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Your Kingdom Come

Tom Pennington Matthew 6:10


Well, it's a joy to be back with you and again opening our Bibles to Matthew 6, to this great passage in the Sermon on the Mount where our Lord lays out the priority of prayer for us who are His disciples.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read an interview that Larry King did on Larry King Live, of His Serene Highness, Crown Prince Albert of Monaco. Here is a man who is only a heartbeat away from the next king of Monaco. Some of you are familiar with this tiny country. It's famed as a resort. It's loved for its mild climate, for its magnificent scenery, and by some people it's prized for its casinos. But it's not a very large kingdom, the kingdom of Monaco. In fact, you could put all of Monaco in New York's Central Park. It's less than 2 square miles. It's officially the smallest kingdom in the world. Only 32,000 people live there, and only 7,000 of those are nationals. Yet it fascinates me how people are carried away with the idea of royalty. They'll tune in to Larry King Live to watch an interview with a man whose subjects number 7,000. The world's smallest kingdom. People are fascinated with the idea of royalty regardless of how big that kingdom might be. And it fascinates me even more to understand that throughout history there have been explorers, and you studied these in school as I did, explorers and soldiers who gave of their lives for the expansion of earthly kingdoms. Kingdoms that they served, regardless of how poverty stricken, how poor, how small those kingdoms might have been.

The Bible goes to tell us that we too are connected to a kingdom. And it's a kingdom that deserves our noblest service, our highest devotion, and if necessary even the sacrifice of our lives. In fact, when Jesus lays out the priorities of prayer, He teaches us that next to the glory of God comes our commitment to the kingdom of God. Let me read this great prayer for you in Matthew 6 beginning in verse 9. You follow along, Matthew 6:9.

"Pray then in this way; Our Father Who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen"

Now we've noted over the last number of weeks that there are three basic elements to this prayer. There is a preface, "Our Father Who is in heaven". Then there are 6 petitions, followed by a conclusion, "For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever". But the heart of this prayer are those six petitions. And those six petitions give us six categories of prayer, six avenues down which our prayers are always to flow. These six petitions outline for us the kinds of requests that should come from our lips and from our hearts when we come before our God in prayer. Jesus here tells us that we are to pray in these six categories. Let me give them to you.

First of all, we are to pray for the glory of God. Hallowed be Your Name. Secondly, we are to pray for the kingdom of God. Your kingdom come. Thirdly, for the will of God. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Then we are to pray for the needs of life. Give us this day our daily bread. We are to pray for the confession of sin. Forgive us our debts. And number 6, we are to pray regarding the pursuit of holiness. Verse 13, "… do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Now you'll remember that half of these requests, the first half, are about God. And the second half have to do with us and our concerns and our petitions and our needs. The order in which the requests come, obviously by design, since they fall in the same order in both accounts recorded, both in Matthew and in Luke 11. The order tells us volumes about the priority of our prayers. Our prayers ought to begin with, and be preoccupied with God, and with His glory, and with His kingdom, and with His will. And only when we have become completely preoccupied with God are we then qualified to move to our own needs and the issues of our own lives.

Now I plan to spend a week on each of these six categories of prayer. We started two weeks ago by examining the first category, and that is the glory of God. "Hallowed be Your Name." Many Christians aren't even aware that that's a request, but it is in fact the first, the greatest, the highest priority of prayer. Concern for the glory of God. As we studied it together we learned that when we pray, "Hallowed be Your Name," we are saying, God, sanctify, or set apart, or glorify your Person, and everything by which You have made Yourself known. Scripture tells us that there are specific ways that God gets glory to Himself, and when we pray "Hallowed be Your Name," we are in essence praying, God, let those things become a reality. We looked at them in detail two weeks ago. If you weren't here for that message, I strongly encourage you to go online and listen, or get the CD because this is really foundational, not only to our prayer lives, but to our entire lives as Christians. "Hallowed be Your Name."

