God’s Plan through the Ages
Imagine how hard it would be to put together a 5000-piece puzzle if you had all the pieces, but didn’t have the box with the picture on it. Even if you were to carefully examine the details, it would still be tough to figure out how the pieces fit together or how each one fits into the overall picture. You could probably put together a few groups of pieces by matching colors and patterns, but even then it would still be difficult to see how those groups go together. It wouldn’t take very long for many to just resign themselves to the fact that this is about as far as they will ever get and simply give up.
Many attempt to understand the Bible in a similar way— spending a lot of time looking at some of the details, but without having the big picture as a point of reference. They read some of the same familiar passages over and over, thinking that they must somehow fit together, but find it daunting and perplexing to try to move much beyond this.
Or going back to the puzzle analogy, some have even concluded that the pieces don’t fit together at all and are really just parts of many different pictures. This can make it virtually impossible to understand that God has a plan, that He has been carrying out that plan from the beginning and that this is clearly revealed in the Scriptures.
Over the last fifteen years, I have been developing and teaching a 10-hour course called “God’s Plan through the Ages”—a course that takes the student from eternity past to eternity future, from Genesis Chapter 1 through Revelation 22. The course is modeled on the basic theme, ideas and approach in Dr. Renald Showers’ now-classic book, What on Earth is God Doing?
“God’s Plan through the Ages” also includes a unique feature that complements Dr. Showers’ work by showing how the Lord has carried out His plan through a series of phases in history known as “dispensations.” We are currently in the sixth of seven dispensations, with the present dispensation coming to an end with the Rapture of the church.
Now Available as a Conference
I have had the privilege of teaching this course many times at various Word of Life Bible Institutes, including in Hungary, the Philippines, Canada and the U.S, as well a required course in the graduate-level program in advanced eschatological studies directed by Dr. Jimmy DeYoung as part of his Prophecy Today ministry.
I am now making this course available to other schools as part of their regular curriculum or as an elective (with this being a 10 to 20 class-hour course), as well as to churches as a 10-hour conference. For churches, that could be done in any number of formats, including all ten hours in one weekend, or five hours on each of two consecutive weekends, or a multi-day conference from Thursday through Sunday or Sunday through Wednesday, or any other format that would work best for your church.
My traveling and teaching schedule is very busy and usually scheduled out as much as a year in advance, however, there are usually weeks or weekends at different times throughout the year when I would be available. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me at any time.
One-Page Summary of “God’s Plan through the Ages”
Below, is a summary of “God’s Plan through the Ages” I have written, based on the course. The length of this summary is such that it will just fit on a single side of letter-size paper with half-inch margins, using an 11 point font.
Permission is granted to print on plain paper up to thirty copies of the summary below for ministry purposes, as long as you reference The Alliance for Biblical Integrity and David James as the source, and do not charge for it. For permission to print additional copies and / or other specific uses, please contact me through the contact form on this website.
This may also be reproduced on websites and blogs, as long as proper attribution and a link back to this original article is provided.
“God’s Plan through the Ages”
by David James
In eternity past, the triune God determined to establish a kingdom of righteousness in which his glory, his holiness, his justice, as well as his grace, mercy and love would be on display throughout all eternity. So, he created the physical universe as the realm of his kingdom, with this earth being the focal point. Then he created the angels and mankind to be his subjects in the kingdom.
The highest angel, who is now known as Satan, “the adversary,” in pride determined to set himself above God and swept a third of the angelic host along in his rebellion. Then he turned his attention to Adam and Eve, who were to be God’s regents over the earthly realm of his kingdom. He successfully enticed them to fall into sin and when they disobeyed God, they brought spiritual and physical death upon themselves and all their descendants, while plunging the entire creation into chaos. As a result, Satan became the temporary ruler of this world.
Genesis chapter three through Revelation chapter twenty is a historical and prophetic record of God’s gracious and loving plan to bring redemption to mankind and restoration to the creation. The Scriptures also reveal that Satan has desperately tried to prevent God from establishing His kingdom upon the earth.
As part of his plan, God raised up a new nation to be his people, the nation of Israel, through which the Redeemer would come—His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, God-in-the-flesh. The opportunity for man to be restored in his relationship with God came through Christ’s death on the cross as he became the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and his resurrection would guarantee eternal life to all who turn to him in faith.
During the present phase of God’s plan, Christ is building His church, which is made up of all believers in Him. One of the primary tasks of the church is to take the gospel, the good news of this offer of salvation, to all the world. Then, at the end of this age, Christ will catch up all believers in Him (born-again Christians), both living and dead to meet him in the air, to be with him forever. This is known as the rapture of the church and is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar.
The rapture will be followed by a seven-year period of time, when Satan will make another attempt to establish his own kingdom on the earth, using a man whom he will empower, known as the antichrist. During this seven-year period of tribulation God will pour out his wrath upon the earth as judgment against mankind for their rebellion against him.
But God will once again turn his attention to the nation of Israel, to bring her to repentance and to use the nation to call the world to repentance as He prepares to establish his kingdom on the earth. Many Jews and Gentiles will come to salvation during those seven years, but when Christ returns to the earth at the end of that time, those who have refused to turn to the Him will be taken away to judgment.
Immediately after the Lord’s return, Satan will be bound for 1000 years, during which time Christ will establish his kingdom, ruling from the throne of David in the rebuilt temple of God in Jerusalem.
At the end of Christ’s millennial reign, Satan will be set free briefly and he will incite a final rebellion of the nations against God, which will be crushed instantly as God rains fire down upon them. Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire as the unbelievers from all the ages are brought before a great white throne to be judged. After all unbelievers are judged guilty by God, they, too, will also be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.
After the final judgment, God will destroy the present heavens and earth, replacing them with a new creation, with a new Jerusalem, in which he will establish his eternal kingdom of righteousness, where his people will enjoy him forever.