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As in Heaven, So on Earth

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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March 5, 2024 12:01 am

As in Heaven, So on Earth

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 5, 2024 12:01 am

What is the primary task of the church as we pray for God's kingdom to come? Today, R.C. Sproul describes the unexpected nature of this kingdom and our responsibility as its ambassadors in the world.

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R.C. Sproul

When Jesus said, when you pray, pray like this, thy kingdom come, he was giving to us participation in his own mission, in his own agenda, that the reign of God would be restored to this planet in a way that would mirror and reflect the way God's kingly reign exists in heaven to this day.

Throughout the New Testament, we learn many things about Jesus, that he is our good shepherd and that he cares for his sheep, that we have a great high priest who prays and intercedes for his people, but he is also a king, the king and the king of kings. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind as we spend a week considering the how and why of prayer as R.C. Sproul walks through portions of what is commonly called the Lord's Prayer. Because Jesus is king, he has a kingdom, and you and I are taught to pray for this kingdom's coming and that God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Well, after laying some groundwork yesterday, today we jump ahead in the Lord's Prayer to this section on the kingdom of God.

Here's Dr. Sproul. In the Old Testament, we have a record of an event that took place with the people of Israel in which a very important person was missing from an assembly, and the Scriptures tell us that he was hidden among certain equipment. Let me read this narrative to you briefly as we find it in the first book of Samuel in the tenth chapter, beginning in verse 23.

So they ran, and they brought him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upwards. And Samuel said to all of the people, do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people? So all the people shouted and said, long live the king. And then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the Lord. And then Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house, and Saul also went home to Gibeah, and valiant men went with him whose hearts God had touched.

But some rebel said, how can this man save us? And so they despised him, and they brought him no presence, but he held his peace. This is the record of a moment of transition that was crucial for the entire history of the Jewish nation. It was the moment when their first king was selected to rule over them. And if you remember the story of this incidence, you know that there is great ambivalence in the heart of Samuel over this event, because God was basically displeased, because the people had clamored for a king. Let us look back just a little bit earlier in this history where we read in chapter 8 of 1 Samuel, beginning at verse 4, Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. You see what the people want?

They want to be like everybody else. God had separated this group of people to Himself. He had consecrated them. He had sanctified them.

He had called them to be different. He said, You shall be holy even as I am holy, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. He had given them His law in which He had declared, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Now we've seen already in our look at the Lord's Prayer that Jesus tells us in the second petition of the Lord's Prayer to pray for the coming of the kingdom of God. And I mentioned that if there's any motif that weaves together the Old Testament and the New Testament, it is this central theme of the kingship of God. And we have to understand that even though the New Testament opens with the announcement that the kingdom of God is coming, that there is a sense in which something new was going to take place in the history of redemption, but not so new that it had no continuity with what had taken place in the past. In one sense, at least, the kingdom of God had always been present. The kingdom of God was established in the Garden of Eden. God didn't have to wait for the New Testament to be coronated as the sovereign ruler over the universe. God was already king over Adam and over Eve. And when He created this nation of Jewish people at Mount Sinai, the law that He delivered was the law that came from the king, from the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth. But now the people want to have an earthly king.

They want to have a king like every other country had a king. And how did God respond to this? Well, we see here in this text that the thing that displeased Samuel when they said, give us a king to judge us, verse 6 of chapter 8 of 1 Samuel. And the Lord said to Samuel, heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you.

Isn't that interesting? God said, Samuel, you're bent out of shape because they're coming to you and they're saying you're old and your sons don't walk in the way that you walked. We don't want a dynasty here. We don't want to have to follow your sons.

They're corrupt and all the rest. We want a king. And Samuel's displeased, apparently, because he feels in this demand from the people that they are rejecting him and his ministry. But that's not how God looks at it. God said, they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them.

That's the meaning of this episode, Samuel. They don't want me to rule over them. They are rejecting my reign. They are rejecting my realm.

