I was thinking this morning of Cokesbury. That name has such a rich history in American Methodism. Towns, churches, schools are named Cokesbury. When Wesley felt to spread Methodism to America he sent two “sons in the gospel” – Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury. These two men were so united by a common mission “to reform the continent, and to spread scriptural holiness over these lands” that people began to put the last names of these two bishops together, “Coke and Asbury,” hence the name, “Cokesbury.” They actually believed they could reform the continent. Their witness is still here 200+ years later.
I pray that each of us find Kingdom family that we could be so united with that our individual names become irrelevant and that we become identified together under fathers. I pray that each of us become so Gospel-Confident that we too believe we can reform nations.
Here’s the question: Where did these men get this overwhelming sense of optimistic confidence that they could reform a continent? There were only two of them. The answer is simple. It was the hope of a Christian World. Here are the words of Wesley himself in his sermon “Scriptural Christianity,”
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“But shall we not see greater things than these? Yea, greater than have been yet from the beginning of the world? Can Satan cause the truth of God to fail? Or his promises to be of none effect? If not, the time will come when Christianity will prevail over all, and cover the earth. Let us stand a little, and survey this strange sight, a Christian world.”
John Wesley then quoted Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 11:6-12, and Romans 11:25-26 to describe what that Christian world is to look like before the Lord returns:
“Against hope believe in hope. It is your Father’s good pleasure yet to renew the face of the earth. Surely all these things shall come to an end, and the inhabitants of the earth shall learn righteousness. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they know war any more.” “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains;” and all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our God. “They shall not” then “hurt or destroy in all his holy mountain.”
Do you live with a confident expectation that the Gospel of the Kingdom is going to triumph in the nations of the earth and that this planet is going to be ruled by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords or do you believe that the Gospel of the Kingdom is limited in its ability to do so, that Jesus will only be partially successful in making the Kingdoms of this world His, and that things must get darker on the planet? Can you say with John Wesley, “The time is at hand when righteousness shall be as universal as unrighteousness is now”? Wesley even believed, “We have therefore reason to hope that this revival of religion will continue, and continually increase, till the time when all Israel shall be saved and the fullness of the Gentiles shall come.”
I tell you, a pessimistic theology does not exist inside the heart of a Kingdom man or Gospel of the Kingdom. Only hope. Only triumph. Only victory. Only a King named Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father, while the Father makes all of His enemies a footstool for His feet. This will make you an optimist. No, better said, “The triumph of the Gospel is enough to make any man the wildest kind of enthusiastic optimist” (John G. Lake).
If you do not believe the Gospel of Kingdom can now triumph in the nations of the earth I believe you’re making theological excuses for why it cannot. I believe the triumph of the Gospel of Kingdom in men’s hearts can stop a potential World War 3, can end poverty, racism, sex trafficking, etc. If you believe the Kingdom of God is “Already. Not Yet,” as Ladd has suggested, then please, for the sake of Christ’s reign in the earth choose to focus on the “Already” part of that statement.
I leave you with Spurgeon on this:
“It would be easy to show that at our present rate of progress the kingdoms of this world never could become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Indeed, many in the Church are giving up the idea of it except on the occasion of the advent of Christ, which, as it chimes in with our own idleness, is likely to be a popular doctrine. I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols be utterly abolished. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
He Shall Have Dominion,