Lesson 6 – The Consummation of the Church
ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH ARE PRODUCED IN THE CHURCH AGE
All the members of the church are produced in the church age, that is, in the age between Christ’s first coming and His coming back. The members of the church are those who were fallen sinners and who have been saved by the grace of God (Eph. 2:8) through their God-given and God-allotted faith (2 Pet. 1:1), which has brought them into an organic union with the Triune God in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). These members of the church have been forgiven of their sins (Acts 10:43). They have been justified by God in Christ (Acts 13:39; 1 Cor. 6:11), and they have been reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10), so they have been redeemed back to God (Rev. 5:9). Based upon this, the members of the church have been regenerated in their spirit by the Spirit of God (John 3:6) to be the children of God unto the divine sonship (John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:16) and to be the members of Christ (Eph. 5:30) unto His stature (Eph. 4:13) to be His fullness (Eph. 1:23).
THE NEW TESTAMENT OVERCOMERS ARE ALSO PERFECTED IN THE CHURCH AGE
The Perfection of the New Testament Overcomers in the Church Age
The New Testament overcomers are not only produced in the church age but are also perfected in the church age. The perfecting of the New Testament overcomers is a matter of transformation through the subjective experience and enjoyment of Christ. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.’’ To be transformed is to have Christ added into our being to replace what we are so that Christ may increase and our natural life may decrease. As the process of transformation takes place within us, the old element of our natural being is carried away, and the glory, the resurrected Christ as the life-giving Spirit, is added into us to replace the natural element. It is through such a process that the New Testament overcomers are perfected in this age.
The Reward of the New Testament Overcomers
At the End of the Church Age
The believers may be overcomers either as the man-child (the dead overcomers—Rev. 12:5) or as the firstfruits (the living overcomers—Rev. 14:4). The dead overcomers of both the Old Testament and the New Testament will resurrect and be raptured to God and to His throne to fight and defeat Satan before the period of the great tribulation. The living overcomers, comprised only of the New Testament overcomers, will be the firstfruit of God’s harvest on the earth. They will be raptured to Mount Zion in the heavens for God and Christ’s satisfaction before the great tribulation.
All the overcomers, both the dead and the living, will be the bride at the marriage feast of Christ and in the millennium (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2). The overcomers will also be the armies in heaven fighting with the coming Christ against the Antichrist and his armies (Rev. 17:12-14; 19:11-21).
In the Age of the Millennium
In the coming kingdom the overcoming believers will reign with Christ as co-kings (Rev. 20:4). This includes being crowned with many crowns such as the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8), the unfading crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:4), the crown of life (Rev. 2:10), and an incorruptible crown (1 Cor. 9:25). This also means that they will sit with Christ on His throne (Rev. 3:21) having authority over the nations to shepherd them (Rev. 2:26-27; 12:5), and to participate in the joy of the Lord (Matt. 25:21, 23).
They also will inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God to enter the manifestation of the kingdom of the heavens (Eph. 5:5), to be glorified with Christ (Rom. 8:17), to inherit eternal life in the Millennium (Matt. 19:29), to have their names remain in the book of life (Rev. 3:5), to not be hurt of the second death (Rev. 2:11), to have the right to the tree of life (Rev. 2:7), to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43), to participate in the feast of the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 8:11), and to enjoy the reward (Matt. 5:11). Finally, they will become the New Jerusalem—the paradise of God—in the millennium (Rev. 3:12; 2:7). This list of rewards should give all of us much aspiration and encouragement to be overcomers in the age of the church.
THE IMMATURE BELIEVERS WILL BE PERFECTED IN THE AGE OF THE MILLENNIUM
The need for transformation is neglected by many Christians today. As a result, many have been kept from being transformed and perfected by the genuine experience and enjoyment of the all-inclusive Christ with His unsearchable riches. As a result, there is no way for God to perfect these immature believers in the church age. However, because they are God’s chosen, redeemed, called, and regenerated people, God will not let them go. Rather, He will perfect them in the coming age of the millennium.
Through the Lord’s Dispensational and Governmental Discipline
The perfecting of the immature believers in the age of the millennium will be through the Lord’s dispensational and governmental discipline. Hebrews 12:6 tells us, “Whom the Lord loves He disciplines and scourges every son whom He receives.’’ The Lord’s discipline of the believers is not only in this age but also in the coming age. Because the age of the millennium will still belong to the old heaven and the old earth, the coming age will still be a time for the Father to deal with His children so that they may be perfected. Those believers who are not perfected in the church age will be perfected in the age of the millennium. The means of their perfection will be the Lord’s dispensational and governmental discipline. This discipline will be for those who were slothful in the church age, in the dispensation of grace, and did not apply the Lord’s sufficient grace and enjoy it, taking this grace as their portion. Such believers will need the Lord’s loving discipline in the coming age for their perfection.
ALL THE REGENERATED AND PERFECTED BELIEVERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WILL BE THE COMPONENTS OF THE NEW JERUSALEM, WHICH IS THE CHURCH’S ULTIMATE CONSUMMATION
God’s intention is that the church will consummate in the New Jerusalem. All the regenerated and perfected believers as members of the church, represented by the twelve apostles (Rev. 21:14), will be the components of the New Jerusalem. After the dispensation of grace, there will be the dispensation of the kingdom. During this dispensation, all the perfected ones, including the overcomers of the Old Testament and the overcomers of the New Testament, will be the totality of overcomers to be the New Jerusalem. They will be the New Jerusalem in its first stage, the stage of the millennium. During this stage, the New Jerusalem will be Christ’s bride. Also during the millennium, the defeated, slothful, immature believers will be perfected through their suffering of the Lord’s dispensational and governmental discipline. Therefore, after the millennium, they also will be components of the New Jerusalem in the second stage, that is, in the new heaven and the new earth. In this second stage the New Jerusalem will be enlarged to be the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. This enlarged New Jerusalem will be the consummation of the church. From this we can see that the ultimate consummation of the church life will be the New Jerusalem, first in a smaller scale in the millennium composed only of the overcomers and then in an enlarged scale in the new heaven and the new earth composed of all the believers of the New Testament.
The consummation of the church will be the New Jerusalem. Today the church is a miniature of the New Jerusalem. The proper church life in its genuineness is a small model of the New Jerusalem. The crucial matter here, however, is that the New Jerusalem will be the consummation of all of God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, transformed, perfected, and glorified people.