ďYours Is The KingdomĒ††††††††††††† Matthew 6:5-13††††††††††††††††††††††††† August 22, 2010
SI:† This morning weíre finishing our study of the Lordís Prayer.
When we say the Lordís Prayer, we end it with these words:
†† ďFor thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.† Amen.Ē
You may have noticed as weíve read Matthew 6 over the past few weeks,
†† that those words are not in the text of the New International Version.
The Lordís Prayer ends with:† ďDeliver us from the evil one.Ē† A footnote says:
†† ďSome late manuscripts (add), ďFor yours is the kingdom, power, glory . . .Ē
If you have any modern translation of the Bible, this line of the Lordís Prayer
†† is either left out, put in footnotes or in brackets.
What that tells us is that some point, in the copying of Matthew over the centuries,
†† this line was added, and that addition was picked up in some later manuscripts.†
How did it get in there?† How did a phrase Jesus probably didnít say get into some
†† copies of Matthew 6?† The answer is pretty well established.
When the early church would meet for worship, they would say the Lordís Prayer.
†† And they began the custom of responding to the Lordís Prayer with a doxologyó
†† a word of praiseóthat was based on Old Testament language:
†† ďFor yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.† Amen.Ē
†† Over time, that became a very common worship practice.†
Some scribe, copying Matthew by hand many centuries ago, was copying
†† Matthew 6 and at the end of the Lordís Prayer, heís thinking about how
†† he says it in church, so he wrote it in.† Not to add to Scripture or change Scripture.
He probably wrote it in as a note, sort of like you have Bibles with study notes.
†† But over time, somebody else copying his old, faded copy, didnít understand
†† that this was a worship note, thought it was the text itself.
And in that way, this line made its way into some of the later manuscripts.
The Catholic church uses the older, more accurate version of the Lordís Prayer.†
†† They end it with, ďDeliver us from evil.Ē
If you are ever in a Catholic service, donít say: ďFor thine is the kingdom.Ē
†† Because everybody will know there is a Protestant in the house!
But even though this conclusion of the Lordís prayer is probably not the words
†† of Christ, it is biblically sound. †Youíll see that in 1 Chronicles 29.
†† Then use it for some closing reflections on the Lordís Prayer.
INTRO:† September 11 has been in the news again this week with the controversy
†† over the plans to build the mosque near the World Trade Center site.†
And out of all the things that happened on September 11, Iím sure you remember
†† the story of Todd Beameróone of the passengers on Flight 93.
When terrorists took over the plane, Todd tried to call his wife on a sky phone
†† but he was unable to reach her.† So he spent those minutes talking to the operator.
He told her what was happening,
†† told her about plans passengers were making to try to take back the plane.†
†† And asked her to tell his wife he loved her if he didnít make it.†
Todd was a Christian, and by Godís providence, this operator, Lisa Jefferson,
† †was also a believer.† Just before Todd joined the other passengers to rush the
†† cockpit, he asked her to pray with him.
So they recited together the 23rd Psalm and then the Lordís Prayer.
In your mindís eye, you picture these two people, total strangers,
†† bound together for those terrible moments.
And then in that fear and confusion, the words of Jesus Christ:
†† ďOur Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
†† Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven . . .Ē
We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God.†
†† Every word of the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation.†
And yet there are those passages in Scripture that are more near and dear
†† to the hearts of Christians.† John 3:16, Parable of Prodigal Son, Luke 2 Christmas.
And near the top of the list, certainly up there with the 23rd Psalm,
†† is the Lordís Prayer.
One reason is that Christians of almost every church tradition grow up saying it
†† in worship.† When you have a regular liturgical element in worship,
†† especially something you have recited since childhood, it not only becomes
†† imprinted on your memory, it becomes a part of your spiritual sub-conscious.
So in times of deep distress, it comes to the surface.†
This was even true of Christ.†
When he cried out ďMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Ē
†† those where not his own words.† He was quoting Psalm 22,
†† a Psalm he had often read and sung in the synagogue as a boy.
So there is that liturgical, worship element of the Lordís Prayer that makes
†† it precious to Christians.† For 2,000 years Christians around the world,
†† babes in Christ and fathers in the faith have prayed this prayer.
Itís been prayed in great cathedrals in the great cities,
†† and in little thatched roof chapels on the mission fields.
But there is another reason the Lordís Prayer is preciousó
†† and thatís because itís true.† And because in these remarkably few and
†† simple words, that even a little child can memorize,
†† you have the whole theology of the Christian faith.
The Latin church father Tertullian called the Lordís Prayer
†† ďa compendium of the Gospel.Ē†
In other words, all the Gospel, all the message of Scripture contained in this prayer.†
†† All the great things we need to know about God, the world, and ourselves.
†† Everything we need to know for life and godliness.
