Midweek Fellowship – March 9, 2016
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
One line from the “The Lord’s Prayer” that I would cite with regards to prayer is, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “Thy kingdom come” doesn’t necessarily mean that it hasn’t come yet. It has come; and it is about the fullness of it being fulfilled and being ours through God’s will being done. Let Thy kingdom come in us; let Thy will be done in us. The Incarnation is the advent of the Kingdom coming. It is the answer to The Lord’s Prayer before the Lord’s Prayer was taught to us. The Incarnation was the advent of the new day of restoration and the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus, the evangelists and the apostles preached what was called the gospel of the Kingdom; the good news of the Kingdom. It is the kingdom of God. It is also known as the kingdom of heaven. Jesus and the apostles preached that the kingdom of God is here. We need to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand.
In the gospel, John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him, “Are You the expected One or are we supposed to wait for another Messiah?” This in Luke 7 and Matthew 11. The expected One, whose coming marks the Kingdom come, was the sign that the kingdom of God was here. Jesus said to John’s disciples, “You tell John, ‘The blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor hear the gospel preached to them. If you tell him that, he will tell you, ‘The Messiah is here!’” The signs and wonders were being done through His hands.
Kingdom come is a new day of restoration of what was marred, broken, and compromised. It is making new of all things. Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Athanasius said, “Who else can make all things new? Who else can restore?” It is the same Agent that God the Father employed at creation. Jesus was the active person who created all things. Nothing was created apart from Him, thus, it makes sense that Jesus, who was active in creation, would restore the creation that was broken. If we may say so, Jesus got the ball rolling as far as restoration is concerned.
We sing, “He comes to claim the here and now.” Restoration takes place here. Restoration takes place now. Jesus came to claim the here and now. Therefore, Isaiah 61 makes more sense when he says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me to bring good news to the afflicted.” The afflicted are broken, which is not the original design of God for man. Adam lived God’s life. He wasn’t afflicted; he wasn’t sick; there was no death. Jesus was called the Anointed; the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him; He was called the Messiah because He is about restoration. This was His business – to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord. Adam was free until he became captive at the fall. The favour of the Lord is restoration. Jesus quoted this portion of Isaiah in Luke 4. If there is restoration, eventually, all things will become new, and all things will come back to the fullness of God’s creation – His original intention.
When we encounter the word eschatology, it maybe that the first thought that would come to our minds is the end of the world - rapture, great tribulation, destruction. Eschatology is how things will eventually be or turn out. If Jesus got the ball rolling and started restoring, being the Word of God, God’s Word will not return to Him without accomplishing that for which it was sent. If He started restoration, eventually, eschatologically, all things will become new. This is sound eschatology. Poor eschatology is to think that the enemy of God will come and take over a part of this kingdom. Poor eschatology is not in the Bible and is not according to apostolic teaching. Sound eschatology is based on the true message of the Kingdom – restoration.
Isaiah 60:1-3 called Surge Illuminare, a Canticle, goes, “Arise, shine; for the light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.” Everything around you may be broken or may still be broken, but, God starts with you the work of restoration. “And nations (because they have recognized the work of restoration in the Church) will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Isaiah 60:11 says, “And your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations.” Verse 18, “Violence will not be heard again in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders; but you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise. No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory.”
Your walls of salvation, your portals, and your gates praise and they are always open. They will never be shut! Why are people outside the Kingdom? Why are people outside restoration? Why are they not participating in restoration? It is because they choose to. Revelation 21 and 22 is eschatology, how things will eventually turn out to be. 2Peter 3:13 says, “According to God’s promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” The earth has been marred by sin and it has snowballed since the fall and it is now being restored. We are looking to a new earth where righteousness dwell and there is sin no more.
The Kingdom was established on earth at creation and creation was subjected to futility at the fall; and restoration simply takes place where it is needed. Jesus came to fix things. Otherwise, God could just have collected all of us saying, “Come up here,” because it is too messy on earth and it has been lost to the enemy. This is the wrong eschatology. Earth is not hopelessly lost. We proclaim: the earth is the Lord’s and all that it contains; the earth is my Father’s world.
The early church did not preach something like, “Accept Jesus or go to hell.” What did the disciples preach? The kingdom of God is here! Restoration is here! Things will change. The Kingdom has come, restoration has started, and it is coming to its fullness where we are. We are not going to where the Kingdom is. We are asking God, in the Lord’s Prayer, for the Kingdom to come back here on earth.
Obviously, we are talking about a change in the state of where we are. It used to be operating in the Kingdom principles, and then sin came and death entered the world through sin. This needs restoration. The state of our place will simply revert back to the original design. This is because it is part of the Kingdom which, in the first place, was established here for man and was marred. Remember, the cosmos, the world is God’s kingdom. It is His domain.
God never really lost any part of the world to a nemesis. The earth just needed restoration because man, its steward, the first Adam, failed; and so, the Second Adam came to restore it. It is a poor way to evangelize this way: if you died tonight, are you sure you are going to heaven? The good news is that we are being restored – the reason why Jesus came.
The real preaching of the good news is: repent for the kingdom of heaven is here. We repent for the reason that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God is here. We repent so that we are suited to it.
One author said, “When we follow Paul’s line of thought, true to its climax in Romans, it becomes clear that the goal of God’s rescue operation, the main aim of Jesus coming and dying in the first place, is the restoration and the transformation of all creation. The slimmed-down version of the gospel is regularly place within a story in which heaven is the goal. Heaven, that is imagined as the place, completely different from the present world; and indeed leaving thispresent world out of consideration altogether. This version of the gospel is often thoroughly focused on heaven that anything that has to do with present creation is regarded as worldly, dangerous and a distraction from the task of saving…but saving what? Well, it is often saving souls. But there’s nothing about souls in Romans 8. No mention of heaven, either, if it comes to that. It is all about bodies; resurrection bodies, because that’s what we shall need in the new creation, which will be more physical that the present world, not less. Our gospel is not simply good advice about not going to eternal conscious torment, but about the good news. News as in something has happened. That would Jesus have finished would result in the restoration and the transformation of all creation.”
