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Thy Kingdom Come?
By David A. DePra
Thy kingdom Come, Thy will be done," is a part of the Lord’s prayer, and as that, certainly indicates that God not only wants us to pray it, but also wants to answer us. God WANTS to bring His kingdom and His will. The question is, do we really mean what we are praying? Do we truly want GOD’S kingdom to come? And for HIS will to be done?
Everyone immediately shouts, "YES!!!" And I do hope we all mean it. But it might be a good idea to understand what we are asking when we pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." It might mean much more, and carry with it many ramifications, then we realize.
What is the Kingdom of God?
We are praying that God’s kingdom would come. But what IS His kingdom? And where are we praying that it come? Well, the kingdom of God is simply this: The RULE of God. The sovereignty of God. Period. That is all it is.
Most of us have thought that the kingdom of God is a place or a thing. We have thought that it is heaven, the church, or the reign of Christ in the millennium. No. Those are included IN the kingdom, in the sense that all three are under the RULE of God. But the kingdom of God isn’t a place or a thing. The kingdom of God is the rule of God over ANY place or ANY thing. Again – it is the rule or reign of God, period.
You cannot see RULE. You cannot see sovereignty. You can only see the effects. Even when men have authority, you can’t see the actual authority. You might see the badges, the throne, or the effects of their rule. But you cannot see the rule itself.
This fact about the kingdom of God accounts for Jesus’ explanation of it. Note closely His words as to the NATURE of the kingdom:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: (in a way that can be seen with the eyes) Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21)
Jesus said you cannot SEE the kingdom of God coming – that is – it was not going to be a matter of God coming down and taking over nations. Not at that time anyways. No. The kingdom of God would come in a way that, in fact, could not be pointed to at all. No one could say, "Lo here!" Can we see how clearly Jesus stated that the kingdom of God cannot be seen, pointed to, or limited to a place, person, group, or anything else that we commonly think of as a kingdom?
No. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU." The kingdom of God is the RULE OF GOD which God wants to set up IN A PERSON. To use, "kingdom language," God wants to set up a whole new government or kingdom in our hearts. If you examine this, you will find that this requires a new KING – Jesus Christ. It also requires that the person who is now under this kingdom, be adjusted completely to a new realm or rule. This is a whole new life altogether.
This is, of course, nothing more than another way of stating the Truth about salvation and the new birth. Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to enter the kingdom of God you had to be BORN AGAIN – born from above all over again.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God….Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:3-7)
Being, "born of water," means to be buried in the death of Christ – as symbolized by baptism. Nicodemus understood baptism, which is why Jesus used that picture. For us, it means that to be born again, you must first come to the Cross. Then, you will be, "born of the Spirit" – made alive with the resurrection of Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
Take note that to be born again, you must come to Jesus, and SURRENDER your life. You must, in other words, surrender the throne of your life, surrender self-ownership, and self-rule. In other words, you must surrender YOUR GOVERNMENT and rule over yourself to HIS. Thus, we see that salvation and the new birth really is a matter of entering the kingdom of God. It really is a matter of the kingdom of God entering YOU. You are no longer your own. You belong to HIM.
The kingdom of God is God’s RULE. Anyone surrendering to God’s rule through Jesus Christ is IN God’s kingdom because God’s kingdom is in him or her. This, immediately we see that Christianity – if it is real – always carries the reality that Jesus is our Lord. We are in His kingdom, under His rule.
All of that being said, we must stop for a second and realize the ramifications of what coming under God’s rule means. Certainly at the top of the list of what it means is the fact that OUR RULE must end. Or, to put it another way, our kingdom and our government – everything that has governed our lives – must be dismantled. We have come under a brand new rule.
If we limit this merely to the FACT or EVENT of our salvation, it won’t seem like a big deal. But the event of our salvation is only the surrender of our rule to the government of God. At that point, it is true that we are no longer in charge. If we have given our lives to Christ, He has taken us. We have new life in us – His life – and this is a finished victory. However, this is only the changing of the RULE. We must spend the rest of our lives being ADJUSTED TO the kingdom of God – being adjusted to our new Lord.
What I am saying is this: You and I, in Adam, are not constituted to the kingdom of God. We might think we are. But we are not. There is nothing about us which is compatible with the rule of God, or the Truth of God. And the moment after we are saved, yes, we do have a brand new attitude and motivation. But we still aren’t all that constituted to the new kingdom which has been set up in us.
When one country takes over another, the moment the terms of unconditional surrender are accepted, the battle is over. But the adjustment has just begun. The conquering country must now invade and occupy. It must take the country it has conquered and begin to adjust it over to the new rule. And the country which is conquered must surrender to this – which is nothing more than a working out of the total surrender that begins it. This is never easy.