So when it comes to a final sermon on the Lordís Prayer,
†† and attempting to wrap up this series, and put a period on our study
†† of these past weeks, there is so much to choose from.
Weíre going to look at two great themes of the Lordís Prayer.
Because it seems to me that these two themes together are the heart
†† of true prayer.† This is what sets Christian prayer apart from all other prayer.
The themes are sovereignty and sonship.
Godís sovereignty and our sonship.
The Lordís Prayer teaches us the absolute necessity of acknowledging,
†† and submitting to, and resting in, and rejoicing in the sovereignty of our God
†† whenever we pray.
And, at the same time, the Lordís Prayer teaches to pray confidently,
†† and persistently, and specifically because of our sonshipó
†† because we are the adopted sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.
How do you pray when youíre on an airplane with terrorists in the cockpit?
†† How do you pray when you are facing the lesser problems of life?
You pray to a sovereign God, who is also your Father.
†† You pray believing he is in total control, and that you are his beloved son.
Is that how you pray?† Letís look at this more deeply.
†† Godís sovereignty and our sonship.
MP#1† Godís sovereignty
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray
†† and he taught them to start with God.
Thatís not where people naturally start to pray.
†† When people spontaneously pray, they start with themselves.
†† God, help me.† Get me out of this situation!
But weíve seen in our study of the Lordís Prayer that in the very order of the
†† petitions, Jesus is teaching us something.† Heís teaching us to start with God.
The first three petitions are prayers about the glory and greatness of God.
Hallowed be your name.† Praise God, seek his glory.
†† Acknowledge him as worthy of all praise and adoration.
Your kingdom come.† Pray for the growth and advance and fulfillment
†† of Godís plan of salvation and the redemptive work of Christ.
Your will be done.† Remember how Thomas Watson summarized that petition?
†† Pray that you will be able to do diligently all that God commands,
†† and submit patiently to all that he inflicts.†
The concluding doxology echoes these three petitions and takes us back to God.
†† For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.† Amen.
The Lord Jesus Christ is pressing home the absolutely necessity of acknowledging
†† and submitting to and rejoicing in the sovereignty of God.†
When we pray we should always be reminded that God is the Creator.
†† His will is the cause of all things and that everything belongs to him.
When we pray we should always be reminded that God is clothed
†† with absolute authority over the hosts of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth.†
That he upholds all things with His mighty power
†† and determines the purposes which all things are destined to serve.†
That he rules as King in the most absolute sense of the word,
†† and all things are dependent on him and subservient to him.†
Nothing happens apart from Godís plan and his purposes cannot be thwarted.†
†† Every sparrow that falls, every kingdom that crumbles is his doing.
Thatís our God, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ teaches us to always
†† pray bowing before him and rejoicing in his sovereign will.†
Thatís how David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29.
Before he asked God to bless his plans for the Temple,
†† and to bless the succession of his son Solomon he prayedó
Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
†† Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the
†† splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
†† Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
When the first Christians in the little church in Jerusalem were persecuted,
†† Acts tells us they raised their voices together in prayer to God and said:
†††ďSovereign Lord, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.Ē
And then they prayed, God we know that all of this evil and persecution
†† and even the crucifixion of your son by wicked men
†† was part of your eternal plan, look on us and deliver us.†
Now, what does this look like today? †
†† I want to read you something that Iíve read parts of to you before.
About 10 years ago Dr. James Montgomery Boice died of liver cancer.
†† He was the pastor of 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia .
After his diagnosis, the disease spread so quickly that he only made it
†† to church one Sunday and he was too weak to preach,
†† but he spoke before the call to worship and his comments were transcribed.†
I donít usually read things this long in sermons,
†† but this is a great example of praying the sovereignty of God.
May 7, 2000.† I want to bring the call to worship this morning. †But before I do that, I thought you might be interestedóand it might be helpful to all of usóif I took a moment to fill you in on some of these medical problems. †I had been feeling quite good until recently. †But about the time of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, I was not feeling well. †And when I came back from Chicago, I went to the doctor and had a number of tests. †And the bottom line of that is that they diagnosed liver cancer. †Then it takes a little while to figure out exactly what kind of treatment you need. †I have consulted a number of eminent physiciansóC. Everett Koop, of course, who has been a family friend for at least 30 years, another man at Mayo Clinic, who providentially had come through here to meet me just a few weeks before. †He's the man that screens everything out there and gets patients into the hands of the specialists. †So I feel that I have very good guidance, and the bottom line of the treatment is that I'm at Fox Chase Cancer Center. †I'm in the care of a man named Dr. Paul Engstrom. †And what I am receiving at the moment, beginning last Thursday, is standard chemotherapy for cancer. †It's hard to tell where that comes out. †Liver cancer is a very serious thing. †They do get response from treatment in a percentage of cases, but it's relatively small. †And as far as I can tell, we're doing the best thing we can.
