Notes from SBTS Chapel
“To the end of the age” might be the most neglected words of the Great Commission. But why does the Gospel of Matthew end this way? What is this age that Jesus is referring to? This is the key to understanding our times and understanding our task.
We are a Chronological People
We are all time-stamped. Every moment is time-stamped and time is ticking in us all. And Ecclesiastes speaks of how there is time for everything but that we have eternity in our hearts. We can order time into three ages. There is the age before Christ where we find God’s preparation and promise. And then the age after the coming of Christ which is also known as the age of the Church. And lastly, there is the age which is to come. The age when Christ returns triumphant. Scripture teaches that the present age will pass away and in numerous passages, we find that we are awaiting the age to come. We are yearning for the kingdom of Christ in its fullness, for every knee to bow and every tongue to confess, for a new heaven and a new earth, a new Jerusalem of heaven, for every tear to be wiped away, for the marriage supper of the Lamb.
This Age and the Age to Come
Then why are we here? What are we to think about this age? Matthew 24 reveals that the meaning of this age is for the Gospel of the Kingdom to be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.. And therefore, the “end of the age” of the Great Commission is when the Gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed throughout the whole world. Does this mean that we bring about the end of the age by preaching to every nation and people group? How many nations? How many Christians? That is not for us to determine. It is when Christ returns that we will know. We must simply do what has been commanded us and fulfill what Jesus has purposed for our age. The only reason this age is continuing and the only reason we are here is to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. Therefore, the “end of the age” in the Great Commission is not surprising from the fact that Jesus speaks in Matthew 13 that the harvest is the end of the age. The end of the age doesn’t happen before the harvest. And the purpose of this age is also defined by Jesus in Matthew 24. The powers of this age, the rulers of this age, the wisdom of this age is doomed.
We have glorious work to do. The purpose of our lives is to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom until the harvest comes. We must plant the seed of the Gospel with this harvest in mind. That is the age in which we live. That is why we are here. All our worship, our evangelism, our devotion is not simply our duty as a Christian. It is our very purpose of life in light of the age we live in.
Examine your life. Does it align with God’s purpose for this age? Does it serve the cause of taking the Gospel to the nations? If not, ditch it. Change it. Stop it. But if so, give yourself to it unreservedly. This age will pass away and the Gospel is the only thing that will last. We can endure the present age because of our hope for the age to come.