Many who call themselves Christians have no idea of what God has planned for their future. They do not realize that the Bible explains how Christians today are preparing for a joyous future, filled with meaningful activity, in the Kingdom of God!
Have you been deceived?
Nearly all professing Christians have been given the idea that at death they immediately go to heaven with virtually nothing to do—just "float around heaven" for all eternity.
These "fuzzy" concepts often make Christianity seem childish, impractical and unreal to many thoughtful people. And these vague ideas about what happens to Christians in the future certainly do not inspire even most churchgoers to be truly zealous for God.
But these ideas are dead wrong!
Please remember that the only reliable source for information about Christians' future is the Holy Bible. God inspired the Bible, and its prophecies are absolutely working out, even today! Ideas about "floating off to heaven" are simply not taught by your Bible! Those ideas give a false picture of what Jesus Christ preached, and a false picture of the genuine Christian "calling"—and of the entire purpose of Christianity! For Jesus Christ came preaching "the Gospel of the Kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14). Matthew's gospel sometimes calls this the "Kingdom of heaven"—not the Kingdom "in" heaven. The Bank of Morgan is not "in" Mr. Morgan! Rather, the word of indicates the one who owns or controls it. Heaven is the place of God's throne, from which He rules His Kingdom!
The early Christians all understood this very clearly—as we see from dozens of statements in the gospels about preparing for the coming Kingdom of God. We also see this in the book of Acts and the writings of the Apostle Paul. Although—as many scholars recognize—many of the first Christians were expecting Jesus Christ to kick out the Roman occupiers and set up His "Kingdom," or government, right then, Jesus showed that it was not to be done at that time. Yet He never said that His Kingdom was not to be a literal Kingdom—or government—here on earth.
Notice what Christ told His disciples after He was resurrected from the dead. The disciples asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time, restore the Kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). This would have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to dispel any notion that His Kingdom was a real government to be set up here on earth.
Did He do that?
No! Rather, Jesus said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7). This certainly confirmed the correct understanding that Jesus would come again and set up a world-ruling government here on earth. Then, as Jesus ascended to heaven, an angel spoke to the disciples, saying, "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (v. 11).
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus described many of the final signs that will occur at the end of this age, just before His Second Coming. After describing a number of these earth-shaking events, Jesus said, "So you, likewise, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:31). Jesus did not say that the Kingdom had "already" come, or that it was set up in their "hearts"—rather, it was a Kingdom that would "come" here to this earth.
Countless honest Bible scholars know this. But it is very seldom preached! Instead, sentimental ideas about "floating off to heaven" are normally preached at the death of a church member, with no mention that Christ will set up a literal government on this earth!
Edward Gibbon, a renowned secular historian, described the beliefs of the early Christians: "The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the trium-phant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. I, p. 403).
When the soon-coming Kingdom of God is set up—ruled directly by Jesus Christ, the Son of God—what will activity in that Kingdom be like? What will faithful Christians be doing after they are resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:51–52)? How will the Kingdom be organized? How will the resurrected saints interact with the unconverted humans still left alive here on earth?
Throughout the Bible, we find dozens of descriptions of Christ's coming government. It will be organized in a hierarchal form, ruled from the top down by Jesus Christ as King of kings (Revelation 19:16). We read: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
The saints at that time sing an inspired "new song," as they tell Christ: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9–10). So, Christ's kingdom will definitely be set up not in heaven, but on this earth. As Gibbon explained, that was what the early Christian church—guided by God's Spirit—believed and taught. It is not some strange new idea. Rather, this truth was slowly "stamped out" as the early Roman Catholic Church gradually adopted various non-Christian concepts about heaven, hell and the nature of the soul. As Gibbon explains: "But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ's reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism" (Vol. I, p. 404).
Writing to the Christians at Corinth, the Apostle Paul described clearly the reward of the true saints: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Corinthians 6:2–3). So we see that the saints will judge "the world"—not sit around up in heaven with nothing to do!
