The Apostle John in Revelation mentions two 1000 year periods of the Kingdom of God and has sparked some debate about end times for Christians between three camps: Amillennialist, Premillennialist and Post Millennialist. Besides Revelation’s Chapter 20, a 1000 year period is only mentioned in the Bible in 2 Peter 3:8, Psalms 84:40 and Psalms 90:4. But these last three citations appear to describe a day according to God’s time as being 1000 years, a long time. Revelation 20 on the other hand seems to be describing a certain period of time on earth in which Christ, Our Lord Himself, will rule during the second coming. This 1000 years of rule is taken literally by many in the Protestant camp. They describe two periods of tribulation: a seven-year period and a three and one-half year period and use terms like “the Rapture” and “left behind”. Let’s briefly address the three theories.
According to the Amillennialist, we are living in the 1000-year period of the Kingdom of God right now. Catholics fall into this group. This camp declares that the 1000-year period mentioned by John in Revelation 20 is a figurative period and not an exact 1000 years which will occur between two specific dates. We are living in God’s Kingdom now in the current Church age. This period has lasted for 2,015 years so far. Satan has no power over the Church. Satan has been bound up and the Gospel is being spread to the four corners of the globe. Jesus, our Messiah, will return at some unknown future date with God’s Final Judgment. God’s plan for His creation will have been brought to completion. A blissful eternity will begin.
The Premillennialist camp, like the Baptists and many Protestant groups, believes that the Kingdom has not yet come. Jesus’ first appearance did not usher in the Kingdom of God. We are still living in a fallen world and all we can ask is for forgiveness of our sins. At some point in the future, a date in which God decides He has enough, all believers, those living and those who previously died as believers, will be raptured, taken up to Heaven. There will be a period of seven years or three and one-half years, depending on which premillennialist camp you are in, in which creation, those left behind, will experience God’s wrath. The Anti-Christ will make his appearance. After these seven or three and one-half years of tribulation, Jesus will come again to judge those still living to evaluate whether they have repented and become obedient. The lost remnant of Israel (the Jews) will reestablish their capital at Jerusalem and Christ will reign on a throne for a literal 1000 years in God’s Kingdom on Earth. Satan will finally be bound up forever. This belief relies on two second comings of Christ, the first at rapture, then again after tribulation (really a second and third as Jesus has already appeared once) and two resurrections of the dead and brings back animal sacrifice in the New Jerusalem. I am not sure what happens at the end of this literal 1000 year period.
The Post Millennialists believe that there will be a figurative 1000-year reign of Christ at some point in the future. At present, we are living in a fallen world. The beginning of the 1000 year figurative period will not start with rapture or tribulation, but through gradual increase in the truths of the Gospel and conversion of the peoples of the world. After the figurative 1000 year reign, Christ’s second coming will bring God’s wrath and judgment and all those sanctified will forever live in harmony with our Savior in the new heavens and new earth. Post Millennialism is similar to Amillennialism except that the millennium period has not yet started with the Post Millennials.
So if we are currently living in the Kingdom of God on earth today as my position proclaims, what is it? I am sure many would say that our existence on earth today surely cannot be a part of the Kingdom of God. How can our current existence be the Kingdom of God when we humans participate in abortions, gay marriage, murder, theft, adultery, wars and pure depravity? The Kingdom of God in Heaven is holy and pure. Everything is subject to God’s rule in Heaven. But the Millennial controversy demonstrates there is hardly any agreement as to the meaning of the term Kingdom of God on earth. If Christ ushered in the Kingdom of God on earth 2000 years ago at Pentecost, why is our society still depraved? If the Amillennialist and the Bible are correct and we are living within God’s Kingdom now on earth, what are the defining elements of the Kingdom? Some see it as a Christian lifestyle, some as an opportunity of world evangelization, some as a chance of charismatic renewal and others relate it not to the depravity of our current situation, but the world to come.
"Do penance: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand," said John the Baptist. Christ's opening words to the people were the same, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The Apostle Paul defined the Kingdom of God in his letter to the church in Rome: "The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking this or that; it means rightness of heart, finding our peace and our joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17. The defining elements of the Kingdom, then, are you and your righteousness. Your soul is where the Kingdom of God currently exists. Your soul is spiritual. And the Holy Spirit comes and goes in direct proportion to the fitness of your soul to receive it. Currently, only one part of the trinity is ruling the Kingdom here on earth- the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual existence on earth today is not a physical place or mystical place were God governs as He does in heaven. God has ordained that the Holy Spirit will govern our existence in His kingdom on earth until the King returns. It is not a physical country like England were you have a king or queen as a ruler. No, God has set up his Kingdom within the individual and each individual must decide who rules his or her own life, either the evil spirit or the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are currently living within the Kingdom of God because Christ at His resurrection left the Holy Spirit behind as our guide and counselor to govern our spiritual nature and force us to forgo our human nature in order that we prepare ourselves for final judgment.
Listen to what Saint Ambrose says in On the Duties of the Clergy (Book II), Chapter 1 and 2. “Eternal life rests on a knowledge of divine things and on the fruit of good works. The Gospel bears witness to both these statements. For the Lord Jesus spoke thus of knowledge: This is eternal life, to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent. John 17:3. About works He gives this answer: Every one that has forsaken house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Matthew 19:29. The Scriptures state that nothing is good but what is virtuous, and declare that virtue is blessed in every circumstance, and that it is never enhanced by either corporal or other external good fortune, nor is it weakened by adversity. No state is so blessed as that wherein one is free from sin, is filled with innocence, and is fully supplied with the grace of God.”
The Kingdom of God represents your submission to God’s Spirit in your heart and requires that you dismantle and avoid human desires. It encompasses those principles which separate us from the Kingdom of this world and the devil. The Kingdom of God does not embody a physical place to conquer and take possession but rather an attitude and quality of your soul within the individual. The Kingdom of God is a personification of the Holy Spirit within you. It is attained when the Spirit permeates a man’s soul and becomes one with Him and follows His ideals. Thus the Kingdom is composed of individual souls who are invaded by and controlled by the Holy Spirit within the Church.
Can you close your eyes and see the Kingdom of God within your soul? Do you see faith, hope and charity inside? Do you possess the seven gifts of the spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe). Do you have command of the four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice? The Kingdom of God must reside within the individual, you. And you are part of the body of Christ, the Church. Although the church shall never be overrun by the evil one, we, as individual member of the Church, His body, can easily fall prey to the evil still around us. You must work at creating that righteousness of heart of which Paul speaks and allow the Holy Spirit to live in you constantly. Change is not easy to accomplish, but with God all things are possible. The Kingdom of God on earth is a condition of consciousness guided by the Holy Spirit with Its gifts. It’s a state of being or principality in your soul in which all the virtues exists. It is heaven within you. It is perfection of the soul. Is the Holy Spirit your friend? Do you see how to become a Kingdom dweller?