God has a just and loving Plan for all mankind which has been unfolding throughout the history of man. Understanding this progress of events through the Ages helps us appreciate the beautiful harmony of the Bible. The dark night of sin now engulfing man will never be forgotten! But soon in the dawning Age, Messiah as the “Sun of Righteousness” shall arise with healing and blessing. The dreadful night of pain, sickness and death will end. The joy of morning will more than offset the tears of our groaning creation. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Waiting for Something Better
The whole creation is groaning and waiting for something better, but they grope along blindly not realizing the magnitude of God’s gracious purposes. (Romans 8:19, 22). Soon our great Creator's Plan for man will far exceed man's highest hopes (1 Corinthians 2:9). The love of God will go far beyond all man's greatest expectations. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts ... saith the LORD; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
“God's Grand Plan of the Ages,” suggests that there is an orderly explanation of man's past and present as well as what God has planned for man's future. Its reasonableness, based on the Scriptures, should appeal to the searching reader. The light from the dawning “Sun of Righteousness” now makes such understanding possible as “present truth” (2 Peter 1:12).
Many now question the Bible as the foundation of true religion. Here, believing the Scriptures to be consistent and harmonious, we will explain God's Plan from the Bible. It is a Plan that will appeal to man's sense of reason and justice. God's Plan is consistent with God’s just and loving character. The earnest truth-seeker may expect this kind of understanding because the “spirit of truth” was promised to guide us into all truth (John 16:13).
Two Ways to Search for Truth:
● One approach is to search the various sects of Christianity for truth. But that is often confusing because they have conflicting teachings, many of which seem unreasonable. Not all are based on the scriptures of the Bible. Many are based only on the creeds of past centuries.
● The other method is to let go of all prejudice and with a meek heart go to the Word of God with the help of its Author who has God promised us various helps in understanding His Plan (See Ephesians 4:11-16).
It is important not to believe something just because we have confidence in someone. Our faith must be based on the Word of God, not that of modern theologians or even of the Early Church Fathers. Saul of Tarsus was an example of many good people who have taught error in good conscience (Acts 26:9). Truth-seekers must be emptied of the muddy waters of tradition and be filled at the fountain of God's Word. Everything should be proved by the Scriptures.
Basis for Proper Bible Study
With Scriptural evidences, we have endeavored to present God's Plan in an orderly, logical way. But it must be understood that the Scriptures are often in symbolic language and context. A failure to understand this makes many popular subjects talked about today on prophecy and the coming of our Lord confusing and frightening. Prophecy must be understood in its historic as well as its future fulfillments. We are students of prophecy—not prophets!
Unfortunately, some Christians neglect the study of God's Word and say, There is enough in just the Beatitudes to save anyone! But even the “angels desire to look into” the Gospel and work of Christ (1 Peter 1:11,12). The study of God's Plan helps the Christian to understand God's purposes and to look to the future from God's standpoint—not as a servant, but as a child and heir (Hebrews 3:5,6). Careful study of God's Word is strengthening to our faith and stimulating to holiness.
Purpose of the Present Age
In ignorance of God's Plan for mankind, many Christian churches suppose the present Age is the only time for converting the world. But after nearly twenty centuries, their goal has not been accomplished. Below is a table showing the percentage of religions based on total world population comparing the year 1900 with 2008. Notice that the percentage of Christians has actually decreased.
Sources: Global Christian Resources; The World Fact Book
Is this discouraging? Is Christianity failing? Has God been trying to convert the world, unsuccessfully? The answer must be no! God's power and wisdom assure us He does not fail. Jesus sent his followers as a “witness unto all nations” and to find a “little flock” of devoted overcomers (Matthew 24:14; Luke 12:32). That is the purpose of the present Gospel Age. When this work is complete, then God will indeed convert the world. That is the purpose of the next age—Christ's Kingdom, for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
This chart above truly does present a sad picture! Even the 33 percent counted as “Christian” surely are not all “sanctified in Christ Jesus” who “walk not after the flesh” (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 8:1). Are infants and children automatically counted as saved Christians? What about the centuries upon centuries before Christ? Acts 4:12 (nas) says, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” Are all those millions who lived before Christ lost eternally?
