Over the past few years a teaching has emerged that I feel has both merit and danger. It is a teaching that basically states that the present 'Church Age' is transitioning to 'The Kingdom Age.' Depending on the theological agenda informing the particular stream championing this, the 'transition' is framed either as
The Church giving way to the Kingdom (as John the Baptist 'gave way' to Jesus); The Church as responsible to usher in the Kingdom; or The Church as increasingly irrelevant or even an apostate opponent to The Kingdom's end-time expression.
Representative of a more benign approach to the idea of a fading 'Church Age' is the following prophecy given recently:
"Yes, it is I, and I say to you the mission of the Church is expanding; it is at the point of increase for the end of the Church Age is coming. My Church has been effective in being salt and light and advancing the Gospel, which will continue, but a remnant will emerge who will transition the Church Age into the Kingdom Age. A radical change is coming and will take place as we approach the Kingdom, and the remnant of the Church will come forth in power, and their work will bring about My Kingdom. I say to you, much of the Church is falling away, caught in compromise, disunity, a lack of understanding of My Word and the power of the Holy Spirit within them."
This word, though fairly positive about The Church, couples a true observation - that there is much compromise in The Church, which The Lord will address - with a questionable assumption that The Church and The Kingdom are not vitally related. While it is true that they are distinct, they yet have a viable inter-relationship: The Church is the witness to The Kingdom, the expression of Christ's rule in society.
To radically separate them is to invite a spirit of elitism in The Church, a 'remnant-consciousness' that can too easily treat other believers and non-believers as 'enemies.' I would be very quick to register a deep shock at the level of compromise in much of the Church (moral laxity in The West, in some ways an abuse of power in Africa, theological imprecision in Latin America), and in so doing I agree with the prophecy above. I also find myself echoing the truth that there will be a falling away and will be a remnant who are sold out to God. But I'm not sure that it is up to me to try to figure out 'who's the remnant and who's not.' Seems to me that opens us up to an unseemly pride.
I also get concerned when a radical separation between Church and Kingdom is set forth, because it can convey the idea that The Church is irrelevant. This, to me, seems to contradict the New Testament witness.
The wise place to land, in my view, is (1) To acknowledge that The Church and The Kingdom are distinct, and that The Church is to serve the agenda of the King - Jesus - by submitting and aligning Herself to the Kingdom; (2) To value The Church as the agent of The Kingdom; (3) To acknowledge that we desperately need a spiritual awakening that addresses compromise in the Church, but leave the judgments in the hands of the Lord; (4) To maintain an attitude of humility personally, endeavoring to walk in the full light of the Gospel, grace of The Lord, and power of The Spirit in these present days.