Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on Calvary’s cross and resurrection early that next Sunday morning was a transition point in how God’s dealt with humankind.
The Mosaic age (aka “The Old Covenant” or “The Age of Law”) ended, and the Christian age (aka “The New Covenant,” “The Age of Grace” or “The Church Age”) began. We live in this final age, which will continue until Christ’s Second Coming closes out earthly time.
While the Mosaic Age focused on the nation of Israel, the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish race, the Christian age has a much wider focus on the whole world, the city of God (the Church), and encompasses both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews).
Also, when Jesus instituted the New Covenant, He expanded several Old Testament teachings, explaining their original intent and clarifying misunderstandings. As we study the Christian age, what do we learn?
“GO INTO ALL THE WORLD.” Although Jesus was a Jew who ministered primarily in Israel, He came because God so loved the world, the whole world. Jesus was (and still is) the Savior, the Lamb of God, who paid for the whole world’s sins. Forty days after His resurrection and just before He ascended into Heaven (where He’s currently seated at God’s right side and interceding for His people), Jesus told His apostles they’d be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. No nation was to be left out.
The New Testament book of Acts — the history of the early Church — shows that the apostles and first-century Christians did just that. They taught the gospel everywhere in the known world. The apostle Paul even preached in Rome, the empire’s capital.
SALVATION ISN’T DEPENDENT UPON NATIONALITY, RACE, SOCIAL STATUS, OR GENDER. Many first-century Jews had convinced themselves that they alone were God’s people and that they’d be saved simply because they were physical descendants of the patriarch Abraham. Jesus taught that lineage and ancestry played no part in New Testament salvation.
The good news revealed in the Christian age is that anyone who believes in Jesus’ name and receives Christ as Lord becomes a spiritual child of God. Paul declared that, when it comes to salvation, “There’s neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you’re all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).”
WORSHIP ISN’T CONFINED TO A SPECIFIC PLACE. The first-century Jews were proud of their beautiful Temple in Jerusalem. However, during His ministry, Jesus proclaimed a time was soon coming when the true worship of God wouldn’t be in a physical Temple, but done in spirit and truth.
Titus and his Roman army destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D., but it’s unneeded in the Christian age anyway. Jesus’ apostles taught that a Christian’s own body, sanctified and made holy through obedient faith, becomes a temple for the Holy Spirit beginning at baptism. Further, the Church — not any particular, physical building, but the universal body of Christ — is the spiritual temple, comprised of believers everywhere in the world.
THEY’LL KNOW THAT WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE. While love, mercy and grace were to be essential attributes of God’s people in the Mosaic age, too often these spiritual fruits were downplayed because of an over-emphasis on rote following of the Law of Moses.
However, Jesus taught, “By this all people will know that you’re my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35). Grace, mercy, and love are emphasized, prominent traits in the Christian age.
INTERNAL HOLINESS IN CONTRAST TO EXTERNALLY APEARING HOLY. During the Mosaic age, God’s people too often mistook an external appearance of holiness with true holiness. Jesus explained that God was a holy and perfect God; that He desired His people to have a pure heart and an unspoiled mind that didn’t harbor hidden evil desires or even think impure thoughts. He taught that a Christian’s inside, which only God sees, was much more important than the outside, which only people see!
JESUS IS COMING AGAIN. The Christian age teaches us that Jesus will return in judgment. He came the first time as a humble teacher, sacrificial Lamb and as God’s grace in human form. When Jesus returns on the clouds in righteous judgment, He’ll be accompanied by fire and avenging angels; earthly time will be over. There’ll be no second chances when the eternal Judge and conquering King of kings and Lord of lords is revealed. Every knee will bow.
The Bible’s last book — Revelation — tells of everlasting joy and blessing for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, it warns of eternal punishment in the lake of fire for those who never acknowledged Jesus as their Lord and Savior.