by Grant Phillips
The next big event on God's calendar is the Rapture, and then the seven-year Tribulation followed by the one-thousand-year Millennium when Jesus will rule the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.
God has dealt with man via six different dispensations (so far), and in each one, man fails. Over and over it is proven that the natural man cannot please God. The seventh and last dispensation is the Millennium, and once again, man will fail to live in a manner pleasing to God. Only in eternity, will mankind (those who have inherited eternal life through Jesus Christ) and the angels never again have the desire or ability to disobey God.
The seven dispensations are:
- The Age of Innocence: from Creation to the Fall
- The Age of Conscience: from the Fall to the Flood
- The Age of Human Government: from the Flood to Abraham
- The Age of Promise: from Abraham to Moses
- The Age of the Law: from Moses to Jesus
- The Age of Grace: from Pentecost to the Rapture and
- The Age of the Kingdom: the 1,000 year Millennium following the Tribulation
The Age of Innocence - Man is created without ever knowing sin, but then falls to its temptation in rebellion against God.
The Age of Conscience - Man lives by his own conscience of right and wrong, and fails miserably in his rebellion against God.
The Age of Human Government - As mankind forms into groups and human governments are formed, man quickly reverts back into sin, continuing to rebel against God.
The Age of Promise - Even though God always keeps His promises, man cannot, and does not have the patience to wait on God. His rebellion against God continues.
The Age of the Law - Even with clear and strict guidelines, man corrupts the Law of God by disobedience in rebellion.
The Age of Grace - Even in the most coveted dispensation prior to the Kingdom age, man as a whole refuses the riches of God's grace. The grace of the cross is spurned for the works of man.
The Age of the Kingdom - The Kingdom age will originally be comprised of all those who know God as Savior and Lord through Jesus Christ. All will be without sin and the ability to sin because of the saving grace of God. What could go wrong? Will mankind still rebel against God?
We all know that when the Tribulation ends Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). So throughout the Millennium, Satan and none of his followers will be around to seduce mankind. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem. The Church will reign with Him, and the surviving saints from the Tribulation will repopulate the earth.
So, at the beginning of the Millennium everyone will be a child of God. The earth will be restored. Nature will be at peace. Prosperity will abound. The life expectancy will be extended to a thousand years. Everything will be perfect.
Have you ever considered just how long a thousand years is? A lot can happen in a thousand years. Think about this. As of this year, America is 241 years old. That's not even a quarter of 1,000 years. If you go on back to when Columbus headed our way, it's still only 525 years.
I was born when Harry S. Truman was President. Since then we have had twelve more Presidents. I can assure you, a LOT has happened over that short period. Many, many things have drastically changed over that very short period of time.
Remember, when the Millennium begins everyone is saved at that point. Everyone belongs to the Lord and He rules the earth. But ... the Tribulation saints who were not murdered will enter the Millennium and bare children. Those children, and all those born after them will have the ability to sin because they will be born with that sin nature we all have today.
A population explosion will inhabit the millennial period. Billions will be born from those original Tribulation saints that will have the same choice mankind has today; honor God or rebel.
When the Millennium ends Satan will be released and lead billions against Jesus and His rule (Revelation 20:7-8). How did it ever get to the point that Satan could find that many followers in a world that is perfect?
Even though Satan is bound and cannot deceive anyone during that time, those billions born in the Millennium will have the ability to follow Jesus or reject Him. They will all be born with the same nature that is currently within us.
It is my opinion that even though the Kingdom age (the Millennium) will have so many blessings, rebellion will begin to rise in the hearts of those born into the Millennium. The Scripture says in Revelation 12:5, "And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne." This male son is none other than Jesus Christ, and He will rule during that time, "with a rod of iron."
There will not be an outward uprising until the end of the Kingdom age (the Millennium), but rebellion will rise and continue to rise in the hearts of many. By the time Satan is once again unleashed, they will be revealed for what they really are.
If you'll think about it, God has allowed all of us to have freedom of choice, even the angels. Satan made his choice. The angels that followed him made their choice, and one third of the angels followed Satan. Adam and Eve made their choice, and every individual throughout each dispensation has made or will make a choice either to obey God or not to obey Him.
Since sin entered the world through our original parents, Adam and Eve, mankind has been in rebellion. Some have decided to call upon God, but most do not. God clearly demonstrates that no matter how He deals with us, as long as we have a sinful nature, there will be those who will always rebel against Him.
Today's society practically wears out the phrase, "God is love." Yes He is, and He is no less "just" than He is "love." We tend to forget that God cannot deny His justice any more than He can deny His love. We want His love in letting us "do our own thing," but not His justice in judging the sin(s) we wallow in.
He has proven through six dispensations that we cannot save ourselves, and the seventh and last dispensation will corroborate the others. Only He can save us, and He can only do so through our belief in His Son, Jesus.
Mankind began in a perfect world (Garden of Eden) and we failed. Mankind will close out the ages in a perfect world (Millennium) and we will fail again. Sin and its consequences must be judged and totally eradicated, and the world must be filled with the righteousness of God before there can ever be peace between mankind and his Creator God. This can only be accomplished by the grace of God in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. All those who come to God through the Son will be saved (rescued) from judgment and adopted into the family of a Holy God. Only those who come through Jesus will live with Him for eternity in absolute righteousness, never knowing sin again. All those in Christ know God not just as our Creator, but also as our Father, because our faith rests in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
In each age, man attempts to produce the perfect world, as he sees utopia in his own mind. Thankfully, God has seen fit to save us from our own delusions.
So to recap:
- Innocence cannot save.
- Conscience cannot save.
- Government cannot save.
- Promises (ours) cannot save.
- The Law (or law) cannot save.
- Grace (if rejected) cannot save.
- A perfect world cannot save.
Each dispensation proves that no one can be saved apart from the cross. The cross is offered each time, but only the few choose wisely. Most try an alternate route, but only those who come via the cross go into eternity as children of the eternal God to reign with Him forevermore. All those who reject the cross will spend eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone.