I was reminded of this quote by a comment from Ken Davis on the post right below this one - "Why - we might even stop believing that the future of church is up to us!" Right on, Ken (by the way, I wish I could be with you folks this weekend at the conference).
This is a repost of a quote from Dr. Well's book, Above All Earthly Pow'rs that I did a while ago on this blog. When I went looking for this post, I expected that I would find it just a few months ago. It turns out it was way back in March of 2007. Time flies when I'm not blogging.
The arrival of this reign of God was not nationalistically but spiritually focused, which was what caused the consternation among many of Jesus' hearers. Nevertheless, the prophetic vision began to be realized, albeit in an entirely unexpected way, that God would scatter his enemies (Mic. 4:11-13; Is. 13:19; cf. Joel 3:1-17; Zech. 12:1-9), for Satan's forces were being thrown into disarray (Matt. 12:28-29) and they recognized with fear who Jesus was (Mk. 1:24; 5:7-8). The note of judgment which fell on the cities (Lk. 21:20-24; 23:27-31; Matt. 11:20-24) fell decisively on the powers of darkness and Satan's household was plundered (Mk. 3:27).
All of this happened under God's sovereign hand. We can search for the Kingdom of God, pray for it, and look for it, but only God can bring it about (Lk. 23:51; Matt. 6:10, 33; Lk. 12:31). The Kingdom is God's to give and to take away; it is only ours to enter and accept (Matt. 21:43; Lk. 12:32). We can inherit it, possess it, or refuse to enter it, but it is not ours to build and we can never destroy it (Matt. 25:34; Lk. 10:11). We can work for the Kingdom, but we can never act upon it; we can preach it, but it is God's to establish (Matt. 10:7; Lk. 10:9, 12:32). All of this is an expression of the eschatological framework present throughout the New Testament. It has profound ramifications for its doctrines of salvation and the way in which it speaks of hope. God's inbreaking, saving, vanquishing Rule is his from first to last. It has no human analogs, not duplicates, no surrogates, allows of no human synergism. The inbreaking of the "age to come" into the present is accomplished by God alone.
– David Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005, p. 214.