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Author:Rev. George van Popta
 send email...
 www.vanpopta.ca
 
Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
 jubileechurch.ca
 
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
 www.ancasterchurch.on.ca
 
Title:Prayer for the Kingdom
Text:LD 48 (View)
Occasion:New Years Eve
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2006-12-31
Added:2007-01-01
Updated:2007-01-01
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Hymn 47:1,3
Hymn 50:1,2,6,7
Psalm 117
Hymn 35
Psalm 97:1,3,6
Reading of Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12; 4:12-25
Text: Lord’s Day 48
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

We live between the two advents (comings) of our Lord Jesus Christ. This past Christmas Day we commemorated and celebrated the first advent of Christ in the incarnation of the Son of God. And we live in the expectation of his second, his last, advent. We are awaiting the day of Christ's return when he will bring about the perfection of the kingdom of heaven on earth. In the mean time we pray for the coming of that kingdom. As the Lord taught us, we are people who pray: Father, Your kingdom come!

This is the prayer we take with us into the new year. We have been praying it all our lives. We will continue praying it: Father, Your kingdom come! May it come in our lives and in the church! May God's heavenly kingdom confront powerfully the devil's works! May it come in all its fullness!

Yes, let us be people who, in the new year, pray of the coming of the kingdom of heaven.

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST TAUGHT US TO PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

We pray for:

1. Kingdom Obedience
2. Kingdom Proclamation
3. Kingdom Victory


1. The petition "Thy kingdom come" means, first of all: "Lord, so rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to Thee."

The coming of the kingdom means that we need to obey the ruler of the kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ. A necessary consequence of the coming of the kingdom is obedience. That is clear from the first sermons of both John the baptizer and the Lord Jesus Christ. The opening words of John's first sermon were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matt 3:1,2). The opening words of the first sermon of the Lord Jesus Christ were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matt 4:17).

The kingdom of heaven is God's rule of justice, righteousness and peace that is going to come from above on the last day. That kingdom began to enter the world in the person of Jesus Christ. It continues to enter the world through the preaching of the gospel. It will come in all of its glory in a great cosmos-shaking cataclysm on the last day when Christ returns on the clouds of heaven as Lord of lords and King of kings. The kingdom of heaven is near. It came near in person of Christ. It continues to come near in the preaching of the gospel. It is coming nearer and nearer as the day of Christ's return is drawing nearer.

What must we do in light of the present and every-increasing nearness of the kingdom of heaven? Both John and the Lord Jesus tell us in the first word of their first sermons: Repent!

We need to understand what both John and the Lord Jesus said. They did not say: Repent, so that the kingdom of heaven may come. They said: Repent, for/because the kingdom of heaven is near. The kingdom of heaven is near. When the kingdom is here, the Lord will be seated as judge. In preparation for that, we need to repent of our sin.

We need to respond like John's first audience. 3:6 says that they confessed their sins and were baptized for the washing away of their sins. We need to do what he said, in 3:8, that people need to do: To produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

And then we need to follow the Lord. When we pray: Your kingdom come, we are praying for our discipleship. That we might be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. With the same immediacy of Peter & Andrew, James & John. When the Lord met these four men fishing, he said to them: Come, follow me. At once they left their nets and their boat and followed the Lord Jesus. The Lord does not call us in exactly the same way he called these four men, but he does call us to follow him. We need to do so with resolve and immediacy, without looking back.

In the words of LD 48, we need to be ruled by the Word and Spirit of God. We need to submit more and more to God. That's the first thing we mean when we pray: Your kingdom come.

This is what the kingdom of heaven demands of us. It demands repentance, confession of sin, obedience, and discipleship. When we pray this petition, we are praying that we might be people like that.

Kingdom work begins with personal submission to the king. Kingdom work does not start with all kinds of grand kingdom projects and efforts. It starts here, in my heart, in my life. This is what we must ensure. Each of us needs to examine himself: Am I living a life of repentance, of confession, of obedience, of discipleship? Let us, in this new year, recommit ourselves to starting there with the first order things of the kingdom: submitting humbly to the rule of our King Jesus Christ.

2. The second thing we are praying for when we pray "Your kingdom come" is kingdom proclamation.

As LD 48 indicates, we are praying for the preservation and increase of the church. Prayer for the coming of the kingdom of Christ is prayer for the church.

Some people oppose the kingdom and the church. They love to speak about the kingdom but they are not so keen on speaking about the church. They love to do “kingdom work” but “church work” leaves them feeling rather cold. “You do the church work; let me do kingdom work.” That is silliness, of course. There is no contrast between the kingdom and the church. They are not identical, but neither are they opposed. The church is the gathering place of the citizens of the kingdom. It is the assembly of the kingdom. It’s where the obedient citizens of the kingdom gather together to hear what their king has to say. To receive instruction. To be challenged and built up in lives of faith and obedience. Anyone who does not love the church does not love the kingdom. You cannot love the kingdom if you do not love the heart of the kingdom, the church. And that means first of all the local church of which you are a member.

The church is the only institution that will last forever. Schools, colleges, universities, political societies—all that kingdom work will come to an end. After the return of Christ, they will become redundant. Only the church will last forever. It is the bride of Christ that will live with Christ forever.

