Is Christ's Church Predestined To Failure?
The vast majority of those who call themselves evangelical Christians believe that the Church of Jesus Christ has been predestinated by God to fail in history. "It cannot possibly succeed!" Millions of Christians believe that the Church will be "raptured" soon, removing Christians from the turmoils and responsibilities of this life.
Rev. Kenneth L. Gentry Th.D., argues otherwise in He Shall Have Dominion. He shows that Christians have many great things to accomplish for Christ before Christ returns bodily to earth.
Two centuries ago, Protestant Christians believed that they would die before Jesus came back to earth. This affected the way they thought, prayed, worked, and saved. They built for the future. They were future-oriented. They were upper-class. Today, many Protestants believe that Jesus is coming back soon, so they will not have to die. This belief affects the way they think, pray, work, and save. They are present-oriented. They are lower-class. He Shall Have Dominion refuted this outlook, verse by verse.
Most Protestants today believe that Jesus cannot rule successfully through His people in every area of life until He returns to earth bodily and sits on a political throne in Jerusalem. (Mormons believe this too, only they think the throne will be in Independence, Missouri.) Other evangelical Christians believe that Jesus cannot rule through His Church until after the final judgment, after Satan is cast into the lake of fire, and that He will never sit on a throne in Jerusalem.
One tiny group believes that Jesus, just like Satan, does not need to be physically present in order for His people to exercise dominion in every area of life. The kingdom of God in history, just the kingdom of Satan in history, operates as God always intended: without the bodily presence of its Master. Jesus, like Satan, rules in history representatively. He Shall Have Dominion shows why.
Most Christians believe that the healing effects of Christ's gospel of salvation are limited to the individual soul, the Christian family, and the institutional Church. They believe that the gospel can heal personal governments, family governments, and Church governments, but it cannot heal civil governments. They believe that the power of sin in history is greater than the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, at least outside of the Church and the family.
One tiny group believes that Christ's salvation is as comprehensive as Adam's rebellion, and more powerful in history as time goes on. He Shall Have Dominion makes this case.
He Shall Have Dominion is a positive book: positive about the future of the Church. He Shall Have Dominion teaches that Christians will exercise dominion in history. It therefore teaches responsibility. This is why its message is hated. Today's Christians have been taught that they must flee responsibility, for Jesus' sake. They would rather believe that God has predestined His Church to failure than believe that they are personally responsible for transforming society. This is why the Church is so weak in our day.
In This World, But Not of This World
If you were to ask the average Christian, "Are you of this world?", he would probably answer: "I am in this world, but I am not of this world." What is he talking about?
He means that his citizenship is in heaven, where Jesus Christ sits on His throne. He means that the origin of his true legal condition is outside of this world. He is saved by grace, and grace is not of this world. But grace is surely in this world. The only place where sinners can receive God's saving grace is in this world. The Christian understands that there is a huge difference between being in this world physically and being of this world spiritually.
Want to confuse the average Christian? Ask him a second question: "Does this mean that Christ's kingdom, like you, is not of this world but equally in this world?" The moment you take this obvious theological step from the two-fold condition of the individual Christian - in this world but not of this world - to the two-fold condition of Christ's kingdom, you confuse him. Why Because fear produces confusion.
Why does this idea scare him? Because Christ's kingdom is as extensive as Satan's kingdom is. It is designed by God to extend just as far as sin extends. It is a civilization. But if Christ's kingdom is in this world, and the Christian is also in this world, then his is part of Christ's earthly kingdom. He is therefore responsible for extending Christ's kingdom in history. This scares him. More than this: it angers him. He will not hear of such a thing.
To say that Christ's kingdom is not of this world but is surely in this world means that he has responsibility beyond the local church and his family. He has been taught all his life that Christians have no responsibility other than to preach a world-rejecting, world-fleeing gospel. He has been taught that social responsibility is ungodly - an form of liberalism.
Outraged, he will quote Jesus' words to Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world." This means, he insists, that Jesus' kingdom is exclusively spiritual. It is not in this world. End of argument.
But this is not the end of the argument. It is only the first half of the argument. Jesus' kingdom, like the Christian's salvation, is not of this world. It comes from God, who is a spirit. It comes from heaven. But Jesus' kingdom is no less in this world than the Christian is in this world. And because both the Christian and Christ's kingdom are in this world, the Christian has a responsibility before God to extend God's kingdom in history.
All of this is explained by Kenneth L. Gentry in He Shall Have Dominion. He presents the Bible's theology of maximum personal responsibility, which is matched by maximum kingdom optimism. He shows that both authority and power flow to those who exercise responsibility, and Christians are told by God to become fully responsible in history. Christ shall have dominion in history representatively: through His people.
Gentry shows, verse by verse, that the Bible teaches that Christ's kingdom will triumph in history. This means that Christians are on the winning side - not just at the end of history, but in history. If they were of this world, they would lose. If Christ's kingdom were of this world, it would lose. But neither they nor Christ's kingdom are of this world. When Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," He was announcing His kingdom's victory in history, for He is king over history. He shall dominion progressively in history, for He rose from the grave in history and ascended into heaven over history.