Your Kingdom Come and the Governing Authorities

We look at the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer “Your kingdom come” from Lord’s Day 48 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Q. What is the second petition?

A. Thy kingdom come; that is, so govern us by Thy Word and Spirit, that we submit ourselves to Thee always more and more; preserve and increase Thy Church; destroy the works of the devil, every power that exalts itself against Thee, and all wicked devices formed against Thy Holy Word, until the fullness of Thy kingdom come, wherein Thou shalt be all in all.

Providentially the provincial election will be held on Monday. I say ‘providentially’ because it gives us an opportunity to think about the relationship between the kingdom of God and the kingdom(s) of this world.

How should a Christian view politics? Or, what is a Christian view of politics? Some Christians call themselves conservative; some liberal. Some Christians think that the government should be Christian in policy and person, others think that Christians should not be in office or even vote at all. What shall we do? Let’s outline some principles of our relationship with this world.

The first principle we should note is that a Christian must, first and foremost, be concerned with the kingdom of God  (Matthew 6:33) The daily living of the believer must always focus upon God and His glory, sometimes even at the expense of his earthly interests and wants. This is sacrificial; this is the way of the cross.

This leads us to our second principle is that we should be careful not to think that somehow all our problems are going to be fixed by getting the right person or party into power. Although the mixing of or interaction between religion and politics are a more volatile and prominent issue with our American cousins, the temptation may yet present itself to us. There is no easy fix. Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the earth without suffering; without trial and pain (Matthew 4:8-10) The kingdom of God does not come through the efforts or institutions of man but by Christ alone.

Therefore, our third principle is that we must distinguish the kingdom(s) of this world and the kingdom of God. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion (4.20.1) Calvin writes:

“[ed. Civil government] pertains only to the establishment of civil justice and outward morality…But whoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between this present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom and the civil jurisdiction are things completely distinct… [thus] it makes no difference what your condition among men may be or under what nation’s laws you live, since the Kingdom of Christ does not at all consist in these things.

Connected with this thought is that this world (and its kingdoms) is fading away. This present evil age (Galatians 1:4) will give way to the age to come (Ephesians 1:21; cf. Mark 10:30). This gives us great hope in the midst of personal and public difficulties. Even though we must with many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22) we nevertheless claim the victory in Christ by faith. (1 John 5:4) For though our sin has greatly damaged this world, God is reclaiming it for Himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” 1 Corinthians 15:24-25

The fourth principle is a warning about self-righteousness. The Bible is clear that before anyone or anything else, it is the church that will receive judgment from God first (1 Peter 4:17). The Old Testament prophets continually spoke against wickedness in the world but their words were often harsher against Israel for her wickedness and idolatry. Thus before we start pointing the finger at anyone else, let’s make sure we have our own house in order. The world does not obey the sixth commandment because abortion is made legal? True enough. But where are the Christians who honour the Lord’s Day (fourth commandment) and who make His worship their priority (first commandment) over their own interests and pleasures?

Fifth, though we are citizens of another kingdom, (Philippians 3:20) we are instructed to honour and respect our elected officials. (1 Peter 2:13-17) This is difficult to do when they put in policies that we disagree with and especially when we see corruption in even the lowest levels of government. But the kingdom of God never grew or expanded through angry and immoral rebellion against those who are appointed by God to power. Even in the Babylonian captivity, Israel was commanded to pray for that wicked state! (Jeremiah 29:7) Abraham, who was a stranger in a strange land, though “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10) nevertheless treated the powers that be with respect and dignity.

Well I am certain we could add some more principles but I do believe this is a good start. And whoever wins the election this Monday, we should remember that tomorrow WE as Christians are going to gather as a body to once again submit our wills by God’s grace in holy worship to the will and power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is “King of Kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) No vote and no popular movement put Him into power. He came because the Father sent Him to suffer and die for all those who put their faith in Him. These are His citizens, His subjects. Thy kingdom come!

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