Dr J. C. Ryle, first bishop of Liverpool (from 1816-1900)


These words are part of the Lord’s Prayer. Did you ever consider what they mean? Did you ever consider what they mean? The subject is one about which many mistakes prevail. It is one about which is most important to your own comfort to have clear views. Give me your attention, while I try to explain to you the kingdom of God.

I ask you then to understand that Jesus Christ will come back again to this world one day and reign over it as King. He shall return with power and great glory in the clouds of heaven, and the kingdoms of this world shall all become His. And then shall be fulfilled the words of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy Kingdom come.’

Then, He intends to ‘execute judgment’ upon all the ungodly inhabitants of Christendom, to ‘burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire’ – ‘In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and they that obey not the Gospel (Jude 15; Matthew 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Then, He intends to raise His dead saints and gather His living ones, to gather together the scattered tribes of Israel, and to set up an empire on earth, in which every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord.

When, how, where, in what manner, all these things shall be, we cannot say particularly. Enough for us to know that they shall be. The Lord Jesus has undertaken to do them, and they shall be performed. As surely as He was born of a virgin, and lived and lived on earth thirty-three years as a servant, so surely He shall come with clouds in glory, and reign on earth as a King.

Settle it down in your mind that Christ is one day to have a complete kingdom in this world – that His kingdom is not yet set up – but that it will be set up in the day of His return. Know clearly Whose kingdom it is to be one day: not Satan the usurper’s but Jesus Christ’s. Know clearly when the kingdom is to change hands, and the usurper to be cast out: when the Lord Jesus returns in person, and not before. Know these things and you will do well.

Know these things clearly, and then you will not cherish extravagant expectations from any Church, minister, or religious machinery in this present dispensation. You will not marvel to see ministers and missionaries not converting all to whom they preach. You will not wonder to find that while some believe the Gospel, many believe not. You will remember that the ‘the days are evil,’ and that the time of general conversion has not arrived. Alas, for the man who expects a millennium before the Lord Jesus returns. How can this possibly be, if the world in the day of His coming is to be found as it was in the days of Noah and Lot? (Luke 17:26-30).

Know these things clearly, and then you will not be confounded and surprised by the continuance of immense evils in the world. Wars and tumults, and oppressions, and dishonesty, and selfishness, and covetousness, and superstition, and bad government, and abounding heresies, will not appear to you unaccountable. You will say to yourself, ‘The time of Christ’s power has not arrived – the devil is still working among his children, and sowing darkness and division broadcast among the saints – the true King is yet to come.’

Know these things clearly, and then you will see why God delays the final glory, and allows things to go on as they doo in this world. It is not that He is not able to prevent evil – it is not that He is slack in fulfilling His promises – but the Lord is taking out for Himself a people, by the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 15:14), and when that work is completed, then the kingdom of Christ shall be set up, and the the throne of grace exchanged for the throne of glory.

Know these things clearly, and then you will work diligently to do good to souls. The time is short. ‘The night is far spent. The day is at hand.’ The signs of the times call loudly for watchfulness, and speak with no uncertain voice. Surely if we would pluck a few more brands from the burning before it is too late, we must work hard, and lose no time.

Know these things clearly, and clearly, and then you will be often looking for the coming of the day of God. You will regard the second advent as a glorious and comfortable truth, around which your best hopes will all be clustered. You will long for the day of refreshing, and the manifestation of the sons of God (Acts 3:19); Romans 8:19). You will find peace in looking back to the cross, and you will find joyful hope in looking forward to the kingdom.

Taken from Our Outlook, October, 1938