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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Your Kingdom Come
Text:LD 48 Luke 18:18-30 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Kingdom of God

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Jesus, with Thy Church Abide

Christ Shall Have Dominion

Wherefore Do the Nations Rage

God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength

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

“Your Kingdom Come”
Luke 18:18-30; Lord’s Day 48
When we think of the words, “rich, young, ruler” we rarely associate them with a fourth word – “sad.” Yet that is how the rich ruler in this passage is described.
Here was a man who had everything of value in the eyes of the world. He had wealth, he had status as a ruler. He was young, as the parallel account in Matthew 19 notes. He had a bright future; he had everything those in the world desire. Yet he left sad because he did not submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of his life. 
He said that he had kept all those commandments that Jesus had listed, something impossible for anyone except Jesus to do. Yet Jesus did not reprimand him for his statement. Jesus allowed him to think – at least for a moment – that he had been obedient in every area of his life. But Jesus deflated his hypocrisy with this statement in verse 22b-23, “‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” 
And there are so many others who join the rich young ruler in his sadness, for they refuse to submit their whole lives to the Lord. They might submit part of their life, but not all, not every area. Some, like the rich young ruler, don't want to submit their wealth. Others submit to the rule of Christ to some degree, but just hold back some aspects of their lives, maybe just a few favorite sins that they cannot let go of – you know, lust, greed, envy, pride, or any number of other sins that keep us from wholehearted commitment to our Lord.
But the Lord doesn’t want just part of your life and mine to be in submission to Him. He doesn’t want eighty percent of your commitment or ninety or even ninety-five percent. The Lord commands every area of your life and mine to be in harmony – in submission – to him and to his will. As Jesus pointed out, the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
And that is part of what is implied in this petition of the Lord’s prayer, Your kingdom come.”  By praying that petition, the catechism teaches us that we are asking God to “rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to you.”
The devil comes along and whispers in our ear, “You poor Christian. You are really bound by God’s rules. Look at all the fun you are missing out in life, especially you young people! The world has so much to offer and here you are bound by the rules of an ancient book!”
But the catechism follows Scripture when it teaches that it is a great blessing to be ruled by God’s Word and by God’s Spirit. All of God’s commands are given for our good. Just as a parent warns their young child not to touch the hot stove, so the Lord warns us not to pursue our sinful desires. He does so, not to restrict us, but to protect us. He rules us by His Word and Spirit for our good, knowing that the repercussion of sin always bring sorrow. Sin and misery go hand in hand. The so-called “pleasures of sin” are so short, but the sorrow they bring is eternal unless there is true godly sorrow – repentance – and saving faith in Christ alone.
As such, we see that real joy is found only in obedience to Christ and in living the Christian life. A regional home missionary whom I knew, who is now with the Lord, signed each one of his many home mission reports, “Gladly serving Jesus”.  There is great joy in submitting to the Lord and serving him! As a familiar hymn puts it: “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” (When We Walk with the Lord, John H. Sammis, 1887)
And that too is part of what we are praying for in the petition, “Your kingdom come.” We pray that petition with the assurance that there is great blessing in submitting to the Lord and his Word. And so even though our submission is not complete in this life, as we struggle with the sin within us, we pray that God by his Word and Spirit would rule in us in such a way that we would submit to him more and more.
A second part of the petition, “Your kingdom come,” is in asking God to increase and strengthen the church.  The catechism says the petition also means we are asking God “to keep your church strong and to add to it.”
Adding to the church is work that ultimately only God can do. In verse 25 Jesus makes this remarkable statement: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.”
The disciples were shocked. They asked, Who then can be saved?” And Jesus gave the reassuring answer of great comfort: What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Only Christ can save, and only Christ can cause his church to grow.  Admittedly, he calls us to be fellow workers in his kingdom and may often use us to strengthen and expand his kingdom. But in the ultimate sense, it is only God who causes his kingdom to grow.
The Apostle Paul pointed that out to the Corinthians. They were often arguing among themselves as to who was the best preacher. Was it Apollos, Cephas, or one of the “super apostles”? They figured it certainly wasn’t Paul.
But he reminded them – and reminds us – in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 
We all need to be faithful in planting, watering, and cultivating the seed of the gospel, but it is up to the Lord to make it grow. With Moses of old we have to pray, as he did in the 90th Psalm, “…Establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psa. 90:17)
It is only by God’s blessing that the church grows in grace, in knowledge of his word, in love, service, and also in number. This, too, is part of what is involved in the petition, “Your kingdom come.”
The Devil’s Conspiracy Against the Kingdom
The catechism points out that the petition also means, thirdly, “Destroy the devil’s work, destroy every force which revolts against you and every conspiracy against your holy Word.”
The devil is a crafty and powerful opponent who is in a conspiracy against the Lord and his kingdom. Jesus illustrated that truth graphically in the parable of the weeds which were sown in the wheat. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus described how a certain farmer had planted his field, but during the night, while he was sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat the farmer had planted. So when the wheat grew up, it was filled with weeds.
Some of you perhaps grew up on farms. You know what it is like to till the soil, plant the seeds, and fertilize the crops. Imagine if someone planted weeds all through your wheat crop. That is exactly what the devil does in God’s kingdom and in the church.  And just as weeds cause problems among the wheat, so do the weeds that the devil plants in the church.
As he works his conspiracy, the devil masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 describes how “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
The devil’s servants are masters of masquerade, just as the devil is. Many of them masquerade as ministers. The Puritans, perceptive as they were, gave this warning: “When you look for the devil don’t forget to look behind the pulpit!” And as we look at churches that have left the clear teaching of the Bible, we see why the Puritans gave that wise warning. Error in a church most often comes from the top down. It is not usually the people in the pews who devise doctrinal error. It is usually taught first from the pulpit and then the corruption takes root in a congregation.
The devil’s servants are masters of masquerade. And many of them masquerade as seminary professors. Their expertise in masquerade has led to the doctrinal demise of many denominations. But by God’s grace, in their place, faithful denominations and federations have been established. Consider the fall and rise of Presbyterian churches. Almost 100 years ago, in 1924, over 1,274 ministers in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. signed the Auburn Affirmation. The Affirmation that they signed denied the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles, his substitutionary atonement, and his bodily resurrection.
Those heresies came from the pulpits, but also from seminaries, notably Princeton Seminary. Historically it had been a conservative, faithful seminary preparing generation after generation of faithful preachers. But in 1929 its Board of Directors was mandated to hire liberal professors. At that time, four professors resigned from Princeton and formed Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, J. Gresham Machen, one of the professors who left Princeton to teach at Westminster Seminary, became an articulate and powerful opponent of liberalism in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Machen was deposed and defrocked which led to the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).  The OPC started as a new denomination, in 1936, in order to remain faithful to the Word of God. They were originally called the Presbyterian Church of America but were sued by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. who said the name was an infringement on their name. Consequently, in 1939 our sister denomination changed her name to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The same scenario has been repeated with other faithful Presbyterians who left large liberal Presbyterian denominations because of doctrinal heresy as the weeds were planted among the wheat.
It goes back to that parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 13:24-28: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’
Still today, have you noticed how apostasy within denominations invariably comes from “the top down”? The devil masquerades as an angel of light and his servants as messengers of righteousness. They disguise themselves in an effort to deconstruct the gospel in a conspiracy aimed at destroying the kingdom of God. In these, and in so many other ways, the evil one is in a conspiracy against God and his people, planting weeds among the wheat.
But his presence is not just in the church; it is throughout the world. His efforts at destruction are clearly seen in the media, in entertainment, in politics, in every area, for after all, he is described in 1 Corinthians 4:4 – with a small “g” – as “the god of this world.” Describing those who are perishing, the Holy Spirit teaches, “…The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Likewise, Jesus described the devil as the “ruler of this world” in both John 12:31 and John 14:30, though his rule is still below the sovereign rule of the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ “who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 1:5)
