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Nature of Christ Kingdom
As Seen in the Example Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13

Jim Davis

Jesus described the nature of his kingdom as he preached the Sermon on the Mount. Nowhere do we see more clearly the characteristic nature of Christ true church. We wonder if we can become what Jesus is asking us to become, if we can be concerned with the things his kingdom is concerned with and as we read we wonder if we can attain to his goal for us?

The example prayer given by our Lord actually describes the basic nature of his kingdom and the terms of entrance by telling us the internal thoughts and desires of the man of God as he approaches God in prayer. "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. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." (Matthew 6:9-13)

As I was growing up, I was taught that the kingdom of God has already come. And that, I do honestly and sincerely believe. However, the conclusion was reached that since God's kingdom already exist on earth, the Lord's prayer was no longer valid. It was a real simple conclusion, why should we pray for his kingdom to come, if it is already here. But it dawned on me one day that, "Surely I can pray for the kingdom of God to come more fully in my heart? Surely, I can pray that God's rule would be established more firmly on earth in the lives of all humanity. As a matter of fact we pray for God's kingdom to come when we pray that "God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven," God's kingdom is his rule in the hearts of men.

This teaching on prayer, as none other, gives us deep insight into the nature of prayer. This example prayer also, as no other teaching, gives us depth of insight about the nature of Christ kingdom on earth today, for it reveals what should be the condition and the desires of the heart of one who is in Christ kingdom.

"Hallowed Be Thy Name"

The nature of Christ kingdom requires proper respect and praise of God. Jesus asks us to pray, "Hallowed be thy name . . . The word "hallowed" means sacred, revered, holy, etc. We have heard the remark "hallowed halls." God is sacred and deserves to be revered, respected and to be held up as holy.

The psalmist said, "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." (Psalms 111:9-10)

When we come to God in prayer how little do we appreciate the fact that we are coming before the ever blessed, eternal, and absolute almighty God. There is a sense in which we should take our shoes off, for in prayer we are walking on holy ground. Moses only heard God in the burning bush and was commanded to take off his shoes, for he was walking on holy ground. Today God speaks to us from a cross that he endured for each us. How holy should the ground be where we walk as we enter his kingdom into his very presence?

"If only we would always start in prayer with this true sense of the invocation; if only we were to recollect that we are in the presence of God, and that the eternal and almighty God is there, looking upon us as a Father, and more ready to bless and to surround us with his love than we are to receive His blessing, we should achieve more in that moment of recollection than all our prayers put together are likely to achieve without that realization. If only we all had this concern about God and His honour and glory!"1

The psalmist celebrated God as their rock, their peace, as their shepherd who leads, as their righteousness, and as the ever present One who will never leave or forsake us. It should be our all-consuming passion that the whole world may come to know God in this way.

Psalms 34:1-22
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

"Hallowing God's name or praising God will never make him greater than what he already is. But when we join with the psalmist we exalt God's name among men by the words we use and the lives we live. In a very, very infinitesimal way we reflect the glory of God and his glorious attributes. We come before God with a burning desire to hallow his name so that the whole world may bow before the "Great I Am". 2

How to Petition God

The first three petitions in the prayer begin with God. Prayer should never begin with us. It doesn't matter how desperate we may be, it does not matter about our dire circumstances, prayer begins with God. Before we begin to think of our own needs and ourselves even before our concern for others, we must start with this great concern about God and His honour and His glory.

Again, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." (Psalms 100:1-5)

God Our Father

There is absolutely no greater way to hallow God than recognizing him as a Father.

As your Father, his love is perfect. Jesus said, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:44-48 )

As your Father, he is deeply concerned about your needs. Jesus said, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" (Matt 6:25-26)

As your Father, he knows your needs before you ask. "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:31-33)

As your Father, he knows how to give good gifts. My grandson has a birthday coming up in April. As a grandparent, I inquire as to what he wants. I want to give him that perfect gift. No less is true with God. There is a difference with God, he already knows my desires.

Jesus said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:11-12)

As your Father, he desires your salvation. "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:11-14)

Thy Kingdom Come

Praising God involves desiring the coming of his kingdom. The kingdom of God really means the reign of God; it means the law and the rule of God. When we look at it like this we can see that the kingdom can be regarded in different ways. In once sense, the kingdom has already come in other generations. In fact, Daniel writes that God's kingdom is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:34); In every generation those who have allowed God to rule in their hearts have been his true kingdom.

God's kingdom came when the lord Jesus Christ was here. He said, "If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you'. He said in effect, 'The kingdom of God is here now; I am exercising this power, this sovereignty, this majesty, this dominion; this is the kingdom of God'. So the kingdom of God in one sense had come. Jesus told his disciples that God's kingdom would be established on earth before they died. Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:28)

The kingdom of God is here at this moment in the hearts and lives of all who submit to Him, in all who believe in Him. The kingdom of God is present in the Church, in the heart of all those who are truly Christian. Christ reigns in such people. Christ kingdom continues to come more fully as God's will is done more fully on earth. The true kingdom of God has always been made up of those in whose heart he dwells through faith. The true kingdom of God in Elijah's day was made up of 7,000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal. So it is today.

