Continuing our series on The Treasure in the Field, The Victory of the Kingdom
As the 20th century rolled on, the optimism with which it began was replaced by pessimism. Man had initially seemed to be the rising star in the optimistic enthusiasm of humanism in the relentless upward progress of evolution. The dream was shattered by World War I, and reality set in as what proved to be the most violent century in history unfolded. Will Rogers summed up the cynicism: “You can’t say civilization isn’t advancing; in every war they kill you in a new way!”
But pessimism has taken root in the church too. J.N Darby was a leading proponent of a novel view of eschatology. In a lecture he gave in 1840, he said: “What we are about to consider will tend to show that, instead of permitting ourselves to hope for a continued progress of good, we must expect a progress of evil; and that the hope of the earth being filled with the knowledge of the Lord before the exercise of His judgement, and the consummation of this judgement on the earth is delusive.” In the same message he acknowledged that this was a new idea that cut across the prevalent expectation of the triumph of the gospel.
During the next hundred years, Darby’s new theory (Dispensational Pre-Millennialism) became the dominant view of the church. With it, the hope of any lasting or significant change in the world as a result of the triumph of the gospel has largely been abandoned. All we can do is wait for Jesus to come back.
However, this ignores the high calling that God has given to the church in this age. The church is not a bunch of reservists desperately trying to hold out until the angels come to do the real job. We can do more than pray for stalemate until the Second Coming. We are the real army. We have the keys.