No conspiracy was more clever — or more successful. Here, retold at last, is the diabolical plot that erased from the minds of men the knowledge of the Plan of God as revealed in the Gospel of the Kingdom.
One of the least-known facts of history is that a knowledge of the millennium — and of God's 7000-year plan — prevailed over ALL the ancient world for HUNDREDS of years after the death of Christ and the Apostles. How this knowledge was suppressed — and with it the Gospel of the Kingdom of God — has never been fully told. It is the story of the cleverest plot ever recorded in history!
The Record of History
Through the preaching of Paul, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God resounded throughout the Greek-speaking Roman world. Everywhere there was curiosity about the Message of Christ. Even the Roman Emperor Nero had met Paul. The old pagan religions were bankrupt. The people were interested in new ideas, in something different from the superstitions of the past. The priests of the pagan mystery religions had only one choice. They somehow had to get hold of the Message of Christ and make it their own! Here is what happened. They first secretly wormed their way into the New Testament Church. They professed to accept the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, then set themselves up as the ministers of Jesus Christ. They soon created a following. All this has been recorded in your Bible. You can find it in Galatians 1:6-10. "I marvel," wrote Paul, "that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again. If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.... do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." After 70 A.D. these false apostles and false ministers, with their following, left the true Church of God. They carried with them the Name of Christ and a perverted form of the Gospel. The world gave them heed. They became, under Constantine, the official religion of the Roman Empire — all others were soon stamped Out. Once in full control, there was no longer any need for perpetuating even a perverted form of the gospel. It was soon cast aside and in its place came the old pagan mysteries once again — this time cloaked in the Name of Christ and as the Message of Christ. The history of all this can now be told. It reads like a mystery — thriller — and indeed it is! The old pagan Babylonian mystery!
Seizing the Message of Christ
The early "church fathers" took over the Message of Christ. They needed it to appear as the ministers of Christ. Here is what they preached — until they could openly reject the Message of Christ altogether. Writing from Alexandria, Egypt, shortly after 100 A.D., a minister masquerading as the apostle Barnabas taught: "'God made in 6 days the works of his hands, and made an end on the 7th day, and rested on it, and sanctified it' (Gen. 2:2). Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, 'He finished in 6 days.' This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in 6000 years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth saying, 'Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.' Therefore, my children, in 6 days, that is, in 6000 years, all things will be finished. 'And He rested on the 7th day.' This meaneth: when His Son, coming (again), shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the 7th day" (Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 15). About a generation later, Papias of Hierapolis (in Asia Minor) is recorded to have said about the same thing, as well as adding that "there will be a period of some thousand years after the (first) resurrection of the dead, and that the Kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth!" (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., Book 3, Chapter 39.) From the city of Rome, in the first half of the second century A.D., Justin Martyr still taught that "thereafter (AFTER the thousand year reign of Christ on earth) the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of ALL men (the 2nd and 3rd resurrections mentioned in Rev. 20: 11-15) would likewise take place." (Dialogue with Trypho, Chapters 80, 81.) Irenaeus, who was the bishop of Lyons, France, wrote in the latter half of the second century: "For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded." And continuing, "This is an account (Gen. 2:1, 2) of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years, and in 6 days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the 6th thousand year." And finally, "These (rewards) are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the 7th day, which has been sanctified, in which God rested from all the works which He created, which is the true Sabbath of the righteous...." (Against Heresies, Book 5, Chapters 28, 33.) The early third century produced the same testimony. From Carthage, North Africa, Tertullian acknowledged the possibility of a promised millennium upon the earth (Against Marcion, Book 3, Chapter 25). By the time of Hippolyrus of Rome the Message had become quite confused. He wrote: "6000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day 'on which God rested from all His works.' For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future Kingdom of the saints, when they 'shall reign with Christ,' when He comes from heaven as John says in the Apocalypse: for 'a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.' Since, then, in 6 days God made all things, it follows that 6000 years must be fulfilled" (From his Commentary on Daniel). For the remainder of the third and on into the fourth century, the doctrine of the millennium was in part maintained by such men as Methodius, Lactantius and Victorinus. In fact, the evidence regarding God's 7000-year plan is so authoritatively documented and well preserved that the Encyclopedia Americana is compelled to state: "It is admitted on all sides that these views [of God's 7000-year plan] were, if not general, at least 'very common in the ancient church. "The belief was generally founded on Psalm 90:4, according to which 1000 years are before the Lord as 1 day, compared with the account of the creation as given by Moses. The 6 days of creation are taken as designating 6000 years of toil, and the subsequent sabbath as designating 1000 years of rest and happiness. The millennium was to be the SABBATH REST of the new creation of mankind in Christ" (Vol. 19, p. 116). By the close of the fourth century of the present era the message of Christ was assumed to be no longer needed.
God's Plan Rejected
Strong opposition to the millennium began to develop by the third and fourth centuries through the writings of Caius, Origen and Dionysius the Great. Their principal objections were as follows:
The doctrine was "Jewish."
In some places the Bible text was too plain and obvious; it needed a "deeper significance."
The book of Revelation was obscure; it needed to be officially rejected.
