From the Shepherd’s Scrapbook, Herman Bavinck on building the kingdom:
“The history of the world which intervenes between Jesus’ ascension and return is a continuous coming of Christ, a progressive gathering of His church on earth, a continuing subjection of His enemies. Often we do not see it, we do not understand it, but Christ is in very fact the Lord of times, the king of the ages; He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Rev. 22:13). Because the Father has loved the Son, He created the world in Him, He elected the church, and all those who are given Him, to behold His glory with Him (John 17:24).
The completion of the kingdom of God is therefore not the result of a gradual development of nature, nor a product of human effort. For, even though the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, like a leaven, and like a grain of corn, it nevertheless grows without the knowledge and contribution of men (Mark 4:27). Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but it is God alone who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). Scripture knows nothing of a self-sufficient nature and an autonomous man; always it is God who keeps the world in force and who makes history. And especially as the end approaches, He will in an extraordinary way intervene in history and by the appearance of Christ cause it to stand still and to have time pass over into eternity. That will be an awful event when Christ, sent by the Father (Acts 3:20 and 1 Tim. 6:15) will appear on the clouds of heaven. Just as on His leaving the earth He was taken up into heaven, so upon His return will He come back from heaven to earth (Phil. 3:20). At His ascension a cloud removed Him from the sight of His disciples; and on the clouds of heaven, spreading themselves out as a great chariot of victory underneath Him He will return to the earth (Matt. 24:30 and Rev. 1:7). It was in the form of a servant that He appeared on the earth the first time, but the second time He will come with great power and glory (Matt. 24:30), as a King of kings and as a Lord of lords…”
–Our Reasonable Faith: A Survey of Christian Doctrine (Baker, 1956), 559.