3. The Life of the Age to Come
The life of the age to come is Christ our life. Jesus calls the life of the age to come (eternal life) “the kingdom of God.”
3. The Life of the Age to Come
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep . . . I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:1-2 & 9
. . those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come . . Hebrews 6:4-5
In Hebrews 6:5, the translators translated the phrase “the powers of the age to come” correctly because it included the word “power,” not the word “life.” If they had translated the phrase as they did everywhere else, they would have said, “and have tasted . . . eternal power.” But just as it should be “the powers of the age to come,” so it should always be “the life of the age to come,” not “eternal” life.
The life of the age to come is Christ our life.
Now, Jesus points out that there are two groups of people who ARE entering the sheepfold. The popular interpretation that “you can’t get to heaven without going through Jesus” cannot fit this parable. Jesus said that some ARE entering in apart from Him. It is not “heaven” into which they are entering.
The sheepfold is the life of the age to come, given to us to experience now – first, as a taste, and then as we partake of that life of the age to come, we grow up in that life until it is the only life we know, even in this present age.
Most Christians reject the life of the age to come. They do so for two reasons.
First, they see many who are definitely not Christians climbing over the wall to partake of the fruit of that life. These people are tapping into the powers and the life of the age to come, but they are not entering into it through Jesus and His shed blood. Christians look at these things being enjoyed by these people and call it “New Age.” And it is “new age,” it is the life of the age to come, the same thing that resides in the heart of every believer, if they would recognize it. The problem for those who enter in unlawfully is that they are thieves, the enjoyment of that life and power does not belong to them, and they will be destroyed by the very things they are reaching for. (But do not imagine for one minute that our Savior cannot meet with and redeem by His blood some who have entered unlawfully.)
And so Christians look at those who are entering into the life and power of the age to come unlawfully, and then they look at those of their brethren who are entering into all the life of Christ through Jesus, the Door, and they accuse those brethren of falling for the deception of the “New Age,” of falling for the temptation of the serpent, wanting “to be like God.”
Satan does not lead those who are entering into the life of the age to come over the walls in order to entice Christians to follow. He does it so that Christians who do not walk in the Spirit will equate every part of the life and power of the age to come with falseness and evil – and thus stay as far away from Christ as they can. They imagine that by clinging to the idea of the door – Jesus – back then, up there, some day, they will be safe instead of entering through the Door into all the life of Christ.
In other words, Satan always looks forward to what God is about to do among His own ones, and first does the same thing among his. That way, he scares many timid souls away from the work of God, believing that it is just like what those ‘evil’ people are doing.
The life and power of the age to come is not “going to heaven.” You will not find any such idea in the Bible. Yes, the spiritual realms, the heavens, are real. But they exist quite differently from what Christian imagination, separate from the knowledge of Christ, has concocted.
But the primary reason why most Christians do not enter into the life of the age to come is that they, knowing only the life of this present age, have “baptized” that life and made it “Christian.” And because the life of this present age has been “Christianized,” it is Christian in their minds. Therefore, to forsake the life of this present age is to forsake what they imagine is “Christian.”
Let me give you one of the clearest explanations of this idea from one of the greatest writers and thinkers of all time, Leo Tolstoy, in War and Peace.
This is one of the main characters in the story, Mary Bolkonski, speaking. (The Russians are a very Christian people, in some ways more so than Americans. Communism is Jewish, not Russian.) Princess Mary has received a book on Christian mysticism from a friend.
“A thousand thanks, dear friend, for the volume you have sent me and which has such success in Moscow. Yet since you tell me that among some good things it contains others which our weak human understanding cannot grasp, it seems to me rather useless to spend time in reading what is unintelligible and can therefore bear no fruit. I never could understand the fondness some people have for confusing their minds by dwelling on mystical books that merely awaken their doubts and excite their imagination, giving them a bent for exaggeration quite contrary to Christian simplicity. Let us rather read the Epistles and Gospels. Let us not seek to penetrate what mysteries they contain; for how can we, miserable sinners that we are, know the terrible and holy secrets of Providence while we remain in this flesh which forms an impenetrable veil between us and the Eternal.