This is exactly what we are up against when we surrender our lives to Christ. Despite our total and unconditional surrender to Christ, which hopefully, we really mean, we have no clue as to what it is all about. God must, from that point, begin to do a work in us which will ADJUST us to the new government. The problem is, we are used to the old one – it is all we have ever known. It is natural for us to govern ourselves, and unnatural for us to walk under God’s rule. Thus, there will be confusion as to what God is doing. And there will be struggle. It is inevitable.
We MUST see this: In order for the kingdom of God to freely reign and rule in our lives, OUR KINGDOM must be dismantled. Surrender to Christ at salvation does not do this. It simply puts our kingdom out of business and into the hands of God. But we must unlearn our ways, and learn His. This won’t be easy. The kingdom of God will clash with most everything about our kingdom.
If we would understand what God is doing in this matter, it would explain much. It would possibly explain why we think God is doing one thing, but He is doing another. Most of all, it would explain why it often seems as if God is working against us. He is – in a manner of speaking. The reality is that we are working against Him, and He isn’t going to budge or concede. God is working against our old pattern of walking according to our old kingdom. He is trying to break us of that, and usher in the reality of the new.
Don’t think I’m talking about outright rebellion. No. I’m talking about the fact that you and I do not know what it means to live in the rule of God. In so many ways, it is OTHER THAN everything we have known – and we may have little frame of reference for the Truth in this matter. Oh, we may know the doctrines, mind you, and congratulate ourselves that we know the Truth. But, "knowing the Truth," is really living IN the Truth. And it is really tough to get there.
Read Matthew 6:33. Jesus says, "Seek you first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added." That seems so clear, doesn’t it? Something everyone would agree is a good thing, right? Yes. But then it comes time for God to get us to the place where that verse represents our thinking, our motivation, and what makes us tick. That isn’t so easy. In fact, to get us there will strike at the heart and core of what makes us tick; of our entire constitution for living.
It is easy to believe that, "all these things will be added," when you already have plenty of, "all these things." It is easy to believe you are, in fact, seeking first the kingdom, when there is nothing of a life and death issue before you that mandates that you actually FIND the rule of God. Talk is cheap. But the reality of what Jesus is saying requires a complete change about how we think and live.
The point is this: To seek FIRST the kingdom of God means that MY kingdom must be dismantled. To pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," means that I am asking God to bring HIS RULE, and DO HIS WILL – to the complete disregard of mine. Am I prepared for that?
Well, I need to get prepared, because that is really all God offers us: His kingdom and His rule. In the end, it is going to be that. We had better make up our minds on that, and begin warming up to the idea that God intends to set aside completely OUR will and OUR kingdom.
When we pray, "They kingdom come, Thy will be done," God will answer. We can know that because Jesus told us to pray it – so it isn’t as if God would not answer the prayer He, Himself, told us to pray. But once God begins to answer, we need to expect that we will need a great deal of adjustment to His kingdom and His will. We are spiritually constituted for it through the new birth, but not naturally constituted for it. The choice for us will be as to which wins out.
The Rule of God
Not only did Jesus tell us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," He added, "on earth, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN." And how IS God’s will done in heaven? Totally. Without opposition. Thus, when we pray that, we are asking God to do His will in our lives – to the complete disregard of our ignorance, and of our own will.
Again – are we prepared for that? Are we willing to say to God, "Lord, I have no idea what this might lead to. I have no clue as to what it will mean. But I am asking you to bring into my life YOUR RULE, and YOUR WILL – no matter what it takes. Do it – and adjust me for it."
If all we were talking about were keeping rules and laws, this probably wouldn’t be any big deal. Anyone can do that. But we are talking about a kingdom that starts WITHIN US. Thus, we are talking about a drastic change of everything internal. We are talking, not only about God taking our lives completely out of our hands and doing with it what He chooses, but we are also talking about us getting to the point where we are in harmony with that. Can anyone see a big upheaval here? You bet it is.
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (2 Thes. 1:5)
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
To be a subject in the kingdom of God – as mere fact through salvation – is one thing. But to function and move in harmony with the rule of God – with the realm of the Spirit – is quite another. When the Bible talks about entering the kingdom through tribulation, this cannot mean we must suffer to be saved. No. We must suffer – have our kingdom dismantled – in order to be able to function in the rule of God. Sure. We are not constituted for the rule of God as natural human beings.