A number of you have asked what you can do, and it strikes me that what you can do, you are doing. †This is a good congregation, and you do the right things. †You are praying certainly, and I've been assured of that by many people. †A relevant question, I guess, when you pray is pray for what? †Should you pray for a miracle? †Well, you're free to do that, of course. †My general impression is that the God who is able to do miraclesóand He certainly canóis also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. †So although miracles do happen, they're rare by definition. †A miracle has to be an unusual thing. †
I think it's far more profitable to pray for wisdom for the doctors. †Doctors have a great deal of experience, of course, in their expertise, but they're not omniscientóthey do make mistakesóand then also for the effectiveness of the treatment. †Sometimes it does very well and sometimes not so well, and that's certainly a legitimate thing to pray for. †Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God. †If you think of God glorifying Himself in history and you say, where in all of history has God most glorified Himself? †He did it at the cross of Jesus Christ, and it wasn't by delivering Jesus from the cross, though He could have. †Jesus said, "Don't you think I could call down from my Father ten legions of angels for my defense?" †But He didn't do that.† And yet thatís where God is most glorified. †
If I were to reflect on what goes on theologically here, there are two things I would stress. †One is the sovereignty of God. †That's not novel. †We have talked about the sovereignty of God here forever. †God is in charge. †When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. †It's not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by. †God does everything according to His will. †We've always said that. †
But what I've been impressed with mostly is something in addition to that. †It's possible, isn't it, to conceive of God as sovereign and yet indifferent? †God's in charge, but He doesn't care. †But it's not that. God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. †Everything He does is good. †And what Romans 12: 1 and 2 says is that we have the opportunity by the renewal of our mindsóthat is, how we think about these thingsóactually to prove what God's will is. †And then it says, "His good, pleasing, and perfect will." †Is that good, pleasing, and perfect to God? †Yes, of course, but the point of it is that itís good, pleasing, and perfect to us. †If God does something in your life, would you change it? †If you'd change it, you'd make it worse. †It wouldn't be as good. So thatís the way we want to accept it and move forward, and who knows what God will do?
After this Dr. Boice told them how weak he was feeling, read call to worship, left.
Itís popular in some Christian circles to say that you ought to pray for something
†† and not even let the thought enter your mind that you wonít get what asking for.
I was once with a Christian and we were praying for something important
†† and I said, Letís talk about what to do if God says no and this doesnít work out.
He basically said, Thatís not faithful praying.† Faithful praying is telling
†† God what you want and only thinking that he will answer as youíve prayed.
I donít know how to pray like that.† Donít even think God wonít give it to you.
†† I donít think thatís faith in God.† I think thatís faith in your wisdom.†
†† Itís saying, God, Iíve got it figured out.
But Jesus says:† Pray that Godís name hallowed, his kingdom comes, his will done.
†† Pray, Dr. Boice said:† For wisdom for the doctors, effectiveness of treatmentó
†† but above all, pray for the glory of God.
Let me ask you a question:† In your prayers of late, have you started with God?
In your desperate prayers for desperate occasions
††† and in your ordinary daily prayers, have you rested in the sovereignty
†† and goodness of God and prayed that he will be glorified in your life,
†† and in every circumstance?†
Thatís how the Lord Jesus wants you to pray.† But thereís another part to this.
†† Brings us to second point . . .
MP#2† Our sonship
Every time I preach a sermon series, on a book or passage, there is something
†† fresh that is impressed on me.† Itís never anything new, itís always been there,
†† but the Holy Spirit helps me see it as Iíve never seen it before.
And for me itís been this matter of sonship, adoption, and the Fatherhood of God.
†† Iíve never noticed before how the Lord pushes this home from beginning to end.
†† That before we pray and as we pray, and after we pray and look for answers,
†† we are to be conscious of our sonship.
Before Jesus even gets to the Lordís Prayer, when he is giving the warningsó
†† donít pray like hypocrites and donít pray like pagansó
The reason he gives is because you have a Father in heaven.
†† He is always present.† He invites you to talk to him.†
†† He knows what you need.† He wants you to ask.
And then there is the address to God Jesus teaches us:† Our Father in heaven.
†† And Christís intent is that we take that and apply it to every petition.
Father, hallowed be your name.† Donít you want your earthly father to be honored?
†† Father, your kingdom come.† If itís his kingdom, you his son, your kingdom too.
†† Father, your will be done.† Heís your Father, and father knows best.
Father, give us our daily bread.† Of course he will.
†† Father, forgive us our debts.† Of course he will.
†† Father, deliver us from evil.† Of course he will.
And that changes everything.†
†† You are praying to the sovereign God of the universe.
†† And heís also your Father.
And one more thing that we havenít even talked about in this sermon series,
†† and thatís Jesusí words in Luke 11, the other place he gives Lordís Prayer.
