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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:Our Master teaches us to pray for God's kingdom to come
Text:LD 48 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Prayer
 
Preached:2016
Added:2016-07-12
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 47

Psalm 93

Hymn 67

Hymn 1

Hymn 6

Scripture readings:  Psalm 119:1-8, Revelation 6

Catechism lesson:  Lord's Day 48

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Christ,

The old Bob Dylan song put it well, “You gotta serve somebody.”  The question is:  who are you going to serve?  For us sitting in church this afternoon, we probably know the answer we’re supposed to give.  But is it the true answer?  Our culture encourages us to give a particular answer.  Maybe you’ve heard of the French Revolution back in the late 1700s.  One of the slogans of that anti-Christian movement was “No God, no master.”  In other words, you are the one you serve.”  That way of thinking has carried a lot of influence over the years.  Today it’s the dominant way of approaching life – you are your own master, your own king.  You determine your life’s direction and you call the shots.  Do we sometimes buy into that evil way of thinking?  I know I do.

But Scripture points us in a different direction.  It puts the truth in front of us.  The truth is that there is a supreme Ruler and Master, a King of kings and Lord of lords.  There is someone on the throne of the universe.  However, not everyone recognizes the King, not everyone acknowledges him.  Even for those of us who do see God as the King, we don’t do that consistently.  There are times in our lives when we pretend that the King isn’t really the king.  Though we are his subjects, we have to admit that we are not always loyal subjects. 

The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer is about the King and his kingdom.  It pleads with our Father, “Your kingdom come.”  The kingdom of God can be defined simply as his rule in the universe.  The LORD is a king and he reigns.  As Psalm 99:1 puts it, “The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!”  His reign is the kingdom that we’re taught to pray about here.

We need to pray about it because this reign presently exists in a broken world.  As Christians, we have the remnants of a sinful nature that are inclined to treason against the King.  Satan and the world around us are in rebellion against the King and even open warfare.  These two realities are why Jesus teaches us to pray, “Your kingdom come.”  In a sense, God’s rule already exists -- his kingdom is a present reality.  But when we pray “your kingdom come,” we’re praying for that reality to be fully accepted and acknowledged by ourselves and everyone else.  So this afternoon we’ll learn about the second petition.  The theme is this:  Our Master teaches us to pray for God’s kingdom to come.

This means that we pray about:

  1. Our personal lives
  2. The Church and her enemies
  3. The end of the age

The King has two types of subjects.  First, there are those who refuse to say that he rules.  These subjects refuse to follow the King.  In due time, they will fall under the King’s judgment for their treason and rebellion.  The second type of subject acknowledges the King.  These subjects love the King and want to follow him.  They have seen that the King is good.  In his love, the King sent his Son to bring them salvation.  Since grace has touched their hearts, these subjects want to see the rule of the King become more consistent in their lives.  They want to see his kingdom come more and more in how they talk, act, and think.   Because they want the kingdom to come in greater measures in their personal lives, they learn to pray for that. 

There are many prayers in Scripture that we can learn from in this regard.  One of them is in what we read from Psalm 119.  This Psalm is well-known for its length – it’s the longest Psalm – but also for the way the Psalmist speaks so highly of the Word of God.  The believer who wrote this obviously loved the Scriptures.  In verse 103, he says that the Word of God is sweeter than honey to his mouth.  That attitude is there right from the start of the Psalm.  He first notes that there is blessing in walking in God’s law (verse 1).  There is blessing in keeping his commandments and in seeking him with all your heart (verse 2).  In verse 4, the Psalmist recognizes that God has given his Word to be kept – not just casually or occasionally, but the word he uses is diligently.  Literally:  muchly, with abundance.  Then notice his prayer in verse 5, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes.”  He recognizes the blessing that comes from following God’s Word and then he asks for God’s help in doing that. 

The second petition teaches us to do the same.  As our Catechism puts it, “So rule us by your Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to you.”  We want God to rule over us.  His rule comes through his Word and through the Holy Spirit applying that Word to our hearts.  The result is that we submit to the King.  We bow before him and we do what he says.  We bring our hearts into submission to him so that what we want and what he wants line up.  Again this happens, not by sheer force of will power, but through the Word and Spirit.  The King’s commands become our joy and delight.  We want to please the King who loves us and who saved us. 

The focus here is on prayer.  So loved ones, do you pray for a soft heart that’s open and teachable to the Word of God?  Let’s take one step back:  do you have an open and teachable heart?  If each of us answers that question honestly, we’ll all have to at least admit that there’s room for improvement.  No one here has yet graduated from Jesus’ school of discipleship.  Not me, not you, no one.  We’re all students who still have much to learn and sometimes our hearts are not as open and teachable as they should be.  Our Lord Jesus teaches us to pray with honesty.  We see that we need to be open and teachable.  We confess that we’re still in need of growth.  Then we pray earnestly for that:  “So rule us by your Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to you – Father, make me a more humble subject, tame my rebellious heart, really teach me your ways and help me to follow them with more consistency.”                

