Let's open our Bibles to Luke chapter 11, Luke chapter 11. And we return to this familiar passage of Scripture now. This is our fourth message in just these brief verses, and we're still in verse 2. But then again, this isn't just like any other passage. It is critical, it is important, and the words here are chosen so carefully and they have so much significance we need to take our time with each word and each phrase.
Let me read the opening four verses. "It came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.' And He said to them, 'When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us and lead us not into temptation.'"
Very familiar words paralleled by what is commonly known as The Lord's Prayer in its fullness in Matthew chapter 6. Matthew 6:9 through 13 give us the full prayer which Jesus taught His disciples in Galilee on the Sermon on the Mount. Here we're many months later in Judea and Jesus repeats essentially the same prayer. This is not a formula prayer, as I've been saying; this is a pattern for all prayer. This is a structure for all prayer, a skeleton; a framework for all our prayers. We've been learning how to pray our way through this as the framework for our regular praying. The disciples needed to know this. That's what prompted them to probably solicit one to be the spokesman who came to Jesus after listening to Jesus pray and said, Lord, teach us to pray the same way John the Baptist had to instruct his disciples. Since prayer had been commandeered by the legalists and the apostate Pharisees and scribes, the people didn't know how really they should pray and needed to be taught all over again. And so, Jesus gives them the framework.
Now for this morning we find ourselves looking at the phrase "Thy kingdom come,” “Thy kingdom come." When you pray, say: "Thy kingdom come," or "Your kingdom come." We pass over that rather lightly and yet it is loaded with significance.
Most people from earliest childhood believe that they have the responsibility to set the direction for their lives, that some combination of genetic material, environmental experience, parental influence, choices made, people they encounter weaves together some kind of matrix in which they chart a course for their life. They become the determiners of their own destiny, decide their own future, plan their own way. And we become, as fallen individuals and defined as selfishly sinful, very adept at self-centered living. Life revolves around us very, very comfortably with virtually no resistance. And this is especially true in the ego-mad culture in which we live today where everyone is convinced that they are indeed the captain of their own soul, the master of their own faith, the determiner of their own destiny.
However, when one comes to Christ, that perspective is once and for all shattered. It is destroyed. If anything is true at the point of salvation, it is that you no longer set the course for your life. You no longer determine or attempt to determine your own destiny. You are not in charge of your own future and you are not the one who determines the direction you will go. Self-centered living is forever gone. Selfishness has been replaced by submission. Because salvation is a self-denying reality, we keep going back to that definitive statement of Jesus in Luke 9:23, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, follow Me." Salvation calls for self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-submission. All autonomy, all independence, all self-mastery, all self-determination is shattered at the point of repentant faith. It is the end of our selfish independence. We no longer are the captain of our own ship, the pilot of our plane. A far greater goal overwhelms us. We no longer are the king of our own lives. We have submitted ourselves to another sovereign, to another King far greater than ourselves. There is another agenda. There is another purpose. There are other goals. There are other ambitions than our petty ones.
If salvation is anything, it is the recognition that the sinner bows the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ. It is the recognition that Jesus Christ is the King over my life, that God's program replaces my program, that my sovereign Redeemer is the ruler of my life. And His rule eclipses my sovereignty and my own self-will so that what is true of salvation is that the believer concerns himself from then on with the kingdom of God. And so he prays or she prays, "Thy kingdom come." There's nothing here about my agenda. There's nothing here about my ambition, my dreams, my goals, my preoccupation. All of those are placed, as it were, on the altar in submission to the lordship of Christ. It's fine to have those goals and those dreams and desires and ambitions and some direction in your life, but all of it is put on the altar as a sacrifice to Christ who can do with it as He pleases. That's the heart of the sinner at the point of salvation. He is sick of himself, he is tired of running his own life, he wants no longer either the effort or the effect of his independence and desires the forgiveness of sin, the hope of eternal life, and for that he will gladly submit to the sovereignty of Christ. God's purposes take over. God's will takes over. God's desire takes over.
