From its earliest
days and throughout its history, the church has faced a hostile
world intent on its destruction. Today, the church is confronted
with enemies on every side and the persecution of believers is
severe in many nations. In the West, the church is no longer a
respected or dominant factor in society; instead, it is scorned
and ridiculed. Evil is on the rise and a pagan worldview has captured
the minds of both young and old as the influence of the Christian
worldview recedes. Statism has gripped the nations of the world,
and men have rejected the true Messiah for a messianic state;
salvation is seen in terms of civil government power and legislation,
and not in terms of the power of Christ's atoning blood. The laws
of God have been set aside for the laws of men. The gospel is
preached in many lands and there are many "professions"
of faith, but the gospel that is preached is often devoid of a
call to repentance and submission to the lordship of Christ. In
the majority of churches, the discipleship model is one of pietism,
the theology is Arminian and man-centered, and the perspective
on the future is pessimistic. As the church approaches the 21st
century it is in retreat, plagued by false doctrine, division,
and worldliness. The places where the church is exerting a culture-wide
influence are few, if any. The enemies of God are gloating over
the fall of the church into irrelevancy and impotence.
this sorry state of affairs, there seems to be little room for
optimism for the followers of Jesus Christ. The dispensationalists
tell us that we are witnessing the inevitable "failure of
Christianity" and that the "church age" will end
in apostasy in the church and the triumph of evil in the world.1
states that in this "age of grace. . . things are going to
get worse and worse. There will be more oppression, more injustice,
more persecution, more immorality as the age wears on."2
In terms of the future prospects of the church before the end
of the age, dispensationalists say that things will actually get
worse than they are now. Dispensationalists teach that in history
and before the Second Coming, "kingdom power" is withheld
from the church, and therefore, the church is "at the mercy
of the powers of this world."3 Hence, the church
will not overcome its enemies; rather its enemies will persecute
and nearly crush the church4 (only a tattered remnant
will be rescued by Jesus at the rapture).
But the dispensationalists
(and any others who hold pessimistic views on the prospects of
the church in this age) are seriously mistaken. Yes, the church
is in a general state of weakness and decline in our day. However,
this condition will not last; according to the Scriptures in both
Old and New Testaments, the church of Jesus Christ will triumph
in history and before the Second Coming. A brief survey of
a few selected texts confirms the glorious future prospects of
the church before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end
of the age.5
Testament Predictions of Triumph
The significance of the Old Testament for understanding the earthly
triumph of the church is based on the New Testament teaching that
the church is the new Israel, or "the Israel of God"
(Gal. 6:16). The Apostle Paul affirms that believers
in Jesus Christ are the true seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16-17,
26-29), that elect Jews and Gentiles are one body in Christ
(Eph. 2:11-3:7), that the Old Testament covenantal distinctions
between them have been removed in the church (Eph. 2:11-3:7),
and that the New Testament church is the heir of the promises
given to Israel (Eph. 2:12, 19-22, 3:7). Hence,
the new covenant promises given to Israel are fulfilled in the
church (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 with Mt. 26:18; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb.
8:7-13; 10:12-18). Jesus Christ himself declared that the
kingdom of God would be taken from Israel and given to the church
(Mt. 8:10-12; 21:19, 43; Lk. 20:9-16). Furthermore, as
the new Israel of God, the church is designated by the same terminology
that was used of Israel in the Old Testament (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9;
Gal. 3:29). Hoekema states:
Is it not
abundantly clear ... that the New Testament church is now the
true Israel, in whom and through whom the promises made to Old
Testament Israel are being fulfilled?6
the Old Testament texts that predict the triumph of Israel, Zion,
or Judah must be applied to the church, i.e., they predict the
triumph of the New Testament church.
22:17. ". . . and thy seed shall possess the gate of
appears in the Lord's word of promise to Abraham in response to
his faith and obedience in being willing to follow the Lord's
command to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. In context, this prophecy
is a part of the comprehensive plan of God for the seed of Abraham:
Abraham's seed shall multiply and be as the stars of heaven in
number; Abraham's seed will possess the gate of his enemies; Abraham's
seed will be the means of blessing to all the nations of the earth
(Gen. 22:17-18). Thus, three distinct aspects of the
plan of God for Abraham's seed are stated: fantastic growth, triumph
over their enemies, and blessing to the nations through them.