Today it is the church which has been entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of heaven: the preaching of the gospel and church discipline. No other institution on earth has the keys—only the church does. In the name of Christ, the church opens and closes the kingdom of heaven. It opens the door to the believer and closes it to the unbeliever. We need to speak well of the church. To love her. To pray for her. To pray for its preservation and for its increase.

There are those who seek to slander and defame the bride of Christ. Who speak ill of it. They will be held responsible for their words and deeds on the day of Christ's returning. We will pray for the preservation and increase of the church.

How does Christ preserve the church and make it increase? Through the preaching of the gospel. We see that in both the preaching of John the baptizer and of the Lord Jesus. As John preached the gospel and told the people to be ready for the coming of Christ, the people (3:5) says—the people went out to him from Jerusalem, all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. When the Lord went out preaching in the towns and synagogues of Galilee (4:23ff), the people came to him. Verse 25 says that large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis (10 cities), Jerusalem, Judea and Transjordania came out to him and followed him. These people responded in faith an obedience. In this way God preserved the church and made it increase.

To continue this work, the Lord appointed preachers. First he called and appointed Peter & Andrew, James & John to be fishers of men. He called them to a gospel-preaching ministry for the preservation and increase of the church. Today he continues, through the ministry of the church, to have the gospel preached. In this way the church is preserved—preserved against heresy, doctrinal errors, worldliness, sin, ungodly living. We need to pray for the church in the new year. Pray "Your kingdom come", that is, preserve the church.

Through the preaching of the church, and especially through mission work, God increases the church. We support foreign mission in Brazil and home mission here in Hamilton. We need to be faithful in prayer for that work. Our local mission, Streetlight Ministries, is advancing to another level by way of the ministry of our missionary, the Rev. Paul Aasman, and the initiation of regular worship services downtown. This morning two men were able to make a public profession of faith. In this way the church increases. This work needs our prayer. Make it part of your daily prayers. Lord, may your kingdom come; that is, Lord, increase your church.

3. The third thing we are praying for when we pray "Your kingdom come" is kingdom victory.

Kingdoms are often at war. It is no different for the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is at war. At war against the devil.

LD 48 speaks about the works of the devil, powers that raise themselves against the Lord, and conspiracies against the Word of God.

The devil attacked the king of the kingdom by way of the three great temptations (ch. 4:1ff). The devil tempted the Lord. If he could bring down the Lord, he would bring down the kingdom of heaven. But the Lord drove the devil off with the Word.

Today the devil still wars against the kingdom of heaven. He does it by tempting us to sin. To place the things of this world first. To place ourselves first. To put Jesus Christ second. He does not mind if Jesus Christ is second in your life. Did you hear that? The devil does not mind of Jesus Christ is second in your life, as long as you have some thing or person ahead of him.

The devil wars against the church by way of slander. Slander is the devil's expertise. The word "devil" means "slanderer." All slander is diabolic. Often the church is subjected to diabolical slander. Slanderers will need to answer to Christ for their slander. The Lord will protect the church against slander. Through our prayers, the Lord will protect the church. For when we pray: "Your kingdom come", then we are praying for the destruction of the devil and all his works—among which is the evil work of slander.

We also pray for the destruction of every conspiracy against God's holy Word. Perhaps the most subtle form of such conspiracy is hypocrisy. John the baptizer saw them coming, the Pharisees and the Saducees. He knew they were a brood of vipers. They prided themselves that they were children of Abraham. But they refused to live as Abraham's children. John threatened that the Lord would destroy them—would cut them down and throw them in the fire.

We need to pray for the destruction of hypocrisy—in our own personal lives and in the church. May the Lord destroy this most subtle form of conspiracy against his holy Word.

On the day of the King's second coming, he will come to destroy. John the baptizer spoke about that too. He baptized with water, but the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will come on the last day to make the great separation between child and hypocrite, between believer and rebel, between disciple and slanderer. He will gather all his chosen ones into his everlasting kingdom, but throw his and our enemies into the fires prepared for the devil and his hosts.

We pray for that too when we pray: Your kingdom come.

And when we pray this petition, we are asking that God do this until the fullness of the kingdom of heaven comes wherein God will be all things to all people.

In the end of Matt 4, we see a glimpse of what the kingdom of heaven will be like after it has come in all its fullness. As the Lord was teaching and preaching, he was also healing and demonstrating the tender-hearted mercy of the kingdom of heaven. He healed every disease and sickness among the people. He gave relief to those who suffered pain. He cast demons out of the demon-possessed. He gave good health to those who had illness that caused seizures. He gave mobility to those who suffered paralysis. He healed them all.

A foretaste of the kingdom of heaven. A foretaste of what we may look forward.

Imagine. Child of God, just imagine. Imagine what the everlasting kingdom will be like. No more sin. No more enemies. No more sadness, sickness or pain. No more death. Only everlasting communion with Christ and with God our Father. God will be all in all. He will be everything to everyone.

We are a year closer. AD 2006 is over. In a few hours AD 2007 will begin. Every year, day and moment, we draw closer to the everlasting kingdom of heaven.

In this new year pray for it, beloved. Pray: Father, may the kingdom of heaven come. May I faithfully follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Bless your church. Destroy the devil. May the kingdom of heaven come. Pray about it, child of God. Pray that it may come, soon.

AMEN



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2006, Rev. George van Popta

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