Are We Now in the Sixth Era of Christian History?
The 1st Era started with the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19. It's motivation came from Jesus' words, 'Go ye therefore and teach all nations,' and Paul's dual promise in Acts 28:28, 'the Salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." Within a hundred years twelve zealots turned the world upside down.
For 1400 years the unknown and unorganized church soldiered on without the written Word in their hands. But the progress of the Christian Gospel was never lost; the advance of the Gospel never faltered, even in that period known as the Dark Ages.
In the 3rd Era Wycliffe and Tyndale of the 1500's, 1600's and 1700's gave the world the written Scriptures in our own languages—and Calvin and Luther gave it to the world—and adventurers found new nations to win. Discovery of The Great South Land of the Holy Spirit (Australia) occurred in this period of history. Much of the exploration of the era was driven by the quest to find un-reached pagan people to win to Christ.
The 4th Era occurred between 1790 to 1890, from the easier access to the reading of the Bible and it's widespread acceptance. Then, Christian missions accelerated exponentially as the people followed the Bible's directions implicitly.
The 5th Era around 1865 to 1910 is notable, by the adventures of a 31-year-old William Carey going to India, and Hudson Taylor to China and the thousands who followed their example. The CIM, SIM, AIM Regions Beyond and Council's of Churches grew, and the massive student Christian movement mobilized around 50,000 lay-missionaries —and their 100,000 supporters, whose prayer sustained them ... and with it, religious denominations grew.
After this era the Christian Gospel expanded with the coming of two world wars which increased travel and communications beyond anything before. While nations were occupied with battles, curiously, the Gospel was occupied with expansion. It advanced beyond the coastal penetration strategy of the 4th era, and the inland expansion of the 5th, and infiltrated national cultures as well. Not only in breadth but increasing depth, which of course not only changed peoples, but affected whole nations. Even Kings Potentates Princes and Presidents announced their civil leadership as being Christian.
The Church era is also dominated by the massive student movements, where missions outstrip traditional churches. Campus Crusade, one of many, fields 50,000 workers as normal. It is also marked by the third-world churches sending evangelists to win 1st world nations back to Christ. Korea is an modern example.
This era embraced Biblical ideals and utilized efficient technology, but resulted in the greatest number of martyrs since the first centuries. The five victims of the Auca atrocities astonished the 1950's churches, but missionaries still persisted in going into dangerous cultures to see the changes for good that the Gospel of Christ brings. Within ten years, the five Auca martyrs were replaced by 5,000 candidates who went in their places.
In each era, the Word of God was not hindered, but it offended the enemies of Christ. Rome's Nero and Diocletian, and the French Revolution could not crush it and Communism failed to eliminate it. (However, the cancer of apathy abounding in the 21st Century Church [Laodicea] is likely to achieve greater harm to the Christian church than all the enemies of the Gospel combined.)
This 6th Era of Christian History coincides chronologically with the 6th millennium since Eden and Adam in Genesis I, and the 7th day of God's Creation, God's traditional day of rest.
A question? Is this generation the one to welcome the return of the Saviour, and see the end of this age as we know it? No one knows exactly the moment, but all wonder? One significant sign is the Jews' return to Israel, and another that Jesus will not return for the Church, until all the nations have been reached with the Gospel. While there's still untouched peoples', the radio and TV coverage and the internet is going where no other age could.
And so, should we continue to live as if there is no end (God is nowhere), or like those who behave like ... 'Jesus was born yesterday, walks on earth today, and is coming again tomorrow?' (God is Now Here). Yes, we think so. "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Luke 12.39, 40).
Bible History Commentary:
It should be of deep interest to all that the seven great Biblical cities of Asia, listed in Chapter One of the Book of Revelation in the first century, no longer exist. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Laodicea is of our age today—one of apathy. Note St. John's commentary at the time, and watch their demise since, and learn from it.
Cynic: I could have made a better world than this!
Sage: That's why God put you here. Go to it!
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