I am currently looking at other views from my previously held view of the end times – I am an ex pretrib – but am now seeking and checking other views. I am intrigued with the idea and reading that the 1st century church saw themselves in the end days of the Old Covenant – and soon to enter a new age.
1) But is this new age (the church age) the same as the idea that Jesus brought a kingdom here there is no more pain or tears? For me that is plainly not true. Am I missing something from your perspective?
2) Can it be that although the old covenant age came to a close – it is still true that there is a carry on/ carry over in the world – of a fallen ‘age’ alongside the new church age? My wording seems clumsy – I hope you can hear what I am trying to ask. I am looking for some kind of sythesis to satisfy my understanding – if it exists.
he transition from a pre-tribulationist to a biblical perspective can perhaps be a tough one as, typically, those with this eschatology focus a lot of their spiritual energy on asking about end-time things. This is one reason that this false teaching is harmful–that it draws attention away from the important things such as righteousness, relationship with God and seeking the lost. Be that as it may, your ideas are fairly close to correct, but may need just a bit of a boost from some biblical teaching.
The Bible does not use the term "church age." This term is taken from dispensationalist teaching. I do not deny that the concept is biblical, however. Biblically, we are living in the "last days," which some call the "church age." This is supported in a number of places. I will mention two, which are Acts 2:14-21 and Hebrews 1:1-2. These are the last days because we are in the last period of history of human life on this earth, at least in the form with which we are familiar. There is no future age. The only thing left for us to look forward to from a spiritual perspective is the second coming of Jesus. This is mentioned many times in the New Testament, but I will mention just two. Matthew 24-24 and 2 Peter 3:3-13. In both cases we are given the strong impression that the return of Jesus will be quite sudden. After this will come judgment.
Jesus did bring in a new phase in the kingdom of God. He was always talking about the kingdom. It is not that the kingdom of God did not exist before he came, but the kingdom came in a new and much greater sense with the ministry of Jesus. There is a series available in the "store" at the web site on the Kingdom of God. (http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/index.php?option=com_digistore&task=list_products&id=1&Itemid=53) This may be very helpful to you. It is true that in the first and second century, the church had the sense that the second coming was immanent. If you had asked their opinion, they would have predicted the coming to be within years or generations, not millennia. Yet, 2 Peter 3 seems to imply a longer time. God’s intention is that we be ready at any time for him to come back, but that we also be prepared for the long run, as he may not come back in the very near future. This is why "no one knows the day of the hour."
I have never seen even the slightest indication that the "last days" are a time without pain or suffering. In fact, Jesus warned quite the opposite. To be honest, I do not know where you got this idea. After Jesus comes back and judgment has occurred, there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth (Rev 21) as well as a place of suffering called the second death (Rev 20). So, the picture you have of the "church age," without suffering and tears must have accidentally been taken from the biblical picture of heaven. We are definitely not in heaven yet!
You are right that the Old Covenant is no longer in effect. This is implied in many places, but I will list just one. Hebrews 8:13 tells us that the Old Covenant at that time (60s AD) was old and fading and about to disappear. The final end of the Jewish system of sacrifice was in AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed.
You ask if there is a carry-over of the fallen age in the church age. Neither term is strictly biblical, so I have a hard time responding. Let me put it this way. It the "last days" there will definitely still be sin. That speaks for itself. We still have a sinful nature. Some use the term "fallen" to describe the current spiritual state of human beings. I do not see the words used in this way in the Bible, but I do believe it is an appropriate description of what we lost when Adam and Eve sinned. Like Paul puts it in Romans 3, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. The sinful nature did not change at all with the coming of Jesus as far as I know. I see no indication in the Bible to change that thinking. What changed is that we now have the gospel. We now have the opportunity to be baptized into Christ, to be saved and to have the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is good news.