Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Your Kingdom Come

Matthew 6:7-13

Today we’re going to be taking a closer look at the second request in the Lord’s prayer. If you’ll remember last month, we talked about the introduction and the first prayer request—remember “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name.” And we talked about how addressing God as Father and then asking him to give us the heart and strength and ability even to glorify him—we talked about how that sets the stage not only for this prayer, but also for how Christians are called to address their Father and trust in him in all of life. He is more than glad to answer our prayers if we pray this way, because the first thing we ask is that he could help us to glorify him better. We’re asking him to help us do exactly what he’s created us to do.

We also talked about how the Gospel of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and his free forgiveness of the sins of his people runs under and enables all of that.

Today, we’re continuing our look at this model prayer and we’re going to look at what Jesus wants us to pray for when he has us ask for the Father’s kingdom to come.

Now when Jesus asks us to pray “Your kingdom come,” Matthew, the writer, has thrown a loaded term at us. You’re probably aware of a lot of loaded terms. You might be especially aware of loaded political terms. If you’ve heard of (or supported) the idea of a “fair tax” you know that it stands for a whole ideology of taxation that may not be immediately obvious in the term itself. Maybe you have heard of the term “social justice.” The same thing goes for that concept. The ultimate meaning of those terms depends on their use and context, and those terms have a lot of context.

The same thing goes for the word “kingdom” in the Lord’s Prayer. We need to understand that the gospel of Matthew gives us a clear Biblical Theology of the kingdom. So what, exactly, is the kingdom? Right at the start of their ministries, both John the Baptist and Jesus himself preach what Matthew calls the gospel of the Kingdom by saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Two observations here. First, the idea of the kingdom that Jesus preached is connected to the term gospel or good news. So the good news that Jesus preaches has to do with the coming of a kingdom—the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. The second observation is this: The way into that kingdom is repentance. So Jesus calls his followers to repent of their sins, and this is the key to the good news of the kingdom.

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says he has come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, he explains that those who will see the kingdom of heaven will need a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. So the implications here are that the kingdom involves the fulfillment of the Law or the rule of God. Also, this means that life in the kingdom involves real internal holiness—and a great deal of it.

So we can already see that Jesus is proclaiming the arrival of a new kingdom which is good news for us, especially if our lives are marked by repentance of sins, and that this kingdom that is marked by a real and great internal righteousness. And if we look closely at Matthew 2, we can see who the King of this kingdom is. Matthew writes about the wise men from the east, probably from somewhere near where Iraq is today. These wise men say say, “Where is this new born king of the Jews?” They were there looking for Jesus. They knew the bible's teaching about the coming of a chosen king. They knew it and they came to Jerusalem, and then to Bethlehem to find him and worship him. The events surrounding Jesus’s birth and his youth and really all of his life confirm the fact that the wise men were right about Jesus. He is the king of this new kingdom.

So we get into this kingdom through repentance of sin; it is good news for us; it is all about the rule of God, particularly in Jesus Christ; and life in the kingdom involves a righteousness that comes from the heart. The kingdom of heaven, as I understand it, means the gospel message of the work of Christ on the cross and in his resurrection and ascension; the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, and of the Lordship of Jesus; and of the real life implications that flow out of this message.

When we pray, “your kingdom come,” I want us to see that we are praying for a few things all at once. The first thing we pray for is the growth of this kingdom in our world today. We pray this with the Psalmist, “May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!” That’s from Psalm 72. In Matthew 24, Matthew writes, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The proclaiming and growing of this kingdom is the last age of the world and it’s happening right now. By praying this prayer, we are praying that the Lord would complete his work in the world.

The second thing we pray for is that we ourselves would be incorporated into this kingdom and kept in it. And we also pray for the conversion of those who are not in the kingdom. I have friends who tell me they pray and weep for their parents who are not believers. They are effectively praying what Jesus calls us to pray with the words, “Your kingdom come.” With these words, we pray that the kingdom of God would come into the world, ruling in and over our hearts. And then we pray that God’s righteousness would be worked out in our lives, and that through this spread of the kingdom in our hearts, its influence would grow and spread out through the world. So we pray that God would grant us a desire for evangelism in the ordinary course of our lives. We pray that we would be able to see conversions. We pray for the efforts of missionaries and ministers who make it their vocation to continue preaching the gospel of the kingdom and spreading the love of God around the world.

The third thing we pray for is that Satan’s kingdom—the kingdom of the world, the flesh, and the devil; that false substitute kingdom—we pray that that kingdom would decrease in influence and would eventually end. Hopefully very soon! And we can see how that will happen as the Kingdom of Heaven spreads and grows in influence. As God's kingdom grows and expands in influence, the kingdom of Satan will decrease. Satan will lose control. And if you've been personally impacted by the gospel, you've already begun to see the start of it.

The final thing we pray for in this is that we would see the final success of this kingdom quickly. There are a lot of people who need Jesus, and who don’t even realize it. And that may be some of you. Jesus has us pray that God’s kingdom would come. In this prayer, we should hope with all of our hearts that everyone would be converted. Charles Spurgeon famously prayed, “Lord save all of the elect, and then elect some more.” O God that you would save the world. O God, please save my friends, family members, my friends’ families. We should want to see this realized as fully as possible and as soon as possible. And we know that it will be. The Bible assures us of it. Listen to Isaiah 11:6-9:

    [6]The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
        and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
    and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
        and a little child shall lead them.
    [7] The cow and the bear shall graze;
        their young shall lie down together;
        and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
    [8] The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
        and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
    [9] They shall not hurt or destroy
        in all my holy mountain;
    for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
        as the waters cover the sea.

We need to realize is that this is not the way things are right now. And we need to feel this. The kingdom of heaven is real, and if you’re trusting in Jesus it is being realized right now in your hearts. Some of you may have been able to see the kingdom of heaven more or less clearly in the life of your churches. But we need to realize even now that the world is still broken and we are still sinners. And to the extent that we let sin operate in our hearts and lives, we are giving power to the kingdom of Satan. And to the extent that you remain willful and stubborn against God’s word or his rule in your conscience, you give power to the kingdom of Satan. And to the extent that people you know are not repenting and trusting in Jesus, they are under the weight of the kingdom of Satan

But praise be to God, that breaking the bonds of the kingdom of Satan is not up to us. Christ has done this decisively on the cross. Satan lost his power ultimately and finally right there. So when you sin, you have the freedom to call out to God. And God will rescue you. He will forgive you.

And not only that, you will be enabled to follow Christ and his example. Even when you don’t follow him perfectly, he gives you the opportunity to repent again and again and again. He sanctifies your life. He sanctifies even imperfect motives. And all of this happens because if you are in Christ, you have repentance of sins. You have that gracious gift.

And again, not only that, but when you give hope to people by speaking the gospel to them, God has assured in the cross that your words will not be in vain.

Pray with all your hearts, with full confidence in Jesus, that the Father’s kingdom will come. He will answer this prayer.

Date: 24 September 2011
Text: Matthew 6:7-13
Title: Your Kingdom Come
Location: Springhurst Health and Rehab Center
Event: Saturday Morning

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