Let us rather confine ourselves to studying those sublime rules which our divine Savior has left for us here below. Let us try to conform to them and follow them, and let us be persuaded that the less we let our feeble human minds roam, the better we shall please God, who rejects all knowledge that does not come from Him; and the less we seek to fathom what He has been pleased to conceal from us, the sooner will He vouchsafe its revelation to us through His divine Spirit.”
This expresses brilliantly how most Christians think about themselves and about the gospel, with the final statement concerning “revelation through His divine Spirit” being confined to the words on the pages of the Bible and going to heaven when we die.
Here is this definition Tolstoy gives us of the life of this present age, called “Christian” by so many. (This is not necessarily Tolstoy’s view; he is giving us a panorama of Russian thought and life in 1805.)
1. We are miserable sinners.
2. Our flesh is an impenetrable veil between us and the secrets of God.
3. We cannot know the mysteries of God while we are in this flesh.
4. Our job is to conform ourselves to the rules that Jesus has seen fit to leave with us – that is, to “try.”
5. Our minds are “feeble,” that is, they are carnal, and we please God only when we do not seek to know His – power, life, secrets – whatever is high, holy, and “above.”
6. Maybe, maybe, some day (just do not believe that any of it is true personally in you today).
Last night for the first time, I watched Avatar by James Cameron. I do not want to stumble anyone who saw “new age” stuff in it, but when there is a great story, I hear God speak to me through that story. Anything that needs to go out in the waste does so. But I am too busy glorying in the wonderful things God is teaching me to worry about what was eliminated.
What God emphasized to me through that story was the separation and distinction between two lives, the life of this present age, and the life of the age to come. There is no value in using terminology from the movie Avatar to show us the extreme contrast between those two lives, the New Testament gives us the terminology we need. But God does use story to illustrate what He speaks in His word, and so, if you will bear with me, I will occasionally use the movie to illustrate the Word. I see everything through Christ in me; I see all things by the Spirit of God. Understand that I speak prophetically, calling those things that “be not” as though they are.
Now, the American way of life is the epitome of the life of this present age “Christianized.” That “American way of life” is more gone than Christians want to admit, so they cling desperately to the memory of an America that was “Christian.” But America as it really is and that fictional “Christian” America that so many find refuge in, are both the full expressions of the life of this present age.
Most of us, through most of our life on this earth, know nothing about the life and power of the age to come. Hebrews says that we taste it. Our problem is that we bring that taste back into our understandings and experiences of the life of this present age. Everything that we know of God, we define through the ways of seeing, through the experiences and feelings of, through the nations and structures and ways of living in this present age.
There is a word God uses in the New Testament that means everything we know of as the life of this present age. That term is “the world.” In fact, the Greek word “aeon” or age, is often translated as “world,” as in “the end of the world.”
Jesus said, “I have defeated the world,” that is, “I have defeated the life of this present age.”
Jesus said that those who cling to the life of this present age, the only life that they imagine is “real,” cannot know the life of the age to come. He said that we must leave all of the ways of seeing and experiencing and connecting, all the structures of, the methods of operating in, the knowledge and wisdom of the life of this present age and step out into the “darkness,” the unknown, following what until now has been only a taste, and follow Him, our Shepherd, into all the experience, power, connections, and knowledge of the life of the age to come.
We are the age to come. The life of this age ends in us and the age to come begins in us. We are not called to make this age “Christian.” Those of our brethren who are trying so hard to do so are risking the loss of any knowledge of the life of the age to come, just as Jesus warned. We are called to come to know in all fullness the life and power of the age to come and to bring the entirety of that life into being upon this earth, thus closing out all of the false life of this present age.
That is why those Christians who advocate killing people to preserve our ‘freedom,’ that is to preserve our present enjoyment of the life of this age, are such a blasphemy to Christ. The life of Christ, the life of the age to come, lays down its own life for the sake of its enemies. It does not kill people to preserve its life.
Jesus calls the life of the age to come (eternal life) “the kingdom of God.”
Again, here is the trick that the enemy uses to keep most Christians out of the life of the age to come, even as God brings it into fullness inside of us. The serpent sends his own over the wall to steal parts of that life without acknowledging Jesus or His shed blood. Therefore, when Christians look at the thieves celebrating in their possession of experiences and powers of the age to come, they turn and look at us, who are entering into very similar experiences through Jesus, and they say, “You are ‘new age,’ just like those who are ‘of the devil.’” Thus most Christians refuse to enter into the life of the age to come, but desperately cling to their Christianized version of the life of this present age.
