Since there are two ways to approach this question my first thought was to ask for clarification. But, after some more thought I decided that it is probably more beneficial to address both possible issues. Of course, I’ll save the one I believe most relevant to the questioner for last!
The question of just what the ‘church age’ is theologically is important to define because it has an impact on the question of how we should approach the position of the church in God’s plan as well as how we should deal with questions about how well the church (and individuals in it) is carrying out that plan. Equally important is to understand what the term ‘church’ means. When used in the Bible, the term translated ‘church’ (the Greek word literally means ‘assembly of people’) can refer either to a local assembly of believers, or to all followers of the Christ regardless of geographic location, usually referred to in modern times as the ‘universal church’.
There are three major views about what the ‘church age’ is, but all agree on one thing: the church age is that period of time in which God has chosen to deal with the peoples of the world primarily through Gentile (non-Jewish) followers of Christ who gather in local assemblies. Keeping in mind that what I present here is very generalized, I’ll very briefly summarize them below:
There is a doctrine that the church age is the Kingdom of God on earth, and it is the Church that will realize the final victory of God and His people over evil. This view requires that most of the content of the Bible be interpreted as allegorical, and many adherents deny the imminent physical return of the Christ. In this view, the church age is present and unending. I believe that this view is unbiblical and leads to ‘buffet style’ theology – ignoring or reinterpreting Scripture to conform with a doctrine rather than conforming a doctrine to Scripture.
Another view is that since the Jews rejected the Messiah, God has replaced Israel with the church, and all the promises He made to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob now apply to the church. Consequently, the church age will last forever. The thing that adherents of this view have not been able to explain are the passages in Scripture that clearly state that God has NOT abandoned the Jews, and is NOT finished with Israel. Here are just a few: Romans 11:1-5, Romans 11:25-27, Jeremiah 31:35-37
The third view is that the church age is that period of time in which God has essentially put Israel ‘on hold’ while He deals primarily with the Gentiles as far as being his representatives on earth is concerned until, as Paul said, ‘the full number of the Gentiles has come in”(Romans 11:25). Most adherents of this view believe that the church age will last until the taking up of the church, at which time the Great Tribulation will begin, a large number of Jews will become followers of the Christ, and God again will use Israel as the primary representative of Him on earth. Jesus refers to this age as ‘the time of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24). I believe that this view is the most sound.
So, after research, study and prayer on the matter, I’ve concluded that we are presently living in the church age which will end when the last Gentile who will come to follow the Christ does, and then He will gather His church to Himself and the time of Jacob’s Trouble (the Great Tribulation) will begin. At this time, God will deal primarily through Israel once again.
It is clear, therefore, that God’s plan is to have His good news proclaimed and demonstrated to the world through His church. The remaining question is, “is it time for His followers to abandon local churches because the great majority tolerate impurity, hypocrisy, and other blatant sins?”
To answer that question, I have to ask myself, “what has God revealed about the issue?” My opinion would be just that – just another opinion of a mere man, subject to the same sins and errors as everyone else. Therefore, the only meaningful answer must come from Scripture.
The answer can be found in Paul’s letters. Most of his letters were written to correct churches that had severe problems. The Corinthian letters were addressed to a church that was so far down the path of impurity and other sins that Paul reprimanded them with the observation that they were engaging in “immorality of such a kind that does not exist even among the Gentiles” (I Corinthians 5:1). However, even in this very extreme example, he did not advise abandonment of the church, but gave instructions for how the church should conduct itself. In none of his letters (nor did any of the other writers) does he advocate the end of the church. In fact, in the letter to the Hebrews, he instructs them NOT to neglect practice of assembling together (Hebrews 10:25).
I can only conclude that Biblically, the the church age is not over, and, as instructed, if the local congregation you are involved in is so “Corinthianized” that you question the validity of participating in the assembly you are to model purity and repentance and encourage that body to do the same.
We do have another option that the earliest churches did not have: we can find another local church that is more Christ-centered. In any case, we need to be praying that the churches that are located in North America will repent and once again become the place where God’s people congregate to encourage each other to Godly love and good works.