The kingdom of God that we pray about in the second petition extends far beyond us as individuals.  Our Lord is also teaching us to pray about the church and her enemies.  You might think to yourself, “What does the church have to do with the kingdom?”  Sometimes people talk as if these two are disconnected from each other.  People will sometimes speak about “church-work” as something distinct from “kingdom-work.”  How does the church relate to the kingdom of God?  Let me put it this way:  the church is where you find the willing subjects of the king.  The church is where God’s reign on earth is made most visible.  Moreover, the church holds the keys of the kingdom of heaven:  the preaching of the gospel and church discipline.  That means that there’s indeed a close connection between the kingdom and the church.  They’re not exactly the same, but you can’t separate them either.  You can see this in Matthew 16.  In verse 18, Christ says that he will build his church on Peter’s good confession, but then he immediately speaks in verse 19 about giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  The two are connected.  When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we’re also going to be praying about the church. 

We’re taught to pray for God to preserve his church.  This is about protection and maintenance.  We must pray that the LORD would be faithful to his promises and keep his people safe.  We can and should pray this in the broadest sense of the Church, the Catholic Church – the Church spread all over the world in all kinds of cultures.  We can think of believers who are persecuted in communist countries like North Korea, or believers living in Muslim countries.  The second petition teaches us to pray for those suffering for their faith, that God would strengthen them to be faithful.  We can and should also pray this in the more narrow sense of the church, our local congregation.  Do you pray regularly for the church here?  We cannot be preserved in our own strength.  We need the King to protect us and keep us in his ways.  Because we need this from God, we need to be praying to him for it.

We’re taught to pray for the increase of the church as well.  This is about growth and a specific type of growth – numerical growth.  We’re taught to pray that the church would grow in numbers.  So, to begin with, we should pray for more children to be added to our congregation.  Let’s pray that God would bless our families not only with biological children, but also adopted children.  The addition of children is one way that increase happens in the church.  The other way is through God bringing more people from outside the covenant community.  This is something too that we’re taught to pray for.  Brothers and sisters, let’s pray that the church would be filled to overflowing with people who are hungry for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let’s pray, and pray expectantly, that more people in our city [town, region] would discover this church where the Word of God is preached twice each Sunday and that they would want to join us in serving our good King. 

Sadly, the church has enemies.  They’re not just our enemies.  They’re our enemies, because they’re first of all God’s enemies.  Our Catechism mentions the Devil.  Satan is the greatest enemy of the Kingdom of God.  As Scripture says in 1 Peter 5, he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour and destroy.  His very name “Satan” means “adversary,” or “enemy.”  He does everything he can to thwart the power and authority of the King of kings.  He works hard to create dissension and rebellion among the subjects of the King.  Satan is the evil architect of all kinds of schemes designed to provoke treason in the kingdom of God.  He works together with other forces. Satan has other demons that work for him.  He has human beings on this earth under his thumb.  Satan will work with these allies to do whatever he can to work against God and his kingdom. 

He creates or encourages conspiracies against God’s Holy Word.  Think of how the truth and authority of Scripture are constantly being undermined.  Unbelieving scholars are always looking for ways to make the Bible look ridiculous and unbelievable.  Even in the church, amongst people who claim to be Christians, the truth and authority of the Bible are questioned.  The pressure is on to make room for evolution, for women in office, and for the validation of homosexual behaviour and relationships.  Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived:  all of these are conspiracies against God’s holy Word.  If Satan is not directly behind them, you can be sure that he is cheering them on because they fit with his agenda.  He has been a perverter of God’s Word since Genesis 3.       

Satan also encourages and stimulates persecution of God’s loyal subjects in the kingdom.  For thousands of years, he has tried to do what he can to turn them away from Christ.  He and his forces make the Christian faith as unattractive as they can.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the Huguenots.  The Huguenots were Reformed believers in France.  Most of the time they were heavily persecuted by French rulers.   The French authorities did everything they could to make life impossible for the Huguenots who refused to become Roman Catholics.  In 1685, the authorities went after the Huguenot children.  All the children of Huguenots were required by law to be baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.  The law said that they had to be educated in Roman Catholic schools and taught the Roman Catholic faith.  If you were Huguenot parents and you wanted to flee France to go somewhere where you could practice your faith that was made illegal too.  Talk about a rock and a hard place.  The French authorities didn’t have to physically hurt or kill the Huguenots (though sometimes they did), they just had to make life impossible for them.  The same could happen to us.  Look: Satan hates us, he hates the church, he hates the King, and he will do everything he can to destroy everything connected to the King and his kingdom.                        

What can we do?  The second petition tells us the first thing we need to do:  pray!  We need to pray against the enemies of the Kingdom.  We must pray for the King to destroy these enemies and bring them and their plans to nothing.