Carefully note the prediction of triumph. It is as important and
distinct as the other two predictions.
word for "possess" (yarash) means to take,
to take possession of, to inherit, dispossess, or to occupy. The
word was commonly used in reference to Israel's possession of
the land of Canaan by conquering the inhabitants and occupying
their land (Dt. 31:3). The specific object to be possessed
in this prediction is the gate of their enemies. The word "gate"
is filled with significance in the Old Testament. The gate was
important for war, commerce, and civil government. In war, if
one could penetrate the gates of a city, his victory was virtually
assured; control of the gates determined the outcome of the conflict.
In commerce, those who controlled the gates determined who could
and who could not enter the city to do business. In civil government,
the gate was the place where the elders and rulers of the people
would sit to hold court and carry out the other aspects of civil
to "possess the gate" of your enemy is to conquer him
and take control of his city, commerce, and civil government.
Genesis 22:17 is thus a powerful prediction of the complete triumph
of Christ and his church (the seed of Abraham) over all its enemies.
In New Testament perspective, it promises the church complete
dominion over the heathen and possession of all the nations of
the earth, i.e., all nations will be conquered by the gospel of
Christ and be discipled in the Christian Faith. Believers in Jesus
Christ will dispossess the enemies of God and control the "gate"
in all nations.
110. This Messianic psalm is a declaration of the victorious
reign of Christ. This psalm of David predicts the complete triumph
of the exalted Christ and his people over the enemies of God.
The psalm contains 3 sections: the Messiah's exaltation and promised
victorious reign (v. 1); the Messiah's dominion, people, and priesthood
(vv. 2-4); the Messiah's victorious warfare (vv. 5-7). Each section
emphasizes Christ's power and his conquest of all who oppose his
reign from the Father's right hand.
is crucial for understanding the fact that the kingdom of Jesus
Christ will triumph in history before the return of Christ.
The text establishes that Christ will not leave his place at the
Father's right hand in heaven until after all his enemies have
become his footstool (v. 1). Christ was exalted to the Father's
right hand at the time of his ascension (Ac. 2:34-35; Heb.
1:13), and he will not return until the time of the resurrection
at the last day when the last enemy, death, will be destroyed
(1 Cor. 15:20-28). Therefore, the "day of thy [Christ's]
power" (v. 2) when Jesus Christ goes forth to rule and conquer
in the midst of his enemies (v. 3) is the inter-advent period.
The kingdom of Jesus Christ will triumph and all nations will
submit to his reign during this age. The return of Christ marks
the end of his mediatory reign (1 Cor. 15:24-25), and
the promises of dominion given to Christ in the prophetic Scriptures
are fulfilled before his Second Coming.
is specifically identified with Christ and his victory in verse
The text says,
"Thy people will be willing in the day of thy power, in the
beauty of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the
dew of youth." Here we learn that Christ will not be alone
in the conflict, but that he has an army of loyal followers. This
army of the Lord is described as being clothed in holy garments
and as possessing the strength of youth. During the day of his
power (this present age) Christ will be served by a host of willing
followers who go with him into battle. The victorious warfare
of the Messiah and his people is described in graphic terminology
in verses 5-7. In Revelation 19:11-21 the fulfillment of Psalm
110 is presented to John in a vision of Jesus Christ, going forth
to conquer his enemies. In that vision, as in Psalm 110:3, Christ
is followed by an army clothed in holy garments (Rev. 19:14,
19). This army is the church. The church goes forth under
Christ the King and shall one day share in his victory over all
the enemies of God.
2:2-4 . This prophecy of Isaiah also contains a glorious
prediction of the triumph of the church.7 The passage
begins, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that
the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top
of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all
nations shall flow unto it" (v. 2). The "mountain
of the Lord's house" is a reference to Zion. In the Old Testament,
Zion was often used in a figurative way to refer to God's throne,
kingdom, or people. Isaiah uses Zion in a non-literal sense to
refer to Yahweh's throne and kingdom (8:18; 33:5,20; 52:1-2;
24:23; 31:9). He also uses Zion to denote the people of Judah
(10:24) and of those who are partakers of the Lord's
salvation (12:6; 60:14) and are thus God's covenant people
(51:16). In addition, Hebrews 12:22 identifies "mount
Sion" as the church of Jesus Christ. Hence, we can conclude
that the prophecy of Isaiah concerns the kingdom of God in general,
and the church of Jesus Christ in particular. The statement that
the mountain of the Lord's house shall be exalted over the mountains
and hills indicates the establishment of the sovereign dominion
of God's kingdom over all the nations and the triumph of Christ
and his church over all false religions and idolatry.
