Salvation Through the Ages
Christianity has naturally focused on the matter of salvation as it pertains to the 'church', the followers of Jesus. But how salvation is defined and obtained for this age is not necessarily how it has always been or will always be. Some hold that this cannot be so, as it would divide the kingdom of God. But in my opinion this greatly oversimplifies the character of that one unified kingdom, erroneously presuming that a kingdom cannot have provinces or differentiation of any kind. Difference is not necessarily division, or we would have to conclude that the Persons of the Trinity constitute a divided God.
Yet if there are differences in the meaning and method of salvation at various stages, eras, epochs, or ages in history, a failure to recognize this fact will put us in danger of misinterpreting many passages of scripture. This hardly means that there are many Gods or that God changes character. Instead, it simply means that the plan of God to redeem mankind from sin and death has more than one stage, and that the characteristics or parameters of each stage change in order to achieve the overarching goal. Conversely, if no such stages ever existed, there was no need or "fullness of time" for the Savior to appear. Yet since this timing is clear and indisputable in scripture,(Gal. 4:4-5) we must at least examine how timing affects the "house rules"1 for each age.
Overview of the Ages
Among those who recognize steps or ages in the plan of salvation through the ages, it is generally agreed that there are a total of seven. This chart describes the ages in terms of both their primary characteristics and their end results:
|Character of age (Scofield)||Consequence of age (Fether)|
Each age will now be examined in more detail. Keep in mind as you read that the focus is on salvation.