An “Age” could be defined as a period of indefinite duration and characterized by what transpires in the period, especially of a moral and spiritual nature. The word “generation” is sometimes used in Scripture to speak of a certain period or stage of life. We could say there have been several stages in the “age of grace” in which we live.
Let’s consider ages that could describe the times in which we live. One of these could be defined as
The Age of Fear
Fear can be viewed as good or bad. Fear defined as reverential trust of and in God is good. For example,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” —Proverbs 1:7
However the age in which we now live is not characterized by this kind of fear. In contrast, the age is described in the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 21:26,
“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Though the Lord is speaking of a future time in God’s dealing with man, however even today, “men’s hearts are failing them for fear.” The Scripture tells us that “Fear hath torment.” We are often possessed with fears and phobias instead of faith. Here are some fears.
The Fear of Circumstances
There are unusual events that we fear will come upon us. If they do occur we are paralyzed or affected excessively. These can be physical phenomena or moral. “Things which are coming on earth” can be earthquakes, diseases, fires, terrorist attacks, etc., or sexual immorality, falling away from the faith, corruptness in government, etc. What did our Lord say in Luke 21:28? He said “look up,” and “lift up” your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.
Another characteristic of this age is,
The Fear of People
There are three people in the Bible that are examples of being afraid of men’s faces. They are Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Pontius Pilate. Even the apostle Peter could be included. Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night.” He was afraid of his peers, the Jewish rabbis. It is said of Joseph in John 19:38 that he was a “disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews.” Pilate, because the people violently protested against Jesus, released a robber, Barabbas, to the mob. How many today are afraid of the “majority” or oftentimes the “minority” and fail to take their stand for the Lord and His Word. And further, and more subtle, how many “preachers” are afraid to take a stand for the Word “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)?
Another fear is,
The Fear of Death
In Hebrews 2:14-18, we read of this fear.
“And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” —Hebrews 2:15
It is true that “the wages of sin is death:” but don’t forget that Romans 6:23 also says,
“The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Enough said.
We have the reason for fears, now let’s consider the remedy for our fears. Thank God for the many, many verses of Scripture that help alleviate our fears. For instance,
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” —1 Peter 5:7
But if we only had one verse, the one in 1 John 4:18 would suffice.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
This “love” is the love of God in Christ Jesus (John 3:16). When we really see God loves us, our fears are requited. If God be for us, who can be against us? And when we manifest God’s love in our lives, fears fade into the background. We can be
“Perfect love casteth out fear.”
Another description of our age is
The Age of Reason
Just as we have seen that fear can be either good or bad as used in Scripture so it is of the process of reasoning. Consider the passage in Isaiah 1:18,
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
God desires for us to “reason” with Him in regard to His will whether in salvation or service. This is “good” reasoning. However, our age is not necessarily characterized by this type of reason, but rather human reason that is apart from God’s Word.
Let’s look at some examples from Scripture of wrong reasoning. In Matthew 16:6, Christ said to His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples reasoned among themselves saying, “it is because we have taken no bread.” When Jesus perceived, He said unto them, “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” Notice how far off they were in reasoning apart from Scripture. They should have known that “leaven” was used in a bad sense and that He was telling them to beware of the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (vs. 12). It is tragically remarkable that even today many teach and preach that leaven is good, and “a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump.” Think about this. In Mark 2:1-12, is an account of the Lord Jesus while here on earth healing a man with the palsy. The people who crowded about were amazed when He said to the man, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Some said, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” Their reasoning was faulty. In the first place, He was God (John 1:1-3). In the second place, the forgiveness of the man’s sin was of paramount importance. However, just to show He was God, Jesus said to the man, “I say unto thee, arise and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” Oftentimes in men’s reasoning, the healing of the body is more important than the salvation from sin unto eternal life.
As has been previously stated, reason is not only a natural process, but is a spiritual process as well. God wants us to use our faculties of reason, In Acts 17:2 we read,
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in into them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”
Notice, it says, “out of the scriptures.” This is repeated again in chapter 18, verses 4 and 19. What and of whom did he reason? Acts 17:3 tells us.
“Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead: and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”
This is the kind of “reasoning” the Jews needed to hear.
In Acts 24, we have the continued account of the apostle Paul speaking to the people and rulers, both religious and political. In the account found in verses 24-26 of this chapter, we are told of Paul,
“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
It is impossible today to humanly figure out how God could love all of mankind, and that the Lord Jesus Christ could save poor, lost, miserable souls from their sin. Men scoff at this. In Acts 17:32-34, we find three groups of people. Two reasoned among themselves, and one group reasoned with God. In these groups we find:
- Scoffers — “some mocked”
- Procrastinators — “we will hear again of this matter”
- Believers — “clave unto Him.”
