Happy New Year! This is the time we start again, make plans, set goals, and see every day as a new day and a new chance to excel. We often start off the year with a sense of optimism in hopes that this year, the world will be a better place and that peace might reign. This year you might have the additional hope that a new political administration might just make the big difference.
However, we must have a perspective that is larger than any regional or national perception. It is essential that we understand the rules of engagement and the enemy we face. If we are to have a day, a year, or a life of victory it is essential, not optional, that we understand the world we live in. The Apostle Paul exhorted all believers, “Do not be conformed to this world.” Being “conformed” is to be molded to a way of life or a system or a scheme. In fact the Greek term for “conformed” is from the word that we get “schematic.” The “present age” is the term that he uses instead of the better-known term “cosmos”—world. Both terms convey to us the reality of a system of thought, a mindset, and a motive that lies behind it. What is the mindset and motive of this present age and time period? It is not at all what the world desires us to think. It spends billions of dollars trying to convince us or deceive us from viewing the actual truth and to provide a counterfeit—a lie! That is why we are exhorted not to love this world. (I John 2:15) The present age is a counterfeit and a lie to what God desires for it is under the rulership of the great father of lies, the deceiver, the angel of light—Lucifer!
Allow me to clarify or perhaps to reframe your perspective. We must first understand that everything is wrong. It is all backwards. Today we live under the times of the gentiles. The gentile nations rule the planet, create societies that are under the authority of Satan, the god of this world, and are typically hostile to Israel. (II Cor 4:4, Luke 4:4-6) In this present age, fallen man lives under a sin-cursed world. (Gen 3, Rom 8) We are ruled by Satan from a heavenly sphere. (Ezk 28:14, Dan. 10:13-20) As John the Apostle explains it: The whole world lies in the lap of the evil one. (I John 5:19) And the struggles in the world are actually a struggle against the forces of the prince of the power of the air. (Eph 6:11-12) Peter reminds us that this is not to be a surprise to us (I Peter 4:12) for it is actually the devil himself that seeks to devour us, but we can have the victory through our faith. (I Peter 5:8-9)
One’s theological system built from sound exegesis is meant to provide hope for the future. Mt preterits friends tell me that we are living in the kingdom right now. My classic reformed friends, building off of Oscar Cullman and George Eldon Ladd, tell me that the kingdom is already (here) but not yet (here). (I have always struggled with that form of logic.) My Progressive Covenantalist tell me that all is covered under the New Covenant and typology fills in “the rest.” My progressive dispensational friends tell me that the kingdom has been inaugurated but not culminated. And some of my older dispensational friends tell me that this is the mystery form of the kingdom that is called the church.
The fact is the devil rules, the world is cursed, all of creation groans, and mankind is condemned. And here we are ready to start a new year. But take heart. There is coming a new day when Jesus will rule from heaven through Jerusalem in Israel over the earth. The angelic host will glorify the true King of the earth and all of the cosmos and they will serve glorified man who will rule and reign with Christ over the redeemed nations of the earth. The curse will be lifted, the Christ will reign, the church will co-rule and rejoice and worship the King. Every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and give praise to the Lamb of God.
But what are we to do today until that day? Make disciples, do all to the glory of God, and live with holy conduct as we wait with a heavenly outlook.
He is coming again!
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Grace Theology Press