Today, I want us to study the next category in which our requests should constantly be pouring out to God. Not only should we be preoccupied with the glory of God, but the second category of prayer is the "Kingdom of God", or the "work" of God. Notice verse 10. Pray in this way, Jesus says. "Your kingdom come." Those three simple words are filled with the deepest theology, and with the richest meaning. To help us mine all the riches that are in this second petition, I need us to grasp three great spiritual realities. Contained in each of those words is a great spiritual reality that we must understand to be able to pray this with all of our hearts. YOUR KINGDOM COME. Every word filled with meaning for communicating to us a separate great spiritual reality. Let's look at them together.

The first great reality is the clash of kingdoms, the clash of kingdoms. YOUR kingdom come. That tiny word "your" contains a universe of meaning. Because it's saying, if we want God's kingdom to come, we are freely admitting that we live in a world that can be described only by an enormous conflict of opposing kingdoms. Do you really believe that? Do you believe that the entire universe is at war? That's the mindset that lies behind this second petition. When we pray God, may Your kingdom come, we are acknowledging the reality that there is a cosmic struggle between opposing kingdoms in our world. What are the kingdoms that set themselves at odds against the kingdom of God? Where does the clash of kingdoms come from?

Well, the first and most obvious is of course the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of Satan. I was fascinated back in 2001, November of 2001, there was a survey done of the American public, a national survey. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they believe in a God who is an all-knowing, all-powerful creator. In that same survey however, only 23% of the American people said they believe that Satan is a real person as opposed to a mere personification of evil, less than 25%. But regardless of what the majority of Americans may believe, the Bible is clear. There exists a spiritual being of great power, of incredible intelligence, and of unthinkable evil. And he's engaged, the Bible tells us in a titanic conflict to unseat God and to destroy God's kingdom in the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ couldn't have made this point any clearer than He does in Matthew 12.

Turn to Matthew 12 and notice verse 22. Jesus was constantly coming into conflict with the kingdom of Satan. You can see it in the casting out of demons, and here is one of those accounts. Matthew :22, a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, was brought to Jesus, and He healed him so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed and were saying "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" In other words, this isn't the one we've been expecting, the long-awaited Anointed One. And when the Pharisees heard this, you might imagine their response. They said, this man casts out demons, but he does it only by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons. In other words, it's a trick. He's on the same side. Verse 25,

"… knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste;" [and I'm happy for you to know Abraham Lincoln didn't come up with these words] "any city or house divided against itself will not stand." "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand." [Jesus here acknowledges the reality of a personal being named Satan, and that this being has in our world a kingdom. And notice what He goes on to say.] Verse 27, "[And] If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason, they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God," watch this "then the kingdom of God has come upon you"

Jesus sets before these people in clear contrast, the clash of opposing kingdoms. There is the kingdom of Satan, and there is the kingdom of God that has now come through His ministry. There's no question but what Satan is a real being with a real kingdom. In Scripture he's repeatedly called the prince of this world and the god of this world. Now that doesn't mean that Satan is in control of the created world. God has control of the created world. As we sang this morning. Storms arise by order from His throne. Lightnings flash as a result of the prompting of our God. Our God through the person of His Son controls the created universe. It's more precise to say that Satan controls the world system. What do I mean by that? That's a phrase that, if you've been a Christian any time at all, you've heard. I like the definition that one lexicon gives of the sphere of Satan's influence. Listen carefully: "All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, impulses at any time current in the world."

You see, Satan is the god not of the created world. He's the god of the values, the mindset of any age. All of those thoughts and ambitions and speculations and "isms" that are current at any point in the world, they are under his domination and control. The world's system, the set of values and ideas, at any point in time present in the world. That's his domain. You understand this. You see it all around you. There is in our age a mindset. That mindset carries with it certain ideals and certain ideas, certain values. That's under the dominion, the domain, the rule of Satan.

His subjects are two-fold. He has a huge consort of angels who, Revelation 12 tells us followed him in his rebellion against God. He is also over every human being who has not repented of his sins and embraced Jesus Christ. Paul, in Ephesians 2 describes it this way. He says we formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Paul is saying that before a person becomes a Christian they are dominated by, they are in the kingdom of, they are led by Satan himself. As Jesus says in John 8 "you are of your father the devil, and the works of your father you will do." So that's the dominion that Satan has. It's over the values of our world, and his control is over the fallen angels that left heaven with him, and all mankind outside of Christ. So, Satan is a king. And he has a kingdom, and that kingdom stands diametrically opposed to God.