They are rejecting my kingship. It's interesting to me that it was as late as the middle of the 20th century that a revision was made in the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States. When I went to school in the first grade, we had to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and every morning at the start of the day, the children had to stand up next to their desks and look at the flag that was hanging up by the front blackboard and put our right hand over our heart. And we used to have to say, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to that republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That's how I had to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day.

I don't remember what grade it was, fifth or sixth or seventh grade. They changed it. Now from now on, we have to put two more words in the Pledge of Allegiance that were not there before. Some of you will remember this vividly because you had to go through this change, and the two words were these, one nation under God, one nation under God, indivisible, one nation under God.

In the middle of the 20th century, can you imagine the hue and cry that would be expressed in this country if that change were suggested today? Because in the last 30 or 40 years, there has been a groundswell of reaction against any concept of our government's being in any way under God. I read in the paper today the Supreme Court's decision not to hear a case that had been tried through the whole appellate court system and had sought to reach the Supreme Court over a little girl who wrote an essay in her history class on Jesus of Nazareth and received an F because it was not permitted to write about Jesus.

It was alright to write on other religious leaders and on other world religions, but the law, at least in this community, forbade any expression of the name of Jesus in the public domain. We have heard until we're tired of hearing that America is committed to the principle of the separation of church and state. Well, I hope you understand that those words never appear in the Declaration or in the Constitution.

They were obiter dicta of Thomas Jefferson in another occasion when he mentioned the concept. But even then, the concept meant something that was consistent with historic Reformation theology, namely that God has ordained two spheres, two institutions with clearly distinct tasks and different spheres of authority, the church and the state. And it is not the responsibility of the church to be the state. The church is not given the sword. It is not the responsibility of the state to administer the sacraments or to proclaim the gospel. It has a different set of responsibilities, but the New Testament makes it clear that God has instituted both the church and the state.

And each one has its own set of responsibilities. A few years ago, I was asked to give a message at the inaugural breakfast for the inauguration of the governor of the state of Florida. And on that occasion, I mentioned something that a lot of people found somewhat strange.

In fact, some were quite hostile about it. As I spoke directly to the governor, and I said, Governor, I remember vividly the day of my ordination where I was set apart in the church for the vocation of the gospel ministry and ordained as a minister of the church. And today is your ordination day. Today you will be ordained as a minister. And your ultimate ordination is not coming from the officials and the courts of the state of Florida, but your sanction as governor of this state, that which authorizes you to rule, is the ordination to you of this office by Almighty God.

And you are accountable to Him for this ministry. And what I was simply doing was expressing not only what the New Testament teaches, but what our nation historically understood to be the case. But today the concept of separation of church and state has come to mean in the public thinking the separation of the state and God. This is the supreme declaration of independence where the state now is seen to be autonomous, that the state is sovereign, and that the state will no longer acknowledge God's reign over it. The moment that happens, beloved, the death knell for the culture and for the nation has been sounded.

America as a nation is dead. It has no future once it declares its independence from its sovereign. God will not tolerate any earthly institution, any earthly monarch, any earthly tyrant to usurp His position of authority. He may abide it for a season, but history is clear in its testimony that the life expectancy of any tyranny is short. And there is nothing more arrogant than a group of people or an individual to say before the world, He will not reign over us. Everything that followed this moment in Jewish history in the Old Testament was a history of conflict, of disaster upon disaster. After the king had been selected and Saul came to the throne in the beginning days of his monarchy, he reigned well, pledged to be submissive to the law of God, but his power corrupted him and drove him to madness so that God had to remove him from the throne and replace him with David. And you know the rest of the history, how after David died, his son came to the throne and then in a very short period of time, the kingdom was divided and the history of the kings of the north and the kings of the south from that day forward reads like a rogue's gallery of corruption, all of which was predicted by God through the prophet Samuel. Here's what he says in chapter 8 of 1 Samuel, verse 9, Now therefore heed their voice, however you shall solemnly forewarn them and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.

