“Our Lord Himself connected both the obligation and the encouragement of Christian work with the thought of His condition now, when after His resurrection He said to the disciples:
‘All authority hath been given unto Me both in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)
Once before He had sent them forth, but it was in other terms, ‘Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ (Matthew 10:5-6)
The time had not yet come for the practical work of the Church to be presented to her in all its extent. Now it has come, and every limitation has disappeared. The Kingdom of God, no longer realised, though imperfectly, in one nation, is to be realised in its highest perfection among all nations.
The love of God is revealed in its fulness in a Redeemer who, exalted in spiritual glory, is equally near to men, whatever be the clime or the age in which they live.
The eye of the Church’s Head travels to every corner of the world—no spot so remote but He is there; no labourer so apparently unnoticed amidst the throng of universal life but He is beside him; no home so poor but He is ready, in the power of His Spirit, to illuminate its darkness and to heal its sorrows.
“Lo, I am with you always,’ is His language— ‘I, to whom all authority has been given both in heaven and on earth, who have alike the power and the right to rule, whose grace shall be sufficient for thee, and whose strength shall be perfected in weak- ness.’
In fulfilling His great commission we need have no fear that we may be out of harmony with God’s eternal plan, and none that our task may prove too much for us to accomplish.
The Living Lord is with us, who once knew every such disappointment as we experience, and every such cause of despondency as weakens us; who once sighed over the stubbornness of men more deeply than we can sigh, and shed more bitter tears for those who refused to listen to Him than we can weep.
Yet He triumphed; and He comes to us now that He may communicate to us His joy of victory, and that, in doing so, He may afford us an earnest of our own.
Thus it is, then, that everything most distinctive of the Church of Christ, alike in her inward and outward life, in her relation to her various members and to the world, flows out of the fact that she is the representative not only of the humbled and suffering but of the Exalted and Glorified Lord.
The great Head from whom she draws all that is most characteristic of her being and her duties is no longer upon earth; He is in heaven,—His humiliation over.
His cup of sorrow drained, His eternal and glorious reign begun. To that Head the Church is united in the bonds of closest fellowship.
She is one with Him who in all His Divine majesty, in all His heavenly power, with all the influences of His Spirit, is at the right hand of the Father, that she may dwell in Him, and may produce even here below the fruits of that tree of life which grows by the river of the water of life, which bears its fruits throughout the year, and the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations.
The Church of Christ is not an institution of this world’s policy, nor does she exist for this world’s ends.
It is presumption on the part of men clothed with mere worldly power to think that they can lend her strength or that they can save her when she is in danger.
She can lend strength to them and save them; they can do none of these things for her.
Her spirit, her strength, her life are from above.
She is the child of heaven upon earth, that she may witness to the heaven which she now partially introduces, and for the full manifestation of which she prepares and waits.”
–William Milligan, The Resurrection of our Lord (New York: Macmillan, 1917), 220-223.