God created man in His kingdom and He put Him on earth, which was part of His kingdom as flesh and blood. A quotation says, “God became human, and we want to get out of humanity and become like spirits.” We are human kind. God is Spirit, and we are flesh.
The prodigal son was brought back to the kingdom. He would clean up and repent because he was brought back to the kingdom, to the father’s household. He would want to shower. He did not have to clean up before he was accepted. If he was like most of us, he would think to clean up because he was brought back to the household. In parallel, repent because the kingdom of God is here and we are being restored. This is good news! Repent to be suited to the mansion. A stinky person is not suited for the mansion of the father. Filthy rags are not suited for the kingdom of God. This is why it is good news of great joy for all people. It is not news of great anxiety and uncertainty so that one would need to get insurance right now.
The good news was received by broken people and they were blessed by it. The broken people were the prodigal son, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, the woman at the well, the man blind from birth, the demon-possessed man, the lame, the deaf, the dumb, the hemorhagic woman, Nicodemus, Paul, the thief on the cross, and they received the good news with great joy. Those who rejected the good news pointed fingers at each other and they had no joy. In accepting the good news, we are restored, forgiven; we are healed and set free.
John 3:3 says, “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In other translations, it says that he cannot enter the kingdom of God; you will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is not getting to heaven, but it is about experiencing the fullness of His will. It is the God-kind life, the Zoe, which is what He intended for us here on earth, where He put us.
How do we see and inherit the kingdom of God? How do we enter it? Jesus said to the religious leaders, “The sinners, the prostitutes will enter the Kingdom ahead of you.” This is because they accepted the good news by obedience to God’s commands; faith in Him. In other words, creation was rebooted and it had to take a Second Adam for the reboot. It started with the captives being freed, the blind seeing, and the lame walking so that there are no more impediments. Now, life is worth the living because of what Jesus did on earth. The restoration is here on earth.
An Epiphany song goes, “When from there Thou leddest them, from the Mount of Transfiguration steadfast to Jerusalem.” Mark 8-12 narrates this sequence. Jesus started going to Jerusalem and the Pharisees asked Him about divorce and they were rebuked and corrected. Then followed the triumphant entry to Jerusalem and then Jesus turned the tables of the moneychangers at the temple. His authority was questioned and He was asked about the tax to Caesar. The Sadducees asked Him about resurrection. They were trying to trap Him with all of their questions. In Mark 12, one scribe asked Him the last question, “What is the foremost commandment of all?” Jesus said, “Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and love your neighbour as yourself.” Then the scribe replied, “Yes, that is the foremost commandment…” When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom.”
This is exactly what the Kingdom is all about. It is us loving God and our neighbour as ourselves without the impediment of sin and death. The Kingdom is not ethereal mansions but restoration. 2Peter 3 says, “Look to the new heavens and to the new earth where righteousness dwells.” This is why we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” This is righteousness on earth as righteousness is dominant also in heaven.
All prayer, then, must be motivated by and directed toward being suited for the Kingdom which is here now. Prayer can never be apart from the notion of the Kingdom that has come. Prayer is always attached to God’s kingdom and God’s business. People have detached marriage from the Church. Family is attached to the Church, just as prayer is attached to the kingdom of God. It is not ours for the taking.
We must not see God as our puppet or an idol that we fashion or a spiritual butler or a Christian genie or a servant that is on our beck and call. We must not see God as somebody who gives what we want. Therefore, faith is not a firm belief in something which according to our understanding is good or God’s will or simply our whim. It is not a firm belief that something would happen or something will be given to us.
For example, why if pray for a tall boyfriend? What does it got to do with the kingdom of God? Why do we pray for a trophy wife? What is a wife as defined in terms of the kingdom of God? She is a helpmeet, so what is a Coke-bottle figure got to do with being a helpmeet? All our prayers must be motivated by and directed toward us being suited for the kingdom of God. Not having material things that we want is not about having no faith. What we need to think is that faith is the confidence and the peace in the Sovereignty and the Omniscience and the true and loving will of God whose plans for us from the beginning are for our welfare and our life in the kingdom of God.
C.S. Lewis said, “It is not about my idea of God but God Himself, the unfathomable God.” It is not God we fashioned so that He could grant us our whims. We would be better asking God for the mind of Christ so that our prayers would be in line with His will; so that our prayers would be productive for His kingdom.
All our prayers should line up with “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done.” Think about your prayers on what it has to do with God’s kingdom. Supplication is not wrong. God wants the best for us. The problem is we don’t understand what is best for us, but God does. Many times, we have different ideas than God’s. Supplication is not wrong, but it would be better if our motivation is to better please God and to better serve Him.
ACTS is a pattern for prayer which means A-acclamation, which is to praise God; C-contrition, which is to confess your sin; T – thanksgiving, which is to give thanks to God, appreciating His blessings; and S- supplication. I thought that if we fulfil the first three, ACT, then we are entitled to anything that we ask for in supplication. The motive should be as it is written in 1Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Whatever you ask for, whatever you pray for, pray for the glory of God.” This means it is always His best interest. God’s best interest is our best interest. Our best and only option is to trust Him and obey Him. It will be well for us. This is what the kingdom of God and this is the way it is in the kingdom of God.