Afterwards, when talking about answers to prayer he says:†
†† Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?†
†† Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?† If you then, though you are evil,
†† know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven
†† give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
And in those amazing words Jesus explains that we are to filter all answers
†† to prayer through the grid of our sonship.† That every answer to prayeró
†† yes, no, or wait, is really a yes.† Itís our heavenly Father giving us what we need.
Itís a yes to the perfect prayers of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.
Jesus makes it very clear, you are to pray as a child speaking to his Father.
†† What does that look like?† Itís confident.† Children come to parents boldly.†
†† They presume on their parents.† They donít understand grownups,
†† but they know they are their to meet their needs.
You are to come to your Father confidently.
I want you to do something after church today, or after Sunday school.
†† Just watch the little children tugging at their parents.
Grownups love to stand around and talk after church,
†† and children need things, they want things, they want attention.
And even at the risk of being reprimanded, and being told not to interrupt
†† when mom or dad is talking, they will do so anyway.
Little children are relentless.† But at the same time they are utterly trusting.
†† They donít understand why grownups do what they do.†
They just know that they are to express their needs and somehow
†† mom and dad will take care of it.†
A few weeks ago I was standing in the hall talking to someone,
†† And this man suddenly he pointed down and said, Look whatís on my leg.†
I looked down and saw that a Christ Covenant toddler had come up
†† and wrapped his arms around this manís leg.† He held on for a few minutes,
†† looking at all the other kids swirling around and then he let go and waddled
†† into the middle of them.
We knew what had happened.† This child thought it was daddyís leg.
†† And the fact that it wasnít his dadís leg just emphasized all the more
†† the forwardness and confidence of a child with his father.
It wasnít:† Excuse me, I need to hold your leg for a minute.
†† That child needed a little dose of comfort and security in the confusion.
†† So he just grabbed dadís leg.† Because thatís what dadís are for.†
If prayer was only a matter of addressing God as sovereign king,
†† all we would ever say is, Your will be done.† Your will be done, Majesty.
†† It is that, but itís also coming to your Father in heaven.
Who is the only person in all the realm who can wake the king up at midnight
†† and ask him for a glass of water?† Not his generals and advisors.†
†† Even his queen asks her ladies in waiting so the king can get his sleep.
But the little prince cries outóDaddy, Iím thirstyóbecause thatís what children do.
And how do parents respond to the persistent, bold requests of their children?
†† Most of the time they answer them and provide what is requested.
Your heavenly Father does that.† Every single day he gives you what you need.
†† Most of the time you donít even ask him and he gives anyway.
†† He gives you daily bread every morning, even if you forget to pray.
And he has given you even greater things without you askingó
†† so many blessings in Christ.
But my point is that parents respond by giving what is best. †
And thatís why some prayers require persistence.†
†† God wants you to pray to him over and over because there are things in you
†† that need to be changed.† Heís teaching you what is really important.
Heís teaching you dependence on him.†
†† And as your Father, he delights in hearing from you.
Some of you have kids away at college.† Donít you hate it when they call?
†† Doesnít it bug you when they call with problems and needs.
†† Of course not.† You enjoy hearing from them.
And sometimes your advice is for them to work it out themselvesó
†† but you still want to hear from them and you tell them that.†
I know these are old lessons, but we need to be reminded of them.
†† God wants us to come to him and say:†
I know this is a little thing God, but itís so important to me.† Please listen.†
†† And he will.
I know this is a big thing, Father.† And I know Iím imposing on your mercy
†† because I havenít been living in a way that honors you, Iíve sinned.
†† I know I donít deserve it.† But please, listen.† And he will.
And sometimes you even say:† Father, I donít know what to pray.
†† Iím so confused about this, I donít know whatís best.†
†† I donít even know what I want.† Listen to me.† And he will.
Thatís submission to a sovereign God, because thatís how he has commanded
†† you to pray, boldly, specifically, trusting him to hear and do what is best.
Heís your Father in heaven.† And through the work of Jesus Christ,
†† you are his adopted sons and daughters by faith.†
CONC:† The old hymn says:
†† Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
†† That calls me from a world of care.
†† And bids me, at my Fatherís throne,
†† make all my wants and wishes known.†
There it is in three wordsóthe heart of Christian prayeró
†† My Fatherís throne.
Itís a throne.† Itís the Throne covered in the cloud of Glory,
†† surrounded by the four living creatures and the 24 elders,
†† and the myriads of angels singing holy, holy, holy,
†† to the one who sits on the throne, whose appearance is like lightning
†† and who rules with absolute authority over all things.
And itís your Fatherís throne.† And he says to you through Christ his Son,
†† come to me, and make all your wants and wishes known.††
Iíll listen with a Fatherís ear, and Iíll give you what is best.