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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:God's Already-But-Not-Yet-Kingdom
Text:LD 48 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Church Building
 
Added:2022-05-09
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Daniel 2: 24-45

Lesson: Lord’s Day 48

 

GOD’S ALREADY-BUT-NOT-YET KINGDOM

  1. How it Can be Torn Down

  2. How it Will Never be Torn Down

 

  1. Psalm 97: 1, 3, 4

  2. Psalm 129:1-3

  3. Hymn 52:1, 3, 4, 5

  4. Hymn 2

  5. Psalm 16: 3, 5

  6. Hymn 45: 1, 3

 

Words to Listen For: wonder, market, flowers, old, 4.5

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. Explain the two overlapping Kingdoms of Jesus Christ with the same name

  2. What are the three things that we ask God to preserve in His church?

  3. What does ora et labora mean?  How does it fit with the three preservations?

  4. What is the symbol of Christianity?  Why isn’t it a stone?

  5. How do we echo God’s promises in our prayers?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ our Lord,

Over the last 2 years, there has been a lot of discussion about Kingdoms.  Much of our talk, and the talk south of the border has been about Kingdoms.  Even though that word was never used, that was the topic.

The Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Man.  How do the two interact, how we are citizens of both, how the Reformers, especially men like John Calvin and Guido de Bres interacted with the governments of their day.

There is a lot to say about this, and this is was a topic of discussion when I was at the seminary.  The Two Kingdoms debate.

But. As fascinating a discussion as that would be, as much as some of you might be on the edge of your seat waiting for me to dive into everything, I won’t be doing that this afternoon.

And why?

The two Kingdoms debate, though it may feature in my preaching at some point, it may feature on this pulpit at some point, but it is not the main point of this Lord’s Day.  The main point of Lord’s Day 48 is not this TWO KINGDOMS DEBATE, but it is only about one of those two kingdoms - the Kingdom of Christ Jesus.

That is not to say that we do not LIVE in the Kingdom of Man.  That is not to say that we are not AFFECTED BY the Kingdom of Man.

I am a Canadian, and that means many things.  Important things.

But above all, not matter how these two Kingdoms intersect with each other, there is one kingdom that is far more important than the other, and there is one citizenship that is far more important than the other.  I am a Canadian, but that might be point 5 or 6 in my identity.  For first and foremost, I am a Christian.  And as a Christian, I have rights and responsibilities, I have citizenship and everything that comes along with that in 

GOD’S ALREADY-BUT-NOT-YET KINGDOM.  We will examine this afternoon:

  1. How it Can be Torn Down and 

  2. How it Will Never be Torn Down

 

How It Can Be Torn Down

You may wonder how I can even say these words - how God’s kingdom CAN be torn down.  How can I say these words, authoritatively, off the pulpit?

Didn’t we just read together about God’s Kingdom from Daniel?

A stone, cut by no human hand destroyed all the kingdoms of men - the kingdom of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome…all destroyed.

Verse 44 - in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall NEVER BE DESTROYED, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever

This is the clear teaching of Scripture, so how can I say the opposite? 

Well, because it’s not quite so simple as that.

What does our Lord’s Day say?

So rule us by your Word and Spirit

that more and more we submit to you.

Preserve and increase your church.

Destroy the works of the devil,

every power that raises itself against you,

and every conspiracy against your Holy Word.

Do all this

until the fullness of your kingdom comes,

wherein you shall be all in all.

We see here that there are, actually two kingdoms spoken of - not the kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man...but two kingdoms.  Two overlapping Kingdoms, both of them with the same name, but not identical.

These Kingdoms…they are both the church.

THE CHURCH - made up of the elect.  God’s people.  A pure and holy body, with each and every member a faithful Christian.

And THE CHURCHES, the visible ones, the congregations of Jesus Christ that we can see.  Congregations, just like ours.  Our church, made up of covenant people.  A congregation where there may be wolves hiding amongst the sheep.   A mixed congregation.

And we will see that this petition that we are praying, part of it is for these two kingdoms of the same name to resemble each other more and more.

When we pray this petition, we are praying that we would be sanctified, completely.  That we would be made holy.  That every person in this congregation, head for head, would become faithful believers.  That the hypocrites would be found out and would have their sinful natures made spiritually alive, healed, corrected, and powerfully bent into submission to God’s perfect will.

We pray that every person here, head for head, would be faithful.

And then we pray that every faithful person here, head for head, would be made strong.

And then we pray that every strong person here, head for head, would be made victorious.

Faithful, strong, and victorious.

 

PRESERVE AND INCREASE YOUR CHURCH.

Because we can’t see the heart, much of the time, we focus on INCREASING the church.  We want to market ourselves.  We want to have a social media presence, we want to be that church that has Scripture texts on our road sign.  We want people to come in the door and join us.  And there’s nothing wrong with that - this IS part of our prayer.  This MUST BE part of our prayer.  But that’s what it is - a PART.

