In the 19th century it was widely believed and taught that this world was getting better and better and that we would eventually set up a Utopia here on this planet. But sadly, the facts regarding the last hundred or so years have proven very clearly that the world is getting worse and worse, morally. The question on the minds of many people today is, “What will be the end of this?”
The Bible record is very clear on how this world will end. In Revelation 11:15–18, it says, “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’ And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One Who is and Who was and Who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.’ ”
There is coming a time when God is going to take to Him His great power and reign. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and at that time, He will destroy those who are destroying the earth. This final triumph is encompassed in one simple phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come.”
The kingdom within is the work of the gospel of transforming grace in each individual heart. In the request that God’s kingdom should come, we first ask that heaven with its dominion of grace, peace, joy, and righteousness might rule our hearts right now.
It is also a petition that we may know now an experience in translation from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son. The apostle Paul wrote about it to the church at Colossae. “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed [translated] us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Colossians 1:12, 13.
We can never be translated physically into the kingdom of glory at the second advent of Christ unless we have been translated spiritually into the kingdom of grace before He returns. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come,” we are asking that we might receive that kingdom into our hearts now while we are in this evil world.
The pen of inspiration describes it this way: “By the life we live through the grace of Christ the character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of heaven has begun.” The Desire of Ages, 312. “As through Jesus we enter into rest, heaven begins here. We respond to His invitation, Come, learn of Me, and in thus coming we begin the life eternal. Heaven is a ceaseless approaching to God through Christ. The longer we are in the heaven of bliss, the more and still more of glory will be opened to us; and the more we know of God, the more intense will be our happiness. … All that human nature can bear, we may receive here.” Ibid., 331, 332.
When we say, “Your kingdom come,” we are asking that the principles of the kingdom of heaven, the grace and the righteousness of the kingdom of God’s dear Son come into our heart now. When this happens, we will then become the recipients of every other blessing that God has in store for His children. We are promised that we will receive whatever we need in this world. We will receive pardon of our transgressions. We will have guidance of our footsteps and deliverance from evil. We have a word in the English language for that experience—Christendom. Christendom is simply a contraction for Christ’s kingdom. There can be no kingdom without a king, a throne, a territory, a dominion, and subjects over whom to rule. The kingdom within involves enthroning King Jesus in our hearts, to have complete dominion over the kingdom of the individual life.
The apostle Paul in one of the shortest descriptions of the work and effect of the gospel in all the New Testament described it this way: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.
There is no other way for Christ’s kingdom to come and for the final restoration of the kingdom to be given to the children of this world than for His grace to first enter our hearts and have complete dominion over our souls. In Revelation 3:20 we are given a sad picture of the Christian church in our time. Notice what Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
The church here described is the modern Christian church, the last of the seven churches. Christendom today is keeping the King of heaven outside the door. He will not force His way in. The kingdom of God cannot come into our hearts unless the King is invited in. Is it any wonder that the church today that keeps the King outside knocking on the door asking for admission has its condition described in the following language? “ ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew [vomit] you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.’ ” Revelation 3:15–18.
Jesus is described to the last church, the church of Laodicea, as standing outside the door, outside the door of your heart, knocking, asking for permission. He is polite and will not force an entrance, but He’s knocking at the door. He says, “Are you willing to open the door?” Why will people not open the door to Jesus? It is the darling sins that people are not willing to give up, though they know Jesus cannot come into their hearts while they do those things that keep the door shut. While they continue in their sins Jesus stands outside knocking.
If you want to be saved you must be willing to give up your sins and let Jesus come into your life. In Revelation 3:21, Christ says, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
So, what does the coming of the kingdom involve? Some people think it simply involves the prosperity of the church. Millions of people have interpreted the text that way. To others it simply means the transformation of character; when a person is born again and has a new heart and his character is transformed.
To others the coming of the kingdom means the overcoming of evil. And to still others, the coming of the kingdom refers to the second advent of Christ to reign as the king of glory.