The only way in which God can adjust us AWAY from living like we are still on the throne, over to living in the reality of the rule of God, is often to confront, oppose, and dismantle OUR ways, OUR thinking, and OUR religious ideas. This might, for a time, seem like God is against us. But He is only against our patterns. He is actually for us.
When the only thing we know is the thing God must dismantle, and we have no frame of reference for what God wants to do in us, it may seem as if every promise of God is false, and every hope of true freedom is a mirage. But it only seems like that because we don’t see the other side – the goal that God sees. We must hang in and believe. The fog will eventually clear and we will see.
One of the most amazing things about the spiritual walk is how astounded we are once we finally do see that God has been faithful all along, and how ignorant we have been. In the beginning we CANNOT SEE – we just can’t. And God seems to cut right across our feelings, hopes, and expectations. Well, He does take great care about this, but after all, isn’t this what we asked Him to do when we prayed, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done?"
In any given situation of life, we can pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." This will mean that we are inviting God into the situation – to bring in HIS RULE and HIS WILL. By definition, it therefore means that we are opening ourselves up to the dismantling of OUR rule and OUR will in the matter, and putting aside us having any say so over it from that point forward. That is unconditional surrender, and as it involves God, is the only kind of surrender there is!
Now, perhaps most of this sounds scary. It may sound morbid. But that is only because we haven’t a clue as to how far off the track our thinking and living are with regards to the rule and will of God. Coming to see and experience the will of God in our lives – in any situation – is the most wonderful thing imaginable. But while we are in the period of adjustment, it is going to seem as if we are losing everything. No. We are only losing CONTROL – we are losing our kingdom over the thing. And for a human being, that is really counter to how we are constituted in Adam. Thus, it’s scary.
Are we prepared to relinquish completely our say so over our lives – over even our internal makeup? Are we prepared to open ourselves up to God so that He can usher in HIS KINGDOM over us in that way? If we do relinquish this to God, I can promise TWO THINGS for certain. Number one: You will go through hell. I promise you that. Number two: You will get through hell and be set free into a relationship with Jesus Christ which comes in no other way.
The fact is, only God is qualified to rule your life. If you and I want to stay on the throne, God will let us – and we will get everything that comes with the package. The trouble is, in the end, all of the kingdoms of this earth – including the personal ones – are going to become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. Thus, if we expect to be able to live with God forever in that arrangement – which is the only one there is going to be for the saved – we had better get started now. Indeed, this is WHY God begins now. He is preparing us for the eternal ages.
Truth vs. Error
There are many today who teach the gospel of prosperity, the gospel of health, or the gospel of God making you a better person. Many speak of how Jesus wants you to be successful, to become a whole person, and how Jesus wants to build you into something for His glory. There are also those who teach spiritual growth and character development. But despite the fact that all of these things have Truth to them, and do speak of the ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit, teaching such things can become misleading if we do not preach the whole counsel of God on the matter.
And what IS the whole counsel of God on this matter? Just this: Before God can build us up, He must tear us down. The old must be dismantled before the new can be built. Our kingdom, and our will, must be set aside – in a way that WORKS IN LIFE – so that He can reign and rule in our lives. Or, to put it another way, there is no real, functional, power of resurrection life unless there is a work of the Cross.
Paul the apostle was not talking about his desire to get saved when he spoke of the need to, "be made conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Phil 3:11) Paul WAS saved. He was talking about being made conformable to everything carried in that salvation. Thus, if you want to manifest the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, there is only one way – be carved into the shape of His death. Then you will fit into His kingdom through His resurrection.
Failure to see this leads us into error. Christians by the thousands try to function in resurrection power and end up functioning in soul power, personality power, and religious flesh. They think that what they have is IT – but it isn’t it unless they got it through the Cross. It is highly probable that this is the real reason why so many today are deceived. When is the last time you have heard the message you are reading in this article preached on Christian television, or from the pulpit. Yet read the Bible. It is there everywhere.
I say again: You cannot have resurrection life unless you are in the process of being made conformable to Jesus’ death – through the on-going work of the Cross. You cannot truly live under the rule of God, and in His will – unless there the Cross is put to your rule and your will. There are not shortcuts around this, or bypasses under it.
Note Paul’s words on this subject in only one of the places he writes about it:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:7-12)
God cannot do much through people with His resurrection power until He deals with them through the Cross. I’m not talking here about dealing with SIN. I’m talking about dealing with SELF. I’m talking about the fact that you and I, without even knowing it, will take the things of God and use them for our own religious agenda, unless God dismantles our kingdom. I’m talking about the fact that without the humility that is brought by the Cross, we would eventually take credit – all the while denying it, of course – for all of the wonderful things God would do by His Spirit.