This feeling toward the book of Revelation was so strong that the book was removed from the general reading list in the fourth century "and thus the troublesome foundation on which chiliasm (the doctrine of the millennium) might have continued to build was got rid of" (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, article "Millennium"). The man who dealt the major death blow to the doctrine of the millennium was Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Even prior to Augustine's lifetime, anticipation toward a future millennial reign began to dwindle. The Church began to date the beginning of the millennium from either the first appearance of Christ, or from the conversion of Constantine and the downfall of paganism. They began to regard God's soon-coming kingdom as ALREADY EXISTING in the glory of the dominant imperial state-church (History of the Christian Church, Schaff, Vol. II, p. 619). Augustine merely capitalized on this prevailing theory and used the corrupted, gluttonous millennial doctrines of the Montanists as his scapegoat. He himself wrote: "Thus there was supposed to follow upon the 6000 years taken as 6 days a 7th day or Sabbath taking up the last thousand, and to be given over to the resurrected saints for celebration.... In fact, I myself at one time accepted such an opinion" (The City of God, Book 20, Chapter 7). By means of a totally unrelated and illogical mathematical argument, Augustine soon convinced a gullible world that God's 7000-year plan was all wrong. He said that "the other interpretation" (his own) "makes the thousand years stand for ALL the years of the Christian era. He claimed that the millennium meant "the span between Christ's first and second coming." Read of this incredible deception for yourself in The City of God, Book 20, Chapters 7 and 9, In addition to the millennium, numerous other sound doctrines suffered similar fates under the influence of Augustine. For example, verses 7 and 8 of Revelation 20 clearly state that Satan will again be loosed after the thousand years and that he will be allowed to deceive the nations once more. Augustine wouldn't accept this. He stated that "If his (Satan's) chaining means that he has no power or no permission to deceive, then his loosing means that he will have power or permission to deceive. But, of course, SUCH A POSSIBILITY IS UNTHINKABLE" (The City of God, Book 20, Chapter 8). This has been the doctrine of the Catholic Church ever since.
The Current Viewpoint
Renaissance Protestantism carried on where Augustine left off. Article 17 of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, and Article 41 of the Anglican Articles drawn up by Cranmer in 1553, condemned the truths of God's 7000-year plan as "Jewish Opinions." Since then a number of minor religious movements have embraced various parts of the millennial doctrine from time to time but the majority of the world openly rejects any part of this basic truth. Present-day leaders of Catholicism still claim as Augustine did that God's kingdom is on this earth in the form of the Catholic Church. And, as ridiculous as it may sound, they even go so far as to say that the doctrine of the millennium is not to be found in either the New Testament gospels or epistles or in the traditions of the apostles (The Question Box, p. 380). Moreover, these religious leaders presently condemn as HERESY a literal interpretation of the prophetic books of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. But the Catholic Church is not alone in its position against the truth about the millennium. Numerous Protestant religious bodies are fervently opposed to any mention of Christ's return and the establishment of God's kingdom. For example, one world-renowned Protestant educator blatantly teaches that Jesus' knowledge was limited because of His race and education. This top university official claims that Jesus expected the kingdom of God to be established during His fleshly existence on earth. He then maintains that Jesus' prophetic reaching is WRONG and full of "human ignorance and error" and "can no longer be defended" because the things which Jesus prophesied in regard to the coming of God's kingdom on earth have never come to pass (The Historic Mission of Jesus by Cecil John Cadoux, pp. 343-348)! This man is going to be very surprised when Jesus' prophecies COME to pass, on schedule, in the very near future. Another illustration is a statement which was read before the World Council of one of the major Protestant denominations. This paper was prepared by the dean of one of its schools of theology with the intention of representing and consolidating the beliefs of this particular denomination. The statement boasts that the doctrine of the millennium and the personal 1000-year rule of Christ on earth is intentionally conspicuously ABSENT from the teachings of the denomination. It goes on to say that a literal understanding of the Biblical derails which are connected with Christ's second coming is to be studiously avoided because Christ's return supposedly takes place in each individual at the time of death. It concludes by stating that "We live, NOT in anticipation of a coming Kingdom that will be imposed upon us by God, but rather here and now WITHIN the Kingdom..." (Eschatology in the Light of Current Theological Discussions, from "Religions in Life," 24:524-36, Fall 1955). Bear in mind that these statements are from LEADERS AND TEACHERS of the churches and seminaries in America and Great Britain. If they embrace such beliefs, is it any wonder that only 1% of America's ministerial students believe that Christ will come a second time (The Surprising Beliefs of Our Future Ministers, Redbook Magazine, August 1961, p. 107)? And if both teachers and students share these opinions, is it then surprising that true doctrines of Christ's return appear ridiculous and are unappealing to the average man on the street? The public has been taught to reject sound doctrine. This is why our present Christian society believes as it does. God puts His finger squarely on the cause by indicting the religious leaders as the primary ones who have led mankind AWAY from the truth (Jer. 23; Ezek. 13; 22:23-31; 34). Both the scholars of religion and the clergy they train are to blame for wrongly influencing the theological thinking of the public. These are the men who have DESTROYED the knowledge of the reality of Christ's second coming by teaching that God's kingdom is already here on earth. And that is how the plot to destroy the gospel has succeeded in the world to this very day. Only now is the truth being preached again!