the text says that "all nations shall flow" unto Zion
to be taught the law of God so that they will be able to walk
in God's "ways." This is a glorious picture of the nations
coming to the church to be taught the word of God! It foretells
the conversion of the nations to the Christian Faith. In that
day the church will be the center for the faithful propagation
of God's truth; for "out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (v. 3). Because
of the conversion of the nations to the worship and service of
Jesus Christ, wars shall cease from the earth (v. 4).
prophecy looks forward to the triumph of the church is confirmed
by the opening declaration that the exaltation of Zion and the
conversion of the nations takes place "in the last days."
This phrase is often used in the Old Testament as a technical
term to designate the days of the Messiah and his kingdom (Gen.
49:1; Num. 24:14; Dan. 2:28; Hos 3:5; Mic. 4:1-3). The New
Testament confirms this usage and explicitly identifies the age
between the First and Second Comings of Christ as the "last
days" (cf. Heb. 1:1-2; Acts 2:16-17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Jas.
5:3; 1 Jn. 2:17; 2 Pet. 3:3-4). In the New Testament, the
"last days" does not refer to the days directly preceding
or to a future millennial kingdom after Christ returns but to
the entire inter-advent period. Therefore, all the details of
Isaiah 2:2-4 must be fulfilled in and through the New Testament
church in this present age.
Testament Predictions of Triumph
The New Testament not only establishes that the church is the
Israel of God and the heir of the Old Testament promises concerning
the ascendancy of the covenant people of God over all their enemies.
The New Testament also directly predicts the triumph of the church.
Besides the texts that set forth in general terms the invincible
nature of the church,8 there is also explicit teaching
concerning the victory of Christ's kingdom and people.
28:18-20. The Great Commission is not normally understood
as a prediction of the success of the church in converting the
nations, but it should be. The plan of the Great Commission is
for the church to disciple all nations. It is Christ's will that
all peoples and lands be brought to believe in him and submit
to his authority through the Spirit-empowered ministry of the
church. The church is to preach the gospel and disciple the converts
so that the law of God becomes the law of men and nations. Will
Christ's will be fulfilled? Most certainly, for all authority
is given to him in heaven and earth so that he might conquer his
enemies and bring all nations under his rule (cf. Ps. 2:8;
110:1-3)! Since Christ has all authority in heaven and earth
and the church goes forth in his name and with his power, who
or what can stop the church from fulfilling its task? Christ specifically
promises the church his presence to the end of the age so that
the church can be assured that it can and will fulfill its divine
mission. The Great Commission gives the New Testament perspective
on how the Old Testament promises of the conversion of the nations
will be fulfilled: it will be fulfilled as the church goes forth
in the power of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel and disciple
the nations in the law-word of God!
Commission to the church is not the Great Disappointment to the
Lord Jesus Christ (which it must be if the church fails to disciple
the nations). Rather, the Great Commission is the declaration
of the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth as to what he intends
to accomplish through his church in this age. The Great Commission
is a great prediction of the triumph of the church through the
power of the risen Christ.
13:31-43. The parables of the kingdom taught by Jesus during
the days of his earthly ministry predict the triumph of the kingdom
of Christ in this age. The parables of the leaven and the mustard
seed both indicate that the kingdom of Christ will have a small
beginning, but that it shall grow to encompass all the earth and
all nations. Note that the growth is a continuous process, beginning
in the days of Christ and the apostles and continuing until that
point in history when all nations shall come under Christ's reign.
After Christ ascended to heaven, he sent his word and Spirit to
the church so that it could continue the work that he had begun
and be his agent for the fulfillment of the parables of the kingdom.
The church, through Christ's power, operates unceasingly through
history to leaven the world with the truth of God's word. The
ultimate outcome of the church's ministry is plainly revealed
here—all the nations will be converted and enter the kingdom
of God in Christ. This is the church's triumph!
of the wheat and tares (Mt. 13:24, 36-43) is also a prediction
of the worldwide success of the kingdom of Christ. Note, first,
that the field is the world and the field belongs to Christ. Second,
consider that the "good seed" (believers) is in every
part of the field, indicating converts to Christ in every land.
Third, understand that at the end of the age the world is not
a tare field with a few wheat stalks in it, but a wheat field
with some tares present! True, the parable teaches that not every
individual will be converted to Christ; but it also teaches that
every nation will be part of the wheat field, i.e., part
of Christ's kingdom.
