess eternal life. Jesus’ conquest over the powers of darkness, however, means so much more than just the forgiveness for all our sins (though that alone is a cause for eternal praise and rejoicing).
In Romans 8:17 Paul wrote, “and if children, the heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Revelation 5:9-10 provides more insight into what this means. Those whom the Lord redeems with His blood will reign with Jesus in His millennial kingdom!
Jesus’ victory on our behalf not only transforms us from children of wrath into righteous saints (Eph. 2:1-7; 2 Cor. 5:21), it makes us heirs of a kingdom. It’s not that this life does not matter; but regardless of what we experience here, good or bad, we have a wondrous inheritance ahead for us that will make even the worst of suffering in this life seem light by comparison (2 Cor. 4:17-18; 1 Pet. 1:3-6).
We will Return with Jesus
Our participation in Jesus’ triumph begins with the rapture. That’s when we receive our immortal bodies and return with Jesus to heaven, to the place He has prepared for us (1 Cor. 15:51-55; John 14:1-3). After that, we will always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:18).
When Jesus returns to earth, we will be with Him as He leads the way back to the earth. We will follow Him seated on white horses (Rev. 19:14).
Imagine having front row seats as Jesus rips the kingdoms of this world away from the grip of Satan’s grimy fingers, imprisons the longtime enemy of our souls, and establishes His power throughout the world. Can you imagine anything more spectacular than that?
I recall past advertisements for the Indianapolis 500 that referred to the race as “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The return of Jesus to the world will far exceed any sporting event the world has ever witnessed; for the redeemed it will be like the excitement of the Indianapolis 500, World Series, Super Bowl, and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament all rolled into one!
Just as with our salvation, Jesus achieves the victory while we bask in His glory because we belong to Him. He will be the King seated on the throne of David, and it will be our great pleasure to serve Him as He so desires.
Jesus will Reward our Service and Watchfulness
Many passages in the New Testament speak of rewards for our faithful service as well as for remaining watchful of His return.
Right after Paul revealed the mystery of the rapture, he wrote these words, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor.15:58). Because Jesus is coming for us someday, we can know our labor on His behalf will not be “in vain.” Jesus will reward our service to Him.
This will occur at “the judgment seat of Christ” where we will give account of our lives as believers and receive rewards for faithful service (Rom. 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus’ parable of talents in Matthew 25:14-30 tells us He will also reward us with responsibilities in His kingdom based on our faithful service in this life.
Consider the lavishness of the Lord’s love for us. One would think that the total forgiveness of all our sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of living forever in immortal and imperishable bodies would be far more than we could expect; it already far exceeds what we deserve. But no, the Lord’s plan is to “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” in the “coming ages” (Eph. 2:7).
Jesus will someday reward our faithfulness and share His inheritance with us. This far exceeds the possession of billions of dollars in this life, does it not? A million years from now, Jesus will still be displaying His kindness to us!
Jesus Promises Us a Time of Restoration
As I mentioned in a recent post (and it’s worth repeating here), the millennium will be a wondrous time of renewal and restoration such as Jesus promises us in Matthew 19:27-29. This time of regeneration for the earth and our rule with the Lord will provide us with renewed opportunities, including those we lost in this life.
For lives cut short due to tragedy and illness, the millennium will be a time to again use God-given gifts and talents. For the desires the Lord places in our hearts that do not reach fulfillment in this life, this will be a time when those aspirations come to full fruition. For dreams cut short by the evil actions of others, our reign with Christ will be a wondrous time of restoration beyond our fondest dreams (read Matt. 19:27-29 again).
I believe Joseph’s story illustrates our future share in Jesus’ future rule over the nations. During this life, like Joseph, we experience hardship, endure false accusations, and we wait, wait, wait just as he did during lengthy years of servitude and imprisonment. However, just as the day came when Pharaoh called Joseph up to rule with him, someday Jesus will call us up to heaven, reward us, prepare us for our future roles in His kingdom, and give us responsibilities in His earthly kingdom.
Author Victor Hugo said this about his future after death: “For half a century I have been translating my thoughts into proves and verse . . . . But I feel I haven’t given utterance to the thousandth part of what lies within me. When I go to the grave I can say, as others have said, ‘My day’s work is done.’ But I cannot say, ‘My life is done.’ My work will recommence the next morning.”
I am not sure what Victor Hugo believed about the millennium, but he correctly assumed a continuance between now and forever for all those who know Jesus as their Savior. I believe this wondrous restoration of our lives begins with the one-thousand-year rule of Jesus upon the earth.
Satan has turned the millennium into a cold doctrine that many believe is better left for theologians to debate.
In reality, it’s Jesus’ glorious and precious promise of a coming day when all the redeemed in Christ will share in His triumph over the dark powers of this world, including the devil himself, and reign with Him for a thousand years.
Many believers today do not celebrate their coming triumph because they do not understand the glories ahead for them. They hear the word “premillennialism” and go no further in trying to understand what seems to be a cold and stale theological term.
Such dismissive thinking could not be further from the truth; it’s akin to believing the moon consists entirely of the finest Wisconsin cheese.
Our anticipation of reigning with Jesus in His kingdom, AKA the millennium, lifts our spirits when our dreams for this life fade away, comforts us in midst of tragedy, reassures us when people we love reject us, and encourages our hearts during times of suffering and failing health.
The millennium is the grand assurance that this life is not all we have; a day of renewal lies ahead for us. We will use our gifts, abilities, and talents unhindered by the limitations we so keenly sense in the here and now. We will pursue dreams we long thought impossible or dead.
The coming adventure of the millennium should cheer our hearts as nothing else can. Nothing, absolutely nothing that happens to us in this life can alter the magnificent plans Jesus has for each of us during His thousand-year rule on earth and then in the eternal state.
The truth of the millennium is not stale, meaningless theology – far, far from it. It’s the unfolding of our coming triumph as Christ’s redeemed saints! No hope on earth can even compare in the slightest to glory, restoration, and renewal ahead for those of us in Christ.
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