Actually, the coming of the kingdom of heaven includes all of these. It includes the results of the first as well as the second advent of Christ. The spirit and scope of the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer is very broad. We do not become citizens of the kingdom of God by natural birth, as in earthly kingdoms, but rather by spiritual birth and a voluntary surrender to the sovereignty of the King of heaven. Have you been born again? Have you actually become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven? Has the kingdom of heaven come into your heart or is the Lord’s Prayer just a meaningless phrase or a religious ritual that you recite?
When the kingdom of heaven comes into your heart and life, both you and other people will know something about it. Jesus refers to this experience as a new birth, being born again. When a baby is born it is the beginning of a new life with new relationships. The same is true with the spiritual life. It is the beginning of a new life with new relationships. Birth is never of our own origin. Never is it brought about by our own power. We cannot give birth to ourselves, either physically or spiritually. That is why Jesus said, “You must be born of the Spirit.” Each of the apostles talks about this in different language over and over again. Peter talks about it. John talks about it. James talks about it. When the subjects of God’s kingdom are born again of the Holy Spirit that person will demonstrate his citizenship by his conduct. The laws of the kingdom of heaven, expressing the will of the King of heaven, will govern his or her life.
Citizenship in the kingdom of grace is obtained on the basis of grace rather than works. But the citizen demonstrates his citizenship by what he does. If he has really been born of the spirit, he will eat, and drink, and talk, and act according to the ruling principles of the kingdom of heaven. In other words, the inward character and the outward life will be in harmony with heaven, for they cannot be separated.
Jesus, the King of heaven came to this world to establish His kingdom at a time when the pagan Roman Empire ruled the world. Their laws governed civilization. To be a Roman citizen was considered the greatest of earthly privileges. And into this atmosphere of pomp, and power, and earthly glory, Jesus came unheralded by blasts of trumpet or by marching armies. His kingdom, in contrast with all that had preceded it, was set up without bloodshed or violence. His weapons were faith and righteousness. His conquests of human hearts were accomplished by the power of love. The kingdom that Jesus came to establish, as He said over and over, was different from all earthly kingdoms.
The general Napoleon is reported to have said about the kingdom of Christ, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded great empires. But upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded His Empire upon love and millions would die for Him today.”
If you are a member of Christ’s kingdom, it is His plan and purpose to raise you to sonship and rulership. His promise is, if you overcome, you will sit down with Me on My throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (See Revelation 3:21.)
The citizens of the kingdom of God are made up of all races, all classes, and all nationalities. They are bound together in love and unity by ties that are closer and stronger than blood kinship. There have been many efforts by various earthly kingdoms to amalgamate various races and nations into a single unit, but these efforts have all failed. In God’s kingdom “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:11.
God’s kingdom is perfect and eternal because it is founded on perfect and eternal principles. The Bible says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” Hebrews 1:8.
It must be evident to all genuine Christians that our greatest need is the answer to this petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come.” Has that kingdom come into your heart? What we daily find our need of is a ruler, and a ruler loving enough to give us all confidence in Him. Firm enough to support us when we are weary, and compel us to the right path when we waver. Powerful enough to do what man cannot do, to change our hearts and deliver us from evil. Such a ruler God offers to us and such a ruler we choose when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
The answer to that prayer “Thy kingdom come” will have a final and complete answer when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom. The kingdom of grace in which we are living today will be replaced by the kingdom of glory. You will never be a citizen of the kingdom of glory in the future world unless you are a citizen of the kingdom of grace in the present world. There is no such thing as a person living like the devil in this present age and then inheriting eternal life in the future age.
If your life has been one of sin and you would like to have eternal life, come to Jesus and repent. Say, “Lord, I want a change of heart. I want to receive the Holy Spirit. I want to quit living like the devil and come into harmony with Your kingdom and the laws of Your kingdom. I want to be born again.” Jesus never turns away anyone who comes to Him with repentance. You can be a citizen of the kingdom of glory. The plan of redemption will be consummated.
The earth someday will be burned up, cleansed of sin and sinners. In II Peter 3:10–13, the apostle said, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
This earth is going to be recreated. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ ” Revelation 21:1–5.
That is what you look forward to when you say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come.” It is indeed coming. Will you be ready?
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.