Jesus' disciples "thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately" (Luke 19:11). To correct their misunderstanding, He gave the parable of the nobleman gone to a far country. Jesus described in this parable how some of His disciples would receive rewards for using their strengths or their money wisely. When one came saying, "Master, Your mina has earned ten minas," Jesus responded, "Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities!" A second servant came, saying his mina had gained five minas, and Jesus responded, "Likewise he said to him, 'you also be over five cities'" (vv. 16–19). Some modern theologians try to "spiritualize away" these examples, of course. But again and again—from Genesis to Revelation—Scripture makes it clear that God will set up a literal government on this earth under Jesus Christ as King of kings!
Ruling directly under Jesus Christ, over all twelve nations of the descendents of Israel, will be King David—who will be resurrected from the dead along with all the other saints of God! Describing how Israel will return from its final captivity after Christ returns, Jeremiah wrote: "'For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them'" (Jeremiah 30:8–9).
Note also that our Creator inspired Hosea to describe this same basic truth about the organization of Christ's coming government: "Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:5).
God also inspired Ezekiel to emphasize this same point when he described the "latter days" in which all the tribes of Israel will be regathered into one nation: "David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them" (Ezekiel 37:24).
Will David directly rule all twelve tribes—or nations—descended from Jacob? No. There will be an entire structure set up in an orderly manner, governed by leaders chosen by appointment rather than by voting and politicking. As Jesus told His faithful apostles near the very end of His human life: "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29–30).
So the government in Tomorrow's World will be led by Christ as King of kings. Under Him will be King David ruling over all Israel. Under David the twelve apostles, resurrected, will each rule over one of the tribes, or nations, of Israel.
The genuine "saints" of God—true Christians who have believed and obeyed what the Bible actually says—will be given the opportunity to govern the individual cities of this world under this framework. And since the scriptural pattern is first to the Jew, then to the Gentile, we may be assured that the same type of structure will be established over the Gentile nations on earth—a literal government directed by Jesus Christ, the "Prince of Peace," who will finally bring genuine peace and joy to the entire world. Each one of us, if we are faithful as Christians, may have a part in bringing this kind of peace and joy to all the suffering nations of this earth in Tomorrow's World!
This is tremendous Good News! This is the true Gospel described in your Bible. This is the reason for Jesus' shed blood, sacrificed for our sins and bringing about our reconciliation to God. True Christians, reconciled to God and given the precious gift of the Holy Spirit, are preparing to assist their Savior in ruling the whole world. During Christ's millennial rule, the earth will be rescued from Satan's rule, and there will be a magnificent time of peace, prosperity and joy. God's true Way of life will be restored to the earth. Scripture explains that God will again "send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:20–21).
So we can understand that all His holy prophets have proclaimed this Good News of the "times of restoration of all things"—Christ's coming Kingdom. Indeed, the Old Testament is filled with descriptions of the Messiah's coming rule over the entire world!
We have already seen that the resurrected saints will be "kings and priests" in the coming Kingdom of God on this earth (Revelation 5:10). Also, we read that Satan must be "bound" for a "thousand years" at the beginning of the Millennium, "that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished" (Revelation 20:2–3). Then, we are reminded that those in the first resurrection "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (v. 6).
Passage after passage in Scripture reminds us that the priests in ancient Israel were the teachers. They were the ones who taught the people God's law and His ways. Obviously, Christians who become "priests" of God in Tomorrow's World will teach the people of the whole earth the right way to live. Once Satan is "bound," the blindness that has come over this whole world will be lifted. People will understand the Truth and become much more teachable. As a result, our job will be infinitely easier than it is at present, when Satan is "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4).
In many biblical passages, God tells us that in the "latter days"—in Tomorrow's World—Christ and His saints will teach the whole world the law of Almighty God: "He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2). And: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (v. 3). Yes, young men and women will no longer be "taught" to fight in war.
This world, under Satan, spends vast amounts of its resources on fighting and killing. Once the entire wealth of the nations is spent for peaceful purposes, it is not hard to imagine the gorgeous cities, national parks, and beautiful surroundings that will blossom forth all over the world! Also, in sharp contrast to the present day—when so many have absolutely no personal property or wealth—Scripture shows us that people will own their own property in Tomorrow's World: For "everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid" (v. 4).
