David Lipscomb, James A. Harding: The Mission of Christ & The Renewed Earth
Many today do not realize how "out of synch" our eschatological views are with previous generations. In what follows I will share a few quotations from the pens of David Lipscomb and James A. Harding. I think the quotes speak for themselves so I will simply the sources of the quotes and leave them be.
What is the "Mission of Christ?" What is the Object of his Work?
"The mission of this Church is to rescue and redeem the earth from the rule and dominion of the human kingdoms, from the rebellion against God, and to reinstate the authority and rule of God on earth through this own kingdom. Through and in it Christ must reign until he shall have "put down all rule, and all authority and all power." Then will he deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, and himself be subject to God, that God ruling in and through his restored kingdom on earth, may be all and in all, the only ruler of the heavens and of the earth." (David Lipscomb, Civil Government, pp. 12-13).
The Holy Spirit came to earth to . . . guide that kingdom to its future growth, to its final and perfect development, when the kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdom of God and his Christ, when the will of God shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, and when earth itself shall become heaven and God shall dwell with his people and be their God and they shall be his people. (David Lipscomb, "The Kingdom of God," Gospel Advocate 45 [21 May 1903], 328).
The object of God's dealing with man, and especially the mission of Christ to earth, was to rescue the world from the rule and dominion of the evil one, from the ruin into which it had fallen through sin, and to rehabilitate it with the dignity and the glory it had when it came from the hand of God; to restore man - spiritually, mentally and physically - to the likeness of his maker. (David Lipscomb, Salvation from Sin, p. 114).
James A. Harding Chimes in . . .
...the earth is God's nursery, his training grounds, made primarily for the occupancy of his children, for their education, development and training until they shall have reached their majority, until the end of the Messianic age has come; then it is to be purified a second time by a great washing, a mighty flood, but this time in a sea of fire. Then God will take up his abode himself with his great family upon this new, this renovated and purified earth . . . So it is apparent that the one great, all-including purpose for which we were made, for which we exist, is to be educated, trained, developed, so as to be indeed sons of God; brothers of Christ, heirs of God, who will dwell with their Father forever, and will reign with him. ("For What are We Here?" The Way 5 [3 December 1903], 1041).
Quotations like these could be multiplied many times. Clearly Lipscomb and Harding held a vision of the doctrine of salvation that was more robust than what is peddled among some today. This view was shared by Alexander Campbell, Moses Lard, J. N. Armstrong and a host of other Stoned-Campbells as well as being one of the most prominent views in the history of the church. But it fell on hard times with the rise of the Enlightenment and modernism. At the very least these men (and women) give us reason to pause . . .