After the resurrection, the army of God’s church begins to advance and incrementally changed the dymanics of the world. We see history unfolding in phases where each phase takes signficant steps toward a beautiful and righteous people which, having come from love for and slavery to evil, vindicates the character of God forever. The fact that they have repeatedly chosen Him over everything that the devil could do to them or offer them, is deeply touching to God, and a people that fulfills this in the fullest sense of the word, will only be manifest at the very end. It will not be just one man or a few, though, it will be an entire special people. Church history forms a road map toward that end. Here is how I see it breaking down:
- The Rock Church (29-317). The church is the Rock in Daniel which destroys all of the world empires. This in effect is what happens as the culmination of the first phase of Church history. Chrisitanity undermines the spiritual power which allows these world empires to rule. In that sense, it was Christianity which destroyed the Roman Empire.
- The Outward Church (317-1517). With the union of church and state the early church essentially died, and a new phase of leavening started. During this phase, Christian values slowly replace the formerly pagan values of Europe. Formerly pagan tribes turn away from paganism and to Christianity at least outwardly. While the union of church and state is corrupting, it is also the primary way that Christianity is defended from the threat of the devil raising a pagan enemy to slaugter all Christians.
- The Jacob and Esau Church (1517-1776). The reformation begins almost 300 years where the outward church (Esau) does everything possible to wipe out the true church (Jacob), much like Jacob and Esau. During this period, from old Europe is drawn a wide array of persecuted Protestants Christian people who form the primary seed of North American colonization.
- The Advancing Church (1776-1907). With the rise of the United States, the game is fundamentally shifted again. The French revolution is kicked off, and for the next phase of history the wars will not be Protestant/Catholic but they will be between secular beasts and protestant powers. During this period the seeds are sown for the first time in history for global Christianity. At the same time, by the end of this century, very little true Christianity remains in Europe.
- The Exploding Church (1907-2001). After Pentecost broke at Azusa street, the next century would be marked by an explosion of Christianity on every beach head established in the former era. The Global South explodes with the Gospel such that by the end of the century, many immigrants to old world nations are already Christian. The United States provides not only the vast majority of the global push, but also the political power to protect the advance of the church.
- The Global Church (2001-??). As national borders are eroding, populations becoming more and more diverse, the Global South is invading the North which evangelized them. I believe this may be the final phase of history. The period since the fall of the Berlin Wall has been the greatest period of evangelization in all of world history as the church possesses the numbers and power and no major political power opposes it. Islam is being raised up as a competitor, but is already showing signs of weakening as Pentecostals sneak in the back door. After Islam dissolves, the mission of world evangelization will near completion. After these things happen, expect to see one world government and essentially one world church go head to head in the final showdown of history. This will be a rematch of the early church’s destruction of Rome, except this will be for the entire worldwide prize, and Satan himself will be release to rule it. Severe persecution will ensue and large numbers of people who have become largely “Christianized” in the previous century will fall away, while at the same time, the true believers will look more and more like Christ. The church will triumph by refusing to bow under the authority of Satan himself, which before Christ was irresistable, and ultimately Satan’s authority will be broken in a final conflict with Jesus’ return.
- The conflict with Islam and completion of world evangelization may take another Biblical generation or so (40 years ). At this point, I expect the final end time persecution and battle, which I believe will be short but severe. Given the pace and outline of world history, it is very much withing reason to believe that it will all transpire in our lifetimes.
Important to understanding these phases is understanding that outward geopolitical power acts as a cover for the advance of the true inward spiritual church, since througout history, Satan attempts to use geopolitical power to kill all of the seed of the church. When telling church history, some focus only on the outward advance, and others only on the inward, but in reality the inward Kingdom advance has very real outward consequences, just as the outward advance impacts the inward.