And this is suitable because this is consistent with God's plan on the big scale. It is individual in that when I come to Christ I submit to Him, but I'm just sort of, in a sense, falling in line to the big scheme of things because all history is inexorably moving toward the reign of Jesus Christ. Some day every knee shall (what?) bow to Him. Some day every tongue will confess that Jesus is sovereign Lord. That's the way all of history is moving. And when I bow my knee, I am merely getting in line with God's unfolding redemptive scheme. To resist and to fight is deadly, it's damning. It's eternally destructive. All history is headed toward the sovereignty of Christ, toward the glory of Christ, the honor of Christ, the reign and rule of Christ. In Psalm 2 God says, "I will tell of the decree of the Lord,” this is God's decree, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession." God is going to give to His Son absolute lordship over all. You either bow the knee willingly or you will bow it unwillingly. Bow it willingly and you will enjoy eternal bliss, bow it unwillingly and you will endure eternal punishment. This has been the song that believers have sung, "Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon the throne." This is our song because this is our heart's cry.
Francis Havergal wrote:
Oh the joy to see The reigning,
Thee my own beloved Lord,
Every tongue Thy name confessing,
Worship, honor, glory, blessing
Brought to Thee with one accord.
Thee, my Master and my friend,
Vindicated and enthroned
Unto earth's remotest end,
Glorified, adored and owned.
That's the passion of our hearts. When you come to Christ and you're sick of yourself and sick of your sin and your selfish ways and you bow the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ and receive from Him eternal salvation, from then on the objective is expressed in this praise and prayer, "Thy kingdom come." Confessing Jesus as Lord and King is to say, "Take over my life, fit me into Your purpose, put me somewhere in Your objectives and agenda and program." When I say, "Thy kingdom come," I am affirming that I have relinquished the rule over my own life. And I allow You to do whatever it is that You want to do. It's very like the next phrase, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Now this petition is based on one great assumption and that is that God is sovereign and Jesus is Lord and at salvation we are submitting to that glorious reality.
Now remember as you look back at the prayer, this is a pattern, a framework for praying. It gives us what it is that God expects to be the character of our prayers. It is a marvelously simple, memorable little framework. And as I've been saying each week, you learn to pray your way through this framework. It's sequential. It's designed that way, and if you blend together the Luke passage with the Matthew passage, you get the full prayer in terms of our Lord's instruction and we're doing that, importing what we need to from Matthew to get the whole thing. It sets the record straight once and for all as to how we are to pray, how we are to access the throne of God for the glory of God. You remember our little verse, John 14:13, "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son." In the end, all our prayers are for the glory of the Father through the Son. And this prayer points that out. When you say, "Father," you acknowledge God as source. When you say "Hallowed be Thy name," you acknowledge God as sacred. When you say, "Thy kingdom come," you acknowledge God as sovereign. When you say, "Thy will be done," you acknowledge Him as superior. When you say, "Give us this day our daily bread," you acknowledge Him as supporter. When you say, "Forgive us our sins," you acknowledge Him as Savior. When you say, "Lead us not into temptation," you acknowledge Him as shelter. And when you say, "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen," you acknowledge Him as supreme. It really is praying to the end that God is glorified.
Now, first of all, we looked at God as source, "Our Father." And then Matthew adds, of course, "Who art in heaven." Prayer begins with the confidence that God is a loving Father, that we have an intimate relationship with God that gives us a welcome when we come into His presence. He is a loving Father who cares for His children. It also indicates that as a Father He has resources that we don't have. He has wisdom that we don't have. And so we go to Him because He loves us and because we trust Him and because He has all we would ever need. And we come saying, "Abba," intimately which celebrates the warm acceptance that God has toward us.
But we also looked at God not only as source, but God as sacred in the first petition, "Hallowed be Thy name." That is to say, God is certainly our Father but before we get too sentimental about that, remember He is also absolutely holy. He is absolutely holy. And so our approach to Him is governed by the fact that He loves us. It's also controlled by the fact that He is absolutely holy. We know He loves us, we know He cares for us, we know He has the wisdom we need and the supply we need. We also know He will only and always do what is right.
