By Nathan Jones
How does the Church Age play into the prophetic sequence of events?
On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.
Brian Thomas: Greetings in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! And thank you for tuning in to the "God First" program. My name is Brian C. Thomas and I'm honored and delighted to have today a special guest — Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries. Nathan, thank you for coming on today to speak with us.
Nathan Jones: It's a great blessing to be speaking with you about one of our favorite subjects, Brian — Bible prophecy.
Brian Thomas: That's right, it's definitely my passion and your passion as well. We just enjoy getting the message out concerning the soon return of Jesus Christ.
Nathan is here to speak on the topic "Bible Prophecy: God's Order of Events." I invited you on this topic, Nathan, because growing up there were a lot of things that I heard concerning what is going to happen in the future with the return of Christ and eternity that I just accepted as the truth. But, I began to realize that some of what I was taught wasn't exactly what the Bible is saying. For example, I had the impression that when we die we go off to live in Heaven and that's where we spend eternity, floating on clouds as disembodied spirits. But, that's not exactly true. There are a lot of myths out there concerning events of the future that get passed along that are not exactly accurate. So, you are here to explain their proper order and clear up the cloudy areas for us as to what truly will happen in God's order of events.
1) The Church Age
Brian Thomas: Let's begin by speaking about the Church Age. We'll sort of step back a little bit in time then come to the present and then finally go to the future. How does the Church Age fit into Bible prophecy?
Nathan Jones: Ironically enough, the Church Age really didn't fit into Old Testament Bible prophecy. Many times later it was referred to as a mystery. It wasn't understood by the Old Testament prophets. What the Old Testament prophets expected when the Messiah came would be that His Kingdom would begin and that'd be it. They didn't know there was going to be an age called the Church Age in between the two comings of the Messiah.
The Church Age officially began at the Day of Pentecost when the Lord gave the Apostles and the other disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. After that they went out and started sharing the Gospel. You can read in Acts how the Church started growing and flourishing. The Church Age is actually the time period that we live in now, and it's still the time when the Church is growing and flourishing and the Gospel is getting out to the whole world.
In the Old Testament, the Jews were to be the example of holy living. One had to go the Temple in Jerusalem to worship God and you had to follow the laws. And so, people looked at the Jews and they looked at Israel and would say, "Okay, because of their holy example we want to join them and become like them." Missions was all funneled into Israel. Inversely, with the Church Age, it's the opposite missions strategy than the Old Testament Israel model. Instead, the Church Age funnels evangelism through its believers out into the world. Instead of everyone coming to Jerusalem to learn about God, everybody who knows Christ goes out into the world to share Christ.
The Church Age that we live in is directed by the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 reads, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age." This is Jesus talking, giving the Church His Great Commission. He is sending the Church out into the world to get the Gospel across the entire planet. And, when Jesus says, "to the very end of the age," He's talking about the end of this age — the Church Age.
Brian Thomas: You touched on the Church Age beginning at the time when Jesus Christ left the earth or shortly thereafter, correct?
Nathan Jones: Correct. There is some debate whether the Church Age began during Jesus' ministry or at Jesus' ascension or on the Day of Pentecost. I believe it to be the Day of Pentecost because immediately the Apostles go out and start witnessing. That's when we start seeing the word "church" used prolifically. We start seeing that 3,000 more were added to the church, and 5,000 were added to the church, and so on. That's why I believe the Day of Pentecost officially began the Church Age.
In the next part of this series on God's order of events, Brian and I will discuss the next in the series — the Rapture of the Church and what immediately follows in Heaven.