When we pray that petition, “Your kingdom come,” we are asking the Lord to destroy the devil and all who conspire with him against God and his people. And that day of defeat will most assuredly come. The devil has already been defeated by the perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. Revelation chapter 12 describes how “the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” That chapter warns that “the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” His time is indeed short. And his time will come to a complete conclusion and eternal judgment at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The fourth aspect of this petition, “Your kingdom come,” points ahead to the glorious return of our Savior and Lord. The last paragraph of Lord’s Day 48 says, “Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect that in it you are all in all.”
The completeness of the kingdom is also taught by the explanation Jesus gave to his disciples concerning the Parable of the Weeds. In Matthew 13:36-43 we read that after the crowds left, “…His disciples came to him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear,’” Jesus declared.
We see, then, that this one phrase, Your Kingdom come” encompasses so much. In this petition we are asking the Lord to rule us by his Word and Spirit in such a way that we submit to him more and more. We are asking him to increase and strengthen the church, to destroy the devil’s work, and to bring Christ’s kingdom into completion with the new heavens and the new earth. How then are we to further apply this petition, “Your kingdom come”
Speeding the Coming of the Kingdom
One further application: We speed his coming – and the culmination of God’s kingdom – by living holy, godly lives, spreading the gospel. In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we read a remarkable statement. Peter first asks, “What type of people ought you to be?” The context includes the devil roaring like a lion, seeking someone to devour. The context includes the animosity of the world and the reality of suffering for our faith – themes that Peter brings up in both letters. But then he answers his question this way: “You ought to live holy and godly lives, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
That is a remarkable statement! On the one hand, we know from the words of Jesus that no one knows the day or the hour of his return. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” But on the other hand, Peter, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling us that by our lives and by our witness we actually speed that day and shorten the time before the kingdom is completely fulfilled at the second coming of Jesus.
If others are to see Christ in us, if we are to become that letter from Christ, known and read by everyone, then we cannot become stagnant in our desire to see God’s kingdom come. When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” there must be a personal desire for God’s kingdom to be realized in our lives, day by day.         
When it comes to God’s kingdom and our growth as God’s kingdom people, there must be a constant spiritual progression forward. We never come to the place in our lives where we can relax on a spiritual plateau and say, “I have finally arrived.”  Instead, with the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, we must confess: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” And we recognize the truth of 2 Peter 3:18 that we are always to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” with a “hunger and thirst for righteousness” as Jesus described in the fourth Beatitude in Matthew 5:6.
We can only say that we have arrived when this life is over and done, and by God’s grace, we are presented before his throne spotless and without blame, clothed in his righteousness alone.
When we think of the words, “rich, young, ruler” we rarely associate them with a fourth word – “sad.” Yet that is how the rich ruler in this passage is described. Here was a man who had everything of value in the eyes of the world, yet he left sad because he did not submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of his life. 
By leaving the Lord sad, he revealed that his true god was his money and that he idolized his riches. He had broken the first table of the law, and although he boasted otherwise, he also broke every commandment of the second table of the law. Those commandments, if not broken outwardly, are broken inwardly by each one of us.
May you and I – by God’s grace and Holy Sprit’s power – strive to submit every area of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, so that he rules in our lives by his Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to him, showing that his kingdom is a reality in each one of our lives, even as we speed the glorious return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  Amen.    
sermon outline:
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the
kingdom of God.” – Luke 18:25
                                              “Your Kingdom Come”
                                          Luke 18:18-30; Lord’s Day 48
I.   When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are asking God to:
      1) Rule us by His Word and Spirit in such a way that we submit to Him more and more (22-
      2) Increase and strengthen the church, work which only God can ultimately do (24- 27;
          1 Corinthians 3:5-7)
      3) Destroy the devil’s work, since Satan is in a conspiracy against the Lord, His Word, and
           His people (Matthew 13:24-28)
      4) Bring His kingdom into completion with the new heavens and the new earth (Matthew
II. Further application: We speed His coming – and the culmination of His kingdom – by living
     holy, godly lives, spreading the gospel (2 Peter 3:11-18)


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2022, Rev. Ted Gray

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