Now the third petition looks at God as sovereign, "Thy kingdom come." This puts His interest first. Do whatever advances Your kingdom. The Jewish Talmud even indicates that they knew this. There is a statement in the Talmud that says that prayer in which there is no mention of the kingdom of God is not a prayer at all. They understood that they needed to line up under God's agenda, under God's program and God's purpose and plan and kingdom. The true disciple seeks the advancement of God's purposes, God's kingdom.
First: the logical flow. You know He cares, He's your Father, you have access, He has wisdom; He has resources. At the same time you know He's holy and only does what is right. And then, thirdly, you concern yourself with His kingdom and not your own. There are only really two kingdoms. There is the kingdom of God, and there is the kingdom of Satan. There is the kingdom of darkness, as Paul called it, or the kingdom of God's dear Son, just those two. And everybody is in one or the other. We are either the children of God in His kingdom, or the children of the devil in his kingdom. We either serve God, or we serve Satan. Jesus said, "You're either for Me or against Me." There really is no middle ground. And as believers, it shouldn't be any stretch for us to understand that all of our desires and longings and hopes would be toward the kingdom of which we are a part and in honor and affirmation of the King whom we love and serve. All the kingdoms of this world are simply a part of the kingdom of darkness for now. Some day they will be gathered into the kingdom of God's dear Son in millennial glory but for now there is the one great kingdom, the kingdom of darkness which engulfs all the kingdoms of this world. That's not where we live. That's not where our hearts are. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." We're not interested in that kingdom. That's not where we live. That's not where we put our hope and trust. Our desire is to do that which advances the kingdom of God, not the usurper, Satan, who has temporary dominion over man, some day and forever finally broken by Christ and His all-glorious rule.
You know, I find myself as I grow older, I guess, and I trust as I grow to understand the things of God more and more increasingly disinterested in the kingdoms of this world. For the first time in a long time, the other day I picked up a full edition of the Los Angeles Times thinking, "You know, I haven't read this paper in, I don't know, a long, long time." And I was finished in ten minutes. I could not find anything there that was new. The names were new and the locations were new and the pictures were different, but it was all the same. I couldn't find anything that was compelling. It didn't tell me anything I didn't know about the kingdom of this world. It didn't tell me anything I didn't know about the rise and fall of the kingdoms of men within the greater kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan. There wasn't anything compelling. There's some things that are curious there, some things that fascinate us and capture our interest. But I just can't find in my heart any devotion to that. I would rather read a 500-year-old book on the kingdom of God, than today's newspaper on the kingdom of men because the kingdom of God never changes and the saints of old understood the kingdom of God in some ways better than we do even today. That's where my fascination lies. If you were to come alongside the chairs that I sit in when I read, you would find mostly old things. You would look a long time to find a magazine. I want to understand the kingdom of which I am a part, the kingdom in which I live, the King to which I give my life now and forever. It is His kingdom that consumes me, not the kingdoms of this world. And so, the prayer is no stretch for the believer. You abandon the kingdom of darkness, or better, you were rescued out of it and delivered from it into the kingdom of God's dear Son. And now the preoccupation of your life is that kingdom.
Look at that phrase and let's just take it apart in terms of the terms here. Kingdom is basileia, which means rule, reign, kingship, kingdom, all familiar to us. The verb here: [???]elthetō, is a form of erchomai. And it actually is an imperative and it would be read this way: "Your kingdom, let it happen, Your kingdom, let it happen, let it actually take place, let it actually come." That's what's on my heart is Your kingdom. I can't get swept away by what happens in the rising and falling and the ebbing and flowing of the kingdoms of this world. This is the kingdom that consumes me. This is the kingdom that will increasingly consume you as a Christian.
Now there are some questions that we can ask those words and get answers that help us understand the range of this. Whose is the kingdom? The first word, "Thy," Your kingdom, we're talking about Your kingdom, Father, hallowed one, Your kingdom. We're talking about God's kingdom. We look at the history of the world and I've always loved history and studied history and took a double minor in college in Greek and history and always been fascinated by the rise and fall of empires. But one thing you learn when you study history is that they rise and fall, even studying biblical history. Egypt was once a mighty power and fell. Syria became a mighty power and fell. Babylon became a mighty power, of course, as you know, and fell. Medo-Persia was a mighty power and fell. Greece was a mighty power and fell. And Rome was a great power and disintegrated and collapsed and historians tell us there are probably twenty-one or twenty-two great world civilizations that have come and gone and disappeared into the ashes and into history. There was a time when Russia was a great world power. There was a time under Hitler when Germany was a great world power. There was a time when England was a great world power. Now the United States has been a great world power and might be questionable about how long we're going to last because we're rotting on the inside. Maybe the next great world power is the bizarre trans-national power of Islam, from a human standpoint greatly to be feared, from God's standpoint not to be feared at all.