But even as I say that, I don't want you to misunderstand. Satan's kingdom poses no real threat to God and His kingdom. In other words, we don't believe in a kind of dualism in which two fairly equal forces are locked in conflict and the future is uncertain. Star Wars makes great entertainment, but it does not picture the reality of the world in which we live. God created everything, including Satan. And He is not threatened. As one writer puts it, God's throne is no more threatened by Satan than the rocks of Gibralter are by the spray of the Mediterranean.

Satan is not sovereign in our world either. It's important for you to understand this. Satan is not sovereign. God is. Martin Luther was right. Satan is God's devil. It's as if God has Satan on a leash. Satan can do nothing without receiving God's permission. I'm reminded of Job. You remember there in the first chapter of Job, on the day that the sons of God came before God, Satan came with them, and he requests permission to touch the life of Job, and was granted it. Or there's the account from the life of our Lord in Luke 22:31 when He tells Peter, Peter Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat. Satan is not all powerful. He is not all knowing. He is not sovereign, but he and his kingdom are real, and they stand in violent opposition to our God.

If you doubt this, then read your newspaper. Turn on your television. Pick up a magazine. Go audit a few classes at a local college. Sit in on a discussion of the cultural elite, and you will see that there is a mass of ideas that are absolutely diametrically opposed to the kingdom of our God. But it's important to remember that the battle you and I wage day in and day out is never with people. You remember in Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares. And in that parable, He issues this statement, which is one of those defining moments in our Lord's ministry. He says, let me tell you, the enemy is the devil. Exactly what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 when he says we don't wrestle against flesh and blood. People are not the enemy. You know, a lot of Christians who are caught up in a political agenda forget this. Paul, in Titus 3 says that's how you used to be. Cut 'em some slack. Before God intervened in your life, that's exactly what you were. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. In other words, our fight is not with people. It's against the kingdom of Satan that stands opposed to God. So, one of the opposing kingdoms in our world, one of the clashes that comes is because of Satan's kingdom.

But his is not the only kingdom in our world that stands in opposition to God. Another kingdom that's opposed to the reign of God is the kingdom of self. It's true that in reality, all unbelievers are part of Satan's kingdom, whether they realize it or not, as we just saw. But there's also a sense in which we could say that there are as many opposing kingdoms to God as there are people. Every person who has refused to bow his or her knee to Christ has set up his own kingdom in which he or she is king. I've enjoyed, over the last number of months reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my children each evening. We find ourselves in the last book of the series, called The Last Battle. And in the book The Last Battle, a false Aslan is presented as the real thing.

A faithful few remain loyal to Aslan, but most of Narnia falls for the deception, and in a brilliant insight, which is so common to C. S. Lewis, he describes one group in Narnia, the dwarfs, that simply refuses to take sides. When asked to join the battle against the usurpers, the dwarfs answer with these chilling words. You can't take us in. We don't want any kings. The dwarfs are for the dwarfs.

When I read those words, it reminds me of Daniel 4:30 when Nebuchadnezzar, you remember after he had been confronted with his sin, we find him 12 months later walking on the palace walls and thinking these words. Nebuchadnezzar the king reflected and said, "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power, and for the glory of my majesty?" Like the dwarfs, Nebuchadnezzar was for Nebuchadnezzar. And building Babylon wasn't nearly as important to him as building a kingdom for Nebuchadnezzar. There are millions of people right here in the metroplex who think exactly the same way. We are not going to be taken in. We're for ourselves.

Perhaps you are sitting here this morning, and that's been your mindset. When we pray Your kingdom come, we are acknowledging the reality that we live in the middle of a world where there is a clash of kingdoms. Do you really appreciate the reality that we live in a world of ideals and values dominated by the kingdom of Satan? Do you understand that our world is overrun by billions of little fiefdoms, tiny little kingdoms of self, individuals seeking to establish their own rule at the expense of Almighty God? And all those kingdoms are at war with the kingdom of God. If you're going to pray Your kingdom come, you have got to understand the clash of kingdoms.