For instance, the book, The Secret, teaches you how to live in the life and principles of the law of faith. But it does so separate from the Lord Jesus. Those exact same principles are part of the life of Christ, the life of the age to come. But when Christians look at the teaching of the law of faith given by believers who are reaching for the life of the age to come, they say, “That’s ‘new age’; you’re trying to be ‘like God,’ just like the serpent offered Adam in the garden.”
The thieves who take possession of the fruit and power of the life of the age to come have come up with their own terminology to describe those things. They use their terminology to describe things the Bible calls “faith,” or “the bond of love,” “laying on of hands,” or “one Spirit,” or “the power of the Holy Ghost.” They use different words to talk about the same things, only they partake of those things without entering through the door, through Jesus and His shed blood.
This is why I am very careful to keep Jesus always in front of Christ. Those who want to remove Jesus as the entrance into all the life of Christ do not find me with them. Furthermore, there is no need to use the terminology of the thieves in order to describe the life and powers of Christ. God speaks to me through story as found in a movie like Avatar, but everything we need to talk about the life of the age to come is already found in the Bible.
Here is the problem. Christianity has redefined everything in the New Testament to apply only to two different arenas. The first arena is to Christianize the life of this present age; the second arena is to put everything off to “heaven.” In both cases, they have stolen the terminology of the New Testament away from the life of the age to come, present and revealed now in us. Most Christians, then, are also thieves, taking the verses and phrases and words of the Bible and using them unlawfully to talk about things contrary to the life of God revealed in us. They have no right to use those words to Christianize the life of this present age or to create a fictional place they have termed “heaven.”
This is why the only way out for us is to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. The way we think about everything has to be totally transformed until we in no way think like the people, and even the Christians, of this world.
The reason so many Christians, entering into the revelation of Christ, think that they need to get rid of in one way or another so much of the Bible is they continue to read those passages with the thinking of the Christianized version of the life of the present age. They do not realize that those things were not written in that way of thinking nor do they apply to that way of thinking.
Every word in the Bible, from Genesis Chapter 1 to Revelation Chapter 22, will be found in all fullness in wonder and great glory inside the full expression of all the life of the age to come revealed upon this earth. The only reason I separate between the Old Testament and the New is because of the carnality of Christians who read the Old Testament so wrongly. All of it is the revelation of Christ and every word will be expressed in wondrous ways in the full measure of His life.
If we read the verse wrong, the problem is not the verse. The problem is how we think about that verse. We stop thinking about it in present knowledge and believe that what God says is a seed of faith that brings forth all the life that is in it inside our field. We let that word be nothing other than life in our spirit and leave it at that. It will bring forth its life in us in its time, but only if we believe it, not if we analyze it. The moment we decide we know what it ‘means’ and by our knowledge we remove it from being a personal word of Christ in us, we kill that seed, it is snatched away from us, and we cannot know its life.
I want to explore what the Bible reveals to us about the life of the age to come in us right now. You may see a “similarity” between the life of the age to come and “new age shamanism.” However, I will use only New Testament terminology to discuss Christ, though I will continue to tear that terminology away from the false application of Christianity to the life of this present age and to “heaven.”
Part of the way we know the life of the age to come is to see it as something completely different from the life of the present age. Therefore it is useful to contrast between these two lives on a regular basis. We can develop a list with two columns, one showing something as it is found in the life of this present age, and the other showing how the same thing is found in the life of the age to come.
I am utterly uninterested in knowing or experiencing anything that I do not enter through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, being covered by His Blood flowing over me at all times and in every way.
But I will freely take from the movie Avatar as one means of contrasting these two lives. The life of the present age is mechanical with self-centered automatons welded together through hierarchy of command and forced obedience. The life of the age to come is organic with self-giving hearts joined together through one Spirit of life and peace. The life of the present age is to conquer outwardly and to take for one’s own benefit. The life of the age to come is to give and to receive in a oneness with all that God has created.
