NT and Church age

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

The Bible ends in Revelation circa 90/100A.D. And then we look at ourselves in 2020, for most of us, it looks like a huge disconnect between Bible times and our lives. We almost feel the Bible ended then, and I am here 2000 years later. It is important to see the work of Jesus as a continual work through the generations till today. God has been working continuously through the ages and it is important for us to connect these dots to know that we are in a long unbroken line of witnesses of Jesus.

Here I briefly sketch the outlines through – Gospels, Letters, Revelation and Church history post that, to land in our time. I also summarize the founding of Israel. NT and Church age is one of the 4 views of Christ that one needs to understand, to know the person and the work of Jesus fully. More about these 4 views at Why I write.

Gospels

We all know the Gospels well, they are nothing but the biography of Jesus through four lenses. As someone said it is the Gospel in four parts. All the 4 books put together give us a complete picture of the life of Jesus the Messiah.

Sermon on the mount by Carl Bloch (1834-1890) (Wikimedia Commons)

This is where most comfort is found and Jesus speaks to us directly. Read them often, read them many times. Read them in one sitting, listen to them in 2 hours. Understand his mission and the Cross. The Cross is where the purest of Mercy is released, so I spend time there often, even daily. Do also read the Resurrection chapters often, as that’s where Victory is found.

Also as a practice read the healing miracles again and again. That’s where healing is found. Reading the Miracles of Jesus builds faith for your own situation. In fact ALL Christians ought to know how to operate in the Healing gifts, but sadly very few study them seriously. When I am sick I read many healing miracles, and the Lord heals me. He’s alive. Of course at other times he wants you to take medicines and be healed too.

Acts and Letters

This is the story of how a group of 120 people, filled with the Holy Spirit continued the Ministry of Jesus. Also tells us the founding stories of how the Church came to be and the first Missionary Journeys of Peter, Philip, Paul etc. And how the Gospel spread to all countries in the then known Roman Empire. In all this, we can see Jesus guiding his disciples by the Holy Spirit.

Most people research Paul, but it is also important to study the lives of Luke, Peter, Jude, James and John and see their perspectives of Christ.

Revelation

This is where the train of disciples ends and the last book it is. John is in Prison and writes a Glorious book. Actually John is just a stenographer, Jesus shows him things (by the Holy Spirit) and John writes them down. In that sense it is a Book written by Lord Jesus himself. As I mentioned elsewhere (How to read the Bible article), it is very important to keep reading Revelation from time to time. It is also a Present Book of the Bible, in the sense we are living in it. So please do read it once every few months. There is a great Blessing in it. Preachers will do well, to preach from this often. Revelation also covers the Second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ back to the earth and that is covered in detail in the section Millennial Kingdom.

Church history, Reformation

Now the dealings of Christ don’t end in Revelation. It continues throughout History into our times. Please study a few of these important incidents in Church history to see the work of Christ in furthering the Gospel. It is the same Jesus who is still guiding his Church.

  • Early Church growth and how the Gospel spread to various nations.
  • Collapse of the Roman empire and the rise of Papacy.
  • End of the dark ages and the rise of Universities (Oxford, Cambridge) and focus on learning/books and reason.
  • Early Bible translations Jerome’s Vulgate, John Wycliffe (first English Bible) and the Gutenberg printing press (Gutenberg Bible) and how it took the Word to every country in Europe and brought about a spiritual awakening.
  • Martin Luther and the Reformation and the societal changes it brought in Europe.
  • J.S Bach, George.F.Handel and Isaac Watts and how Song and contemporary Hymnody came to be.
  • Book of Common Prayer (by Thomas Cranmer) and how the KJV King James Bible (1611) came to be.
  • John Wesley and his Hymn writer brother Charles Wesley and Methodism.
  • Modern Missions and William Carey. Pastors and evangelists – C.H. Spurgeon. Charles Finney, D.L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey and Fanny Crosby.
  • Then in early 1900’s, Welsh Revival and Azusa Street Revival.
  • World wars and the Peace after that that brought about the explosion of Gospel through Crusades/Tent meetings and later radio and TV programs. Billy Graham and Oral Roberts and the later Evangelists.

You would do well to study how Christianity spread in your own nation. And finally, how it came to you. If you study these Connecting links, you will know that God is just as active in our times, as he was in Gospel times. And also how in our generation the Gospel in its Fullness is being restored/preached. Everybody had a role to play and you also will realise how important your personal role is in bringing Christ to the world.

Martin Luther

Johann Sebastian Bach

John Wesley

Charles Spurgeon

Evan Roberts

Billy Graham

Church history inspires us and shows that God still uses weak ordinary people and hence lil ol’ me too. Also learn to obey the Holy Spirit promptly, in little things and big. If you do the will of God, lasting impact will be there, and fruit across generations. Study the history of your own nation and also current affairs and see how Jesus is answering your prayers -big and small. God is at work all around today.

Friend, let me remind you that our Faith is not in some printed book, but we are in a line of witnesses that go back to Christ. Our forefathers met Jesus, heard his sermons, saw the Cross and the Empty tomb. They then told their children and the next generation, and we are in that line awaiting the Return of Christ back to the earth.

Finally, what is the end-goal of Christian life? As Paul said, “till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a Perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the Fullness of Christ”. Eph 4:13. Other places the Bible calls it walking in the Fullness of God. In Romans 8:19, Paul tells us that all creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God who will deliver them from this bondage.