The history can be summed up in Proverbs 14:34: "Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people." You have sin in a nation and you have the promise of its collapse. Daniel said it, "God has numbered the kingdom and finished it." God has determined the bounds of nations, Acts 17, God numbers the years of kingdoms. Somebody gets a great idea, great scheme, a great power and builds a great empire, its days are numbered because as its power goes, so go its proud people. And as pride rises, sin flourishes and as sin flourishes it begins to dominate and destroy and it finally is engulfed in the jaws of its own death. That's the course of all kingdoms and all men and women in those kingdoms. God allows a group of people to rise for their little moment in the sun. Triumph brings the pride, the pride brings the sin, and the sin brings death. Those kingdoms come and go and come and go. I happen to be living in the United States, that's where God placed me. This is still the kingdom of men; this is not the kingdom of God. I am only mildly concerned with what happens in America. It is purely a temporal concern. My concern is the advancement of the kingdom of God, not the American Republic. It will have its day, it has. It's outlasted many because of its Christian roots, but it is fast going the way of all other kingdoms. That's not what consumes me. That's not what captures my heart. That's not what drives my passions. Whatever may or may not happen to America, there is an inexorable law of rise and fall that we're not going to defeat. But what happens to the kingdom of God is what consumes me because it transcends all of that. And so, my prayer and your prayer is Your kingdom, Your kingdom. Whatever it is that exalts and advances Your kingdom, that's what I pray for, that's what I want.
Now what is it when we talk about a kingdom? What do you mean "kingdom"? Well I think we know enough about a kingdom to understand that a kingdom is basically a structure in which one person rules everybody else. One elevated, exalted person rules everyone else. And that's exactly what we live in. We live in a kingdom ruled by one person, ruled by the triune God and that rule is mediated to us through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ whom He has established as King of kings and Lord of lords. We are under the rule of God. This kingdom that He's talking about, Your kingdom, is the kingdom of God.
By the way, the phrase "kingdom of God" is the most used phrase in the New Testament; the kingdom of God, same as the kingdom of heaven. It is central to understanding the New Testament and even the Old Testament. It's the central factor in Jesus' preaching, the preaching of John, the preaching of the apostles. In fact, Jesus, it says, preached the good news of the kingdom. He preached along with John the Baptist that the kingdom of God is at hand. In Luke 4:43 He said, "I must preach the kingdom of God for therefore am I sent." In other words, I came to preach the kingdom of God. Acts chapter 1 verse 3 says that after His resurrection He appeared for a period of forty days. And what did He do for those forty days between the resurrection and the ascension? He was speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. From the beginning of His preaching to the end of it, from the inauguration of His ministry until His ascension, the kingdom of God was His subject. In that sense, He was a one-dimensional preacher; He preached the kingdom of God. And Jesus spoke of that kingdom in three dimensions.
It's important to understand this. First, He spoke of the kingdom of God as past, past. For example...and there are a number of illustrations of this, Matthew 8:11 and 12 say that Jesus said that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were in the kingdom of God. They were all in the kingdom and the kingdom already existed. So Jesus said the kingdom of God included all the Old Testament saints. It is past, in that sense.
Secondly, Jesus spoke of the kingdom as present, as present. He said, Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is within you." Or some translations put it, "among you." The literal Greek is, "In the middle of you." That is to say the kingdom is right here, right now and you don't see it. You don't see it. The kingdom is not like any kingdom you know. Its coming had been missed completely by the religious elite of Israel. The scribes didn't see it, the Pharisees didn't see it, the rabbis didn't see it, the priests didn't see it, the Sadducees didn't see it. There it was, the kingdom right in their midst and they didn't see it. They were looking for a political kingdom, a social kingdom, a military kingdom, an economic kingdom. And what they should have been looking for was a spiritual kingdom in which the living God was ruling over the hearts of those who were penitent and trusting in Him, a kingdom basically ruled over by Jesus Christ Himself. They were so unable to see the kingdom that they killed the King Himself.