It is this kingdom that will be delivered to God when Jesus returns at the end of time. "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." (1 Corinthians 15:24-25)

The Nature of Christ Kingdom

The nature of being a part God's kingdom is desiring to have God's laws inscribed on our hearts. The defining characteristics of God's rule is obedience to Jesus Christ. It is true that the kingdom of Christ came in the first century, but as you pray, you must pray that the rule of God's kingdom might come more fully in your own heart. The nature of one whose heart is ruled by God is that he/she will want God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. That begins in my heart and your heart. When that is accomplished then God's kingdom, power, and glorious rule will be manifested in our lives and more firmly established on earth. Then his, WILL, will be done on earth.

The nature of being a part of God's kingdom requires an appreciation of God's laws. The liberal must realize that keeping New Year's resolutions is not enough to allow God's rule to be set up in a heart. It is not enough for a relationship with God. The legalist must understand that no one is able to enter into a relationship with God on his own merits. One must surrender to God's gracious directions on the mercy of God. If we endeavor to continue in sin that grace may abound, God forbid (Romans 6:1) and if we become so intolerant of grace that we reject Christ rule in our hearts, we will fall from grace. (Galatians 5:4)

The nature of being a part of Christ kingdom is trusting God to provide. Jesus tells us to pray asking God, "Give us our daily bread." Our world is caught up in making a living. Jesus deals with this tendency. We must also remember that God knows our needs.

A farmer was in town at noon and went into a restaurant for a hamburger and french fries. When he was served, he quietly bowed his head and gave the Lord thanks for his food.

Some rough-looking young fellows at the next table saw him and thought they would give him a hard time. One of them called out, "Hey, farmer, does everyone do that out where you live?"

"No, son," answered the farmer, "the pigs and donkeys don't."

Now there's a list of the ten most neurotic people. It's called "The Best-Stressed List."

Jesus says, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34) This is prefaced by "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness."  (Matthew 6:33) Jesus said don't spend your time worrying about this world's goods. Trust the king for "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." You have all you can take care of if you will seek to allow God to rule your heart. If you do this, God will provide the rest.

The nature of being part of Christ kingdom requires treating others as we wish to be treated. Jesus teaches us to pray, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." There is actually a double whammy to this. God treats us as we treat others. The motivation to repent is, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

Realizing God forgives you as you forgive others will help you forgive others. God will treat you as you treat others. Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

A verse that really brings this message home is found in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." The verse is often taken out of context and used in sermons on giving our money to the Lord, but in its context, Jesus is actually speaking of forgiveness. I will back up and put in context with the previous verses." Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6:36-38)

James 2:12-13
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

When you respond in an effort to respect and praise God you begin to realize that God wants you to do to others what he is already doing for you. This is the foundation for the golden rule. This is the capstone of the nature of the kingdom.

The nature of being a part of Christ kingdom requires you to deal with the sin in your life. Jesus asks us to pray, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Jesus said concerning our prayers, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:7-11)

Preachers who are preaching the health, wealth and prosperity gospel love these verses. Just ask God, he will give it to you. If you will "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 6:38) But it all depends on that for which we are asking and that which we are giving.

James gives another perspective of prayer. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:1-3) We are not going to receive things to be consumed by our own lust. If we receive them they are probably from Satan to further misdirect our lives.

The asking and receiving have more to do with the type of prayer David prayed. "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me." (Psalm 51) When we pray, "Not my will, but thy will be done" in my heart, God can answer these prayers. It is prayers like these that are according to the will of God.

 Our prayers which asks God  to lead us to him and deliver us from evil are very important. If we fail to pray prayers such as this one we will never discover God's kingdom for our own lives .

Conclusion:

These prayers are a little scary. When I ask God to create in me a new heart, a new spirit, a new nature, that I may do his will, it may require an awesome response from God. But never fear God knows how to make a proud man humble. God may have to reveal the beast in us before we can receive his nature. Nebuchadnezzar became proud and God gave the heart of a beast in him and he humbled himself and extolled the God of heaven. (Daniel 4:30-37)

God knows how to discipline in such a way so as to bring about a change of heart. That's why it is difficult and scary to pray, "O God create in me a new heart a new desire to have your will done in my life." The rebirth is difficult. But it is the only way we will ever discover God's kingdom rule in our hearts. We must come to God accepting the characteristic nature of his kingdom within our hearts.

        1. D. Martyn Loyd-Jones, Studies In The Sermon On The Mount, Vol.1,2 (The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, Grand Rapids 1979) Vol. 2  pg. 59.
        2. Ibid.
 
 

 

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