The Church and the Kingdom
A New Testament Study
By Jesse B. Thomas, D. D., LL.D
PART VI. CONTEMPORARY SIGNIFICANCE
Finally, we may set down the following practical conclusions. The "kingdom of heaven" as an organized regime will come in due time; but its introduction is God's affair, not ours. He will "hasten it in his time." The New Jerusalem, when it appears, is not to be built after human device, nor built from below by human hands: it will "descend out of heaven from God."
Meantime, the "kingdom of heaven" now exists in the earth only as a "kingdom within." We can enter it only as it enters us, through individual regeneration. As it has pleased God to inaugurate his Kingdom through the individual man, so has it equally pleased him to develop and propagate it through the church, which is also individual. Into a Christian household every new-born soul should normally be born: to it his affection and allegiance are primarily due: in it he is to be molded and equipped for
service: and from it he is to go forth to help men heavenward. Here is the only earthly agency divinely appointed for the development of Christian character and the propagation of Christian faith. Here let men be content to be "fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God." No human devices can compel that Kingdom "immediately to appear." The "universal church invisible," if there were one, could offer us no specific place for service, since it must remain ideal only. Let every man "abide in the calling wherein he is called," doing "with his might what his hand finds to do," and he will be sure to do the best thing, because the thing which God has appointed. The best medium for the fulfillment of God's plans is that which God himself has chosen.
There is no record of a "gospel of the church," but only of a "gospel of the kingdom" - a kingdom to be "manifested" in due time. Meantime the "manifold wisdom of God" is "now" to be "made known through the church" (Ephesians 4:10). Let him who would hasten the coming of the end not pervert or despise the appointed means.
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