To fully appreciate this petition, you've got to understand three great spiritual realities. The clash of kingdoms, and secondly, the character of God's kingdom, the character of God's kingdom. Your kingdom come. When we look at that word "kingdom", it's crucial that we understand exactly what it is we are talking about. If we're going to pray Your kingdom come, we have to know what it is we are praying for. What exactly is this kingdom for which we need to pray? Well, it's obvious when you read the gospels that this kingdom was a crucial part of the ministry of Jesus. In Mark 1:15 He begins His earthly ministry with these words. He said "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

As you go throughout His ministry, Jesus had much to say about this kingdom. When He sent His disciples out in Matthew 10:7, he says "… go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Even after His resurrection, in that 40-day period between His resurrection and His ascension, Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus taught His disciples concerning the kingdom of God. The kingdom continues to be a part of the ministry of Paul in the early church. Turn to Acts 8. In Acts 8, and really throughout the book of Acts, you see this emphasis. Acts 8:12, as Philip preaches to the Samaritans, it says "when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike."

You turn over to Acts 19:8, Luke talking about Paul's ministry in Ephesus, says this in verse 8. "… he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God." You see the same point over in 20:25. As he speaks with the Ephesian elders, he sees them for the last time, and he says, "… behold, I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face no more." But turn to the end of the book of Acts and let's just crown this ministry of the kingdom. In Acts 28 Paul comes to Rome, where he's going to be held prisoner for two years. Verse 30 says,

"he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, [and] unhindered."

So, this was the ministry of Christ. This was the ministry of the disciples of Christ. This was the ministry of Paul in the early church. Now let's turn back to Matthew 6 and see if we can understand what this kingdom is. The Greek word that is translated "kingdom" in verse 10 occurs 162 times in the New Testament, and most of those references are in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the synoptic gospels. Most frequently, when this word occurs, it occurs in the phrase the kingdom of God. Matthew prefers to call it the kingdom of heaven. Now, I don't know about you, but I grew up with a Scofield Reference Bible, which like many classic dispensationalists, tried to make some distinction between these two terms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. But when you examine several parallel passages, one of which I'll show you in a moment, it becomes very clear that these two expressions, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven describe exactly the same reality.

So, why does Matthew choose to say it differently. It's because Jewish people, for whom his gospel was written, have a predisposition against referring to God directly. Even when Jesus tells the parable of the little Jewish boy, the prodigal son who finds himself in the far country, what does he say when he returns to his father. "Father I have sinned against heaven." He didn't mean he had sinned against a place. He meant he had sinned against God. That's a typical Jewish deference to the name of God, and so when Matthew says the kingdom of heaven, he's referring to the kingdom of God. They are the same thing.

But what exactly is this kingdom. What does it mean "Your kingdom come". What's the character of a kingdom. Well, in its simplest form, the kingdom of God simply refers to the rule of God or the reign of God, so when you see the kingdom of God, just think, the rule of God, the reign of God. But it's a much more complicated sense than that. When you examine the New Testament evidence you find that there are two aspects of God's rule or God's kingdom, two aspects. There is a present aspect, and there is a future aspect. Now, let's look at each of these.

First of all, the present aspect of the kingdom. There is a sense in which the kingdom of God is already here. It was even in the time of Christ. In Luke 17 Jesus makes this point. Luke 17:20 the Pharisees come up and they ask Jesus a question. It probably wasn't an honest question. Typically, they were trying to trip Jesus up. That's probably what's happening here. But they ask Him a question about the kingdom of God, and specifically when is the kingdom of God coming. Now, that's a pretty straightforward question. And Jesus gives them a very straightforward answer. Verse 20,

He answered them and said "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed:" [In other words, there is not some great display that you can go and see.] "nor will they say, 'Look, here it is or there it is!" [in other words, it's not bound by geographical boundaries. It can't be drawn on a map Jesus says. But, notice how He ends, verse 21.] "… behold, the kingdom of God is [present tense] in your midst."

You want to know when the kingdom of God is coming? It's already here, Jesus says. It's here! But it's not a geo-political kingdom. It's not a place that can be drawn on a map. In fact, you remember what Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36. [He said] … "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I wouldn't be handed over. But as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." In other words, Jesus was saying My kingdom in its present aspect is a spiritual kingdom. Jesus makes this crystal clear in a passage that was very elucidating for me when I was in college and seminary, and it sort of made all of this come clear for me.

