Thy Kingdom Come!

Matthew 6:9-10, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 

Commentator Adam Clarke said concerning the second petition in the Model Prayer: “The ancient Jews did not hesitate to say: “He prays not at all, in whose prayers there is no mention of the kingdom of God. Hence, they were accustomed to say, ‘Let him cause his kingdom to reign, and his redemption to flourish: and let the Messiah speedily come and deliver his people.’”

Jesus held the same convictions concerning the gospel of the kingdom of God or of Heaven. In fact, the first time the word gospel is mentioned in the New Testament it has a qualifying term accompanying it: “…the gospel of the kingdom…” (Mt. 4:23). Then he taught his disciples to pray, in what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, “thy kingdom come”. This is in the imperative mood in the Greek and could be translated – Kingdom of God, Come! Will of God – Be Done!

The importance of the Kingdom message for Jesus can scarcely be overestimated. In his preaching, he proclaimed the Kingdom; in his parables, he illustrated the Kingdom; and in his healings and deliverances Jesus demonstrated the present, powerful and in-breaking Kingdom of Heaven. In short, Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom, he prioritized it, and he personified it.

The term "gospel" as used by evangelical Christians today has been so decimated that it is normally used to describe how one can get a free pass, that is good upon their death, for admission into heaven.

In contrast, the apostolic "kerygma" was a proclamation of the death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation of King Jesus that asserted that in His person, God has become king at last, but He is the king who died to reconcile his enemies - which included not just the pagans, but the covenant people of Israel themselves. He is the suffering, saving, and sovereign king. The result is a reconstituted people of God - a new covenant family in Jesus the Messiah, the King.

The “gospel of the kingdom of God” is the announcement that the kingdom is coming, that the kingdom of God has come near, and that the reign of God is breaking into the world to transform it. The good news of the kingdom is that heaven has, and is, and will fully and finally come to earth, so that the will of God is done on earth the way it is done in heaven.

When the kingdom comes, people are reconciled to God, the blind see, the lame walk, the dead are raised, the marginalized are included, the oppressed are liberated, and sins are forgiven. When miraculous experiences like these happen in the midst of God’s people, we commonly refer to it is as “revival” or spiritual awakening.” Christians from all walks of life repeatedly declare that what the Church really needs is a “revival.”

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, was the sole preaching pastor for almost 30 years at Westminster Chapel in London. Weekly in his church’s prayer meetings and regularly in his sermons, he would call his congregation and the church at large to seek the Lord and seek revival. He regularly said things like, “If I have any understanding of the times, if I have any understanding of the biblical teaching concerning the nature of the church, and the work of the Holy Spirit, I do not hesitate to assert that the only hope for the church at the present time lies in revival.” But by his own admission, revival never came. Why? After years of praying for global revival myself, I found myself asking repeatedly, why does God seem so reluctant to “send revival? And even when he does, why is it so short lived and why does the church and community go back to business as usual so quickly?

Perhaps one of the reasons as to why revival praying goes unanswered is because it’s an Old Testament concept. Ancient Israel would be living in a period of prosperity and success, then forget God and go a “whoring” after other gods, i.e., idols. God would then discipline them, and after suffering under the cruel hands of their enemies, they would cry out to God. He would forgive them and restore them to his favor. Prosperity would follow and they would find themselves back on the same old treadmill – success, sinning, suffering, supplicating God, spiritual renewal. This went on for centuries.

This is not the standard of the New Testament. King Jesus would never sanction such a lifestyle.

In light of this, I have stopped praying for revival and have started to pray the way Jesus taught us to pray - Thy Kingdom come!

The late Jim Hylton, and the church he pastored, experienced a mighty move of God that he called “revival.” But in later years he said, “I saw the kingdom coming and called it something else (revival – W.T.).” He concluded that we need to change our praying from, “Lord, send a great revival or spiritual awakening”, to “Lord, let your kingdom come more fully, more powerfully, more demonstratively.” Let the “as it is in Heaven” confront and change the situations on earth, so Your will is done, and Your name is hallowed.”

I think if we start praying this way, God will hear and answer our praying. When we pray this way, we will see change, not in one massive move of God, but in the way the kingdom comes. While is true that at the end of history, King Jesus will come and His kingdom will be dramatically, radically, and publicly established, in the present it has come and is coming in the manner as Jesus taught in Matthew 13. He said that the kingdom and its coming and growth would be like the mustard seed, like the yeast inserted in the dough, like salt and light, etc. And as we look at church history, this is the way the gospel of the kingdom of God has advanced, supernaturally, slowly, silently, but successfully. So successful in fact, that 2 billion people on the earth now profess to be followers of the King. I can anticipate the response of many being that masses of these are only nominal Christians. This is true. But if only a small number of these can recover the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom of God, they can do what a handful of nobodies did in the first 350 years of church history. That is to go from 12 men to 20 million people! How? By making kingdom disciples who took the assignment to make disciples of all nations as being possible because with God as their King nothing is impossible.

What is the kingdom of heaven or of God? The phrase kingdom of Heaven reveals where it's from and kingdom of God reveals who runs it. The simplest definition of the kingdom is “King Jesus in action by the Holy Spirit in and through His people.” Another definition is the will of God being done on earth as it is already being done in heaven.

The recovery of the King Jesus gospel of the kingdom produces a people who live in righteousness, joy, and peace, because this is what life in the kingdom is (Romans 14:17). Nor is it just a lot of loud speech for the kingdom of God comes “not in word, but in power” (1 Cors. 4:20).

Praying, “Thy kingdom come”, will correct the misunderstanding of our assignment and halt us from continuing to lead people to make decisions for Christ so they can go to heaven in the sweet by and by, and start equipping them to make disciples of Christ who will bring the kingdom of heaven to bear in the nasty now and now. Discipleship flows from the gospel message. Until we teach this larger Kingdom message, we will never make Jesus standard disciples.

We often wonder why someone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus comes to church and reads his Bible but is also looking at porn and not serving the poor, not evangelizing his neighbor, and divorcing his spouse, and not studying theology. We often wonder why someone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus can so easily separate their "spiritual" life from their "secular" life.

The basic cause is that we have preached a gospel that deals merely with personal salvation so once someone is "saved" there is not much else to think about. They "prayed the prayer" and now it is "mission accomplished." However, in contrast, the gospel of the kingdom is not just about our "spiritual" lives but about Christ redeeming everything that has gone wrong in the universe. It breaks down this sacred/secular divide and declares God has become King in Jesus and all authority is His in heaven and on earth.

Jesus isn't just the "Lord of your heart." He is the Lord of the universe. He is the Lord over your finances. He is the Lord over your sex. life. He is the Lord over your marriage. He is the Lord over your hobbies. He is the Lord over your kids. He is the Lord over everything that exists!

King Jesus is running the affairs of the world for the benefit of His church, and bestowing gifts and ministries upon His people. If the people of faith can ever recover this sense of having the King among us at all times, we will once more begin to expect great things of God and attempt great things for Him.

It’s time to begin to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever!