14 Jul 2006

David Lipscomb, James A. Harding: The Mission of Christ & the Renewed Earth

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christian hope, David Lipscomb, eschatology, James A. Harding, Jesus, Kingdom, Mission, Restoration History

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 . . .

Bobby Valentine

15 Responses to “David Lipscomb, James A. Harding: The Mission of Christ & the Renewed Earth”

  1. Ben Overby Says:

    Lipscomb was a man before his time. There weren’t too many post-enlightenment fellows who described the mission of the church in such non-platonic language.

    And as to your blog yesterday, I agree with absolutely every word of it. The more we unleash the the whole kingdom story from creation to new creation, the more we are going to notice God’s glorious gospel connect with those we teach. Changing the last chapter of the story into something that completely lacks contintuity with the rest of the human narrative (e.g., non-physical, eternal devo distortion) sucks the power out of gospel and robs people of meaning for action in the present (mission).

    Keep preaching it, Bobby! To God be the glory in and through Jesus Christ. Love you, bro.

  2. "Snapshot" Says:

    Wow. In today’s church culture, we are often accepted to accept, accept instead of rescue, rescue.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. "Snapshot" Says:

    Ok, what I meant was:
    We are often expected to accept, accept instead of rescue, rescue.
    (Dumb ole’ keyboard…..)

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Your last two posts were beautiful Bobby. I’ve often thought of this world in terms of the womb.Already in heaven but seperated by this tent we call flesh. The cord being Christ that feeds and nourishes us through the Holy Spirit while our Father coaches and brings forth the birthing of this new creation.

    It makes me think, when does eternity (life)begin and where is it? Here and now, which creates a joy to share the wonder and awesomeness of the best news story in the all the universe, “He is risen, He is risen indeed, and so are we!”

    I can never thank God enough for the many gift’s He has placed in your heart. You are definetly my Yoda when it comes to worship and the reverence I’ve gained for Yahweh through your teaching! May the force be with you!


  5. Bill Says:

    My favorite thing about these two gentlemen: they both had beards!

    Sorry, if this is just too far off topic, but I’ve always wondered if this is just something they did or if they had some rationale for their choice to wear facial hair.

    Got any insights on this, Bobby?

  6. cwinwc Says:

    I’m with Bill on the beards but I almost want to add a “Will Smith” type quote on myself with respect to growing a beard, “The difference is I make this look good.”

    BTW – I find it ironic in light to Lipscomb and Harding’s comments that some advocate a return to the “old paths” not realizing that their “paths” may be less than a century old.

  7. CFOURMAY Says:

    That first quote from Lipscomb reminds me of 1 Corinthians 15. I agree with Libscomb’s mission for the church. However, the part about “Christ must reign until he shall have “put down all rule, and all authority and all power.” I thought Christ had already accomplished all of that and know we are here to do the work of the church until the second coming.

  8. Heather Says:

    Great post Bobby! I had never read anything by these men before. Wow! Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Alan Says:

    Reading about these guys and what they thought is giving voice to the way I have been thinking for the last 20 some years. I read McLaren and others like him and reflect back on Lipscomb and Harding I find that I was not alone.

  10. preacherman Says:

    I tell you Bobby, I ordered your book from ACU and can’t wait to read it. Sound’s awesome. It sounds like we can learn so much from these two men.
    Thank you Bobby and can’t wait to read it.
    Did you put any discussion questions in the book for classes? Just wondering.

  11. Candle (C & L) Says:

    Bobby – I can’t wait to “mull theseover” and continue the journey ofrestoringmy relationship with God through the gloriousgift of Hisson. I believe that that God isactive and working in the world to-day; I don’t understand how much and in what ways (and I don’t think God expects or intends a finite mind to comprehend his infinite means)

    I’m still “bound” by my past and my rational analytical character that God gave me and that is likelylimiting my ability to”step out infaith” and experience more og God’s wonderous working in my life. One of my favorite passages recently has been the prayer “Lord I believe-help me in my unbelief”

    I’m still”consuming” the “book” and struggling to digest what I have read. Yhank you forthis insightfulreview of our “heritage” — I hope that it can help us with the real restoration — which is not(in my view) “the New Testament church” (the church at any time “is what it” – a collection of imperfect people who have received adoption by God the father through the gracious gift of his only Son”

    The restoration that we need to seek is the restoration of the “eden” relationship with God and that we can have “in Christ”.
    (Sorry- I think I’vedrifted into preaching when ‘m really trying tounderstand what “we” need to be about as we focus on the “Father’s business” in this world.

    God Bless

  12. Scott Freeman Says:

    Bobby, I just finished your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for bringing some of the issues that I have struggled with in recent years into a historical perspective.
    Keep up the great work.

  13. Drew Gaylor Says:

    It’s always good to turn our ear to history and hear what some leading voices from our heritage have to say. Eschatology is certainly an area we could stand some more thoughtful reflection on these days. In a Christian world where “Left Behind theology” is tolerated, we need some better alternatives. Lipscomb and Harding may or may not be where we need to be, but listening to their voices is a good place to begin.

  14. Falantedios Says:

    Thank you for being so vocal, clear, gracious, and uncompromising in presenting these thoroughly Biblical messages about God’s plans for us. They really enrich my life.

    For several years, I thought the same thing you mentioned in your comment (“I thought Christ had already accomplished all of that and know we are here to do the work of the church until the second coming”). And yet we wrestle and struggle and battle daily against the forces of evil. Surely there were fewer unsaved people on earth at the end of the 1st century than there are today. So why continue to let more and more lost souls live and die, unless something meaningful really is going on? Then I remembered something from my Military History classes at West Point. During the Civil War and World War II (and probably every war ever fought), the victors had to continue fighting for several days, weeks, or months after the official defeat of the conquered ruler. Several of Robert Lee’s generals passionately resisted his decision to surrender at Appomattox. They wanted him to hold out and fight a guerilla war for as long as humanly possible. They would NEVER surrender. Thus, we have the ugly American history of the Regulators and such in the border states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Texas, etc.

    The decisive victory occured on the cross at Calvary. Yet, in his inscrutable wisdom, God has not yet crushed Satan’s head entirely, but allows him to continue to fight a guerilla war against the Israel of God.

    The ‘putting down…’ has begun, but it seems to be God’s will that his people participate in its fulfillment.

    I hope that makes some kind of sense.

    in HIS love,

  15. donneyland Says:



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