For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q102

We come to the second petition within the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” This is a lofty request. When we consider all the things that take first place in the thoughts and efforts of ourselves and others, we might wonder if this request will ever be realized. And yet our prayers must begin here; one of the very first instructions our Lord gave to the disciples was concerned with seeking first things first; the Kingdom of God and his righteousness must have priority (Matt. 6:33).
“The sum total of the wisdom of the ages is to find out which way God is going and walk with him.” I found that quote many years ago, from where I can’t recall. It speaks to what God is doing and to the wisdom of pursuing the right things. In his Matt. 6 discourse, the Lord alludes to the fleeting glory of Solomon, that very Solomon who spoke of the accumulation of worldly goods and endeavors as mere vanity and vapor in the book of Ecclesiastes. And yet think what Solomon might say today were he alive on earth to observe the abundant wealth we enjoy and that occupies so much of our time and energy. If the disciples of old struggled over the distractions of earthy things and supposed necessities, oh how must we? Therefore it is even more needful that we pray in like mind, as our Lord would have, thy Kingdom come, especially as we study this particular catechism lesson.
WSC Q102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A.  In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray, that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed[a]; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced[b], ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it[c]; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened[d].
[a] Matt. 12:25-28; Rom. 16:20; I John 3:8
[b] Ps. 72:8-11; Matt. 24:14; I Cor. 15:24-25
[c] Ps. 119:5; Luke 22:32; II Thess. 3:1-5
[d] Rev. 22:20
Question 102 asks what we pray for in the second request, and answers that in the second request (your kingdom come) we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed, that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, with ourselves and others brought into and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may come quickly.
Comments and considerations:
These last several catechism questions examine each section of the Lord’s Prayer. Here it is helpful to take the second and third petitions together, momentarily, to see what is being requested in Thy kingdom come, which is thy will be done. We are taught four points in this catechism lesson, beginning with the destruction of Satan’s kingdom, a realm where the objective is opposition to God’s will, challenging it at every point in heart and mind with an ongoing defiance and questioning “Hath God said...?” (Gen. 3:1). This is the very opposite of the obedient heart that, “trembling and astonished said, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’” (Acts 9:6); or as he who is most obedient said, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou” (Matt. 26:39b).
Regarding our understanding of kingdoms and domains, it would be helpful to review the fact that God does rule over all, and yet has allowed Satan’s influence and spiritual intrusion into this world (Job 1:6-12 and Eph. 2:2; 6:12). There are several ways to look at kingdom doctrines. But very clearly, until Christ hands over the kingdom to the Father in the end, ushering in the new heavens and earth (I Cor. 15:24), we are in a spiritual battle for hearts and minds that are either ruled within the kingdom of grace—living out the implications of every thought captive to Christ (2Cor 10:5)—or ruled by a spiritual kingdom of darkness, sin and unbelief—living out rebellion and hostility against truth and life. As Prov. 8:36 says, “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”
We are at war since hostilities broke out in Gen. 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (KJV). Thus when we pray, Thy kingdom come, it is not a passive request but an active petition to see the defeat and destruction of the encroaching influence, works, and lies of Satan: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). Moreover, note the implications of Rom. 16:20—“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” The Church goes forward from the Lord’s pronouncement that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [the church]” in Matt. 16:18, to the affirming statement in Rom. 16:20 that indeed the Body of Christ, triumphant in Christ, “will crush Satan under [its] feet shortly.” Thus we can have confidence in our prayer Thy kingdom come, that the kingdom of grace may [in fact, will] be advanced to a glorious end.
We are not merely against the darkness, but we are for the light; we are for advancing grace and truth. Whether it be individually or corporately, privately or culturally, we are always about putting off the old and putting on the new, to renew and advance the kingdom of righteousness and truth. In praying that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed we also pray that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, that the light might shine out of the darkness, that grace and truth may prevail and abound in ourselves and others. In this we pray evangelistically, knowing that the kingdom begins with its rule in our own hearts; then it spreads to others to be saved and sanctified, securely kept to persevere unto the end, the full manifestation of the kingdom of glory.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.
Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ (II Thess. 3:1-5).
So it is we pray Thy kingdom come with expectation of the hastening return of the Lord of glory and his kingdom.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
To God alone be the glory!
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.            Read I John 3:8. In this world, how many kingdoms actually exist? To narrow the question, how many spiritual kingdoms exist? When we pray the second petition, what are we actually asking for? According to I John 3:8, why did Jesus come into the world?
2.            In Luke 17:20-21, what did Jesus say about where the kingdom was located?
3.            In Acts 26:17-18. Paul tells how he encountered Christ and of his conversion to serving the Lord. How does what he said relate to the kingdom “within” statement of Luke 17:21?
4.            The Kingdom of God starts with us as we embrace Christ’s rule in faith; and it grows in each of God’s people as they think and do his will (I Thess. 5:23-24). How does I Cor. 15:24-25 describe the end of Christ’s working out of the Kingdom? Also see Rev. 22:20.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q102, WLC Q191
WSC Q102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A.  In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray, that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed[a]; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced[b], ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it[c]; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened[d].
[a]  Matt. 12:25-28; Rom. 16:20; IJohn 3:8
[b]  Ps. 72:8-11; Matt. 24:14; ICor. 15:24-25
[c]  Ps. 119:5; Luke 22:32; IIThess. 3:1-5
[d]  Rev. 22:20
WLC Q191. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A.  In the second petition, (which is, Thy kingdom come[a],) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan[b], we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed[c], the gospel propagated throughout the world[d], the Jews called[e], the fullness of the Gentiles brought in[f]; the church furnished with all gospel-officers and ordinances[g], purged from corruption[h], countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate[i]: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted[j]; that Christ would rule in our hearts here[k], and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever[l]; and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends[m].
[a]   Mat. 6:10
[b]   Eph. 2:2-3
[c]   Ps. 67:1, 18; Rev. 12:10-11
[d]   2Thes. 3:1
[e]   Rom. 10:1
[f]   John 17:9, 20; Rom. 11:25-26; Ps. 67 throughout
[g]   Mat. 9:38; 2Thes. 3:1
[h]  Mal. 1:11; Zeph. 3:9
[i]    1Tim. 2:1-2
[j]    Acts 4:29-30; Eph. 6:18-20; Rom. 15:29-30, 32; 2Thes. 1:11; 2:16-17
[k]  Eph. 3:14-20
[l]    Rev. 22:20
[m] Isa. 64:1-2; Rev. 4:8-11
Question(s) for further study:

The Larger Catechism expands on the answer to the Shorter by listing how many scriptural proofs compared to the four in the Shorter; acknowledging at first what basic assumption about ourselves and all mankind in opposition to the kingdom of God? 

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