In Revelation 6 we listen in to the prayers of the martyrs in heaven.  As the Lamb opens the sixth seal, John sees these martyrs and hears them crying out with a loud voice.  They pray, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  It’s a prayer for justice and it’s a prayer for the destruction of all the works of the evil one.  This is a prayer for the coming of the Kingdom.  It’s a prayer for the King to come with his justice.  We listen in to this prayer in Scripture and we’re to join our prayers with it.  The prayers of the saints on earth are to echo the prayers of the martyred saints in heaven.  We should remember often that the kingdom has enemies.  That should stimulate us to pray for God’s kingdom to come, for him to vanquish all his and our enemies.  Let us pray for full and final justice. 

The second petition also teaches us to pray about the end of the age.  Here we’re learning the biblical truth of what the Catechism says at the end of Lord’s Day 48, “Do all this until the fullness of your kingdom comes, wherein you shall be all in all.”  As I mentioned at the beginning of this sermon, there is a sense in which God’s kingdom is already here.  He reigns as King.  Some see this and acknowledge it.  Christians praise him as King and serve him as King.  But there is another sense in which the kingdom is still coming – we are waiting for “the fullness of the kingdom” to come.  In other words, we are praying for the end of the age. 

What do we mean by “the end of the age”?  The Bible speaks about history in terms of two ages.  There is the present age and then there is the age to come.  In Matthew 12:32, Jesus says, “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”  There are two ages in history.  When we say “the end of the age,” we’re referring to the present age.  The end of the age comes when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. 

The end of the age represents the coming of the fullness of God’s kingdom.  After the judgment is over, there will be a new creation.  All of God’s people redeemed through Christ will live on the new earth in the presence of God forever.  On the earth, there will be peace in the kingdom.  There will be no more rebellion against the King.  All the rebels and traitors will be gone.  The rebellion and treason that lived in our own hearts will be gone as well.  The King will always and fully be recognized for who he is.  The subjects will always live the right way before the King.  He shall be all in all.  Our Catechism there is quoting straight from 1 Corinthians 15:28.  When all things are in subjection to God, he will be all in all.  What that means is that God will then be everything to his subjects.  Their living as his subjects will be without distractions and without dilution.  Our living for the King will be focussed entirely on him, purely before him, with 100% loyalty and service.  He will be everything to us all the time.  God will be all in all.

Our Lord Jesus teaches us to pray for this to come.  He teaches us to pray eagerly for the end of the age and the fullness of the kingdom.  The Word of God gives us little glimpses of what that will be like, but the full reality is for the moment incomprehensible.  But the little glimpses are there to motivate us to pray for it.  Wouldn’t you love an existence where God is your all in all?  Here you get distracted.  Here you sometimes get thrown off your walk with God because of your sinful heart.  But a day is coming when this won’t be our story any more.  No more frustration.  No more groaning over sin and its effects in our lives.  Loved ones, I can’t wait and I hope you can say the same.  If we feel that way, if the Word leads us to that place as it’s supposed to, let’s pray all the more zealously for the age to come.  

Brothers and sisters, we’re all going to serve someone.  Our calling is to serve the King.  This is the right thing to do.  Because he is our Creator, our King has a right to our lives and our service.  It is also a good thing to do.  Because he is our Father who loves us, our King has a good plan in his will for our lives.  But serving the King is also a hard thing to do.  It is not easy for us to kill our sinful desires to rebel against the King.  It isn’t easy to loyally follow him.  This is why we pray, “Your kingdom come.”  We pray because it’s not easy or anywhere near automatic.  We pray because we need the help of the King in our personal lives, in the church, against our enemies, and to bring it all to a glorious close.  The King wants to hear you praying for his kingdom.  He promises that when you pray for his reign, he will hear and answer.  AMEN.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, our King,

You are a good and gracious Ruler.  You have displayed so much mercy to your subjects.  You sent your Son so that we could be reconciled to you and live in your kingdom.  Thank you for your kind heart and merciful ways.  There is no king like you, O God.  We pray for your kingdom to come more and more.  We want to submit to you.  Please rule us with your Word and Spirit so that we do this in growing measures.  Tame our hearts and make them open and teachable to all your ways.  We also pray for your church.  Preserve her against all attacks.  We pray for persecuted believers, that would you especially preserve them in their faith.  We pray for you to increase your church.  Please add more children to our families.  Grant children to those who have thus far been unable to have them.    Father, please increase your church by bringing in more people to hear and believe the gospel.  We pray that our building would become too small for us.  Bring in many people from our city [town, region] who want to worship you with us, who want to serve you, our King.  We also ask you again to destroy the works of the devil, the powers that rise against you and all the conspiracies against your Word.  Father, we see all these enemies who are opposed to you and your Word and we pray that you would bring them to defeat.  So we also eagerly pray for the coming of the fullness of your kingdom.  We look forward to that glorious day when you will be all in all.  We’re tired of being distracted in our service to you.  We hate the impurity of our service to you our King.  So we ask you to hasten the return of our Lord Jesus.  Let him come quickly with the clouds of heaven.  We pray, “Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus!”                            

   




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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