Thursday, September 09, 2010

What do we pray for in saying Thy kingdom come?

In desiring that Christ's kingdom may come, we pray that the gospel may be propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in.

When the gospel dispensation, which is Christ's kingdom, was first erected, the apostles, who were employed in the important work, were to fulfil the commission which he gave them, in preaching the gospel to all nations. This they accordingly did; and, by the extraordinary hand of God attending their ministry, the gospel was spread, in a short space of time, through a considerable part of the world. Many of the Jews were called,—among whom all that were ordained to eternal life believed: and as for the Gentiles, who formerly were unacquainted with the way of salvation, they had Christ preached to them, and many churches were gathered from among them. Thus the kingdom of Christ was advanced ; and a foundation was laid for the propagation and flourishing state of the gospel in all succeeding ages, the effects of which are experienced at this day. Hence, when the petition relating to the coming of Christ's kingdom was used by the first disciples, that which was principally intended by it, was that Christ might be preached to the Gentiles, and believed on in the world,—that the vail, or the face of the covering which was spread over all nations, might be taken away,—and that the way of salvation might be known by those who sat in the region and shadow of death. When, however, it is used by us, we signify our desire that the invaluable blessing of the gospel may be still continued, and that the promises relating to the greater success of it may have a more full accomplishment. The apostles, indeed, in executing their commission, are said to have preached the gospel to all nations, that is, to a very considerable part of the heathen world. It does not appear, however, that every individual nation in the world has yet been favoured with this privilege; so that what was foretold concerning the earth being 'full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea,' and other predictions to the same purpose, do not seem hitherto to have had their full accomplishment. It is very evident, too, that many nations, who had the gospel preached to them by the apostles, are now wholly destitute of it. And, though it is true a considerable number of the Jews at first believed iu Christ; yet the greatest part of that people were cast off, and all remain, at this day, strangers and enemies to him. Hence, we cannot but suppose that those prophecies which respect their conversion, in the latter day, together with the fulness of the Gentiles being brought in, shall be more eminently accomplished than they have hitherto been.

This, therefore, is what we are to pray for when we say, ' Thy kingdom come.'
Thomas Ridgely, Body of Divinity