LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 8 September 2019
Sermon Text: Matthew 6:10
I. The kingdom of God
II. Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God
III. Our petition with “Your kingdom come”
This is the third message on the Lord’s Prayer and the section we’ll focus on today is “Your kingdom come.” The first message was on to whom we address our prayer. The answer is, God in heaven who is our Father. We speak to Him and say this prayer to our Father as His beloved children. The second message was about the beginning of our petition made to God and, that is, “Hallowed be Your name.” Like children delight in seeing their father’s name respected and honoured, God’s children desire our heavenly Father’s name be glorified and worshipped by all creatures. Then, comes our second petition, that is, “Your kingdom come.” We’ll see ‘what God’s kingdom is’ and what we mean when we say and pray, “Your kingdom come.”
Before we move on, I’d like you to think about why we say the Lord’s Prayer almost every week in our corporate worship service. We say the words of this prayer not because reciting this gives any magical power to the one who says it, not because saying it satisfies a ritual requirement for Christian worship. No, that’s not why we say this prayer. We do because this prayer is a model prayer our Lord gave to us. In fact, this prayer is more than simply a ‘model’; it is a compendium of or syllabus for what Christians should know about our prayers and seek in practice. So, as followers of Christ, we’re required to know what this prayer teaches and what spiritual benefit it brings to all who say it in faith. And we need to know what we mean when we say, “Your kingdom come.”
I. THE KINGDOM OF GOD
So, what is ‘the kingdom of God’? We begin from this. When we say ‘kingdom, we simply mean a realm or sphere which consists of a king, his subjects and territory. So, talking about God’s kingdom, we mean the realm ruled by God as its King, sovereign Ruler, having all creatures – especially all human beings – as its subject in the territory of the whole world which is God’s creation. Ps. 33 captures this, saying, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host” and Ps. 148 elaborates God’s kingdom further, saying, “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth … praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.” These psalms say that God is the King above all kings and rulers because He is the Creator of all.
So, praying and saying this phrase, “Your kingdom come,” we mean God as King, all humanity including us, as His subjects, and the whole created world as His dominion. And we seek and petition to God that this kingdom come.
II. JESUS’ TEACHING ON THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Jesus our Lord also teaches about God’s kingdom in the NT. First of all, He teaches in Mk. 4:11 that the secret of God’s kingdom has been given to the disciples and, through them, to us. In Mt. 6:33, He tells us that we should seek this kingdom first over our daily needs. He also explains what the kingdom of God is like with such parables as a man scattering seed on the ground or a mustard seed planted in a garden.
Then, He teaches an interesting point about God’s kingdom. That is, the kingdom of God is ‘at hand,’ thus, repent and believe in the gospel. ‘At hand’ means, it’s near, close, imminent, approaching. He says that He came to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. Then, having healed many people from their illness, Jesus says that the kingdom of God ‘has come’ upon the people. Furthermore, in reply to the Pharisees, the Lord says in Lk. 17 that God’s kingdom doesn’t come in any observable way, but it is ‘in the midst’ of them.
In addition, all who can enter this kingdom are those with child-like faith, humble and poor in heart – in a word, all who are born again. And all who eat bread in the kingdom is blessed, and so this kingdom must be sought more than one does for his own house, wife, brother, parents or children.
III. OUR PETITION WITH “YOUR KINGDOM COME”
Based on this teaching, we now think directly about our petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come.” I mean, what we mean when we say it.
Simply put, we mean literally, ‘please, God, make Your kingdom come here.’ But this is, in fact, a contradiction because, as I pointed out earlier under the first point, God’s kingdom has always been here as God has always been – since the creation – the King of the whole world and all His creatures have been His subjects. The whole things in this created world have never been, at any point in time, excluded from God’s kingdom. Then, how and why do we pray and petition to God, saying, ‘please, God, make Your kingdom come here’? R. C. Sproul questioned in this sense, saying, ‘If the kingdom God consists of all the universe over which God reigns, why would anyone announce that the kingdom of God was near or about to come to pass?’ So, we make a petition to God which might seem incongruous.
But, this is exactly what our Lord Jesus taught us to pray and say to our heavenly Father, ‘please, Father, make Your kingdom come here.’ So, teaching it is not a mistake, nor incongruity because Jesus is God with infinite wisdom through which the whole world was created and put together.
Truth is that something is not exactly in the shape it supposes to be. That is, the kingdom of God isn’t exactly what a kingdom supposes to be. God is still the King and His dominion is still over all His creation. But His subjects, human beings, are not behaving in the way subjects of a kingdom supposed to be and do. This includes us. So, we’re told to pray like this, and say, “Your kingdom come.” Therefore, we mean, ‘I and we’re sorry, God who is King and our heavenly Father, please help us to be Your faithful people in Your kingdom, and thus, restore Your kingdom here in our midst.’ In this sense, we begin with repentance and remorse for our fault of being unfaithful, disloyal to our King.
In addition, our Lord teaches us to consider at least three things when we say, “Your kingdom come,” and ask the Father for His help. The first consideration is, God’s kingdom manifested in our mutual relationship. In other words, we should know that how we regard one another is directly connected to the manifestation of God’s kingdom in our midst.
