THE GOSPELS 45
THY KINGDOM COME
One of the most damaging concepts in the world of Christendom is the idea that the “church” is an organized body of people which meets in a certain place. Paul addresses most of his letters to the saints of God, or to the faithful in a certain place. When he uses the word church, he usually makes it clear that he is talking about the Church of God and not some local organization. The church is not the organization, it is the people who have heard God’s invitation and have moved in faith to come out of the kingdom of Satan and into the Kingdom of God. The church group should never be considered an organization but always a family. We are the children of God, not members of His club.
This false concept of the “church” causes two grave problems. First, it makes people feel that their membership in the organization is the same as being in the Kingdom of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being in the Kingdom is a very personal matter. It has to do with your personal relationship with the King. The Kingdom is made up of those who obey the will of God and submit their lives to Him. Being a member of a Christian oriented society called the “church” is not the same. As Paul said in the introduction of his letter to the Colossians: “To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse”. This is what the church really is.
Secondly, the organizational concept of the church causes men to make the rules governing the behavior of the organization to be of primary importance , and it is the interpretation of these rules which has led to most of the division between brethren over the years. We should be stressing the things which govern the behavior of individuals and developing our spiritual and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, instead of how to run an organization and what it can and cannot do.
Because of this false concept of the “church”, some have concluded that the church and the Kingdom of God are one and the same. They are only one and the same when the church is defined as those who have submitted their lives to God and obey His will. That has always been the definition of The Kingdom. When Paul referred to Abraham as being in the Kingdom, he meant that he was faithful to God and obedient to His commands.
So, when Jesus prayed, “Thy Kingdom come”, that is the Kingdom He was talking about. The Hebrew writers often used something called “parallelism” in their writings. They would make a statement and then say it over again in different words to emphasize it or clarify its meaning. Here Jesus uses that method when He says, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven”. In other words, the Kingdom of God is where the will of God is done. Those who are in the Kingdom are those who have accepted the Lord and are doing His will. There are undoubtedly many who are members of a church body, but who have not really dedicated their lives to the Lord. Being in the true church means being one of the called out…out of the Kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of God. It is a very individual and personal matter. If you have really chosen Him to be the Lord of your life and have left the life of self-serving and worldly satisfaction, then you are the church…a called out one. Then and then alone are you in the Kingdom of God. Abraham was in the Kingdom because he was obedient to the will of God and by faith had a personal relationship with the King. Just being a member of the organized church does not guarantee that you are in the Kingdom. Only when your personal faith has caused you to be obedient to His will and to walk with Him are you in His Kingdom.
In light of the above definition, i.e., that the Kingdom is made up of those who obey the will of the King and have a personal relationship with Him by faith, we can better understand Jesus’ statement, “Thy Kingdom come”. He is praying that the will of the Father would become the rule for men on earth as it is in Heaven. Then and then alone is it the Kingdom of God. So Jesus is praying that all men come to accept the Father as King and become obedient to His will. We, of course, can still pray this today. We know that until the end all men will never accept the Lord. However, it is an individual matter, and we are praying for more and more people to let the King come into their lives. All who accept Him as Lord become a part of the Kingdom, and for them the Kingdom has come. All others are still on the outside.