Kingdom Reigning for Everyone?|
I have a dumb question. If there are billions of saved Christians throughout time who will be ruling with Christ on earth during the Millenial Kingdom, then how will there be enough people left to rule? Our planet just isn't that big.
I don't think your question is dumb at all. In fact, it brings up a very important point - that is, will every believer rule with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom? The answer may surprise you.
Rejecting our Works
In many of our churches we have tried to divorce ourselves so completely from a works-oriented faith that we have embraced what many call "cheap grace."
Think about it. We teach fellow Christians that we will all be equal in heaven when we are judged before Christ and that our works mean absolutely nothing. Having been saved by grace and justified, then none of us can suffer any pain or loss for the things he or she did while on earth. Jesus' shed blood covers it all. We can do nothing to save ourselves.
"Not Guilty" because of Him
Yes, it is true that our justification means that we are declared "not guilty." There is nothing that you or I can do to save ourselves from sin and death. Christ atoned for our sins at the cross of Calvary. We are not saved by our works as so many other religions teach.
Instructions to do Right
Yet, the New Testament is filled with admonitions to live a good live, avoid evil, and rely on the Holy Spirit to do those things we should. Why is that? What is the purpose of all those New Testament instructions about how to live right if works don't count for anything?
A Seeming Discrepancy
A growing number of esteemed theologians say that the reason for this seeming discrepancy is simple. Yes, we Christians are all saved by grace through faith and will enter the kingdom of heaven. But, our future positions and roles in that kingdom depend upon our service to Christ while we lived on earth. We have confused our destination (heaven) with our compensation (rewards).
To explain further, not everyone will inherit all they might have once they enter this future kingdom. Some will be given crowns. Some will be given 10 cities to rule. Others will be granted 5 cities. Others, none. It all depends upon how we behave now. (See Luke 19:17,19-26).
As Dr. Erwin Lutzer puts it, "Everyone in the kingdom will be a child of God, everyone a servant, but it appears that not everyone will get to rule with Christ (Lutzer 1998, 79).
In 2 Timothy 2:12 we read, "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him…" In the book of Revelation Jesus tells us, "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations" (2:26).
Some yes, some No
Lutzer explains, "Either some Christians will not get to rule with Christ or they will rule over a lesser territory. If we remember the parable of the talents, we will keep in mind that one unfaithful servant had his talent taken from him and given to another. While others reigned over cities, he did not. All that he could hope for was to be admitted into the kingdom. He could not inherit its most prized positions" (1998, 55).
Concerning the parable about the sons of the Kingdom who were cast into the darkness outside, the NKJV Study Bible commentary says that this "speaks of the experience of those who do not endure and so will not reign in the kingdom" (2007, 1943).
Sounds like Greek to Protestants
We know this sounds foreign to many of us. Rest assured that people like Erwin Lutzer, Paul Benware, Warren Wierbse, Charles Stanley, Joseph Dillow, Donald Grey Barnhouse and other great theologians also embrace this view and teach it from their careful study of the Bible.
In times past their teaching was normative. But, in the past 75 years we have lost the pursuit of holiness in our churches because we have neglected this vital teaching.
Plenty of Room on Planet Earth
So, sadly the answer to your question is that there will be plenty of room on the earth during the Millenial Kingdom for deserving Christians to reign over the nations.
That's because many of us - including probably me, too - will be assigned other duties rather than reigning positions. Not all of us will rule with Christ.
After the thousand-year millennial kingdom God will "wipe away every tear from their eyes" as we enter the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:4). Perhaps those tears are from lost opportunities we had while on earth. Who knows?
A Grand Future
But, after the 1,000 year kingdom don't forget that "There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace" (Isa 9:7). We were meant to rule over the works of God's hands which includes ruling in the heavens and the stars (Psalm 8:3-11).
The new earth and heavens don't appear to be limited in size - there will be "no end" to their increase if there is no end to the increase of His government. What a wonderful future for us!
Number #1 Goal
But, meanwhile let's make it our number one goal to make the best use of our time remaining on planet earth …"abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming" (1 Jn 2:28). "Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but we may receive a full reward" (2 John 8).
Benware, Paul N. 2002. The believer's payday. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
Dillow, Joseph C. 2006 ed. The reign of the servant kings. Hayesville, NC: Schoettle.
Lutzer, Erwin W. 1998. Your eternal reward. Chicago: Moody.
Missler, Chuck&Nancy. 2007. The kingdom, power&glory. Coeur d'Alene, ID: The King's High Way Ministries.
NKJV Study Bible, large print edition. 2007. Nashville, TN: Nelson.
Author Valorie Mays Emilio holds an MA in history from UCLA specializing in Christian origins, and a Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. She teaches classes and writes articles for the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon, where her husband, Ken, serves as Director.