Tonight I finished reading The Gospel of the Kingdom. The last chapter is “When will the kingdom come?” I was interested in Ladd’s presentation because A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, advocated that by engaging in missions we would hasten the return of Christ. Not everyone agrees with that idea but it has long been a popular one among missiologists and missions promoters, although it would be even more so if everyone agreed on it. Ladd is quite a proponent of this idea as these two quotes demonstrate:
I do know this: When the Church has finished its task of evangelizing the world, Christ will come again. The Word of God says it [Mt 24:14]. Why did he not come in A.D. 500? Because the Church had not evangelized the world. Why did he not return in A.D. 1000? Because the Church had not finished its task of world-wide evangelization. Is He coming soon? He is — if we, God’s people, are obedient to the command of the Lord to take the Gospel into all the world (135).
If God’s people in the English speaking world alone took this task seriously and responded to its challenge, we could finish the task of world-wide evangelization in our own generation and witness the Lord’s return (136).
I’m not sure why this idea has fallen out of favour among the general Evangelical church. Perhaps “expectancy fatigue” has set in. This book was first published in 1959 and Simpson had already been preaching this message 80 years earlier so several generations have come and gone without seeing world evangelisation completed. We are closer than ever although the goal has moved. Ladd talks about the Bible being available in 1100 languages. That has more than doubled but we are now aiming at more than 5000 languages. Let us persevere in the race set before us and remain faithful until the end so that we might find ourselves labeled “good and faithful.” Maranatha!