THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME
In the coming kingdom the Lord Jesus will be the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2). At that time no inhabitant will say, "I am sick" (Isa. 33:24). Believers will see that "this corruptible will put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality." And "then the word which is written will come to pass, ‘Death has been swallowed up unto victory’" (1 Cor. 15:54). The characteristics of the kingdom age for believers are freedom from weakness, sickness, and death, the redemption of the body, and having Satan under our feet.
However, the Bible tells us that we can now have a foretaste of "the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 6:5). Although our body is not yet redeemed, we can taste by faith the powers of the coming age in having no weakness, sickness, or death. This is a very deep experience, but if a believer fulfills God’s conditions and believes God’s words with his whole heart, he will see that this kind of experience is possible. Faith transcends time; it can appropriate both what God has accomplished for us in the past and what He will accomplish for us in the future.
In 2 Corinthians 5 the apostle speaks of the future transfiguration of the body: "For also, we who are in this tabernacle groan, being burdened, in that we do not desire to be unclothed, but clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has wrought us for this very thing is God, who has given to us the Spirit as a pledge" (vv. 4-5). The word "pledge" means "down payment," which is a partial payment guaranteeing full payment in the future. The Holy Spirit in us is God’s pledge "that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." Although we have not experienced this completely, we can experience part of it because we have the down payment of the Holy Spirit. The granting of the Holy Spirit is for our foretaste of the coming victory of life.
The apostle speaks clearly in 2 Timothy 1: "Our Savior Christ Jesus, who nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel" (v. 10). Life and immortality are the common possession of everyone who receives the gospel. The question now is: how much has the Holy Spirit led the believers to experience this possession? Death has been abolished; believers have experienced this to a certain degree. But now this age is coming to an end, and with the hope of imminent rapture, the Holy Spirit is urging believers to experience more of the inheritance which they received from the gospel.
It is possible to have a foretaste of the powers of the age to come. When the apostle says, "But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57), he is referring to the present and specifically to the problem of death. He is speaking about overcoming death in the future. However, he does not think that the experience of overcoming death is entirely for the future. He says that we can overcome through the Lord Jesus now.
God has a principle: whatever He intends to do in the age, He first does in a group of people. What everyone will experience in the millennium, the members of Christ should first experience on the earth today. In past ages there were always some who tasted the powers of the coming age; therefore, the church today should have much more experience of Christ’s victory over death. God wants us to break through the realm of Hades today. The Lord wants us to overcome death for the sake of His Body. If we have not overcome death, our battle is not yet complete.
Each of us should now seek the Lord’s mind concerning our future. (We do not superstitiously believe that we will not die.) But if this is the end time and Christ’s second coming will be delayed no longer, occurring even while we are still alive, we should lay hold of God’s word by faith and believe that we will not die but will remain alive to see the Lord’s face. Because of such a hope, we should purify ourselves even as He is pure. We should live for Him moment by moment and apply His resurrection life for the needs of our spirit, soul, and body.
"By faith Enoch was translated so that he should not see death" (Heb. 11:5). May we also have faith to believe that we will not die. May we believe that victory over death is a reality, that the rapture is definite, and that the time will not be long. "For before his translation he obtained the testimony that he had been well pleasing to God." What about us?
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 42, by Watchman Nee)