Let me explain what I mean with a story I read from R. C. Sproul’s book on the Lord’s Prayer. Being invited to teach at seminars in Hungary and Romania, Dr Sproul went to Hungary first and then travelled to Romania by train. It was 1990, the year before the end of the Soviet Union and Hungary and Romania were still Communist countries. He had been informed that the Romanian border guards tended to be hostile toward Americans, so be prepared to be hassled and possibly even arrested at the border. At the border, Romanian guards got on the train and reached Sproul’s group. Knowing that they were Americans, the border guards ordered each one to take their bags and open them. In the process, they were rude and treated Sproul’s team harshly. Then, an officer got on and ordered a female member of Sproul’s team to open her paper bag in her lap. And he pulled out a Bible. So, Dr Sproul thought, ‘Oh, no, now we’re in trouble.’ The officer began leafing through the Bible, looking over the pages very rapidly. Then he stopped and looked at Sproul who was holding his American passport on his chest. Then he said to Sproul, ‘You no American.’ He said the same thing to another member of Sproul’s team, ‘You no American.’ Then, he smiled at Sproul and said, ‘I am not Romanian.’ Dr Sproul was quite confused, but the officer pointed at the text, gave it to Sproul and said, ‘Read what it says.’ Sproul looked at the Bible and it was Phil. 3:20 which reads this, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” The officer was a Christian. He turned to his men and said, ‘Let these people alone. They’re OK. They’re Christians.’ Dr Sproul wrote in his book, ‘This man understood something about the kingdom of God – that our first place of citizenship is in the kingdom of God’!
When we say, “Your kingdom come,” we make a petition to God, asking Him to help us to understand that we’re of one kingdom, that is, of God, of heaven, and everything else is of no importance. All of us differ in various ways from one another – race, colour, language, disposition, preference, just to name a few. None of these stands out, but our common citizenship of God’s kingdom! Understanding this and living it out, thus, regarding all true Christians as our own fellow citizens of one kingdom under the one King, that is, our God, is what we make petition to our Father and say, “Your kingdom come.”
This is what the Bible means when it teaches us to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Reconciling each other over enmity or hatred is God’s kingdom manifested in each of us and in our midst and, thus, accomplishing the purpose of our call.
The second area we should consider with this phrase is to see God’s kingdom manifested in the society we live in. In a word, we desire, thus, seek God to help us Christians to manifest God’s kingdom here in our society. Why is this so? Because we see evil in all directions, because we see spiritual darkness over so many people in our city and nations which are, in fact, in the dominion of the King, our God. I believe you’ve heard of what the WA parliament is currently dealing with – euthanasia. The NSW parliament is messy at present with an abortion bill. The whole world seems to be gone mad, feeling no shame of various sins. And we Christians long for seeing God’s righteous law to regain power in the lives of individuals and society. We seek our heavenly Father’s swift intervention to replace this world’s wicked rebellion with His righteous rule. In our desperate cry for help, we say, “Your kingdom come.” Moreover, we seek God to use us as His instruments, and for this purpose, to equip us with all necessary armours of God.
Last Wednesday, there was a rally at our state’s parliament organised by Australian Christian Lobby and more than 1,200 people gathered together to express their opposition to the so-called ‘the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019.’ I wasn’t there, but in spirit and in prayer, I was. And saying, “Your kingdom come,” we all in principle join the army of God, gathering together from every corner of this world, and in spirit, march forward.
The third and last area we ought to consider in our petition with “Your kingdom come” is to witness Christ’s church altogether carry out the commission of the Lord until we see the consummation of God’s kingdom on earth. If the second point is about how we should live in this evil generation as God’s salt and light for the world, this third consideration is about expansion of God’s kingdom through evangelism and mission. We make a petition to our Father, asking Him to empower Christ’s church for a constant and continuous expansion.
A couple of Sundays ago, we had an APWM missionary to Osaka, Japan and heard a message delivered to us. In that message, he said that Japan is one of the most unreached countries in the world. It was a surprising news that most of Japanese living in Japan haven’t heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Osaka where the Stewarts stay and endeavour to share the gospel, more than 10 percent of the whole Australian population live. And churches in Japan are rare in number and small in size. Statistically speaking, he said that more or so, it is like to have only a couple of churches in the whole area of WA.
Moreover, there are so many countries in the so-called region ‘10/40 window.’ It is the area between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator and it is the least evangelised area in the world. Statistics tells us that, in this area, there are 865 million Muslims, 550 million Hindus, 275 million Buddhists, 140 million animists, and 17 million Jews. Total number of these groups is over 1.8 billion people and that’s more than 20 percent of the world’s population. When we call out our heavenly Father and say, “Your kingdom come,” we – consciously or unconsciously – picture these people in our heart and mind, and seek the Lord to work through Christ’s church and deliver Jesus’ gospel of free grace to them, and bring the elect into His church! In this petition, we seek God to help us to open our spiritual eyes, equip us for evangelism and mission to be a part of this expansion of God’s kingdom! This is what John Calvin means when he said that the task of the church is to make the invisible kingdom visible.
So, saying these three English words, “Your kingdom come,” our heart and soul are connected to the great realm of God. We say and ask God to help us to be connected to that realm more and more in a deeper sense. This is what it means to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
So, every time we say, let us luxuriate or enjoy deeply this rich petition, “Your kingdom come.” Like the best dessert on earth cannot be swallowed in a gulf but enjoyed every bit of it, let us taste every bit of this sweet petition, starting from our faithfulness toward our God and King, then, our mutual relationship, and moving further to our roles in this world and, finally, our privileged task of evangelism and mission through Christ’s church. ***