Your Kingdom Come 御国が来ますように

How do we measure greatness in God’s Kingdom?
How do we measure the power by which God’s Kingdom comes?

I confess I have a tendency to think of it in terms of miracles. Loving is wonderful and powerful and the essence of God but anyone can do it. Leading others to Christ is right up there as ‘greatness in the Kingdom’ but with effort and training, again, anyone can (and should) do it. But performing miracles seems to be a special gift. And it would indicate a special greatness. A special empowering.
奇跡 愛すること 人をキリストへと導くこと

Keeping this in mind, which old testament character should we consider the greatest?
John the Baptist

All of these performed miraculous feats and/or had miraculous encounters with God – except for one. John the Baptist. John the Baptist was the only one who, as far as we know, never performed a miracle. Yet Jesus – who knew them all – said that John the Baptist was the greatest of them all. Why?
イエスは バプテスマのヨハネが最も大きい人物だと言っています。なぜでしょう?

Because of his message. He had a message that would change the world. His message was what everything in the old testament pointed to. His message revealed the fulfilment of the Old Testament. And he himself experienced that message. What was the message?

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11

Then when Jesus came to John the Baptist they had this exchange:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Matthew 3:13,14

We know that at this point it was Jesus who was baptised not John, but John here acknowledges his need to be baptised by Jesus; his need to baptised with the Holy Spirit.

This is what makes John greater than all the Old Testament prophets. It’s the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The old testament prophets received and were empowered and moved by the Holy Spirit at specific times and for specific purposes. But the baptism that Jesus brings is a permanent dwelling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. This truth explains the most extraordinary statement that Jesus later made. He said,

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11

Those “least in the kingdom of heaven” are those – like you (I hope) and me – who have put their faith in Christ and made him the Lord and Saviour of their lives. In doing so, they have received the Holy Spirit and are empowered to pray “your kingdom come” and to expect its coming. Now, the movement and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives will reflect both God’s sovereignty and grace, and our faithfulness. And this is something that we will be looking at in some detail over the next several months through to the end of the year.

To be specific, over the next few months I want to encourage everyone in our congregation to seek passionately the fullness of the Holy Spirit, to discover spiritual gifts – we will do this together – and to step out in faith in ways that we have never done before.

The fullness of the Spirit makes a lifestyle available to us that not even John the Baptist had access to before his own baptism. Jesus whetted our appetite for this lifestyle through His own example and then gave us the promise and the means to live it through his resurrection and through the Pentecost event.

This is all exciting news.

Now, let’s talk about goals. Last week I wanted to talk about what makes us happy and I really didn’t want a bunch of spiritual answers. But people gave me answers like ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ and so on (which I can’t complain about) but it wasn’t quite what I was after at that point in the discussion.

Today I’d like to talk about spiritual goals. And this time I would like spiritual answers. So when I ask you what your spiritual goals are, I’d prefer not to get answers like ‘gardening’, ‘roller coasters’ and ‘chocolate’. But neither this time am I asking for spoken answers. I want you to prayerfully examine your own heart and ask yourself what your spiritual goals are – and then answer that question as best you can today.
自分の心を祈りをもって吟味して、自分自身に信仰の目標は何か問いかけてみてください。そして その質問にできるだけ今日答えてみてください。

Before we do that, let me share a few things about spiritual goals. There is a difference between immediate goals and ultimate goals. It’s often hard, if not impossible, to fulfil an ultimate goal if you can’t fulfil the immediate goal. Success in the immediate goal leads to success in the ultimate goal.

Let me explain this with an illustration from rugby. Some people wonder why a ‘goal’ in rugby is called a ‘try’. This is because when rugby first started, tries weren’t worth 5 points like they are today. They weren’t worth any points. A ‘try’ simply gave you a ‘try for goal’ and the goal you then kicked gave you the points. So although immediate success in scoring a try didn’t actually earn you any points, it meant that you could then have ultimate success in kicking a goal to score points.

Similarly (kind of), salvation was not the ultimate goal of Christ’s coming. It was a wonderful, costly, valuable achievement and one that alone should transform our lives and fill our church with praises. But it was the immediate goal, not the ultimate goal. We weren’t saved and then left alone. There’s more to the plan. There is a higher goal, an ultimate goal. And that goal is to fill each born again believer with the Holy Spirit.

God wants us to overflow with Himself that we might be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).

So I’m going to stop the sermon at this point and lead us into a time of seeking and prayer. The question I would like you to consider and pray about is “What are your spiritual goals?” Given today’s topic, one answer should be ‘Being filled with the Holy Spirit’ but I would like you to be more specific about this.

How will you go about being filled with the Holy Spirit?
What (if anything) is holding you back from being filled with the Holy Spirit?
Once filled with the Holy Spirit what would you like to achieve for God’s Kingdom? (What is your spiritual passion?)
What changes would you like to see in yourself to further God’s Kingdom?
What changes would you like to see in your lifestyle as a result of God’s Spirit overflowing from you?
What other goals do have as a follower of Christ? (Dream big. Embarrassingly big.)

Don’t just seek general Biblical answers to these questions. Seek God for personal answers to these questions.

Let’s have a time of prayer and meditation.

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11