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The Beginning Of The Age





In dealing with man and the earth, to work
out his own plan of redemption and restoration, God works in certain
periods of time which are called ages. Each age has a definite
beginning and a definite end. All the different ages which preceded
our own age were ages of preparation, for the present age in which we
live. In every past age God announced the coming of Him by whom He not
only created all things, but by whom He made the ages, that is, His
Son. He is the One in whom and for whom all is planned, and through
whom the things which have been shall be again, and infinitely more.

He was first announced in the Garden of Eden as the Seed of the woman
who should bruise the serpent's head. In the age after the flood Shem
was singled out in whom the Name, that is, the Lord of Glory, should be
revealed. Then Abraham, a son of Shem received the promise in the
Patriarchal Age that He would come from his seed; and later in the
Jewish Age He was promised as the Son of David, and David knew Him by
the Spirit as his Lord.

And so in the fulness of time He came, born of a woman, made under the
Law, the Son of God manifested in the flesh. His blessed earth life
belongs still to the Jewish dispensation, the age which preceded our
own age. He came as the minister of the circumcision; and as such He
fulfilled the Law and moved exclusively among His own people Israel,
bringing them the message of the Kingdom promised to that nation; a
Kingdom in which righteousness and peace is to flourish, and into which
all the nations of the earth are to be gathered.

The Jewish prophets had announced that Kingdom, but through God's
foreknowledge it was also made known that Christ should suffer first,
and be rejected by His people; and this came to pass. The nation
instead of giving Him the throne to which He is entitled, delivered
their own King into the hands of the Gentiles to be crucified. What
Gabriel in his great message had communicated to Daniel, that Messiah
should be cut off and receive nothing, happened, and that in the very
time as revealed in the ninth chapter of Daniel. The Son of God died,
rejected by His own nation, He died the sinner's death, He died for the
ungodly, He died so that the flood-gates of Divine love and grace might
be opened; and that a Holy God might be justified in saving believing
sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, and making them the heirs of glory.

Our age then begins with this fact: Christ rejected by His own people,
cast out by the world, finishing on the Cross the work of sin bearing.
With this, and the associated events, our age started in. Let us see
then what we find in the beginning of this age, and then see how the
things we shall mention are affected as this age progresses and comes
finally to its close.

+First+, as to the Lord Jesus Christ. As we have already stated, the
Son of God came to this earth, was rejected by men, put to death on the
cross, and after His burial God raised Him from the dead and gave Him
glory. In due time He left the earth and ascended in His glorified
human body into heaven, where He is seated now at the right hand of the
majesty on high. It is a wonderful fact that in heaven, seated at
God's own right hand, there is a Man. One who was born of the Virgin,
lived on earth a holy life, died the sinner's death on the Cross, was
buried and raised by the power of God. Before this age He was also in
heaven, but not as man. He was ever in the bosom of the Father as the
Only Begotten. Now as the Man Christ Jesus who has conquered He fills
that throne, the Father's throne. He has not His own throne which
belongs to Him, nor will He get this throne, the throne of His father
David, as long as this age lasts. Exalted in the highest place He has
all power, and exercises in behalf of His people, His priesthood and
His advocacy, ministering to the needs of His own on earth.

+Second+, let us see next about the Holy Spirit in His relation to this
age. He came to earth on the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament
times He visited the earth, but not to abide, as is now the case. He
strove with men from the very beginning, He endued prophets, and
priests and kings, and all who believed the Word of God, of which He is
the Author; but after Christ died and had gone back to the Father, He
came as the other Comforter, the One who takes the place of the absent
Christ. He is come to earth to accomplish God's purpose in this
present age. Nowhere do we read in the New Testament that the purpose
of the coming of the Holy Spirit is to convert the world, and establish
universal righteousness and peace. These blessings are not promised
for the age in which we live. The great purpose for which the Spirit
of God came in the beginning of our age is for the out-taking of the
Church, the Body of Christ. He is gathering together Jews and Gentiles
who believe on Christ and puts them into this Body. On the Day of
Pentecost this Body began; then all the gathered believers were
baptised by the One Spirit into one Body. This work continues
throughout this age. Then He Himself bestows the gifts which are
needed for the upbuilding of that Body. In the beginning of this age
He unfolded His special energy in sign gifts, confirming by these the
truth of Christianity. These special gifts and signs were only
confined to the beginning of the age. Nowhere is it stated that they
were to continue to the end, for this age is an age of faith and not of
sight.