Turn to Matthew 19, Matthew 19, Jesus, in verse 16, encounters the rich young ruler. You remember His interchange with him. In verse 21, Jesus says to … [this man,] "If you wish to be complete [or perfect], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, and follow Me."

Now Jesus here isn't giving a gospel by poverty. He's not giving a gospel by charity. Instead, He's simply putting His finger on the issue in this young man's life. He was all willing to follow God except for what he owned. He wasn't willing to let that go, and so Jesus, as He typically does in all of our lives, puts His finger on the one thing this guy was not willing to give up. And He says, that's the test of whether you're really willing to be my disciple, to acknowledge Me as Lord and Savior. Verse 22, … when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving for he was one who owned much property.

So, Jesus takes this opportunity to teach His disciples about this interaction. Notice what He says in verse 23. "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." [He uses Matthew's favorite way of saying it. The kingdom of heaven.] "Again, I say to you" verse 24 "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter" [this time He says] "the kingdom of God." He uses the phrases interchangeably. So, the kingdom of God equals the kingdom of heaven. But what is it? Well, it's defined for us by the disciples in the next verse. Verse 25, "when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" You see, the kingdom of God equals the kingdom of heaven, and in its present aspect, we are talking about nothing other than the realm of salvation.

It is the spiritual rule of God in the hearts of all of those who have repented and believed in Jesus Christ. This is exactly how Paul defines it in Colossians 1:13 where he says "… [God] rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son." At the moment of salvation, you were taken from the kingdom of Satan and you were transferred into the kingdom of God's Son. We're talking about the present aspect of the kingdom is the rule of God, the spiritual rule of God in the hearts of all of those who believe in His Son. This is the present aspect of the kingdom. The realm of salvation, and it's subjects are all of those who have been rescued from their sins and forgiven by God.

If you sit here this morning as a believer, then you are in the kingdom of God. You are under the rule of God as He rules spiritually in your heart. So, when we pray Your kingdom come, we are praying that the current spiritual kingdom, the realm of salvation will advance. We are asking God by His grace that there will be more and more hearts that repent and bow before Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It's a request that, just like with us, He will rescue many others from the domain of darkness and transfer them into the kingdom of His Beloved Son. It is, in fact, an evangelistic prayer. The great English puritan Richard Baxter wrote of this third petition,

"I was wont to look but little beyond England in my prayers, not considering the state of the rest of the world. But now, as I better understand The Lord's Prayer, and particularly this petition (the second petition). I cannot be affected so much with the calamities of the land of my birth (England) as with the heathen, Muslim, and ignorant nations of the earth."

In his old English way of saying it, you know what Baxter was saying? He was saying, this is an evangelistic prayer. When I came to understand what it means to pray Your kingdom come, I understood that it meant that I was praying that people would be converted. That hearts would bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Is that your prayer? That's what Jesus is teaching us to pray here. He's asking us to pray that people would be sent, that workers of the harvest would go, that we would share the gospel, that that word would bear fruit in people's lives, and that more people would bow to Jesus Christ. That's the present aspect of the kingdom.

There's not only a present aspect of the kingdom in this request. There's also a future aspect. As you study the New Testament, just as it's crystal clear that there's an aspect of the kingdom that's here and now, it is equally clear that there's a sense in which there's a kingdom that's still in the future. It's the tension that theologians refer to as the kingdom that is 'already, but not yet'. This kingdom was anticipated in the Old Testament. You read Daniel 7:13 and 14, and there you read that the Son of Man, who is none other than Jesus Christ, comes up to the Ancient of Days, God the Father, and God the Father grants Him a kingdom which will last forever. But Jesus understood this, and He referred to this future kingdom often in His ministry.

In Luke 22, Luke 22:16, there, Jesus, at the time of the institution of the Lord's Supper says to His disciples, I'm not going, verse 16, "… I will never again eat this bread with you until it is fulfilled in the future kingdom of God." The same thing with the cup in verses 17 and 18. I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes. In other words, it's not yet, it's not here yet. So, there is a future aspect of the kingdom of God. Same chapter, verse 29.