And so Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you. He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. The first thing the king is going to do is conscript your sons for the army. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

Does that sound familiar? He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain.

Oh, they thought this would be bad, that they would be taxed by 10 percent. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage and give it to his officers and servants. He will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep, and you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless, the people said, no, but we will have a king over us. You know the word that appears most frequently in that warning that God gives to Israel?

It's the word take. The king will take and take and take and take and take some more. Yet the Scripture speaks of God as a King who gives and gives and gives and gives every good and perfect gift. But we don't want a king who will give. The madness of human folly is that we want a king who will take so we can be like everybody else.

Because anything is better, it seems to us, in our fallenness than to live in the kingdom of God, to live where God is the king. So deep are the feelings of antipathy against the reign of God that the grounds that were used to bring charges against Jesus that became the center of foment by which people screamed for His blood were the charges that He would make Himself king. He didn't make Himself king.

The Father made Him a king, and He was the king, but just as the king had been rejected by Israel in the form of the Father, now when the prince is born in the new covenant situation, the people destroy Him, and they bring Him up before Pilate, and they make mockery out of His kingship by giving Him a crown of thorns and dressing Him in mock garments of royalty and pretend that they are bowing down before Him and deliver Him before the duly constituted authority of the Roman state. And Pilate looked at Jesus and said, are you a king? Jesus said, you have said that I am a king.

You have rightly said that I am a king. But then Jesus said, but my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I would not be delivered to the Jews, but now my kingdom is not from here.

Well, Pilate said, are you a king then? And Jesus said, you say rightly that I am a king for this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world that I shall bear witness to the truth. And what is that truth to which this king who says his kingdom is not of this world is bearing witness? It is to the kingdom of God. It is testimony.

It is witness. It is loyalty to the true King. When Jesus said, when you pray, pray like this, thy kingdom come. He was giving to us participation in His own mission, in His own agenda, that the reign of God would be restored to this planet in a way that would mirror and reflect the way God's kingly reign exists in heaven to this day.

Thy kingdom come. If you were to ask Jesus one question, you only had the opportunity to ask Him one question, what would you ask Him? That moment came for the disciples. They had had many opportunities to ask Him a multitude of questions, but the moment of Jesus' departure was at hand as He stood on the mountain of ascension. And the disciples looked at Him and they had this last chance, one last question, and they said, Lord, are you now going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Isn't that interesting that the last burning question that the disciples brought before Jesus was a question about the kingdom of God? And what did Jesus say?

How many times do I have to tell you I don't care about kingdoms? No, that's not what He said. He told them the day and the hour was in the hands of the Father, and it really wasn't their concern. He said, but you shall be my witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, to Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth. John Calvin read that text and he said this. It is the task of the church, the chief task of the church, to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to make the invisible kingdom of God visible in this realm. Not with political structures, not with political power, not with the sword, but by being the church that lives in obedience to the sovereignty of the king.

That was R.C. Sproul teaching on what it means to pray your kingdom come. I'm glad you're joining us this week on Renewing Your Mind as we discuss a topic that is relevant for all Christians, prayer. So I hope you'll stay with us through Friday as we keep working through the instructions the Lord gave us for when we pray. You'll be hearing five of the ten messages in this series, The Lord's Prayer, so I do encourage you to request the entire series when you give a gift of any amount at When you do, not only will you receive lifetime digital access to the series, but we'll also send you Dr. Sproul's book, The Prayer of the Lord.

Call us today at 800-435-4343. We'll give your gift at Your generosity is helping countless Christians, like this one who recently messaged us. I found Ligonier Ministries just eight months ago when I was saved by our Lord. From there I found extraordinarily gifted expositors of God's living Word. I found Renewing Your Mind just over a month ago, and it is now part of my Christian life and journey. Thank you for the work that you do. May God's holy name be praised forever and ever. Since God's will always comes to pass, why are we told to pray, your will be done? Join us tomorrow to find out, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-05 02:55:36 / 2024-03-05 03:03:33 / 8

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