1. Belief in a Golden Age destroys faith, because it encourages Christians to walk by sight (cp. 2 Cor 5:7). Let me explain. The victory that Christ has achieved through his death and resurrection in principle is a final and complete victory merely awaiting his second coming to be revealed in fact. Because of this, we must live even now in the joy, optimism, and confidence that Christ has won the victory, even whenthings appear far different. “In putting everything under [Christ], God left nothing that is not subject to him.” This remains a solid reality, even though “at present we do not see everything subject to him.” What must we do then? By faith “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, nowcrowned with glory and honor because he suffered death” (Heb 2:8-9). By faith we rest upon the heavenly, unseen reality that “God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in heavenly places” (Eph 2:6). For “faith is the reality of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Advocates of the Golden Age theory tell us that walking by faith in this way encourages a defeatist mentality, a pessimistic outlook. But this betrays a fundamentally unbiblical assumption: that true optimism and confidence in the victory of Christ is based on sight, on tangible earthly evidence of victory. But the NT has just the opposite view: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Rather, even though our outward man is wasting away, our inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary affliction is achieving for us an eternal weight of glory. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-18). According to the Golden Age theory, we can avoid losing heart only if we fix our eyes on what is seen. This theory thus destroys faith by tempting believers to walk by sight.
2. It dilutes hope insofar as it distracts the Christian’s gaze from the ultimate hope of the Lord’s blessed appearing in glory and power. “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pet 1:13). Having a Golden Age for our hope (even as a secondary hope) seems incompatible with the passionate longing for Christ’s appearing that should characterize our lives (2 Tim 4:8).
3. It undermines patience insofar as it makes us dissatisfied with the suffering he has appointed for us “in this present time” (Rom 8:17-18). If we are expecting a Golden Age we cannot really be happy with the way things are going for the church now. We will become impatient with God’s time-table. But “if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently … And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:25, 28, 35, 37).
4. It side-tracks us from our true priorities. Instead of living godly lives and testifying to the gospel of Christ as we live in the midst of this lost world (Phil 2:15-16), the Golden Age theory implies that we must strain to build a Christian society and civilization on earth. Having such an earthly agenda is inconsistent with the call of the NT. “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” Peter asks. “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet 3:11-12). We are commanded to “deny ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).
5. Finally, the Golden Age theory diminishes heavenly-mindedness. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:1-4). Read More»
Lee Irons | “Will There Be a Golden Age Before Christ Returns?” | August 7, 2007 | HT: Kim Riddlebarger
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