"… just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at my table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel."

He says, listen, there is yet a future kingdom coming. This promise of a future kingdom was the expectation of the New Testament church. You come to the end of Paul's life, as he writes that second letter to Timothy, and in 4:18, one of the last things we have from his pen, he says "The Lord …will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom…." This was his hope and expectation.

When we turn to the book of Revelation we learn that this kingdom, this future kingdom will be initiated when the seventh trumpet is blown, in the time of the end when God pours out His judgment upon the world. In Revelation 11:15, we read that the seventh trumpet, the seventh angel sounded and there were loud voices in heaven, and this is what they said. "the kingdom of the world has now become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever." It's just a couple of chapters later, in chapter 19, that our Lord returns literally and physically to the earth to destroy His enemies and to set up a literal kingdom in the world. If you doubt this, look at Revelation 20.

In the coming months, on Sunday nights we are going to be getting into eschatology, the study of last things, and we'll deal with this passage in detail. But just look at it briefly this morning. Revelation 20, an angel came down from heaven holding the key of the abyss and a great chain, and he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, the devil, Satan, no doubt about who this is, and he bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, sealed it, so that he wouldn't deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were completed, and after this he'll be released for a short time. Verse 4, he seized the ruling of the believers. The end of the verse says they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Verse 7, "When the thousand years … [were] completed Satan will be released from his prison." Whatever language means, this has to mean that there will be a time yet in the future when Jesus Christ will be reigning literally and physically over this earth. This is the aspect of the kingdom that is still future. A literal, physical reign of Christ for a thousand years upon the earth, followed by an eternal kingdom.

So, when you and I pray, listen to this carefully, when you and I pray Your kingdom come, we are praying two things. We are praying one, that heart by heart the reign of Christ would be extended today. That His current, saving work in the world would advance, and secondly, we're praying that He would quickly bring the day when Jesus shall literally, physically reign in our world, and every knee will be forced to bow, and every tongue will be forced to confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So, Jesus has taught us that we should be praying that God's great eternal plan, the kingdom of God would be advanced in the world, and even that the future kingdom would come.

Now not only is it important that we understand the clash of kingdoms, and the character of God's kingdom, but finally, we must understand the "cause of its advance". Your kingdom come. How is it that God's kingdom comes? That's what we're praying! Let Your kingdom come. How does that happen? Again, remember this is a prayer. It means only God can truly cause His kingdom to advance. But what means does God use to cause it to advance? Well, just as with the first petition, to pray Your kingdom come is to pray that God will use certain means to advance His kingdom. What are those means?

Well, first of all, the kingdom advances when we share the gospel message. When "we" share the gospel message. Matthew 24:14 "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come." The kingdom of God is only advanced as you and I take the message, the good news of Christ to others. I wish we had time to turn to Romans 10, we don't, but there, Paul says, whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. But how shall they call if they haven't heard, and how shall they hear, what without a preacher, that is, without a messenger, without somebody to tell them. This is our role in the advancement of the kingdom, is to share the message of the gospel, the good news of Christ.

Secondly, the kingdom of God is advanced when we make God's kingdom our top priority. In Colossians 4:11 Paul refers to those who were working with him as fellow-workers for the kingdom of God. Let me ask you a question this morning. Can anybody legitimately call you a fellow-worker for the kingdom of God? You say, well, yeah, but that's Paul's co-workers. I'm just a lay person. Okay, well what did our Lord say in Matthew 6, that famous verse, Matthew 6:33? In the context he's saying, don't worry about what you're going to eat, don't worry about what you're going to drink, don't worry about what you're going to wear. The Gentiles live for this stuff. But don't you do it. He says, instead, seek first the kingdom of God.

Let your first priority, your top ambition in life, be the advance of the kingdom of God. The rule of God, is that what you live for? Is that what controls your decisions? Is that why you choose what you choose in life? You see, we have to do more than merely pray for God's kingdom. We have to pursue it. Spiros Zodhiates says "no other person, no power, no position, no possession should be allowed to rule in our heart. God must be the absolute and uncontested sovereign, for it is imperative that His kingdom come in our hearts before it can come to rule in the world at large. It must begin in our own hearts."

