************ Catechism Sermon on Lord's Day 48 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 30, 2018
Lord's Day 48
"The Second Petition - Praying for the Kingdom"
Our theme as we look at the Catechism this time is sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is a phrase used by Paul in his letters to Timothy and Titus. Paul writes,
(2 Tim 4:3-4) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4) They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
What is sound doctrine? It is doctrine based upon the Bible. Therefore, it is reliable, trustworthy, true. Because the Catechism is based upon the Bible -- often quoting it word for word -- it teaches us sound doctrine.
Let me remind you of how the Catechism is organized. The Catechism has three sections: first, the greatness of our sin and misery; second, how we are set free from our sin and misery; third, how we are to thank God for such deliverance.
How do we thank God? The Catechism tells us three things: daily we repent of our sin and go to Jesus, daily we live a life of obedience to God's Law, and daily we commune with God in prayer. That's where we are at in the Catechism: doing good by going to God in prayer.
Now, the model for our prayers is the Lord's Prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. Let me remind you that all of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer are in the imperative. All of the petitions are commands. Of course, we can't boss God around. We can't command God to do anything. But this does show us the urgency of our petitions. It does show us how vitally necessary each of the petitions really are.
Today the sound doctrine of the Catechism looks at the second petition -- praying for the Kingdom.
I The Kingdom's Coming in Us
A "Your Kingdom come." Our first point is that we are praying for the Kingdom's coming in us. On this last Sunday of 2018 I ask, who can pray this? Who can pray, "Your Kingdom come"? The answer: only citizens of the Kingdom can pray this petition.
We hear a lot of noise on TV about the Honduras Caravan. It is now in Tijuana. Overhead pictures show 5,000 people who want to live in the USA. To use the language of the Lord's Prayer, they want to live in this kingdom, the American kingdom. Most of them are applying to enter legally. Some of them will undoubtedly enter illegally. By way of contrast, entrance into the Kingdom of God is not dependent upon man's decision or action. All the citizens of God's Kingdom are determined by God. God has elected the citizens of His Kingdom.
B "Your Kingdom come." Many of the citizens of the Kingdom are children. "Let the little children come to me," says Jesus, "and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mt 19:14). Children, more than any other person, demonstrate that citizenship in the Kingdom is purely by grace because children are receivers, not givers.
In this way we all are like children -- because entrance into the Kingdom is only by grace. It needs to be by grace. You see, the Kingdom is holy, the Kingdom is righteousness. Which means there is no place for sin or sinners in the Kingdom. The only way we sinners -- and that's what we all are -- the only way we sinners can enter the Kingdom is by the grace of God in Christ that removes our sins and is righteous in our place.
C "Your Kingdom come." Was this your petition during 2018? I ask this because NOT everyone is part of the Kingdom of God. In fact, if you are not part of the Kingdom of God you are automatically part of the kingdom of Satan -- that's the kingdom you are born into. That's the kingdom that all sinners naturally belong to. Look at our Bible reading from Colossians.
(Col 1:21) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.But, thanks be to God, we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13).
Our sons were born in Canada to a Canadian father so they automatically were Canadian citizens. However, their American mother also registered them as Americans Born Abroad, so they were also American citizens.There is no dual citizenship when it comes to the Kingdom of God. During the past year you were either part of Satan's kingdom or the Kingdom of God. It can't be both; it is either one or the other.
Christ did this. Christ, by His death and resurrection, has brought us from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of God.
D "Your Kingdom come." Kingdom citizenship involves blessings and Kingdom citizenship involves responsibilities.
Under Donald Trump we are promised lower taxes, less government regulation, a stable economy, and economic prosperity. In the Kingdom of God, we are promised the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, everlasting righteousness, peace with God, abundant joy, eternal life.
In the Kingdom of God, every citizen enjoys fellowship with the King Himself. The King is not an aloof monarch with a wall of separation keeping the people away. Rather, He is a benevolent ruler Who cares for every citizen, Who hears their prayers, Who bottles their tears, Who protects them.
A number of years ago an issue of "National Geographic" had an image that has forever been burned into my memory. It shows a man, an ordinary man, making a petition to the king of Saudi Arabia. The caption underneath explains that there is one week each year during which any citizen who wants can demand an audience with the king.
As Kingdom citizens, we have the right to come before the King of the whole big wide universe. As Kingdom citizens, we can come with boldness before the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Kingdom citizenship also involves responsibility. Our responsibility is to be loyal, obedient, devoted servants of the King. As such, we want to defend His honor, keep His commandments, serve His church, and even suffer for His sake. Those who love their King willingly and gladly die for Him. Listen to how Paul puts it in our Bible reading:
(Col 1:10) ... live a life worthy of the Lord and ... please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God ...
The Catechism uses the word "rule." "Your Kingdom come" means we ask to be ruled by the Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to the King. You know what we are asking for? We are asking for the directing of our thoughts, the bending of our will, the taming of our passions, the ordering of our emotions, in the way of God's commandments. We are saying,
Rule me! Make me Your obedient subject! Make me Your loyal servant! Uncover and root out my treacherous ways.
"Your Kingdom come." Kingdom citizens do not want to be left to themselves. They do not want to be in control. They do not want to practice self-rule. They want to be under the rule of King Jesus.
"Your Kingdom come." This prayer was necessary during 2018, it is necessary during 2019, because none of us are perfect. This prayer is necessary because none of us submit perfectly to the rule of King Jesus; this is our goal as Kingdom citizens but we have problems meeting that goal. This prayer is necessary because we do not have strength on our own to serve King Jesus. This prayer is necessary because Satan, our former master, is determined to destroy our allegiance to Jesus and fights every effort to serve King Jesus. He fights us in the world, he fights us in the church, he fights us in our homes, he fights us in our own families. He doesn't want the Kingdom to come in our lives. He doesn't want us to submit to King Jesus.
II The Kingdom's Coming in the Church
A "Your Kingdom come." Our second point is that we are praying for the Kingdom's coming in the church. The sound doctrine of the Catechism puts it this way: "Keep your church strong, and add to it." "Your Kingdom come." "Keep your church strong, and add to it."
There are those who think it is the job of the church to bring in the Kingdom by feeding the poor, urban renewal, promotion of equality, protecting the environment, starting a Christian school or hospital, building homes, fighting abuse, standing against abortion, and establishing rehabilitation programs. None of these things are wrong in and of themselves. In fact, they all are laudable. But they are not the way in which the Kingdom comes.
The Kingdom would not come even if the church could somehow eliminate unemployment, provide universal health care, improve schools, end poverty. People might be happier and healthier and safer. But they would still be sinners on the road to hell.
B "Your Kingdom come." "Keep your church strong, and add to it." The Kingdom comes when the church is growing in faith and numbers. The Kingdom comes when the Gospel is being proclaimed and sinners are called to repent and believe. The Kingdom comes when the Word is being preached, the sacraments are being administered, and church members are called to Christian discipleship. The Kingdom comes when all the elect are gathered into the church. The Kingdom comes when the church grows in grace and knowledge and love of the truth. Paul writes:
(Col 1:6) All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.That's how the Kingdom comes in the church.
"Your Kingdom come." "Keep your church strong, and add to it." This petition means we need to pray for pastors and seminaries. We need to pray for elders and deacons. We need to pray for Classis and Synod. We need to pray for missionaries and their families. We need to pray for Sunday School and Catechism. We need to pray for our programs and ministries. We need to pray for faithful churches in every place.
The church, like the individual Christian, needs to submit to King Jesus. Christ needs to be acknowledged as "head of the body, the church" (Col 1:18). The Kingdom comes in the church when the church submits to Christ her head in all things.
C "Your Kingdom come." We don't merely pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God. We also pray against the kingdom of darkness. Especially, we pray against the works of the devil. Satan has two great works: persecution and deception. So we pray that God put an end to the persecution and persecutors of the church. We pray that God destroy false teachers and their false teaching, heretics and their heresy, false churches and their false theology. We pray that God destroy every conspiracy against His Word.
"Your Kingdom come." "Keep your church strong, and add to it." Is this how you pray? Do you pray for the coming of the Kingdom in the church? Do you pray for the defeat of Satan and the growth of the church?
III The Kingdom's Coming in Glory
A "Your Kingdom come." Our third point is that we are praying for the Kingdom's coming in glory.
We know that with the coming of Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven has already come. Already Jesus is King. Already Jesus is on the throne. Already Jesus is Lord. So right now, today, we are called to submit to Him more and more. So right now, today, the church is to proclaim the message of the Gospel. So right now, today, the Devil must be resisted at every turn.
B However, the Kingdom is not yet fully here. Yes, Christ is King now but His rule is being resisted.
It is being resisted by you and me. Every time you and I sin we resist the rule of King Jesus. So, the promise of the petition is that someday we will be perfect subjects of King Jesus, that someday we will share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light (cf Col 1:12).
It is being resisted by the church. Every time the church fails to proclaim Christ and the Gospel, every time the church fails to call sinners to repentance, every time the church tolerates sin and evil and heresy and accommodates herself to the political correctness of the world, she resists the rule of King Jesus. So the promise of the petition is that someday the church will be made perfect.
It is being resisted by the Devil and by the world. So, the promise of this petition is that someday all the kingdoms of men and devils will be destroyed and only the Kingdom of God will remain.
C "Your Kingdom come." The Christian loves this petition because we look forward to the final glorification of King Jesus. We can hardly wait for the day when at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11).
"Your Kingdom come." I hope that during 2018 you prayed for the Kingdom's coming in your life, for the Kingdom's coming in the church, and for the Kingdom's coming in glory. I hope this will be your prayer in 2019. THE LORD'S PRAYER
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