The Three Eras of God with Us
by Greg Oliver
Since Christ’s birth to today there have been three periods in history, eras of God’s presence with us. Until Christ’s second coming, we are living in the era of God’s Holy Spirit living within us. It is critical that we are living beyond the resurrection period, fully functioning instead in accordance with the post-Pentecost divine plan of the Father.
First Era: God in the Flesh
He came into this world as an innocent and vulnerable baby. He grew up in a carpenter’s home with meager means. At the right time he started calling together His disciples, whom He would mentor for a short 3 years. His message was unlike that of anyone else of His time: repentance, freedom, and love. He demonstrated over and over how much God loves us, through miraculous signs and wonders, and a message of hope.
He was fully aware of what lay ahead as he entered Jerusalem. Yes, by a major parade of honor and palms, the people thought their “king” had arrived. He had arrived, but just not the kind of king they envisioned. After a meal, instruction, and some focused prayer in the garden, the core purpose of His life started to unfold. He was arrested, charged, mocked, beaten, and crucified—the result of an angry and threatened Jewish hierarchy.
It wrenches our hearts to sit at the base of the cross and observe the pain and brutality that He experienced. How could this man of great power and authority, who claims to be the Son of God, allow this to happen? Why didn’t He call down an army of angels or a mighty tornado and stop this torment, this insanity—this evil? Isn’t this all going wrong?
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34), and He died.
Second Era: God in the Flesh II
Arriving at the tomb early in the morning to treat the body with spices, the women discover He is missing and angels ask them, “’Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again’” (Luke 24:5b-7). Then He appears to the women, to the travelers to Emmaus, and to the frightened band of disciples. He breathes on the disciples and explains how all that was written about Him by Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled. “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:45-47).
Jesus appeared to them throughout a 40 day period, and continued teaching, preaching of the Kingdom, and preparing them for what was to come. “’But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:8-9)
Era: God’s Spirit in Us (printed also under Reflections for the Season of Pentecost)
In the upper room with the doors locked, with a mighty wind and tongues of fire, a new kind of Spirit descends upon the disciples! “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:4). The promise was now fulfilled. As Jesus had assured them, the Spirit of the Lord would be with them. They were not orphans after His departure, far from it. In John 14, Jesus describes our relationship with Him in this era. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (10-13).
Jesus says we are to say and do as the Father guides, just as He did! The Father desires a relationship with us, just as He has with Jesus! It is a relationship where we know the “heart” of God and continually go to Him for guidance, strength, forgiveness, and power. He perfectly designed this season in history such that we are equipped to do the business of His Kingdom by relying on the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. He yearns for us to trust Him with all our lives and to follow His lead moment by moment as we navigate this world, this life. We, the Body, are called to be His hands and feet today to press back the forces of evil in this world. Satan’s power and influence are overwhelming to mere humans. We are squashed and infected by evil without the strength of the Father.
As we approach Pentecost, may we recommit to handing over to the Holy Spirit the controls and authority of our highly scheduled and scripted lives. May we be a people that are so aligned with the Spirit that we function and think in obedience to Him, revealing the Truth and the Light in a dark and corrupt world. We are not to be victims, fearful, or oppressed, but rather empowered disciples walking under the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. From Pentecost to Jesus’ second coming, our current era, we are to live a Spirit-filled life radiating the love, grace, and power of the Father, as Jesus did.
So, how are we doing? I know I am not influencing the world as a powerful Spirit-filled Christian—far from it. I have periods of feeling His presence; yet, most of the time I operate under my own strength and knowledge. That is insufficient for accomplishing the purpose He has defined for me, for us. How can we, the Bride of Christ, prepare the world for His second coming, if we are not tapping into the highest power to rescue the lost, touch the afflicted with God’s healing grace, or cast the enemy out of the souls of our brothers and sisters? God is counting on us. He is relying on us to do His work today across the world, and to demonstrate His love to all.