+Third+, during this age there is preached a special message which was
unknown in former ages. This message is the Gospel of Grace. It is
true that before Christ died an innumerable company of people were
saved, and salvation of course was always by grace. They believed God,
confessed themselves sinners, trusted in the promise, and then they
were saved. But the Gospel message as it began to be preached after
Christ died and the Holy Spirit came to earth, was not known in Old
Testament times. That Gospel not only offers remission of sins, but
tells the believing sinner that he becomes in Christ a Son of God and a
joint heir with the Lord Jesus Christ; that eternal life is his present
possession and that he is one spirit with the Lord, for the Holy Spirit
makes His abode in him. This then is the great message which was
preached with the beginning of this age, and which is to be preached to
its very end. It is the only power of God unto salvation, and anything
else is a miserable, good-for-nothing substitute and counterfeit, which
not alone cannot please God, but upon which the curse of God rests; for
anything short of the Gospel of Christ is an insult to God and a denial
of His righteousness and love. And this Gospel is to be preached
according to the word of our Lord beginning in Jerusalem, in Judea, and
Samaria, and to the uttermost ends of the earth. This Divine program
given by our Lord has been carried out; the preaching began in
Jerusalem, that is where the Gospel stream started; from there it
flowed into Judea and Samaria, and then Gentiles heard the Gospel and
were saved. Our Lord indicated this world-wide sowing during this age
in the first parable of Matthew xiii, when He spoke of the sower going
out into the field, telling us that the field is the world. Israel in
the preceding age was spoken of as a vineyard with a fence about, but
in this age there is no more vineyard, no more special place where
labor is to be done; but as John Wesley used to say, "The world is my
parish."

+Fourth+, let us also notice that with the beginning of the age there
is made known the full Truth of God by revelation. It is the faith
which is once and for all delivered unto the saints. When our Lord was
on earth He spoke repeatedly to His disciples that He had many things
to say unto them, which they could not grasp, but that they should know
them afterward. The "afterward" does not mean heaven, but it means the
afterward of the Holy Spirit. He told them that when the Spirit came
He would take of these things of Christ and show them unto them; and so
when He came He brought with Him the fullest revelation concerning
Christ Himself, the believer's position in Him and all the gracious
truths connected with it. In this sense, the Word of God was completed
in the beginning of this age. Nothing can be added to it, nor must
anything be taken away from it. There is no such thing as progress in
the Truth of God, that man by research can discover something for
himself, as he attempts to do in the different sciences. The Truth and
doctrine made known in the beginning of this age is a fixed Truth, it
is eternal Truth, it is unchangeable Truth, and as such the only light
which man has during this age.

+Fifth+, as to the moral characteristics of this age. The Apostle John
tells us that the world lieth in the wicked one, and that the character
of the world is antagonistic to the Word of God. The age therefore is
branded in every portion of the New Testament as an evil age. Certain
exhortations to believers make this clear. All exhortations in the New
Testament to Christians are exhortations to separate from this age. In
the beginning of Galatians we are expressly told that the Lord Jesus
Christ gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us out of this
present evil age. Then again we read what Paul wrote to Titus that the
grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, teaching us
that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and should live
soberly, righteously and godly in this present age. This shows that
the present age is evil.

And nowhere is the promise made in the Epistles that this present age
can ever be anything different than an evil age. It continues evil to
the end.

+Sixth+, what is the relation of Satan to our age? He is the enemy of
God, and seemingly achieved a triumph when he got man to reject the
Lord of Glory. On this account He is called in the New Testament "the
god of this age." He is the domineering spirit of the age in which we
live, which is also called Man's Day. Christ is rejected, with no
throne on earth, but Satan instead has his throne in this world and
controls the affairs of the age. That this is so may be seen from the
very events with which this age started. Persecution soon set in,
believers were slain, and in every other way this dark shadow
antagonized the work of the Spirit and counterfeited the Truth of God.
Therefore the spiritual warfare of believers in this age is to stand
against the wiles of the devil, for we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the
world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirits in the
heavenly places. (Eph. vi:12). From this we learn that the age is
ruled over by Satan and the wicked spirits.

+Seventh+, there is another item which needs to be mentioned in
connection with the beginning of this age, and that is the Jewish
people. Their measure of wickedness was filled when they delivered the
Son of God into the hands of the Gentiles to be crucified. God in
mercy lingered over the city for forty years before the announced
judgment was executed upon the city and upon the nation. Thousands
upon thousands repented and accepted the Gospel; in fact, the beginning
of the entire Church was Jewish. But the nation hardened its heart,
and finally the tears which the Lord had shed over Jerusalem were
justified in the awful siege of Jerusalem, followed by the dispersion
of the nation. Ever since they have been in fulfillment of the
predictions of their own prophets, scattered amongst the nations of the
world, and this is continuing throughout this age.

We see then that there is a marked difference between this age and the
ages which preceded it. Christ as the glorified Man in heaven, the
Holy Spirit on earth, a new message, a new work which the Spirit of God
does, the full revelation of God given to men, the world in darkness,
Satan its god, and the Jews no longer in their land but wandering
amongst the nations with judicial blindness upon them.





Next: The Progress Of The Age+

Previous: The Present Age: Its Beginning Progress And End



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