Summary: What is the Kingdom of God? It is multi-national.
A Multinational Kingdom: Rev 5:9-10
October 29, 2006
The other day, I learned the definition of a good sermon: It should have a good beginning. It should have a good ending. And they should be as close together as possible.
After one exceptionally long and boring sermon, a man shook the pastor’s hand at the back door and said, "Pastor, that sermon reminded me of the peace and love of God!" The pastor was ecstatic. "No one has ever said anything like that about one of my sermons before! Tell me, how did it remind you of the peace and love of God?" "Well", said the man, "it reminded me of the peace of God because it passed all human understanding and it reminded me of the love of God because it endured forever!"
Another preacher was shaking hands with the members of his congregation after a service when one man approached him and said, "That was a wonderful sermon today, pastor!" Filled with christian modesty, the preacher replied, "Oh, it wasn’t me, it was God." To which the reply came, "It wasn’t that good."
One Sunday after the preacher had preached a vigorous sermon, he was met by a little old lady at the door who said, "You know Pastor, every sermon you preach is better than your next one."
Billy Graham tells of a time, during the early years of his preaching ministry, when he was due to lead a crusade meeting in a town in South Carolina, and he needed to mail a letter. He asked a little boy in the main street how he could get to the post office. After the boy had given him directions, Billy said, "If you come to the central Baptist church tonight, I’ll tell you how to get to heaven." The boy replied, "No thanks, you don’t even know how to get to the post office!"
Last Sunday, my best friend Brian Whittle helped us reflect together on some myths and realities of heaven, and I greatly appreciated both the break it gave me and the good things he had to say, some of which I passed along this past Wednesday when I preached next door at Canterbury Court. And it is a great bridge into what we plan to talk about over the next little while – the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught a lot about the Kingdom of God, in the OT we see many descriptions of what God desires in His Kingdom, and yet I think most of us are a little fuzzy about what the Kingdom of God actually is, and what that means for how we live our lives today. So we are going to spend some time seeking that out together. This morning, I want begin to talk about the Kingdom of God, and tie that in to something we did two weeks ago.
A few weeks ago, we stood together in our sanctuary and committed ourselves to a 3 year partnership with the Bolivian Baptist Union. We have been looking at this for a little more than a year, and as a congregation we decided that we wanted to make this commitment and begin this relationship. There are a whole host of reasons we think this will be great for us, which I will get into in a moment, but first let me answer this question: what does us partnering with the Bolivian Baptist Union, to cooperate in ministries to children in Bolivia, have to do with the Kingdom of God? To answer that question, let’s look at Rev 5:9-10.
As you are looking that up, we need some context. The book of Revelation is a record of a vision John had, and is full of mysterious images which are often difficult for us to understand. But the point of the book was clear – it was written to encourage Christians who were facing persecution and all kinds of difficult things, with one profound fact: God triumphs. God is faithful, and no matter how it looks in our lives in whatever difficulties we face, God is with us and God is sovereign and God triumphs. I want to pause there, and remind you of that fact this morning: God is faithful, and no matter how it looks in your life, God is with you and God is sovereign and God triumphs.
In this particular passage, John has a vision of a mighty scroll which is sealed, and at first there is no one worthy to open it or look inside it, and John starts to weep. Then Jesus appears in the form of a lamb which looked like it had been slain, and Jesus opens the scroll. The passage continues:
“9And they (those surrounding the throne) sang a new song with these words: