************ Sermon on Heidelberg Catechism Q & 128-129 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on March 25, 2012

Q & A 128-129
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
"Kingdom, Power, Glory, Amen"

I Doxology: Part of Lord's Prayer?
A I had a problem this past week as I was studying for this sermon. And, I have a problem again in preaching this sermon. The problem is that what is in front of us this evening is not part of the Bible.

The oldest, best, and most reliable Greek manuscripts do not include the conclusion before us as part of the Lord's Prayer. The best modern translations of the Bible (the RSV, NASB, NEB, NIV, ESV) do not include "For yours in the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." I searched through ten translations and the King James is the only one to include these words as part of the text rather than as a footnote.

Do you see my problem?

B The traditional answer to this dilemma is to confess the leading of the Spirit. Very early in the second century, a Spirit-led and a Spirit-guided church added the words in front of us as a fitting conclusion to the Lord's Prayer.

C You may wonder, "Isn't this playing fast and loose with the teachings of Jesus?" Not really. A study of church history and early Christian practices reveals that the Lord's Prayer was never prayed without some closing words of praise to God. Furthermore, it was and is completely unthinkable that in teaching us how to pray Jesus would end with "temptation" and "evil."

We know that the early church borrowed heavily from synagogue and Jewish worship. In Judaism, prayers were often concluded with a sentence of praise made up by the person who was praying. Doubtless, this is what Jesus intended with the Lord's Prayer. He understood, and His disciples understood, that the prayer was to be ended with a word of praise, what we call a doxology.

D The words of the doxology, then, were not taught by Jesus as part of the Lord's Prayer. However, when we look at our Bible reading from 1 Chronicles 29, we see that they are biblical in content. Listen again to the words of David's prayer:
(1Chr 29:11) Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

We find many of the same expressions in the book of Daniel. Listen to what Daniel writes about the messianic figure he knows as the Son of Man:
(Dan 7:14) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Similar language is also used in the Revelation. Listen to what is said by the twenty-four elders and tens of thousands of angels:
(Rev 4:11) "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
(Rev 5:13) "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

II Kingdom, Power, Glory
A Led by the Spirit and the Word, then, the early church decided to fix the ending to the Lord's Prayer with these words as a doxology: "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." By ending our prayer with these words our attention is being drawn, once again, to the beginning of our prayer.

We have made a staggering number of requests of God. We have asked God to help us really know, bless, worship, and praise Him. We have asked God that others comes to praise Him because of us. We have asked God to rule us and the church and to destroy the work of the devil. We have asked God to help us reject our will and to obey His will. We have asked God to take care of all our physical needs. We have asked God to forgive us and to grant us the grace to forgive others. We have asked God to grant us victory when we face the danger of temptation. In all of this asking, it is so easy for us to forget the God that we ask from. We can become so concerned with all of our requests that we no longer see the overall picture.

So, the Spirit-led church directs our attention back to God. In the doxology of the prayer we are turned back to the One Who can and will do something about our requests. We are being taught to look beyond our needs to the heavenly Father to Whom we pray. This serves to remind us that our life and our prayer life ought to be God-centered and not me-centered. As the Catechism puts it, "your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise forever." No room here for selfishness. No room here for prayers that are about what we want and dream. It is all about God.

In my files I found a poem that speaks to this. The author is Verna Peterson and the title is "DEATH".
each morning
as I fixed our family's breakfast
I would see them
(our kitchen windows met across the way)
a woman, gentle-faced and sweet
laying out the morning things
and he, sitting at the table,
would take the family Bible out
smoothing its pages–
for forty years, or more
they plied this self-same ritual
starting the day
and with God

and then one night
death called
and she was gone

the next morning
I watched
as tears stood in my eyes
an old man
his shoulders hunched against the years
take down his cup and saucer
smooth the family Bible out
sitting at the table
alone ...
and with God
This is the way it should be, my brothers and sisters. Our lives and our prayer life should always begin and end with God.

"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." By ending our prayers this way, we acknowledge that God's "holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise forever." Don't forget, we sinners are so self-centered, so me-centered. We want the attention. We want the praise. We want the universe to revolve around us and our needs and our wants and our desires and our cares and our concerns. So, we force ourselves at the end of our prayers to look beyond ourselves and above ourselves to the Majesty of Him Who sits in heaven. John Baillie puts it this way:
Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of You, let my first impulse be to worship You, let my first speech be Your name, let my first action be to kneel in prayer. Amen.

