Sunday, February 19, 2017

Let Your Kingdom Come

(I normally dislike music embedded in web-pages but this was so well done I couldn't not give you the option.)

Let Your Kingdom come” This is the second imperative in the Lord’s Prayer.

Before we look at that imperative, lets get a little background from something Jesus did in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples began to rattle off a list of possibilities that the people had been saying. “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Jesus is asking what do they think? And then he asks, “What do you think?” Most of us know what Peter answered. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

These verses are a source of some controversy and division across denominational lines. I don’t intend to address that here. What I find stunning is how Jesus answered Peter. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Peter did not discover this truth. It was revealed by “my Father who is in heaven”.

So then; The confession of “Jesus as the Christ” is evidence of someone who is living in the Kingdom. Consider the following scriptures; Rom 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” Matt 10:32-33 “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” 1 John 4:15 "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God."

Next, Jesus in Matthew 16:18-19 says, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The implication of these verses are debated in Christianity. I draw your attention to them because I hope you will see that the Lord’s Prayer is a helpful rubric for understanding these verses. As I mentioned above I am not going to address the meaning of “the keys” or “the rock”, but I will discuss the ideas of binding and loosing.

What is Jesus talking about? Is Jesus giving Peter the authority to bind and loose whatever he chooses? This idea makes the imagination run wild with possibilities. So in order to tame the imagination I suggest we use the Lord’s Prayer as a filter, a hermeneutic if you will to inform our imagination and understanding. “Let your kingdom come” becomes then a helpful guide with which to understand what Jesus is saying in vs 20.

So then when I pray let your kingdom come, I am not attempting to affect conditions in heaven. When I “bind” or “loose” something on earth I should not expect those things to be bound or loosed in heaven. It should be the reverse, praying let your kingdom come, I am attempting to affect conditions on earth. When I “bind or “loose” something on earth it should be something already bound or loosed in heaven. As Tom Wright has mentioned in his book The Lord and His Prayer Heaven is to come down! "Think of the vision at the end of Revelation. It isn’t about humans being snatched up from earth to heaven. The holy city, new Jerusalem, comes down from heaven to earth. God’s space and ours are finally married, integrated at last. That is what we pray for when we pray ‘thy Kingdom come’." (Pg. 24)

What are the things that are bound and loosed in heaven? Here are a few examples.

From Ephesians:
  • We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
  • God the Father chose us in Jesus “before the creation of the world” to be holy.
  • God has predestined us for adoption to sonship.
  • The Father has given us a surety of the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance.

From Hebrews:
  • Jesus Christ is our high priest in heaven.

From James:
  • Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

From 1 Peter:
  • An inheritance that can never perish.

Also the sermon on the Mount gives examples of what citizens of the Kingdom will look like.

From Matthew:
  • Poor in spirit
  • Persecuted for righteousness
  • Hungry for righteousness
  • Meek
  • Pure in heart
  • Peacemakers
  • Merciful
Pray that these things would be bound in your heart as they already are in Heaven. Pray that they would come down and be made manifest in our lives on earth for the glory of God our Father and our Lord Jesus.

I’ll close with this thought from Mt 5:16.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

To pray “Let your kingdom come” would look something like this. Loosing the good works in heaven;
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10