Summary: Three affirmations we make to God when we pray for his Kingdom reign to come.
Back in 1994 Disney released a movie called "Iron Will." It’s the story about a teenager named Will Stoneman who enters a marathon dog-sled race from Winnipeg, Canada to St. Paul Minnesota. Since Will’s father just died leaving the family in financial straights, Will enters the race to save his family. He gets the nickname "Iron Will" because he just won’t quit, as he battles the winter elements, 522 miles of difficult terrain, people who don’t believe he can finish the race, and fiercely competitive racers. "Iron Will" is a play on his name, because Will Stonemen demonstrates that he has an iron will by persevering and finishing the race.
Well I think "iron will" describes the way a lot of people think about God’s will. People imagine that God’s will is like iron, that its inflexible and unbending. So when a lot of people think about God’s will, they often think about it with resignation. It’s the well meaning friend saying, "I guess it was God’s will" to a grieving wife at her husband’s funeral after his battle with prostrate cancer. It’s the 24 year old college student gritting his teeth as he says, "It must be God’s will" when his fiancé breaks up with him. It’s the troubled married couple throwing up their hands in desperation and saying, "It must be God’s will" because they can’t see any way through their problems and issues. We figure if anyone has an iron will, it must be God.
But the Bible clearly teaches that God’s will is often frustrated. Not that God somehow lacks the power fulfill his will, but that God often chooses to work out his purposes in a way that respects the will of human beings. That’s why God didn’t snuff out Adam and Eve to start over after they rebelled against God. You see, although God is certainly powerful enough to overrule human freedom at any moment, God chooses not to, preferring instead to allow us to have a measure of freedom and at the same time working out his plans despite our stubborn resistance to his will. So although God’s ultimate plan is sure to come to pass, God’s will is often frustrated by people.
Last week we started a new series on the Lord’s Prayer called "Teach Us To Pray." We saw last week that Jesus taught his followers the Lord’s Prayer to give them a model--a kind of prayer template--for authentic communication with God. Today we come to the part of the prayer that deals with the will of God: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." We’re going to first look at what this part of the Lord’s Prayer means, and then we’re going to talk about three affirmations we make when we pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer.
1. What Does It Mean? (Matt 6:10)
In this part of the Lord’s prayer we’re going to move from adoration to affirmation. We could sum up the phrase "hallowed be your name" as adoration. But with the phrase, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done" we move into affirmation.
Now really, God’s kingdom and God’s will are talking about the same thing, though from two slightly different perspectives. We don’t use the word "kingdom" very much these days, and when we do, we’re usually talking about a place, like the kingdom of Nepal, the United Kingdom of England or the Magic Kingdom. In each these cases, a kingdom is a specific geographical place defined by its borders. So the way we use the word "kingdom" in English, every kingdom would have an address, because in English it primarily refers to a place. But the Greek word for "kingdom" in the Bible puts the emphasis on the rule or reign of the king rather on the place that king exercises that reign. In fact, some Bible translations translate the Greek phrase "kingdom of God" as the "reign of God" or the "rule of God" to bring out this idea.
Now Jesus talked a lot about God’s kingdom or God’s reign. His very first recorded sermon is described in the Bible as, "Repent, for God’s kingdom has come near" (Matt 4:17). He taught stories called parables designed to illustrate what God’s kingdom was like. The Bible calls the Christian message about Jesus’ death and resurrection "the gospel of the kingdom." Jesus believed and taught that through his life and death God’s reign had descended upon the earth, that somehow his death and resurrection opened the door of God’s kingdom to people. Yet he also taught that God’s kingdom wouldn’t come with power and authority until his second coming at the end of the age.
You might picture God’s kingdom this way. In Jesus’ first coming, he established God’s kingdom. He opened the doors to God’s kingdom, inviting people to come through those doors by trusting in his death and resurrection. He warned us that unless we’re born again by faith in him, we can’t come through these doors. So God’s kingdom reign is established in some way through Jesus first coming, as God’s future kingdom reign somehow invaded the present. Yet its only when Jesus comes again at the end of the age when God’s Kingdom reign will be consummated in power. Only then will God’s kingdom reign be established on earth as it is in heaven in the sense of abolishing evil and vindicating good. Only then will an ultimate sense of accountability be brought to all people, as every human being stands before the creator of the universe and gives an account. In between the first coming and the second coming of Jesus is the Church Age, the time in which we now live.