The creeds of most churches today teach that if you are not saved, you are damned eternally. Some still believe in a literal “burning hell,” and that the unsaved will have an eternity of torture! Many who sincerely believe that now is the only day of salvation are driven to missionary work around the world. But are billions of humanity still lost forever?
God's Great Plan of Salvation Is Not a Failure!
Yes, the world today is very dark! And storm clouds are gathering. But in God's Plan of the Ages morning is dawning.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising”
(Isaiah 60:2,3 NAS).
Unfortunately, many have stopped looking for God's Kingdom when His will shall be “done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Many are discouraged by the clashing creeds of the churches which create more confusion. Some people conclude, I am not good enough for heaven—but I’m too good for hell! Therefore many give up on God's Plan as not working—or dismiss it as an incomprehensible mystery!
The Righteous of the Past Did Not Have Much Light
Even some of the righteous of the past did not have as much “light” as we now have at the end of the Age. Abraham did not understand fully what the promise meant: “In your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14 nas). Neither the angels nor even the Prophets understood the future in God's Plan. The Jewish Law and ceremonies of Israel pointed to Christ, the great deliverer, who would save Israel and make them his agency for the blessing of all the families of the earth. But God's chosen people in Jesus' day expected a King that would deliver them from the Romans. They overlooked the scriptures that revealed that Messiah would first have to suffer and die.
Jesus told his disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12,13 nas). But after Pentecost, the Gospel message which Jesus taught began to be better understood. The Apostle Paul explained many mysteries to the Church (1 Corinthians 15:51; Ephesians 3:3,4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). “The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints [is] ... Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26, 27). This is still a “mystery” to most. Jesus' Church is part of “Christ,” the anointed, which will bless the world after the Gospel Age!
After the Apostles slept (Matthew 13:25), the enemy Satan sowed seeds that produced fake Christians—”tares.” Men in the church rose to power. The Word of God was put aside. Instead, the teachings of men replaced the teachings of the Bible.
The Protestant Reformation was a bold attempt to return to the authority of the Scriptures. God used men like Wycliffe, Luther and others as brave champions of the truth of His Word. But Protestants generally have made little progress walking in the light. Each Protestant church stopped on the path of truth, not progressing with the truth as the light shone on, but going only so far as its favorite leader. Today, many have even backtracked!
Path of Truth Getting Brighter
It is true that “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people” (Isaiah 60:2). But it will not always be so! Many now “sit in darkness” in the “prison house” of sin and death (Isaiah 42:7). But we are assured that as the End of the Age nears, it will mean only the beginning of the next Age. In the Millennial Day the “Sun of Righteousness” will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5). It will dispel the deadly darkness of evil and bring life, health, peace and joy. Those who do not just “sit in darkness,” but desire to walk in God's unfolding light, will find their path getting brighter and brighter.
So God invites us, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18). Truth as “Light is sown for the righteous” (Psalm 97:11). The Bible is like a lamp for the path of the righteous. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Holy Scriptures are opened up as never before to guide the Church into truth. Not only is the past explained, but also there is increasing light on the future.
The Morning Is Dawning!
Even with so many now confused and unbelieving—we do not need to “sit in darkness.” We can go forward on our path of understanding with the light of the Scriptures. They will show us the way. Therefore, everything explained as “truth” to us must be based on the Scriptures! Prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled today as never before. They prove the Bible itself is true!
“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well
to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns
and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19 nas).
The Apostle Paul actually was caught up into a vision to see the future. But he was not “permitted to speak” about it (2 Corinthians 12:4 nas). It was not time or “meat in due season” even for the early Church (Matthew 24:45). Then, of course, the Apostle John saw and heard the Revelation of Jesus Christ of things “which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). In symbolic language, the Apostle viewed the whole Christian Age from its beginning to its dramatic end. From the Beast with seven heads to the Bride of Christ—from Babylon to the New Jerusalem—Revelation is interpreted with the help of the other scriptures.
The joy of the morning comes first to Christ Jesus' faithful watchers. More light is revealed now than at any time before in the Church's history. In God’s Kingdom the light of truth will spread to all mankind. Jesus and the Church will offer life to the rest of mankind ending its nightmare of sin.
“And the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’
And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let the one who is thirsty come;
Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost”
(Revelation 22:17 nas).