What comes first in our catechism, what should come first in our heart, is that God’s church here in __________ be PRESERVED.

What does this mean?

Let me begin by speaking conceptually, before getting into the practical applications.

We must pray, first of all, that our love be preserved.  Our love must be preserved, and it must not grow cold.  For a church without love is a corrupt and rotten church, easily torn down.

We must pray that our focus on truth be preserved.  And every truth according to its value.  The truths about the gospel first.  As pastor, you could say that I am on the front lines of this fight, but that doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do with it.  This pulpit must be guarded against heresy and error.  What is a church that does not proclaim the truth of the gospel?  No church at all.

And finally, we must pray that our humility be preserved.  It is so easy, with the other two…if we are a loving church, loving our own members, if we are a truthful church, preaching the pure gospel of salvation without anything else mixed in, it can be so easy for us to become prideful.  For us to set insanely high standards for anyone who would join us.  For a guest for a new member - WE HAVE THE MONOPOLY ON TRUTH AND LOVE, SO YOU MUST SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT.  Conform exactly to us, or you don’t belong with us.

We can so easily look down our noses at other believers because they sing different songs than we do, because the ratio of suits to sweaters is off for the men, and the ratio of dresses to dress pants is off for the women.  We can slip into pride SO EASILY, forgetting the message of Jesus Christ - WE ARE ALL THE SAME BEFORE THE CROSS.  The cross is the great equalizer.  We all come before the cross and are told that we are great sinners, and that Christ is a greater Saviour.

These are the concepts: love, truth, humility.

 

So how can we practically work this out in our lives?

Well, we do so with an ancient three word instruction on the Christian life: Ora et Labora.  Prayer and work. Ora - prayer, Labora - work.

 

When we pray for God to preserve our love:

Ora - Literally pray that God would preserve our love.  Pray for those you find hard to love.  Pray for them, not that they would change their minds and how they act and speak, but pray for their good.  Pray for them to be blessed.  Pray, not that they would be easier to love, but that you would be more willing to love them as God loves them.

Labora - Work to love these people.  Call them on the phone and see how they are doing.  Drop off a pot of soup or a bouquet of flowers.  Invite them into your home and into your heart.  It may feel false at first, showing love to someone you aren’t feeling love towards…but what motivation could be better for love - God has loved me when I was unlovable, I must love them when they are unlovable.  Your motivation is genuine and true.

 

When we pray for God to preserve our truth:

Ora - Literally pray that God would preserve our truth.  Pray for me, to have the strength and wisdom to preach the true gospel every Sunday.  Pray for the elders and the deacons to use truth to guide our decisions.  Pray for teachers and parents to train up their children properly.

 

Labora - Learn the truth!  Be steeped in the truth!  First and foremost, the truth that matters the most.  Put the news, whether mainstream or independent, on the backburner for a bit, and demonstrate an obsession for what SHOULD be obsessed about - the WORD OF GOD.  Invest time in God’s Word - see it as food and drink to your hungry and thirsty soul.  Read it.  Read it in different translations, read it, and if you don’t understand a particular passage, discuss it with a friend, ask your elder, consult a commentary, find sermons about it.  Spend time researching what God has to say, and leave no stone unturned.  Prepare for Sunday by reading the text that will be preached on, and if what comes off the pulpit is different from your research or the exact same as your research, have a conversation about it instead of just talking about the weather after church.  Be OBSESSED with God’s truth.

 

When we pray for God to preserve our humility:

Ora - Literally pray that God would preserve our humility.  This is a hard prayer to pray, because pride is so deeply engrained in all of us.  I want you to think that I’m valuable and intelligent.  That’s pride.  And sometimes that pride needs to be taken down a notch.  And if we pray this prayer, God will work humility in us.  And it might be embarrassing at times.  But it’s GOOD.  It’s GOOD.

 

Labora - Have an open mind to listen to other perspectives.  If someone is different from you, see it as an opportunity to learn!  Maybe they’re wrong…but maybe you’re wrong. Don’t have a conversation with them for the purpose of converting them to your way of thinking.  Conversations can’t be conversions.  Instead, talk to each other as equals.  And EVEN IF THEY’RE WRONG, even if they’re wrong…there’s something you can both learn in that, if you have eyes to see.  Surround yourself with people who are different than you, for the purpose of LEARNING FROM THEM, not TEACHING THEM THAT THEY’RE WRONG.

This is what we are praying for our church - preserve and increase your church.

We must pray these things because the church is weak.  The church on this side of glory is weak and subject to rot and decay and corruption.  We must pray and work for this weak kingdom to resemble the other kingdom.  The strong kingdom. The eternal kingdom.  The kingdom that will never be torn down.  Our second point.

When we read Daniel 2 together, did you heart leap?  Did your heart leap in joy and in hope, with eager longing?  It should have!