This age is, in one sense, an age of human reason. Call it “humanism” if you like, but all of it rejects the authority of God’s Word. Man has enthroned reason upon the throne, and worships the thoughts of man. But God is still on the throne and His Word is still the Truth and can never be replaced or supplanted.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” —1 Peter 3:15
Let’s consider another age that characterizes the times in which we now live:
The Age of Deception
The devil is described in Revelation 12:9 as the one who “deceiveth the whole world.” We must always remember that it was the devil that deceived our first parents, especially Eve. So that from beginning to end, the devil is the root cause of deceptive practices. How does he work his deception? He does it through his workers, especially religious workers. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 we read,
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Please note that the same approach or manner in which he appeared to Eve, he still uses today. It is significant that these messengers of Satan are called “apostles,” “workers,” “angels,” and “ministers!” This is very deceptive, to say the least.
In 1 Timothy 4:1, we are told,
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
These “seducing spirits” are agents of the devil who falsely copy the work of the Holy Spirit. You see, the Holy Spirit teaches us God’s Word. The “seducing spirits” present the “doctrines” (teachings) of the devil. Is it any wonder we have so many different “religions” in the world, and there is so much confusion.
We have seen the cause, now what are some of the results of this devilish deception? One of these could be described as spiritual dishonesty. In 2 Corinthians 4:2, the apostle Paul says of his ministry for the Lord,
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Notice two principal things mentioned in this verse:
- Walking in craftiness
- Handling Word of God deceitfully
This is pure deception. Instead of walking in honesty, truthfulness, and love, many walk in craftiness. Instead of properly presenting the Word of God “rightly divided” (2 Tim. 2:15), they handle it deceitfully. The world falls for it “hook, line, and sinker.” (Did you know you are fishing deceitfully when you place a “lure” on your line instead of the real thing!) Another phenomena seen in our present age is what is termed,
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” —1 Cor. 3:18
This “self deception” comes from two sources in the human being—the “heart” and the “mind.” In Jeremiah 17:9 a basic fact is stated very clearly,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
The heart is deceitful! This is repulsive and rejected by the natural man. Since the heart is “the seat of our emotions,” we can readily see how our actions can be swayed in a deceitful manner. How we feel often determines our course of action. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” said the Saviour.
Our “thinking” process often leads us to deceive ourselves. The mind can play tricks on us. It often leads to “fanciful thinking.” Consider Galatians 6:3, which reads,
“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
Consider the contradictory statement, “I am not conceited, though I do have every reason to be!” Self conceit is self deceit. There is a vast difference between fanciful, deceitful thinking, and sober, sound thinking, according to God’s Word. Romans 12:3 tells us,
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
We have considered the causes that make this age an “age of deception.” Now, what about the “cure.” It is simply that God’s truth lays bare the deceitfulness of the deceiver (the devil). God has given us His Word and His faithful workers to, not only teach us truth, but to warn and expose the deception of this age. The passage in Ephesians 4:11-16 should be read and studied very carefully. Verses 14-15 read,
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”
These penetrating and pre-eminent words our Lord spoke are so timely,
From God’s perspective, we are now living in
The Age of Grace
Without going deeply into a dispensational study of God’s Word, let’s just concentrate on how God deals with mankind in view of the terrible, ungodly condition of the world in which we live. We know that God has the prerogative and power to destroy this planet. Why doesn’t He do so? Does man have the power and initiative to live good enough to save himself from utter ruin? Within ourselves we do not have the answers to the multiplied problems that face us. How can we be saved from sin and self? The only answer is the grace of God.
Grace, being one of the most beautiful and meaningful words in our Bible, has been defined in many ways. The apostle Peter says,
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” —1 Peter 4:10
As if to emphasize this wonderful grace, God uses the word “manifold,” a beautiful word in itself. It refers to the many and varied colors in an embroidered robe or the different shades of color in marble. It implies and applies to the changing months of the year. In other words, it meets the need of every person. This is especially true in relation to salvation and eternal life. In fact, in the Scripture mentioned (1 Peter 4:10) the “gift” is the gift of grace. This reminds us Ephesians 2:8-9,
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Not only does God save us by His marvelous, manifold grace, but in this age He teaches us by grace.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” —Titus 2:11-12
We hear much in our times of education. It is either presented as responsible for all our ills or as a panacea for those ills. It seems that the more the world system indoctrinates, the worse the world becomes. It has not proven to be the answer to violence, sexual excesses, drugs, diseases, pornography, murder, etc. What is the answer? Or a better question, who is the answer? The answer is grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. The result is a new life to be lived by the grace of God. Grace brings us into a right relationship with God. The right relationship gives us access to more grace.
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” —Romans 5:1-2
This right relationship through grace results in:
- Peace with God (in contrast to war)
- Access to God
- Rejoicing in hope
Yes, this is an “age of grace;” not man’s goodness, but God’s grace. Salvation by God’s grace, sanctification by God’s grace, and service by God’s grace, and further,
“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” —Ephesians 2:7
‘Twas grace that wrote my name,
In life’s eternal book;
‘Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.
Saved by grace alone.
This is all my plea;
Jesus died for all mankind,
And Jesus died for me.