There was Jesus, the embodiment of divine sovereignty. There was Jesus, God in human flesh, the King of the universe, and they screamed for His blood. And the Romans executed Him in a torturous death. The kingdom was present, they couldn't see it.
Jesus also spoke of it as future; that it was to come. He talked to His disciples about things they would do in the kingdom, like break bread. He talked about the future kingdom and things associated with that when He would return to earth.
So the kingdom that Jesus spoke about isn't like the rising and falling kingdoms of this world. It's not like the ebbing and flow of these kingdoms that we're used to seeing. It's not cyclical, as we experience that. We've got some kind of permanent kingdom here that stretches all the way from saints in the Old Testament to the last saints before the new heaven and the new earth, until the gathering in of all who believe in the true and living God and acknowledge His Word and submit themselves to Him. This sweeping, unchanging kingdom is the kingdom of God. That is to say it is a spiritual kingdom over which God rules. Of course the Jews missed it totally, totally. Pilate asked Jesus, "Are You a King?" And He said, "I am a King,” but you don't get it because My kingdom is not (what?) of this world." And then Jesus said to the Pharisees, "What are you doing? You're looking here; you're looking there for the kingdom. The kingdom's in your midst."
It is, you know, right now it is. It's here. But because we haven't yet experienced the glorious manifestation of the children of God, because it is not yet revealed that we are the supernaturally empowered, Spirit-indwelt, transformed new creations that we are, because the world cannot see that, the kingdom is here and they don't know it. You think people in Los Angeles know the kingdom of God is here? You think people all over the earth know the kingdom of God is here? Only the people in the kingdom know that and I'm afraid that some of the people in the kingdom don't even understand that. This is a sweeping, unchanging kingdom through all redemptive history, past, present and future.
And what are we talking about? We're talking about a spiritual realm over which God rules the lives and destinies of His children; His children who are not yet perceivable to the world around them. One distinction might be helpful to you as you're reading the Bible, just so you can make this distinction. There are really two aspects of the kingdom of God. The first is universal. The second is redemptive. Let me just kind of help you with that a little bit.
There is a universal kingdom of God, and what I mean by that...universal being maybe the best word or a good word to explain it. When I talk about the universal rule of God, I'm saying that in the big sense He rules over everything, OK? Even the kingdom of darkness, is that not true? Is not Satan the servant of God? Are not all of the nations of the world determined as to their times and borders and boundaries by God? Isn't God the King of the universe? So there is in that sweeping sense, in that creative sense, God as Creator who brought everything out of nothing is the sovereign over the everything. Psalm 29:10 refers to that when it says, "The Lord sits King forever." First Chronicles 29:11 and 12, "Thine, oh Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty for all that is in heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the Kingdom, oh Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all and Thou reignest over all." That's the universal kingdom. It is eternal. It is total. It is providential, supernatural, efficacious; it is ministered through the eternal Son who has been delegated the authority over it all. He was the one that God employed to do the creating. He is the one who sustains it, Hebrews 1. And He is the consummation of it all; it's all resolved in Him. There is that universal kingdom so that God is ruling the whole universe, including Satan and all those in the kingdom of darkness and all those in the kingdoms of this world.
But we're not talking about that in this prayer. We're not saying, "Your kingdom come, Lord," in the sense that the...I guess the openness theologians are, "God, I wish You could get a grip on things. God, could You kind of structure things a little better? Come on, get moving up there and figure out what's going on, bring some solution." That's heretical. The universal kingdom is the absolute sovereign rule of God over everything. We don't have to pray for that. We don't have to say, "Your kingdom come," in that sense. But when we say, "Your kingdom come," we're talking about what I call the redemptive kingdom. The universal kingdom is uninterrupted. We just acknowledge it and we just bow to its sovereignty and rejoice in it. But when we say "Your kingdom come," we're talking about that redemptive kingdom. We're saying, "May the supernatural, spiritual realm of believing people advance."