In the words of Pastor S.R. Manohar, “The people of the world are eagerly waiting for God’s people who will give them Jesus in His fullness, in whom the character, power and the wisdom of Jesus are seen all the time” (Real Grace pp 117). He also cautions us that these are not super heroes, but ordinary weak people living in the poverty of the spirit and serving one another in a spirit of humility. Out of weakness they were made strong (Heb 11:34). As he summarizes it, “The work of the Cross is the beginning of God’s great victory, and the fullness of God in His people is the end of God’s great victory”.

(Pastor S.R. Manohar has deeply impacted my life with his teachings and a life of example. Please visit https://raysoflove.org/ for his teachings. His book, Real Grace is one of the most balanced and comprehensive teachings on Grace. Its a small booklet (120 pages) and easy to read. You can order it on their website).

Founding of Israel -1948

We now turn to the work of Jesus in his own nation – Israel and the Jewry at large. Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews forever. In the Olivet discourse (Mt 24,25) he explains when He will return, and also the End time events to Andrew, Peter, John and James. Here he speaks of the destruction of the temple and the nation, and later Israel being restored as an Independent nation. “Look at the parable of the fig tree, when her branch is yet tender and puts forth leaves, then you know that summer is near.” Mark 13:28.

Years later, exactly as he said, Jerusalem temple was destroyed in 70 A.D, by Roman General Titus, and the Jews were scattered all over the world. And for 2000 years, Jews were driven out of their homeland into every nation under the sun. At the turn of the 20th century (1890’s), God began stirring up a Jewish Journalist, Theordor Herzl (based in Vienna and Paris) to write about a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He wrote a book, The Jewish State (Der Judenstaat) and rallied the Jews under the World Zionist Congress. He also lobbied Governments and Kings towards this cause. Around the turn of the century, many brave Jews began to make Aliyah to Israel. They settled in the land, formed Kibbutzes (collectives) and tilled the land. Some others started bringing Hebrew language back to life etc. Local Jews organised themselves politically while others built military strength to defend themselves from local thieves and hostile Arabs.

Theodor Herzl

Arthur Balfour

David Ben-Gurion

Jews in England also were working in tandem and impressed upon Prime Minister Lloyd George to support the cause of a Jewish homeland. So Arthur Balfour (foreign Secretary) issued the famous Balfour declaration (1917), writing to Lord Rothschild that the British Govt officially supports the cause of a homeland for Jews in Palestine and will facilitate all that it can to accomplish it.

Then World Wars I and II happened, and with it the Holocaust where tragically six million Jews died under Hitler’s Nazis. Finally after WW II, after much struggle, planning and bloodshed, the State of Israel was formally declared on May 14th, 1948 by David Ben-Gurion. Lot of Jews died in this battle to declare independence, and establish a Jewish nation. God helped them fight those battles and overcome heavy odds in the face of apathy from the nations.

Many of these founders were not believers, but the Christian clergy and believers sided with them and supported the Jewish cause. Don’t forget that it is Jesus Christ who brought about this turn of events and established a home for the Jews again.

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Today Israel is amongst the foremost nations in Technology, Software, Agriculture etc. It is a vibrant democracy. But the number of Messianic Jews is very very small there. The veil is there upon the Jewish minds as they read the Old testament. Only when they turn to Jesus will they be saved (2 Cor 3:14-16). We, gentile Christians should continue to pray for the salvation of Jews. But sure enough, the restoration of Israel as a nation is a sign that the Return of Jesus is very near.

Jesus as Creator

In the article Why I write, I wrote how there are 4 views of Christ which are important to get a holistic view of Christ. One of them is Jesus in Creation. Father God and Jesus co-created the Heavens and the earth. Jesus spoke and the Heavens came to be. Lord Jesus spoke and the earth came to be; out of nothing he created trees, birds, fishes, animals and finally he made man out of mud and breathed into him.

Psalm 33, John 1, Colossians 1, Proverbs 8, Genesis 1-3 all speak of how Jesus created this planet. God made everything through Jesus, and life on earth is sustained by Jesus Christ alone (Col 1:15-19). There are times when we may lose our faith and become shaky then turn to see nature, and you can see the invisible hand of Jesus that sustains birds, migratory birds, animals in forest, and street dogs too. Have you ever wondered who cares for the birds and animals when they are sick? Which doctor do they go to? Who protects them and feeds them daily? It is God who sustains them through Jesus. When Redemption theology fails, turn to Creation theology and the Holy Spirit will restore your faith.

“His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

Much much Glory to Jesus Christ for sustaining all life on the planet.

The Greatness of the man Jesus Christ is far too much than we can ever comprehend. Before him, our faces are only in the dust at his feet. He is infinite in Wisdom, Power, Majesty, Kindness and also Powerful in Judgements. All life bows to him, every man however powerful has to stand before Him one day and give an account of his life.

“All nations whom you have made, shall come and Worship before Thee O Lord

and glorify Thy name..” Psalm 86:9.

“Let everything that has breath Praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6.

Evan Roberts said, “you can tell some people’s stories in 5 minutes, but there is one, about whom I could tell his story – even all Eternity will not suffice.” Even a trillion years from now, we will be speaking about Christ through the ages. It’s entirely His story.

To God be the Glory through Jesus Christ.

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