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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris November 13 and George Eldon Ladd's The Gospel of the Kingdom

After what just happened in Paris, today is a good day to reflect on the words of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13, Matt 24 and Luke 21).   George Eldon Ladd wrote:

The Kingdom is assaulting the kingdom of Satan. This conflict will last to the end of The Age. Final victory will be achieved only by the return of Christ. There is no room for an unqualified optimism. Our Lord’s Olivet Discourse indicates that until the very end, evil will characterize This Age. False prophets and false messiahs will arise and lead many astray. Iniquity, evil, are so to abound that the love of many will grow cold. God’s people will be called upon to endure hardness. “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16: 33). “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14: 22). We must always be ready to endure the tribulation as well as the kingdom and patience which are in Jesus (Rev. 1: 9). In fact, our Lord himself said, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24: 13). He who endures tribulation and persecution to the uttermost, even to the laying down of his life, will not perish but will find salvation. “Some of you they will put to death.... But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21: 16, 18). The Church must always in its essential character be a martyr church. As we carry the Gospel into all the world, we are not to expect unqualified success. We are to be prepared for opposition, resistance, even persecution and martyrdom. This Age remains evil, hostile to the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The visible Church, we are told, is to be completely leavened by evil doctrine. Apostasy is so to pervade the Church that only a small remnant will be found faithful to God’s Word. The closing days of This Age will be the Laodicean period when the entire professing Church will be nauseatingly indifferent to eternal issues. In such a portrayal of the last days, God’s people can expect only defeat and frustration. Evil is to reign. The Church age will end with an unparalleled victory of evil. Sometimes so much stress is laid upon the evil character of the last days that we receive the impression (unintended, to be sure) that the faster the world deteriorates the better, for the sooner the Lord will come. It cannot be denied that the Scriptures emphasize the evil character of the last days. In fact, we have already made this emphasis. The evil which characterizes This Age will find a fearful intensification at the very end in its opposition to and hatred of the Kingdom of God.
George Eldon Ladd - Credit babelio.com

This does not mean, however, that we are to lapse into pessimism and abandon This Age and the world to evil and Satan. The fact is, the Gospel of the Kingdom is to be proclaimed throughout the world. The Kingdom of God has invaded This present evil Age. The powers of The Age to Come have attacked This Age. The last days will indeed be evil days; but “in these last days (God) has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb. 1: 2). God has given us a Gospel of salvation for the last days, a Gospel embodied in One who is Son of God. Furthermore, “in the last days it shall be,” God declares, “that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2: 17). God has spoken for the last days; God has poured out His Spirit in the last day to give power to proclaim the divine Word. The last days will be evil, but not unrelieved evil. God has given us a Gospel for the last days, and He has given a power to take that Gospel into all the world for a testimony unto all the nations: then shall the end come.

Ladd, George Eldon. The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959) (from chapter 9, titled,  “When Will the Kingdom Come?”).