It is little wonder that the Cross is the greatest target of the Devil. You hear less and less of it among Christians today. It is, at best, a doctrine. Not a dynamic. This is deception, and accounts for much that is amiss in the church.
To be able to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," is not only a great responsibility, but a wonderful privilege. Do we realize that it means that we can, at any time, and regardless of any sins or mistakes we have made, always pray that prayer, and ask God to come in and take over – right where we are? God takes us right where we ARE, not were we AREN’T. And he simply beckons us to ask Him to bring in His kingdom.
God wants to come into a situation and take over. But He won’t barge in – at least not anywhere near to fully – unless we ask Him to come in. We can be sure of this, otherwise why would Jesus tell us to ask Him? The key here, I believe, is that we usually aren’t ready for Him to come in UNTIL we actually ask. By definition, asking means we have reached the place where we really want God’s will – although we probably have little idea of what that means.
It is not possible for us to want God’s will more than He wants it. After all, it is HIS will, isn’t it? And if He did not want to do it, then, well, it wouldn’t BE His will, would it? See what I mean? Thus, even if we don’t know what God’s will is in a situation, we can ask Him do bring it – and in doing so take our wills out of the picture. If we do, we will find out that God knows better than we do, and that by the time He is finished, our wills shall have been adjusted over to HIS.
Herein we see why this process of God bringing in His kingdom may seem to take forever. It is because this isn’t a matter of God just doing a THING called, "His will." No. It is a matter of God bringing US into conformity with His will and kingdom. God is in the process of shaping us spiritually FOR His will. Then He will do it. Until then, He cannot do it.
The kingdom of God is first to be setup in the hearts of people. That requires INWARD adjustment. This will then make us fit to be compatible with any outward will of God that He wants to bring.
When you and I hear the term, "spiritual growth," we often think of US becoming better people – with Christ-like traits. We read the list of the fruits of the Spirit, and think that we will grow to practice them. We add terms like, "building righteous character," and, "becoming conformed to Christ," which are Biblical terms, and we think we know what they mean: God wants to do things to us and in us, and in the end, we will be like Jesus.
Well, let’s not quibble about terms. But the trouble here is that this whole concept, the one I just described, really isn’t what God is doing. It isn’t how God works, and it isn’t what spiritual growth is at all.
Spiritual growth is NOT me growing to possess Christ-like traits. No. It is me coming under the power of the Cross so that Jesus might shine through me. Righteous character is NOT me becoming more righteous. No. It is me coming under the power of the Cross so that the righteousness of Jesus might shine through me. "Building character," is actually nothing more than ME BEING TORN DOWN, so that Jesus might be built up in, and through me. Go back to II Corinthians 4, quoted above. This is the Truth that is there.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean we are passive. We have to live and believe and obey. The Holy Spirit doesn’t sort of, "take us over," and live through us. No. All of this must happen as controlled under the power of our free will – but as subject to the Holy Spirit; the kingdom of God. But again – this is OTHER THAN what we imagine. It is the product of having my kingdom dismantled, and HIM exalted.
Let’s look at a couple of more passages which state this Truth:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:30-31)
Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col 1:27)
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Col 3:3)
Jesus Christ is actually living in every converted person. Indeed, the life of Christ in us is really the kingdom of God – His life is that rule and kingdom. Not only that, but because His life is in us, everything we call, "Christian character," is HIM – we merely manifest HIM. Thus, we see that it isn’t that we develop a THING called, "righteous character," or a THING called, "holiness." No. We are set aside by the Cross, and then JESUS CHRIST – not a THING, but a PERSON – shines through. This is a Truth and a reality which can be stated through a teaching, but which must be experienced.
Now ask: In order for Jesus Christ, the personification of the rule of God, to shine through me, does that not infer that everything about me which is contrary to Him must be set aside? Does this not infer that MY kingdom, MY will, and MY rule, and MY character, and MY religiosity, and MY thinking, and MY ways, and MY patterns, must be dealt with? Sure. That is the only way Jesus can be free to move through me. And it is really the only way I can be free.
Through the dismantling of our kingdom, and the invasion of His, God is bringing us back to the original design of relationship He built into human beings. Man was never made to be on the throne. God alone belongs there. When He is there, then man benefits.
May God bring His kingdom and His will into each one of our lives – both internally and externally. And may He do whatever is necessary to make that more than a theological concept, but rather a reality. We will never regret it. It spells freedom and everything the Bible talks about when it describes true Christianity. *
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