Gospel Principles #45: The Millenium

by Aimee

I must admit my practical bias in teaching any church lesson: How do these teachings influence our thinking to help us become better people now? For me, finding what is at the core of these lessons that can comfort our hearts and stretch our souls is the key to making these lessons both successful and meaningful.

In lessons that focus on abstract ideas or events that have been prophesied, it can be easy for a class to be side-tracked by speculation and pontificating (hence the manual’s caution that “the subject of the Millennium sometimes leads people to speculate about ideas that are not found in the scriptures or the teachings of latter-day prophets. As you guide this lesson, be careful to avoid such speculation.”)

With those points in mind, I have structured this lesson around how considering the prophecies of the Millennium offers practical spiritual insights that can meaningfully influence our lives now.

People on the Earth during the Millennium

For me, one of the more compelling aspects of the Church’s teaching on Millennial life is its continuity with this earth life in many regards.  As the manual discusses, Mormon theology teaches that

During the Millennium, mortals will still live on earth, and they will continue to have children as we do now (see D&C 45:58). Joseph Smith said that immortal beings will frequently visit the earth. These resurrected beings will help with the government and other work. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 268.)

People will still have their agency, and for a time many will be free to continue with their religions and ideas.

Questions worth asking in this section:

  • What aspects of these teachings are surprising?
  • Who will participate in the Millennium?
  • Can we imagine a peaceful world which still has a multiplicity of religious beliefs and governments? What conditions would be necessary for that to exist?
  • We sometimes think that being witness to the Second Coming of Jesus would be an experience that would compel you to become a follower of Christ. Yet modern day prophets have taught that there will be righteous people in the Millennium who will still hold other religious beliefs. Why is that important?

Brigham Young went so far as to assert a belief that in the Millennium people would “have the privilege of being Presbyterians, Methodists or Infidels, but they will not have the privilege of treating the name and character of Deity as they have done heretofore.”

http://books.google.com/books?id=jXQtAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA274&lpg=RA1-PA274&dq=Brigham+Young+the+privilege+of+being+Presbyterians,+Methodists+or+Infidels&source=bl&ots=4WraMEwWgv&sig=V4dl_44NNt7k42Hn7PWbKZVV7j8&hl=en&ei=qkirTqnxIeTs0gHxgsC1Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result#v=onepage&q&f=false

  • How does an understanding of a diverse Millennial society influence the way we live now?

Even in a Millennial world, our theology still upholds its commitment to personal agency.

The Work of the Church during the Millennium

One thing I have always really loved about LDS theology is its foundational belief in eternal progression. We are a church that believes in second chances, in redemption, in atonement, in forgiveness. Institutionally we are designed not just to teach this to each other, but to actively participate in offering these gifts to each other.

  • What is the purpose of making human beings responsible for performing temple work in the Millennium?
  • How does performing this work enrich us individually and as a human family?

I like the idea that if the whole human family is going to be sealed together, the work has to be done by human beings themselves. God can’t just want this for us—we have to want it for ourselves. Ours is a gospel which demands that we care for each other on a cosmic scale—we must not only leave the ninety-nine in search of the one, but must leave the billions in search of the one. The Millennial focus on seeing the whole human family restored is one of the more beautiful aspects of this doctrine for me.

The lesson manual asks “How can we prepare now for work in the Millennium?”  It might be worth asking your class about what elements of the modern Church have been instituted in preparation for the Millennium. When the early saints were first making their way to Zion, they did so with the belief that Jesus needed them to prepare a place for Him to return. There was a sense that Jesus could not come without a righteous society already in place.

  • What would adopting such a mindset look like in 2011?
  • How can we continue to prepare for Christ’s return now that we are no longer asked to assemble in a specific geographical region designated as Zion?

Conditions During the Millennium

This section probably harbors the highest risk of eliciting the kind of “speculation” the manual cautions against. I would prayerfully consider what elements of this section would most resonate with the women in your particular class.

I do love the teaching that all things will be revealed during the Millennium and how we can consider this thousand years of peace devoid of temptation and sin as a period of potentially accelerated learning and progression for the whole human family.

  • What teachings in this section bring you particular peace?

One Final Struggle After the Millennium

At the heart of this section is the reaffirmation of the LDS doctrine of free agency. Even after the eternities of living we are taught we will have already done by the time the Millennium has reached its end, every soul will still be an agent in determining their own future. Not even one thousand years of Millennial peace can “destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3)

  • How is this final struggle evidence of God’s respect for human agency?

 

 

 

 

Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.

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12 Responses

  1. Kirsten says:

    Thank you so much, Aimee, for these insights! I have to teach this lesson and I was dreading the speculation scene that usually comes with the subject. I like your focus on how our knowledge of what will occur during the Millennium can help shape our lives now.
    As for your question, “Can we imagine a peaceful world which still has a multiplicity of religious beliefs and governments? What conditions would be necessary for that to exist?” I’m actually going to use some of the data in my husband’s book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides Us and Unites Us”. Compared to the rest of the world, the United States is unique in the fact that we have a multitude of different religious faiths that co-exist rather peacefully. (It seems I’ll never escape that book!! 🙂 )

    • Aimee says:

      That is such a great idea, Kirsten! Dave’s book would be put to perfect use in this lesson (and so many others!). I ‘m glad you can’t escape!