How does this happen? How does it come? Your kingdom, let it happen, let it come. How? I'll give you three ways it happens. Number one: through salvation, through salvation. The kingdom grows one soul at a time. I don't think in history we know that the Reformers, I don't think all understood this; they were trying to turn nations into kingdoms. There are still people today who see the physical, visible, earthly church and a denomination as equal to the kingdom of God. They're not. The kingdom of God is not an earthly structure, even if it's religious and called Christian. The kingdom of God is a realm of souls ruled by Christ. So when you say "Your kingdom come," it's a missionary prayer. So you're saying this, "OK, You're my Father, You care, You're wise, You have all the resources, You're also holy and You're going to do what's right. Father, here's my number one request: Whatever advances Your kingdom one soul at a time, do that." Can we submit all of our will to that? Can we say, "I might have my desires, I might have my ambition, my goals, my agendas, the purposes, things I'd like to do, but, Lord, only if...only if that is the best way that I can be used to see sinners converted." When we sing, "King of my life, I crown Thee now," the next line, "Thine shall the glory be." You're my King. It's Your glory I desire. Lord, advance Your kingdom. "Joy to the World" we're going to sing in a few weeks. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King." What does that mean? "Let every heart prepare Him room." That's how the kingdom grows, "And heaven and nature sing." Every heart prepares Him room. The kingdom advances one soul at a time. So you're asking the question, "Lord, what can I do in the way I live my life, in the example that I set, in the focus and direction of my life, in the priorities of my life, in the message I speak, in the witness I give to bring souls into Your kingdom?" That's how it advances, through evangelism. It is a prayer then for sinners to be converted. It's like the instruction that the apostle Paul gave to Timothy. "God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." And so, I want men in every place to pray, pray for the salvation of sinners. Go out there like Matthew 22 says, in the highways and byways and find strangers and bring them in to the wonderful banquet that the Father is giving for His Son. Tell sinners that they have to repent to come in. Repent, repent, Jesus said — so did John the Baptist — for the kingdom is at hand. Turn from your way, turn from your will, turn from your sin, turn from your self-sovereignty and embrace the lordship of Jesus Christ and receive His salvation. This is what we do. This is why we live, for the advancement of the kingdom, one soul at a time.
And it's not an easy thing. There's a real struggle, a real battle for that sovereign control. Jesus said no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Once you make the decision, it's over, you go forward. Put your hand to the plow and go back, you're not in My kingdom. You take the plow and you move ahead, transformed, made new.
So what are we doing out there with our lives? Well we should be advancing the kingdom one soul at a time through the way we live and the way we witness. We live for that. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added." The priority is the advance of the kingdom. Whatever advances righteousness, whatever advances the gospel, whatever draws souls into the kingdom, that's what I seek. Clothing, housing, food: That comes after that. And this is a battle. The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John. Since then the gospel and the kingdom of God is preached and everyone is pressing their way into it. You don't come easily into the kingdom. I tried to point this out in the book Hard to Believe. You don't just roll into the kingdom with some glib little phrase you pray, kind of comes across your lips. The idea of pressing into the kingdom demands great earnestness, self-denial, cross-bearing. There's a certain spiritual violence. You violently enter the kingdom because there's a battle for your soul going on between God and the enemy. You're having to give yourself up in self-denial, refusing to any longer associate with the person you are and be willing, if need be, to die for Christ and certainly to submit your life to Him. It's not an easy thing to do. That's why one message along this line in Nazareth, people tried to kill Jesus, they hated it so profoundly.
But if you see the value of coming into the kingdom, if you see the value of gospel glory, then you'll be like the man who found the treasure in the field, or the pearl of great price and sold everything to buy it, Matthew 13. No price is too high for this blessing and no sacrifice would be too great, even if you have to hate your father, hate your mother and even hate your own self. Because if you don't, you're not worthy of Me, Jesus said, Matthew 10:37.
