A Gift for a New Millennium

By J. L. Leifeste

There is a gift for the entire world. It is so enormously wondrous in concept that, before its presentation, men could not even imagine it (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9-10; 3:3-10; Col. 1:26-28; 1 Pet. 1:9-12). This gift is far more precious than any metals or jewels. Certain individuals, from the richest of kings to the poorest of beggars, have sought it. Many people have lost friends, family, and even their lives for it. Possibly, the majority of them felt honored to do so. As a matter of fact, this gift is available because a special one gave His life so that the world might have it. He was Jesus the Christ. The gift is spiritual salvation and eternal life (Isa. 53:5; Matt. 20:28; Gal. 1:3-4; Eph. 5:2, 25; Phil. 2:7-8; 1 Tim. 1:15; Tit. 2:13-14; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:24).


If things continue as they are, a multitude of countries around the world will soon recognize the start of a new millennium according to the Gregorian calendar. Because dating does not start with a year zero, the new millennium officially starts upon 1 January of 2001. However, celebrations for the new millennium begin on 1 January of 2000. The existence of Christ upon the earth resulted in the Gregorian system of dating. Landmark celebrations and pageantry may occur to mark this event that many will consider so memorable. Yet, the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ transcends all events, and it applies, regardless of how we count the years.


Today, this gift is not a new occurrence upon the earth. It was conceived before the creation of the earth (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2; Rev. 13:8). It has been offered since a day that took place almost two thousand years ago, the history of which we can read in the second chapter of Acts. At that time, in many respects, the world was a different place from the one in which we live. The Roman Empire held control primarily from the British Isles to Asia Minor and from Egypt to central Europe. The Teutonic tribes were emerging in Germany. The Han Dynasty controlled China, whose influence had spread to Japan and Korea. The Parthian Kingdom of the Middle East (Persia) was in decline. Central Asians, called Yueh-Chi, were in Northern India. The Shatavahana Kingdom of India was established. Regional cultures, like that of the Paracas, had flowered in Peru. Civilization was growing in the valley of Mexico. Native groups, such as the Hopewellian, were developing distinct lifestyles in North America. And the Bantu kingdom had appeared in Africa.

However, in some ways, that world was similar to ours of today. Along with boundaries that changed from the conflicting tides of governments and cultures, many nations enjoyed plentiful and well-established trade. Travel, although slower, reached to remote areas. The conquests of Alexander the Great, and then the Roman Empire, had bridged the chasms of many language barriers, improving communication. Like us, people struggled with hope and disappointment, fear and joy, aversion and love.

All adults need forgiveness for their sins (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). By reading the New Testament, we can see that, in those days, God’s plan unfolded to show His love for mankind. To receive forgiveness, the people to whom the gift was first offered had to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:32; Rom. 2:8; 6:16-18; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Heb. 5:9). And they had to do it in a certain way (Gal. 1:6-9). They had to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (Jn. 3:14-16; 8:24), repent of their sins (Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9), confess their belief (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:10), and be baptized (immersed) in water for the forgiveness of their sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 1 Pet. 3:20-21).


The passing of almost a thousand years changed the world from what it had been when the gospel was first preached. In many ways, it was also different from our world of today. The transition from the first millennium to the second (A. D. 999 to A. D. 1001) would find Mayan tribes spreading their domain in Central America. In another 100 years, the beginning of the Inca empire would appear in Peru. Tribes in North America had developed representative architectures and social characteristics. Vikings traded from settlements in Greenland, and the Moors controlled much of Spain. The earth would see the kingdom of France evolving. The Normans would conquer England. European Germanic emperors claimed that they could appoint or depose the popes of the Roman Catholic church, while popes asserted that no one could be crowned emperor unless done so by a pope. The Byzantine culture, carrying the Greek Orthodox religion, would spread northward, while the Islamic religion, which controlled Persia, was growing in Africa. Anti-Turkish Fatimids ruled Egypt, and, on the same continent, the kingdom of Ghana evolved. The Mongols would eventually control Manchuria. The Sung Dynasty would rule China. Buddhism and Shogun rule were in Japan. And in India, Rajput states arose, the Chola kingdom would soon dominate the south, and Mahmud of Ghazni would make yearly raids to plunder Northern India.

During this time, a majority of the population was kept in relative ignorance by most of the spiritual and the political leaders. Even so, God’s plan still proceeded. And whether toiling just to stay alive day by day, or holding others under subjection to take advantage of them, everyone still needed the forgiveness of sins. For those people, the necessity and method of obeying the gospel still applied in the same way as it did almost a thousand years before (Jude 3).


Now, we look forward to another changing millennium on the Gregorian calendar. In some ways, the world seems to depend upon faster activity and higher technology than it did in the past. However, regardless of what differences or similarities we perceive, God’s plan still proceeds. Each of us still needs the forgiveness of sins (Isa. 64:6; 1 Jn. 1:8). Also, because the gospel message has, and does, remain the same, each of us must still obey it in the same way as did people who correctly obeyed it in the past.

By obeying the gospel of Christ, we accept the gift first offered so long ago. We should be mindful of it every day and not only during this special moment in the turning of time. We must also remember how important it is to follow the commandment of Christ in Matt. 28:18-20 and tell the gospel to others. It is a gift more essential and enduring than any other gift the world was ever offered. It is a gift greatly surpassing any other gift that will ever be offered again.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).