-- John Baillie, Virtue, Vol. 21, no. 1.

B "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." What else does this conclusion to the Lord's Prayer mean?

Let's break this doxology down into its individual components. "For yours is the kingdom." God is the almighty King. God, in Christ, is the Ruler. His Kingdom knows no geographic boundaries because it covers the entire universe. His Kingdom knows no historical boundaries because He rules from eternity to eternity. His Kingdom knows no ethnic limitations because He calls men from every language and tribe and people and nation to bow before Him. We should stand amazed that such a mighty King over such a mighty kingdom is willing to listen to us and even requests our prayers.
An issue of "National Geographic" has 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 anyone who wants can demand an audience with the king.
We are the petitioner, but on a much grander scale. We make our petition to the King of the Universe.

We also pray about God's power: "For yours is the power." His is the power of the river as it rushes over Niagara Falls. His is the power of the sun as it sends its warming rays throughout the solar system. His is the power of the atom as it splits. His is the power of the hurricane and the tornado. His is the power of the earthquake and the tidal wave. His is the power of a thousand thunders. His is the power to raise Jesus from the grave, heal the sick, cure the lame, give sight to the blind, and overcome cancer.

Keep in mind what the Scriptures say about God and His mighty power:
(Gen 18:14) Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.

(Num 11:23) The LORD answered Moses, "Is the Lord's arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you."

(Job 42:2) "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

(Jer 32:17) "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

(Lk 1:37) For nothing is impossible with God."

(Lk 18:27) Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

We end with God's glory: "For yours is the glory." What glory? Think of God at the top of Mount Sinai.
(Ex 19:16-19) On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. (17) Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (18) Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, (19) and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.
That's the glory of the Lord. It is a glory so bright that when Moses came down from the mountain he was asked to cover his radiant face because the people were afraid to come near him (Ex 34:29ff). It is the glory revealed by Jesus in His miracles (Jn 2:11). It is the glory of the resurrected Lord. It is the glory that blinded Saul on the Damascus road and made him fall to the ground and left his companions speechless (Acts 9). It is the glory of the Lord Jesus in heaven – His face is like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Rev 1:16).

"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." According to the Catechism, we are saying, "We have made all these requests of you because, as our all-powerful king, you not only want to, but are able to give us all that is good." Don't forget, God is our "Father in heaven." Therefore, we can "expect everything for body and soul from his almighty power" (A 121). "He is able to do this because he is almighty God; he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father" (A 26).

III Amen
A The prayer ends with "Amen." In the Hebrew the word shows up 28 times in the Old Testament and in the Greek the word shows up 129 times in the New Testament.

"Amen" literally means "certainly, so let it be, sure to be, verily, truly."

In the Gospels, we hear Jesus using the word "Amen" often to emphasize the truth of what He is saying. "Amen. It is sure to be."

In the Revelation, Jesus is identified as the "Amen." John puts it this way,
(Rev 3:14) These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.
Again, the emphasis falls on the truth of what Jesus is saying. "Amen. It is sure to be."

What is true for Jesus is also true for God and His promises. As Paul writes to the church at Corinth,
(2Cor 1:20) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
"Amen" emphasizes the truth and the reliability of God and His promises – especially the promise of salvation because of Christ Who died and arose. "Amen. It is sure to be."

In his letters, Paul often closes a section on praise to God with the word "Amen." This is his way of emphasizing the glory, honor, and praise that belongs to God. "Amen. It is sure to be." There is a song writer who has this in mind when he wrote,
Praise to the Lord!
O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath
Come now with praises before him!
Let the Amen
Sound from his people again:
Gladly for aye we adore him!
"Amen" to the adoration and glory of God. "Amen. It is sure to be."

B The Catechism puts it this way, "It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer, than that I really desire what I pray for." Take your most heart-felt prayer. Take the innermost desire of your heart. "Amen" means God's listening is stronger than your praying. I may not be praying in the right way or with the right attitude. I may be asking for the wrong thing. I may not be praying out of love for God. I may not be fervent and persistent in my prayers. I may not be heartfelt in my prayers. "Amen" means God hears and listens in spite of me and my weaknesses. "Amen. It is sure to be."

"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." This is the perfect conclusion to the perfect prayer.
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