So what are we doing when we say: "Let Your kingdom come?" We're saying, "Let my life both in the way I live and in the witness that I give have the effect of bringing people into the kingdom. Whatever the sacrifice, whatever the cost, whatever the price, whatever it means, this is what I commit my life to, nothing less. I deserve nothing. Come with a beatitude attitude, poor in spirit, mourning, meek, begging, hungering, thirsting for righteousness, those are the ones who belong to the kingdom of God. And they live for that kingdom.
So first it comes by salvation, by me understanding the value no matter what the price and receiving Christ, selling all, as it were, for the pearl or the treasure, pressing my way in, seizing violently upon this glorious opportunity, and then living my life to bring others as well. Secondly, the kingdom comes not only through salvation but through sanctification. It comes through sanctification.
In other words, the kingdom advances not only by adding people to the hallelujah chorus, winning people to Christ, it advances by my own continual constant increasing submission to His lordship. So I'm saying, "May the kingdom come in the lives of others and may Your kingdom come in my life as well." Have you noticed how easy it is for you to rise up and take the authority in your life, or to give it to some other human being? To let some other human dominate you, or to dominate yourself with your own will, have you noticed how hard it is to stay on the altar and not crawl off and take over? Paul nailed it in Romans 14:17 when he said, "For the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." It's not just the salvation of souls. It's righteousness, peace and joy through the Spirit in my life. So may Your kingdom come beyond me one soul at a time and may it come in me in expanding devotion to those things that are righteous and bring peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It comes then through sanctification.
There's a third way in which the kingdom comes, and with this I'll close. It comes through salvation. That's how you come into the kingdom. It grows through sanctification. That's how the kingdom takes over more and more of your life. And finally, it consummates in the Second Coming, the Second Coming. When you say, "Your kingdom come," you're praying for Jesus to come back. You're praying for the Lord to come. "Thy kingdom come, oh God, Thy rule, oh Christ, begin. Break with Thine iron rod the tyrannies of sin." We understand that. "How long, oh Lord, are You going to let this go on? Lord Jesus, come back. Stop the sinning in this world. Stop the mockery and the reproach on Your name. Stop the blasphemy. Take over." We look for the day when “Jesus shall reign where e’er the sun does its successive journeys run. His kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moon shall wax and wane no more.” We long for the day when Jesus reigns and rules the world. If you ask me what is your greatest single desire? I would have to say, and so would you as a believer, the greatest desire that I have is that Jesus would come and set up His promised kingdom. John said it at the end of Revelation, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Come. The day will arrive when He will come, He will gather His church. He will bring horrific judgment on the world. And then He will establish the glory of His 1,000-year millennial kingdom. His feet will come down, hit the Mount of Olives, change the geography of the land of Israel. He will reign for 1,000 years there with the saints who come back with Him, reigning with Him. His knowledge and wisdom will fill the whole earth, He will rule with a rod of iron. And we will have the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our God and of our Christ. There will be 1,000 years in which Satan will be chained and Christ will totally rule the world. At the end of that time, the universe as we know it disintegrates, God creates a new heaven and a new earth which is the eternal kingdom in which we will dwell forever.
When you pray "Your kingdom come," you are saying, it's the spiritual kingdom of salvation that I'm concerned about, that it might come in me through salvation, in others through salvation and then expanding through sanctification; and then coming to its final earthly fruition in the Second Coming.
Are your prayers like that? Is that the path they follow for the advancement of God's kingdom? It's our kingdom, is it not?
Father, again as we close, this morning, we have said much but left much unsaid. But Your Holy Spirit is there as the ever-present anointing which we have from God so that we are not dependent upon human wisdom but rather we have the Word and the Spirit. Teach us even beyond what we've heard today. The glories of the kingdom somehow transcend the feeble words and may we get a grip on what it means to devout our lives to the kingdom. Nothing else really matters at all. Whatever it is in life that we do, whatever those goals and desires, career paths and choices we make, may they all be laid, as it were, on the altar and may the overarching reality be, "Lord, if this will advance Your kingdom through the gospel one soul at a time in my life, Lord, let it happen. More importantly than my future, Lord, come and come quickly, that You may receive the glory You are due." This is our prayer, Father, in Christ's name. Amen.