Philip G. Ryken
Reviewed by: Everett A. Henes
Kingdom, Come! by Philip G. Ryken. Crossway, 2013. Paperback, 144 pages, list price $12.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Everett A. Henes.
"Your kingdom come" are words that are prayed all over the world by Christ's people. Every time we pray the Lord's Prayer, we say them, and every time we pray for Christ to return, we are praying for his kingdom to come. What do we mean by those words, though? And, perhaps more importantly, do they mean anything for us in this life while we wait for that kingdom to come? These are some of the questions that Phil Ryken considers in this short book.
Kingdom, Come! is a collection of talks given at the chapel services of Wheaton College, where Ryken serves as president. Wheaton is stamped in this book from the dedication to Wheaton alumni to the numerous stories of Wheaton graduates and current students that serve to illustrate the points being made. However, his points apply across the board.
While the book is short and small in size, it is big in content. The first chapter points out the problem of trying to guess the timing of Christ's return. "Such prophecies," he explains, actually "push our expectation of the return of Christ and the coming of his kingdom too far out into the future" (p. 15). From there, Ryken moves to challenge the status quo in American evangelicalism, pointing out that the kingdom we are to seek is God's kingdom rather than our own desires. There is a danger in seeking our own kingdoms, because they are temporal. The good news, though, is that God's kingdom is a "forever kingdom" (chapter 4).
The second half of the book begins with an invitation to enter this kingdom, lest any reader miss it. The task of the church is well explained in the chapter titled "Proclaiming the Kingdom." In chapter 7, "When the Kingdom Doesn't Come," Ryken deals with the discouragement that comes and the temptation that we all face to disbelieve and use all that the Lord has given us for our own desires, when Christ's return seems to be delayed. This is what he calls the servants' test as he turns to the familiar Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19) to show that Jesus prepared his disciples for the delay.
The final chapter, "When the Kingdom Comes," seeks to show from the Scriptures the beauty of God's kingdom. It is a kingdom where there will be no more pain and no more death. All of God's promises will be kept. This is the promise of the new creation. The book closes with a brief explanation of the closing chapter of Scripture. This is fitting, since the kingdom (and king) we are waiting for is the same one that prompted John to pray, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
This book would serve well for a small group study or Sunday school class. It brings to our attention an all-important topic that seems to be on our minds only when we recite the Lord's Prayer. I have found it useful as a conversation starter with college students.
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