Understand that the life of this present age is the only life we have known and walked in from our conception until now. Anything we have enjoyed of the life of the age to come has been only a slight taste, a taste that we immediately bring into and define by our present knowledge and experience of our life in this world.
In the “Christ as us” teaching, there is a seeing and knowing that our present life is Jesus living as us. Yet we must know that He is in us far more than as ourselves. He is also in us as the resurrected Christ exalted above all the heavens. We have this treasure in an earthen vessel, yes, and we must know the fullness of all that it means to contain the life of another in a vessel of weakness.
But we are born again as well. And as born-again new-creation beings we are much more than ‘human.’ We are truly human, but that means we contain in ourselves the very genes of God. We are something completely different from Adam and something completely different from other humans who are not born again. Most Christians live only as if they are humans forgiven and blessed by God, meant to enjoy grace and good things.
We are much more than that; we are sons of God. Even our humanity, which is ours forever, does not come to us through Adam. Our humanity comes to us through the humanity of Jesus. You and I have no connection to Adam. Paul says in Ephesians 5 that you and I are flesh of Jesus’ flesh. The “old man” and our “flesh” are two completely different things. We must know Christ in us within the humanity of Jesus in us before we can know Christ in us as the resurrected One, eternal above the heavens. We first walk just as Jesus walked before we rise up into the full life and meaning of the life of the age to come.
However, the life of this present age, the only life we know in this world, Christian or secular, is a stunted, twisted, deformed, limited, narrow sort of life. We are to find the peace of God inside it, yes, but never are we to be satisfied with it. The life of this present age is still under God’s curse, even though we ourselves have passed from death into life. Yet it is clear that we have known only a taste of the life of the age to come.
But John says the life of the age to come is inside of us right now. That life is in the Son and the Son lives in our hearts.
We are not talking about ideas or good feelings. We are not talking about ways and means by which Christians have expressed Christianity in this present age. We are talking about a real and practical life and way of living that works itself out into every aspect of our existence as something very very different from life as we have always known it.
The life of the age to come is in open warfare with the life of this present age. The two are absolutely opposed to each other. Ultimately, we cannot live in both. To enjoy the life of the age to come in all of its fullness is to step away from life as we have known it in this present age.
How do we find our way through this incredible maze? Where is the map? Who will show us the path?
This is a transition. It is not all one way of living, and then, suddenly, all a completely different way of living, something people call a “rapture.” People in the future may experience the transition much more quickly than we, who bring the life of the age to come into full experience now on this earth.
When I was 20 and 21, God first spoke into my heart and mind a vision of the life of the age to come revealed in us upon this earth, while I was sitting in a wilderness tabernacle in northern British Columbia hearing a word preached in a mighty anointing from the throne of God. Over the many years since, God has continued to speak a fuller and deeper understanding of that vision through that same mighty word.
The problem in that arena back then was that we heard and saw that vision while still walking in many present misunderstandings of how that word would be fulfilled in our lives. That is perfectly normal. It is impossible to get from here to there without taking our first steps very close to here. If I want to drive from Houston to San Antonio, I must first drive through Houston. After an hour of driving I am still in Houston, but that does not mean that my original vision of San Antonio was in any way wrong. If God spoke His word only through vessels that have everything “right” in every way, none of us would ever get a chance to hear Him speak.
The entire New Testament gives us a view of the present Christian life as a life in transition. That transition is not from earth to heaven. That transition is from living the life of the present age to living the life of the age to come fully upon this earth. As Bill Johnson calls it, “When Heaven Invades Earth.” That transition is the passage from our conception, being “born again,” through our present state of being in the womb of the church, to our coming forth in the full light of day as the manifested sons of God. That transition is called “sanctification.” “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14 That transition is becoming what we already are.
God has given us the awesome key called “calling those things that be not as though they are.” Yet, incredibly, so many have taken that key as meaning that we are then no longer in any form of transition, but whatever of our life now that we presently know, that’s the only thing God has for us here and now.
You will find a different understanding in these letters.
Christ our life is the power that created the universe. Christ our life is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. Christ our life is the victorious Warrior exalted above all the heavens. Christ our life proves all that God is and all that He speaks right now, on this earth, in this age, in you and in me.