Daniel 2:44 - And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever

It shall stand forever.

These words, more than anything else, should fill us with hope and joy.  God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom WE are a part of…it shall stand forever.

And that picture of a stone…should fill us with civic pride.

  • The pride that we might feel when we see a Canadian Flag, that swelling in our heart.

  • Or the pride of the Americans when they see their flag, a flag that they call Old Glory and salute and protect.

We have no such flag as the Kingdom of God, but we do have a stone.

Verse 34-35 - A stone...cut out by no human hand…struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Typically we don’t think of the symbol of Chrsitianity as a STONE.  And that’s fine.  I’m not advocating for us to change our branding, because what we have already is better than a stone.  It is the fulfillment of the stone.

The symbol of Christianity is…THE CROSS.

And it is the CROSS that fulfills the stone.  It is the cross, and what is more, the One who was crucified on it, who is what the stone was pointing towards.

And what is so amazing about this, and yet, we should not be surprised, because this is GOD after all - that is what Daniel said, he gave glory to GOD for interpreting the dream…but this is so amazing, because we see, that 5-600 years before it happened, it was predicted that after the fourth empire, the fourth kingdom, the Roman Kingdom, that the ROCK of God’s Kingdom would rise.  And this was the Kingdom in which our Saviour was crucified, and HIS KINGDOM began to grow and grow.  The church of Jesus Christ began and has spread ever since.

This Kingdom cannot be torn down - every other kingdom will fall to pieces before the church of Jesus Christ.

Our Lord says this Himself, taking the language of Daniel 2 on His lips - Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces - just like the statue.  All other kingdoms will fall apart when they encounter Jesus Christ.

The Babylonian empire was brought down to the ground by the power of God - we read of this in Habakkuk.  How God’s judgement will fall upon them, and that they head of the house of the wicked will be destroyed with his own weapons - the cross, the weapon of Satan became his downfall.

The Persian empire was transformed when God raised up King Cyrus who set God’s people free and gave them back their land.

Political Kingdoms will break to pieces when they encounter Christ, and the same goes for personal kingdoms.  Each and every person who sets themselves up as king in their own life…everyone who claims kingship over themselves - a 4.5 square foot kingdom.

But, as Abraham Kuyper once powerfully declared: There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!' 

God is completely sovereign over you, your heart, your kingdom.  Whatever kingdom, no matter how small, no matter if you are the only citizen, whatever kingdom and whatever king raises himself against Jesus Christ WILL FAIL.

This is what we KNOW will happen - it was shown to Nebuchadnezzar, explained by Daniel, and yet, this is what we pray.

We pray this, not to remind God of His promises, but to remind ourselves of them.

When God teaches us - The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3), we then echo His words and pray: destroy the works of the devil.  We pray these words, not because we doubt them, but because we believe them.  We believe that they will happen, and we long for them to happen quickly.

When God promises in Psalm 2 that the nations who conspire together against Him will be broken to pieces, we then echo His words and pray: destroy every power that raises itself against you.

When God promises that disaster will follow those who conspire to return to the sins of their fathers (Jeremiah 11), we then echo His words and pray: destroy every conspiracy against your Holy Word.

We believe that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a kingdom that truly has existed throughout all time, for our Lord is an eternal King over an eternal kingdom, is still coming.

We see this in the last phrase of our Lord’s Day:

Do all this

    until the fullness of your kingdom come

    wherein you shall be all in all

There is no contradiction in this petition, believers praying for a kingdom that is already here.  For this is the ALREADY BUT NOT YET KINGDOM.  It already exists.  The rock has already toppled the statue.  But now, now the rock is growing.  It is growing and growing, both in size and in purity.

And so, as the church in this world, we must fight and never give up to bring about God’s Kingdom in its fullness.  Let us not be distracted by what OUR VISION of HIS KINGDOM might be, but instead let us spend time in His Word, seeing what His blueprint for His Kingdom actually looks like.  We do not need to re-invent it, and we cannot re-invent it.  Our job is to submit to the plan of the master builder.  We must know His plans for His church, and then never stop fighting to bring it about.

We can fight in many different ways, as we heard earlier, but never forget Ora and focus only on Labora.  Remember that this petition is, first of all, here in a prayer.  This is God teaching us how we are to PRAY, and only then can we act.  Prayer reminds us that our strength is found in God, and only when we realize and accept its source, can we use it properly for His Kingdom.

We are Christians, first and foremost, above everything.  More important than being Canadian.  Our heart may beat a little faster at the sight of that red and white flag fluttering in the breeze…but let it beat A LOT FASTER at the sight of the cross.   Let us pray that God keeps this kingdom glorious and free, but even more, let us pray that God brings about His Kingdom in power and glory.

Let us PRAY for God’s Kingdom to come, and then WORK in the light of our PRAYER.

AMEN.




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

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