The Church Age

There is only one church age.  The believers in the book of Acts were in it and we are still in it.

Many today have invented an extra church age by teaching that there was a special Early Church Age where God did all kinds of signs and wonders to confirm the gospel to the heathen, and that we now live in a different Church Age in which God no longer does the things He used to do to confirm the gospel.  This is absolute foolishness.

The most worn-out argument for this comes from a careless reading of 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul writes that when the perfect has come, there will be no more need for manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The “church age splitters” mistake “the perfect” as meaning “the completion of the New Testament canon.”  But Paul went on to say that we know in part now, but we will know fully when the perfect has come. Can you say that you know fully now? No, you can’t, and neither can I.  We all see “through a mirror dimly” but when the perfect has come we will see “face to face”.  I’ve never seen Jesus’ face or God’s face. For now, I have to be content to not see and yet believe. It will be different when we live on the new earth in which righteousness dwells.

So the perfect has not yet come, which means that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit such a prophecy, tongues, gifts of healings, etc., will persist until Jesus comes back for us.

I think the most prevalent argument, if people will be honest enough to admit it, is “We don’t see signs and wonders anymore, therefore they are not for today.”  That would be no better than people in the Dark Ages saying, “We don’t see people trusting Christ to save them by grace anymore – everyone is mistaking baptism and sacrament-taking as being the way to be saved. Therefore, being born again was only for the early church, not for today.” This shows the peril of letting experience dictate doctrine!

If we really believe that God is “no respecter of persons” (i.e., one who does not play favorites), there is no reason to believe that God gave the “early church” something we can’t have. Does God engage in “chronological discrimination” in the Church Age? After all, we have the same Holy Spirit they had.  The Holy Spirit is still the Miracle Worker today; He has not changed, has He? Did we get a watered-down Holy Spirit Lite or Holy Spirit Trial Version or something?  No, of course not.  He’s the same as He always was – He’s the “Eternal Spirit”, so why not expect to Him to do today what He did for the believers in Acts?  The problem is that NOT believing in His ability and willingness to perform miracles becomes self-fulfilling – His hands are tied in places where no one believes He should minister the way He used to.  Even Jesus Himself could do no mighty work in Nazareth where nobody believed in His ability and willingness to do them.

There is nothing in the New Testament that even hints that there are two sub-ages within the Church Age. The Book of Acts wasn’t written so that we could just sit there going, “Wow, that was really cool.  Must be nice to have lived back then and seen that.”  Acts is our pattern.  It shows us the kind of things God wants to do today.  Whole cities were won to Jesus in Acts, and that tells me that it’s still possible for such things to happen today.  If we don’t believe that, we’re thinking too small.  We think it’s a big deal if we lead two other people to Jesus, but in Acts, they had citywide revivals!  And such things have continued to happen throughout history when God can find people who dare to take Him at His word and not care what other people think.

I look forward to the day when we will have public prayer for the sick with signs and wonders following. As you know, the gospel is already being proclaimed publicly around here both through tracts and to a lesser extent open-air sharing of the gospel.  In Mark 16, Jesus told us to go into all the world and tell everyone the good news, and He promised that supernatural signs would follow those who believe.  If the Great Commission is for today, ALL of it is for today, both the “go” part and the “these signs shall follow” part.  Let’s dare to believe the Bible and expect the signs, wonders and miracles will be done in this area in the name of Jesus!