The Age to Come has broken into the Present Age and we now live in their overlap. The New Testament refers to this period of overlap in a variety of ways, sometimes by specific expressions, sometimes clearly portrayed but left for us to name. For example, the New Testament directly refers to this overlap as “the last days” (Heb. 1:1-2) and as “the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2). But those who wrote the New Testament make very plain that this period of overlap is also appropriately called “the gospel age” (Matt. 28:18-20), the interim of Jesus’ visible absence (John 14:28; 16:16), the time of the Spirit (John 14:16-18), and the era of grace-gifts (John 16:16; 1 Cor. 1:7-9).
This is the period of God’s conquests, which began when heaven received Jesus, who was enthroned at God’s right hand–“until” the last enemy, death, has been destroyed (Psalm 110:1). Then will come the redemptive restoration of all things spoken by the ancient prophets (Acts 3:20-21). In both respects, we live between the Already and the Not Yet. In the case of each of these symbols, we already can see, touch, taste, and experience the eternal reality (Heb. 6:4-6), although we do not yet possess any of these symbols in its fullness. On that basis, we eagerly hope, and groan, and willingly wait (Rom. 8:18– 25).
Because of the nature of the times in which we live, we learn to hold lightly to things that are passing away (1 Cor. 7:29-31). This does not mean that we live inauthentic lives, merely going through the motions. It does mean that every earthly circumstance, relationship and event is transitory and that it derives its value from its relationship with what is permanent. Nothing now is ultimate (Heb. 12:26-29). Yet, for God’s sake, every occasion is significant and every person is important.
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