There is a third way, a final way that the gospel is advanced in the world. When we are willing, listen carefully, when you and I as followers of Jesus Christ, are willing to sacrifice ourselves and our own plans, and our own lives to advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God. Turn to Luke 18. I close with this passage. Luke 18, Jesus puts it in clear terms in response to a statement Peter makes. Luke 18:28, Peter says to Jesus, "Behold, we have left our own homes," literally, we have left our own things, "and followed you." There's an implied question here. What do we get in return? And notice how Jesus responds, verse 29.

"And He said to them, Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house" that is, possessions "or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God," [you know, it's implied that this is what we'll do? It's implied that this is how we'll live. And He says there's nobody who's done these things, but] "who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life".

You want to advance the kingdom of God? It means making personal sacrifices. Sacrificing your plans and your desires and your ambitions for the kingdom of God. When I was in college, I came across the words of David Livingston. Some of you are familiar with David Livingston. He was converted as a teenager, and shortly thereafter he began to consider the idea of becoming a medical missionary. At first, he thought he might go to China, but God redirected him to Africa. He poured out his life there as a sacrifice to our Lord. He lost his wife there on the mission field. He faced opposition even from some Christian brothers. Over the course of his years serving in Africa, David Livingston walked 29,000 miles.

When he died, the people to whom he had ministered cut out his heart and buried it in Africa, because that's where Livingston's heart really was. His body was buried a year later in Westminster Abbey in London. For the sake of the kingdom, David Livingston gave up a lucrative career as a doctor in England. He gave up power. He gave up influence. He gave up personal comfort. And it's his own personal sacrifice that make his words, and made his word, such a challenge to me. These words powerfully illustrate the spirit of this second petition, Your kingdom come.

Listen to what Livingston wrote in his diary. "Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever me from any tie but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart." Let me ask you, can you honestly pray that prayer before the Lord? Have you ever prayed that prayer? Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me, sever any tie save the tie that binds me to Your heart. Let me live for the kingdom. Are you more committed to the kingdom of God than you are to your comfort, to your personal plans, your ambitions.

Young people, let me ask you a question. Have you ever thought about using the gifts God has given you to serve as a missionary like Livingston did? If you haven't, why not? Have you ever thought, you men, about serving, using the gifts God has given you to serve as a pastor? To advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ? You parents. Do you love the kingdom of God more than you do your family? Are you willing to encourage and support your children to serve God wherever that might take them? Are you willing, like some friends of mine, you who are older, to leave your kids and grandkids and move to South Africa to serve the church there. Or more to the point, are you willing this week to make decisions, to sacrifice yourself for the kingdom? Do you love the kingdom of God more than you love your own life? If God should so direct, are you willing to let go of everything but God and go wherever it is He wants you to be, and do whatever it is He wants you to do for the sake of the kingdom.

May God give us the grace to be able to pray with all our hearts, Lord, may Your kingdom advance. And whatever it may cost, use me. Only then can we pray for that future kingdom. Only then can we say with the Apostle John and also, Lord Jesus, come quickly, and establish Your kingdom here on earth. Is this really the prayer of your heart? Your kingdom come.

Let's pray together.

Father, we confess to you that we are selfish and self-absorbed. Lord, we live for our own comfort, for our own personal peace and pleasure. It's not natural to us, we confess with shame, to think like this. And yet, Father, this is how our Lord has taught us to pray. Maybe more than words from our mouths, Lord, may this petition sink deep into the roots of our hearts. And may we be willing, with Livingston, to say, Lord, send us anywhere, only go with us. Lay any burden on us, only sustain us. Sever any tie, save the tie that binds us to Your heart. Father, help us to pray "may Your kingdom advance, and whatever it costs us, use us in the process."

Father, I pray for the person here this morning who isn't part of Your kingdom. I pray that today would be the day when Your kingdom would be advanced in their heart. Lord, that they today would submit to the rule of your Son in their hearts, bow the knee, and confess Him as Lord and Savior.

To your great glory and for the advancement of your kingdom we pray. Amen.