    • brandy says:

      Kirsten,

      Would you mind sharing the data that you will be using in your lesson tomorrow from your husband’s book? I don’t have a copy of his book (sounds like I need to get one!) but I find the idea that you mentioned fascinating! Thanks 🙂

  2. camay says:

    The lesson mentions that people will still have their agency, but Satan will be bound. Who will bind Satan? Will mortals bind him by their righteousness? If Satan is bound and we have agency, will sin exisits on the earth? If there needs to be opposition in all things in order for people to have agency, where will the opposition come from? Just some questions I have been mulling over as I prepare this lesson.

    • I believe opposition (and sin) exists with or without Satan. Sin, put simply, is only our disobedience of Gods laws. The difference when he is bound will be the loss of his active role in enticing people to sin. We will still have our “natural” selves to contend with and overcome. It’s not really easy to envision life without his influence because we don’t have a good frame of reference (except possibly in Temples).

      Though its not entirely pertinent to the lesson, I wonder what it will be like for those born in the Millennial era who feel no influence from Satan to come to terms with the season he is loosed at the end when he is once again free to whisper enticements to do things we know to be wrong.

      • Kelsey says:

        I am so happy to stumble upon this site as I am preparing this lesson for sunday. I am excited to have your added insights and thoughts to go on. Frank I really liked your comment about having to still contend with our natural selves. I had never thought of that. Then as I read your thoughts:

        “I wonder what it will be like for those born in the Millennial era who feel no influence from Satan to come to terms with the season he is loosed at the end when he is once again free to whisper enticements to do things we know to be wrong.”

        I thought… oh no what if thse souls are my children? I wonder what i could do to prepare them besides the basics we are taught here… scripture study, prayer, FHE etc. But how will I prepare them for satan and will i myself remember his cunning ways.

        That is when it reaffirmed to me the need for us to keep journals. Not just about our daily happenings but about our trials and struggles and how we overcome them and what happens when we fall and also when we triumph. Write about our faith building experiences and those moments when we do “crush his head”. So glad your thoughts have awakened my own and i am excited for some great discussions on Sunday.

    • Angie says:

      I found the following quote by President George Q. Cannon

      “We talk about Satan being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him. The Lord will not bind him and take his power from the earth while there are men and women willing to be governed by him. That is contrary to the plan of salvation. To deprive men of their agency is contrary to the purposes of our God.”

      “There was a time on this continent, of which we have an account, when the people were so righteous that Satan did not have power among them. Nearly four generations passed away in righteousness. They lived in purity and died without sin. That was through their refusal to yield to Satan. It is not recorded that Satan had no power in other parts of the earth during that period. According to all history that we have in our possession Satan had the same power over men who were willing to listen to him. But in this land he did not have power, and he was literally bound. I believe that this will be the case in the Millennium.” (Conference Report, Oct. 6, 1897, p. 52; also Gospel Truth, 1:86)

      • Sammy says:

        THIS IS RATHER INTERESTING ALSO:

        The Revelation of St John the Divine
        Chapter 20

        Satan is bound during the Millennium—The Saints will then live and reign with Christ—The dead stand before God and are judged out of the books according to their works.

        1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

        2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

        3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

        4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

        COULD IT BE THAT HE IS BOTH PHYSICALLY BOUND AND BOUND BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUS LIVING?

  3. Darrell Wamhoff says:

    I found this quote given in conference by Eldred G. Smith, Patriarach: “Many other scriptures refer to the thousand years of wonderful, glorious conditions on the earth, because Lucifer, Satan, the devil, will be bound.
    “The scriptures say he will be ‘bound with a chain’ and ‘put into a bottomless pit.’ To me, these are symbolical terms. I cannot quite conceive of steel chains or pits that could hold Satan. The only power I know of that will bind Satan, or render him powerless, is righteous living.
    “The war that started in heaven has not ended yet and shall not end until everyone has proved the extent of his ability to resist Satan. Even Jesus Christ had to bind Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. Satan had no power over him, because Jesus resisted his temptations. Then the record says, ‘. . . he departed from him for a season.’ ( Luke 4:13 .)” (Eldred G. Smith in CR, Apr. 1970, p. 142; see also 1 Nephi 22:26 .)

  4. Kelsey says:

    Aimee,
    would you mind sharing the source where this teaching is found so i can reference it during my lesson?
    I do love the teaching that all things will be revealed during the Millennium and how we can consider this thousand years of peace devoid of temptation and sin as a period of potentially accelerated learning and progression for the whole human family.”
    Thanks so much

  5. Alison says:

    I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to post all of these lessons. As a counselor in a RS presidency over teaching and getting a last minute phone call today letting me know my teacher for tomorrow is sick, I am ever so grateful for youR help and inspiring ideas. God bless you!

    THANK YOU!!!

  6. Julie says:

    This was great, but I stumbled onto it AFTER I taught the lesson… How about some comments on the final lesson in this years manual, Exaltation 🙂 Happy preparing.

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