Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Greetings to you in the name of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
In 2008, country music singer Kenny Chesney released a song where the refrain went like this: “Everybody wants to go to heaven, Have a mansion high above the clouds, Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” Such is the attitude of the world we live in, and so this song reached #1 on the Billboard charts for several weeks in 2008 when it was released. Everybody wants to or expects to go to heaven but nobody wants to go now. Why? Well, according to the words of the Kenny Chesney song, it’s because they are having too much fun in the present evil world. Far different is the attitude of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21 when he says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
This is the contrast between the one who is heavenly minded and the one whose mind is of the earth. The former desires freedom from the present evil age while the latter desires more of this world’s vain promises. But what does Paul mean by “to live is Christ”? Paul continues in the chapter to explain that by living he will be preaching the gospel. He will be building up the precious faith of Christians in Phillip. Many more lost will be brought to salvation. If Paul lives, Paul will advance the Kingdom of Grace through the Spirit and the preaching of the Word. Paul desires for this kingdom of grace to advance and grow. And Paul’s desire is a righteous and necessary desire.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray he told them to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” There are two senses to this prayer: the already (here and now/present) and the not yet (future). In II Peter 3:15, Peter writes, “The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…” Similarly, Paul in Romans 2:4 writes of the goodness, forbearing, and longsuffering of God leading to repentance.
These verses are telling us that the delay of Christ’s return is to show forth His mercy and glory in longsuffering so that more will be saved. And this is to be our prayer. May God bring all His elect to salvation soon. May the Word of God be proclaimed boldly and powerfully, applied mightily by the Spirit, to the saving of many. God’s tarrying is leading to salvation – Because today is the day of salvation. When Christ returns there will be no more salvation. It’s appointed for men once to die and then the judgment. And more than salvation of sinners, Peter prays for the growth in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
In this prayer for growth of Christ’s kingdom of grace, there is a related prayer, and that is the shrinking, diminishing, and destruction of Satan’s kingdom. Naturally, when Christ’s kingdom grows by one soul, Satan’s kingdom is diminished by one soul. And so while we pray for the kingdom of grace to be advanced we should also pray that Satan’s kingdom would be utterly and completely destroyed. Here is the present tense of this second petition, the salvation of the world, the sanctification of the church, and the destruction of Satan’s kingdom.
And yet, there is more. For we are to desire and pray for more in this petition. Peter says II Peter 3 “look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Consider briefly the last chapter of scripture, Revelation 22, the climatic close to the whole of scripture. God has spoken in sundry times and in diverse manners for all of human history. In these last days since He came in the flesh He has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ, and in the last chapter of scripture Jesus tells His sheep what to long for, look for, and pray for. But first, He reminds just who He is.
This Jesus, speaking in scripture, is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God. And He who testifieth these things says, “Surely I come quickly.” And the apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, draws scripture towards a close with a short prayer of response to Christ. His prayer must be our prayer, “Amen, Even so come Lord Jesus.”
In Christ is life and joy unspeakable so we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We look for the eternal kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth and so we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” As Simeon and Anna looked for the incarnation and first coming of Christ and were blessed to see His day, so we pray that we would see the second coming of Christ, when Jesus will descend on the clouds with great glory, with the voice of the archangel, with the sound of the trumpet of the LORD, when the dead shall be raised, when corruption shall put on incorruption, when the faith shall be sight! So we pray for this kingdom of glory to be hastened.
As we pray the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, may we be mindful of the present hope, the advancement of God’s grace, the ever shrinking
kingdom of Satan, and the future hope, perhaps even this very day, of the coming of the kingdom of glory. Even so, come Lord Jesus, quickly come!
Almighty and ever-‐living God
What God is there in Heaven or in Earth
As Great as our God?
Among all the nations of the Earth
Where else can salvation be found but in You?
For You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
We praise You for Your mercy and steadfastness.
We exalt Your longsuffering,
Tarrying even for our salvation.
We pray o Lord, that You would advance Your kingdom of grace
Regenerate the souls of men through Your means
Sanctify Your people through Your truth
And, o Lord, gather all Your elect into Your fold.
Destroy the kingdom of Satan
And we plead with You o Lord
The Spirit and the bride say “Come”
Jesus who testifies of these things says, “Surely I come quickly”
Even so, come Lord Jesus
We pray this in the matchless name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Ben Stahl, Elder