The prophet Isaiah tells us about the "mountain" (or Kingdom) of God being established in the "latter days," and that God "will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:1–3). What is this "law"? Is it just the "traffic law" and administrative matters? Of course not! Everyone originally reading these verses understood clearly that this referred to God's spiritual law—the Ten Commandments! Yes, an entire way of life based on the Ten Commandments will be the "way" everyone will learn to live during Christ's coming rule over this earth!
Although many modern theologians offer clever arguments trying to prove that God's law is "done away," that great spiritual law will in fact be the very basis of the whole world's society just a few years from now! Incidentally, if you would like to learn more about how to understand and apply that magnificent law, please contact the regional office nearest you (listed on page 30 of this magazine) and write or call immediately to request your free copy of our informative booklet, The Ten Commandments.
What will life be like in a world where everyone knows and practices God's law? Christ's coming rule will be a time of such peace that even the wild nature of animals shall be removed (Isaiah 11:6–8). Then they "shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (v. 9).
Scripture shows the guidance that shattered humanity will receive after people have been re-gathered from the terrible captivity and affliction suffered during the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord: "Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:20–21). Guided by God's law, this will be a time of peace and happiness. "No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:9–10).
At that time, the resurrected "saints\ will teach the peoples of this earth God's entire way of life, based upon the Ten Commandments. This will produce a world of peace and everlasting joy. Since Christ is the \first of the firstfruits," we should look to His example to see how resurrected Christians will appear and interact with the people of the earth during the Millennium. Jesus Christ now exists in ineffable glory. In vision, John saw Him in that glory: "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters" (Revelation 1:14–15).
The Apostle John also wrote: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Yes, we will literally "look like" Jesus Christ! We will be "glorified" in the coming resurrection as full sons of God—full brothers of Jesus Christ! For the Bible clearly explains that Christ will be, "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
But how did Christ Himself teach people once He was glorified? After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles and to others several times. Yet they did not always recognize Him at first—He looked a little different from how He had appeared during His human life. Yet the resurrected Christ nearly always appeared to others as a human being, and interacting with people in that manner so they would understand what He was saying and would not be afraid. Remember the account of Mary Magdalene, who at first did not know she had seen the resurrected Christ. A few minutes later, when He spoke to her in a normal voice and revealed Himself, she immediately tried to embrace Him, but Jesus cautioned her: "Do not cling to Me…" (John 20:14–17).
Later, Jesus appeared to His disciples inside the building where they were meeting, and said, "peace be to you." He then commanded Thomas: "Reach your finger here and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing" (vv. 26–27).
So it is clear that all who truly "overcome" and become saints of God in the resurrection will be able to teach the people of earth in a personal way as Jesus taught His apostles. Certainly resurrected Christians, serving Jesus Christ in the Millennium, will sometimes appear in great power, and at other times will speak to people invisibly, as mentioned in Isaiah 30. Yet they will also often appear in a human form, as Jesus did when He met with the apostles and later even had breakfast with them by the sea of Galilee (John 21:12–15).
No doubt there will be occasions when mortal human beings, humbled or startled by encounters with the resurrected saints, will marvel to their friends, "It was one of them!"
Will you be "one of them?" As each of us begins to understand God's true plan, we must make that decision for ourselves. If God is calling you to be among His firstfruits, you have been given an amazing opportunity. For, as Jesus said: "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'—as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star" (Revelation 2:26–27).
Christians today must truly "go all out" to show God that they genuinely seek first His Kingdom. This must be the primary goal of a Christian's entire life! Remember Jesus' command: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). For God's Kingdom is indeed very real. It is coming soon. We need to realize this more fully, and focus our minds on preparing to be in that Kingdom, where today's Christians will have the privilege of teaching a suffering and war-torn world the way of peace and joy that God has outlined throughout the Bible.
Each of us needs to surrender totally to let Christ live His obedient life within us, so He can make with us—as spiritual Israel—the "new covenant" clearly described in His word: "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33).
May God grant each of us the understanding of His Plan, and of the magnificent purpose He is working out at this time. And may He give us the zeal to prepare for the time when we can help and serve and teach a suffering humanity the ways and laws of the great God, who gives us life and breath. Truly, becoming a spirit-born son of God and having a part in the very "real" Kingdom or Government of God—which Jesus Christ will soon set up on this earth—should be the overarching goal of every Christian's life!