11:11-36. This text outlines the great purpose of God concerning
ethnic Israel and the nations during the New Testament era. First,
Israel will remain "blinded in part . . . until the fulness
of the Gentiles be come in" (v. 25). Israel will
be hardened in unbelief (except for a remnant according to election
[Rom. 11:1-7]), until the fulness of Gentiles is accomplished.
The phrase "fulness of the Gentiles" speaks of the time
when the Gospel will have converted the nations to faith in Christ
(as predicted in the Old Testament and by Christ). Second, Israel
will be provoked to jealousy by the conversion of the nations,
and then there will be mass conversions among the Jews and "all
Israel will be saved" (vv. 26-27). The Jews will
be converted and incorporated into the church. Third, the result
of Israel's conversion will be "the reconciling of the world"
and "life from the dead" (v. 15). Both of these
phrases speak of the glorious future for the world as all the
nations of the world (including Israel) come to faith in Jesus
Christ. At that time in history, the world will truly experience
"life from the dead" and the great Old Testament prophecies
of world-wide blessing through Christ and his church (e.g.,
Isa. 2:2-4) will come to pass!
The testimony of the word of God is clear concerning the future
triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ and his church. It is hard sometimes
to believe that such a glorious future awaits the church. In our
day, the church is beset by problems on all sides and is in a
state of decline and retreat. Many teach that the best days of
the church are behind us that and all that we can expect is the
increase of evil and the triumph of wickedness as the age progress.
But don't believe one word of it. The Scripture declares that
the best days for the church lie in the future; in fact, a most
glorious future awaits the followers of Christ! Some have given
up, and look only for Christ to rescue them from the present mess
(and failure of the church) by the rapture. But don't be like
them. Faithfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ, because the victory
is ours through him who loved us. The church will triumph in his
name over all the enemies of truth and righteousness. Christ is
at work in his church at this very hour, laying the foundation
for a great resurgence of the Faith.9 We know this,
not by sight, but by faith in the word of God that proclaims the
triumph of the church in the world and in history.
For a discussion of the dispensational view of the "church
age" and its pessimism, see William O. Einwechter, "'The
Failure of Christianity': The Dispensational View of the Church
Age and Its Effect on Christian Political and Social Action,"
The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, vol. xiv, no. 1 (Fall
2 John F. Walvoord, "Why Must Christ Return?,"
in Prophecy in the Seventies, ed. Charles L. Feinberg (Chicago,
3 Robert L. Saucy, "The Presence of the Kingdom
and the Life of the Church," Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (January
- March 1988), 45.
5 For a more in-depth study of the Scriptural teaching
on the triumph of the church in this age see, Kenneth L. Gentry,
He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler,1992); idem., The Greatness of the
Great Commission (Tyler, 1990); Rousas John Rushdoony, God's Plan
for Victory (Vallecito,  1997); Andrew Sandlin, A Postmillennial
Primer (Vallecito, 1997).
6 Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand
Rapids, 1979), 198.
7 For a detailed discussion of Isa. 2:2-4, see William
O. Einwechter, "The Latter-Day Triumph of Christ and His
Kingdom," The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, forthcoming.
8 cf. Luke 11:20-22; Col. 2:15; 1 Cor. 15:20-28; Rev.
19:11-16; Mt. 16:18-19; ROM 8:37; 16:20; 2 Cor. 2:14; 10:3-5;
1 Jn. 5:4.
9 One indication of this is the Christian Reconstruction
Movement. Christian Reconstruction is breathing new life into
churches, individuals, and Christian organizations throughout
the world. Because Christian Reconstruction is committed to the
absolute authority of Christ and the word of God, to the application
of the Faith to every sphere of life, and provides the church
with a vision of victory, it is revitalizing the church in this
hour of need. No wonder the enemies of Christ hate Christian Reconstruction
with such a vehemence!
William O. Einwechter (Th.M.) is an ordained minister.
He currently serves as the Vice-Moderator of the Association
of Free Reformed Churches and Vice-President of the
National Reform Association. He is also the author of
the books Ethics and God's Law: An Introduction to Theonomy,and
English Bible Translations: By What Standard? and editor
of the newly released Explicitly Christian Politics
and The Christian Statesman. He can be contacted at
9385 Royer Rd., Mercersburg, PA 17236, or by e-mail
thanks goes out to Chalcedon
for permission to reprint this article on our site.