One of the most common ideas about the Kingdom of God in this present century has been that the Kingdom comes by reforming the world and by changing it. Now I am old enough to remember the first thirteen years of the present century, and I remember the great age of the so-called ‘Social Gospel’. That was what people believed. They said, ‘It used to be thought that you brought in the Kingdom of God by preaching; but that was wrong, the liberal party will bring it in by passing acts of Parliament.’ and it was believed that the liberal government of 1906 onwards was really legislating the bringing in of the Kingdom of God.
This is it, they thought; you relieve the poor, you build hospitals, you build better houses, you bring in your welfare state, you bring in your affluent society; and the world is so much better, that you have brought in the Kingdom of God! And there are still many who believe that.
Others put it like this. They think that the business of bringing in the Kingdom of God is to make protests. Organize your movements and campaigns, and protest against injustices, against bombs and war; and in so doing, and by agitating on social political matters, you are bringing in the Kingdom of God! That is their idea of it; Jesus the political social teacher!
Now this has been the tragedy of the centuries. People complain of empty chapels and churches today, but why are they empty?…the whole thing had been materialized and so men and women began to say, ‘We do not need our churches or our Bibles anymore; the thing has been done! It is happening before our eyes. The Kingdom of God has come in a visible manner, we have brought it in by legislation; so what more is there?’ and that is why, I believe, the masses are uninterested at the present time.
– Martin Lloyd-Jones