This is the start of something big. We have thus far covered the experience of our justification, and this experience of grace is foundational to our Christian experience. BUT..it is learning to add to this faith and experience, the faith and experience of power and grace for victory that is the "teleos", the purpose, of our Christian calling. Over the next few weeks, we will be learning to rise up out of prayer and live in the kingdom by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the Glory of God alone.
The Meaning of the Prayer "Your Kingdom Come"
For many Christians around the world, one of the most revolutionary proclamation of our faith has become rote and meaningless. This development of history is even more peculiar when we think that just a few verses later after teaching us our revolutionary motto, Jesus warns us “now don’t let this become just empty words like pagans do. Don’t let this become vain repetition”. Are human beings just stupid or what? This radical visionary motto is the prayer “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. What could a more radical call for fundamental change than to say today make earth just like heaven. Nothing could be further from reality. The Lord’s prayer is a prayer for a complete change of our reality.
In heaven, all the saints are filled with one great affection for the Lord. In heaven, the saints do Your will and hallow Your name. In heaven, Jesus rules and reigns. His will is done. The Glory of God fills the “temple”. This is certainly not true in my life. This temple is not filled with the light of His moral beauty and that is all to apparent. Woe is me.
The Heavenly Pattern of Life
When I was in seminary, one of my professors (I went to a dispensational seminary) taught that the Kingdom was the return of Jesus. I challenged him and asked him, “Does that mean that when we pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ we are praying for the return of Christ’”. “Well no”, he responded. You see to believe that the kingdom is Christ’s political rule, which to the dispensationalists was postponed, is to completely miss the meaning of the kingdom.
When Jesus preached, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. This call to faith did not mean repent because the political rule of the Christ and the judgment is coming soon. To believe such would totally contradict the sovereignty of God and the prophecy of John the Baptist. Before Christ’s ministry began, John the Baptist cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. The Christ is coming and He has come as your Lord and your savior. Repent and enter into relationship with Him!!! John the Baptist saw the crucifixion which was decreed in God’s plan from eternity. The cross is not God’s plan “B”. Therefore, when Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom to be at hand, he was not proclaiming his right to political rule (Hello!!). Instead, He was calling all to enter the kingdom by submitting to the rule and reign of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the clear proclamation of the Father’s will in the Person of the Living Word Himself. The meaning of the preaching, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” is that the heavenly pattern of life is within your reach. It is near to you so turn and reach out and grasp it through repentance and faith. The kingdom can become an existential reality right now. The Christ is here and he has and will, by the Cross, remove every barrier between God and man. Salvation is at hand. Salvation and the kingdom, the heavenly pattern of life, is within reach.
Paul definedthe kingdom for us in Romans 14:17: “The kingdom of God is Christ’s return” OOPS . No it doesn’t say that. I was kidding.
Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Righteousness, peace and joy is a perfect definition of the heavenly pattern of life. In heaven, the righteous will of God is performed, the shalom of God is abiding, and the rest and joy of God is enjoyed by all the inhabitants of heaven.
Such a Revolutionary Prayer takes Great Faith
If the kingdom is within our reach, then why isn’t the kingdom the defining characteristic of our existence? Instead so much of our existence might be defined by sin, anxiety and a baseline level of depression. Life is hell and then you die. What do you mean, heaven on earth is the inheritance of the saints. The answer is “Repent and believe” is it not.
So far in our study of prayer and our intimate experience of God and life, I have done my best to analyze the experience of the Father’s love. When we come to God, it is vital that our approach is based on the grace of the gospel. When we meet Him our experience is to be one of an embrace. Our orientation is toward a Father who is not negligent, or a perfectionist, or abusive but a Father who has for us love and affection. This is our experience of the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We will not allow ourselves to be bewitched by legalism but we will expect acceptance freely from our heavenly Father. This faith is faith in our immutable relationship with God through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I call this our static faith. The foundation of our relationship with God is experienced in a quite and still place of worship. When we come to God, we experience our immutable unchanging relationship with Him. This static unchanging experience of “simultaneously saint and sinner” is the experienced of our justification.
BUT wait there is more. Our existence is not only defined and lived in the static state. In fact, to experience the heavenly quality of life, I need a practical faith that changes my existence while I am “on the move”. It is in the living that life happens. For the day itself, I need a dynamic faith.
Abraham had a dynamic faith. Christianity is the combination of both of these types of faith the faith in our static relationship with the Father and faith for the heavenly pattern of life in our living. The key is to realize that both applications of faith are faith in the grace of God to encounter our life and bring us into the promised land of righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.