THE NEXT AGE
THE NEXT AGECopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We now are in the Church Age.
The coming age might be termed the Kingdom Age. It will begin when Jesus next appears and will last until God does away with the earth and sky.
The third age is that of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
I find that people have a difficult time keeping in mind these three ages. I think this because Christian believers suppose that when the Lord comes we all will go to Heaven and live happily forever after.
We understand about the Church Age because we are living in it. Numerous people will believe in Christ and be baptized in water. Among these believers God is calling out His Church and is making some beginning stages of its purification.
The age that will begin when the Lord returns is often referred to as the "Millennium." I prefer the name "Kingdom Age."
When Jesus returns He will bring with Him all who have died in Him.
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)
It is my opinion that "those who have fallen asleep in Him" includes all the saints from the time of Abel.
I believe that the "Lord" of the Old Testament often, although not always, refers to the Lord Jesus. David wrote, "The Lord said to my Lord." "My Lord" refers to Jesus. So all true saints from the beginning of time, when they died, they died in Christ.
I believe when Jesus returns He will be accompanied by millions of saints, God's elect. They will come from Heaven and stop in the air above the earth. Jesus and the white war stallions will remain in the air while the saints will descend in their spiritual form to the earth. There they will reclaim their bodies.
Meanwhile the saints living on the earth at that time, never having died, will be transformed "in a moment." The blood will leave their bodies and be replaced by the Spirit of God.
Now we will have standing on the earth in bodies shining like Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, millions of God's Royal Priesthood, His firstfruits from among mankind. They will experience, I believe, forty days in which to have fellowship. Then the trumpet will sound and the entire company, slowly and to the sound of a thousand organs, will be drawn up to meet Jesus in the air.
There the angels shall assist them as they mount the white war stallions.
Then another trumpet shall sound, and the entire army, with the Lord Jesus at the head, will descend through the clouds. I think their staging area will be the dried-up bed of the Euphrates.
Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, the demons, and the wicked people of the earth will be removed from the earth. Christ and His Royal Priesthood will govern the nations on the earth for a thousand years, according to the Scripture. This period of time I have termed the "Kingdom Age."
When it has ended, the present earth and sky will be banished and a new sky and earth will take their place.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
"They came to life and reigned a thousand years."
When the forces of wickedness have been driven from the earth into the spirit world, the earth will be a marvelous place in which to live. The people who rule with Christ will be those who have followed Christ during their lifetime and now are always with Him.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
"So we will be with the Lord forever."
Perhaps our first consideration should be, what will be required if we are to be in this first resurrection and work with Christ in installing the Kingdom of God on the earth?
To be raised in the first resurrection is the reward to the overcomer. All of us Christians have problems of every sort. The purpose of these problems from Satan's point of view is to keep us from abiding in Christ. The purpose of these problems from Christ's point of view is to see if we are competent to serve with Him in the next stage of life.
We either work with Christ at the task of remaining in Him and put Satan under our feet, or else we yield to the sinful nature, blaming others for our problems and misfortunes.
We either overcome the enemy or we are defeated by the enemy.
Only those who through Christ overcome the enemy, pressing forward each day in Jesus, are qualified by the Word and competent by victorious experience to come to life and go forward into the next age.
Notice the following passage, which is one of many that speak of the coming of the saints to the earth at the beginning of the Kingdom Age:
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:4,5)
Can you see from the above that if we are to appear with Christ we must put to death the lusts of our sinful nature? No one who has been defeated by his or her sinful nature will remain in the Kingdom of God or inherit the Kingdom of God. There is no sin in the Kingdom.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
"Will not inherit the Kingdom of God." Can you see what a destructive lie the current teaching of lawless grace is? No one will appear with the Lord Jesus and work with Him throughout the Kingdom Age who practices the works of the sinful nature.
A "rapture" in which the carnal believers of today are caught up to Heaven is simply not part of God's plan for the next age?
The promise of ruling with Christ during the Kingdom Age applies only to the overcomers---those who have lived in victory on the earth.
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery"just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)
The privilege of being a member of the Royal Priesthood is reserved for those who have lived victoriously in Christ.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:4,5)
The church in Sardis evidently was a large, growing assembly. Yet only a few will be raised when the Lord appears.
We may think that just about all believers will be raised when the Lord comes. But it appears that the Bible often speaks of one person or a remnant.
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (I Thessalonians 3:13)
If we are to be qualified and competent to be raised when the Lord Jesus appears, and to go on to the next stage of life, we must be blameless and holy. This may seem impossible because the standard of discipleship is so low in America at the present time. But the Bible cannot be changed in the smallest detail.
We have seen, then, that we have to meet God's standard if we are to proceed into the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Only God's best will govern the nations alongside of Christ throughout the next age.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Such are the members of the Royal Priesthood.
We have thought for a moment about what is needed if we are to go on living during the next age. Now let's discuss briefly what that age will be like.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Wolves, lambs, leopards, goats, calves, lions, other young animals, cows, oxen, cobras, vipers. It is interesting, isn't it, that in one of the few passages we have that describe life in the next age, there is so much attention paid to animals?
Animals are important to God. We humans do not treat them properly, in numerous instances. During the next age we will discover the help animals can be to people.
How wonderful it will be for children to be able to play with the animals with no fear of their being hurt. Given the emphasis on animals, the next age will be wonderful for children!
The fact that the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord tells us the curse will have been lifted. I believe it will be the sons of God during their revelation who will lift the curse and maintain Paradise on the earth.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)
Paul looked forward to the redemption of his mortal bodywhen it would be delivered from the sinful nature of the flesh.
An older person like myself enjoys the thought of having a body with virtually unlimited energy and power; and one without a sinful nature!
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
There will be spiritual growth during the coming age.
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:10.11)
There will be a great revival, a coming of people to the saints.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:5-7)
We understand, then, that the Kingdom Age will be a marvelous time in which to livefar better than the current hope of going to Heaven and living in a mansion with no responsibilities.
The next age is a genuine age, a time of Christ's Presence on the current earth. We will be ruling with Him over the nations of people who have survived the purging of the wicked.
The people we will be governing still will not be perfect, as we see that Satan, when he is released from the Bottomless Pit, is able to persuade many of them that they do not have to do the will of Christ.
God will destroy the rebels. The earth and the sky will flee from the face of Christ. This will mark the end of the flesh-and-blood mankind that we have known.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)
Those who have attained to the first resurrection, that which will take place when Jesus next appears, will be with Christ when the dead of all history are raised and judged.
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? (I Corinthians 6:2)
Then will come the eternal reign of Christ and His Royal Priesthood.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
Words simply cannot describe the desirability of participating in the Kingdom Age.
Who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, (Hebrews 6:5)