On Earth as It is in Heaven #1:
What Does That Actually Mean?

By | 4 Jan 2024
On earth as it is in heaven graphic

on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven memeCommitted Christ-followers and pew-warming pietists alike have been reciting the opening phrase in the title of this article for literally over 2,000 years. Anyone who has hung around any church or organization calling itself “Christian” for even a few minutes will recognize this phrase as coming from the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. It is the second half of a sentence found mid-prayer:

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.Matthew 6:10 AMP

Tragically, over those 2 millennia, the Lord’s Prayer has become, for many church-goers, a mindless religious incantation little different than American schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in their classroom each morning back in the day. Show me any inter-denominational meeting of church folk and somewhere along the way, one of the leaders will have the crowd present recite the Lord’s Prayer regardless of its direct applicability — or complete lack thereof — to the current proceedings.

Why?

Because of its universality among all denominations and everyone present usually knows it by heart.

Besides, that’s what we Christians are supposed to pray, isn’t it!?

Far worse, the cult of Roman Catholicism has perverted recitation of this prayer into a dead religious work as part of their heretical doctrine of penance. I’ve dealt with all this in great detail in a previous article entitled Unpacking the Lord’s Prayer, so I won’t rehash all that here.

Author’s Note: Some of the content found in that article has been mined for this series of articles and greatly expanded upon, so don’t be surprised at some of the similarities.

So let’s take a far deeper dive into what this phrase means, implies, and what our responsibilities are before God when we pray it.

Analysis of the Verse Itself

Most people recite Matthew 6:10 as two separate thoughts or concepts:

  1. Your kingdom come (full stop)
  2. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (full stop)

There are actually some Bible translations, such as the NKJV, which express it precisely that way.

Actually, though, they are one continuous thought with the latter phrase explaining what is meant by the first. When viewed in this manner, this verse is cram-packed with implications for us as Christ-followers.

In the first phrase, Jesus says we should pray for God’s Kingdom to be established in the earth. He then defines what that kingdom looks like in the second phrase. Finally, He commands us towards the end of the same chapter in verse 33a to “seek first that kingdom.”

Some folks have erroneously assumed seeking the kingdom to be about our religious disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, faithful church attendance, supporting missions/evangelism, serving the poor, or giving in offerings. All those activities are indeed part and parcel of that seeking, but they are nowhere near the entirety of the concept, not by a long shot!

By the Way, What’s a Kingdom?

Before we go further, let’s define what a kingdom actually is:

  • It’s where a ruler (king) has his dominion (dom).
  • His dominion is defined as the area where he can and does enforce his will (commands, laws, edicts, etc.).
  • Most kings want their kingdoms to grow, whether politically, geographically, or economically — frequently, it’s all three. Political and/or geographic growth is almost always fueled by military conquests and/or diplomatic initiatives, such as alliances.
  • All dominions have borders. Inside its borders:
    • A good king cares for the well-being of his subjects physically, morally, and economically.
    • The king is honored, feared, — and in the case of good ones — honored and celebrated by his subjects.
    • There is punishment for disobedience to his will.
    • Some of his subjects are drafted or enlisted into his armed forces.
    • His subjects are protected by the king’s military might.
    • His subjects pay taxes to support the king’s domestic projects and foreign policy agendas.
  • Outside its borders, he has neither authority to enforce his will upon that populace nor does he have any responsibility for their physical or economic health, protection, and welfare. Either they are ruled by another king having those responsibilities or they have chosen to not be ruled by any king at all.

As I’ve already detailed in great depth in my previous article on spiritual authority, the vast majority of the earth’s populace is following in our forebears’ footsteps, blindly serving the kingdom of darkness and its king, Satan. His army of enforcers spends huge amounts of effort promulgating vast amounts of lies deluding them into thinking his kingdom is better in every way, all in the name of “freedom.” At the same time, he is doing a more than adequate job of concealing the fact he and his kingdom even exist.

From the very moment when Almighty God pronounced His judgments on Adam, Eve, and Satan back in Genesis 3, He graciously foretold a coming Maschiach (Messiah) Who would rescue us from our doomed rebellion and restore His Kingdom on this planet. He detailed His battle plan over a period of several millennia, specifying where and how the Messiah would appear, what He would accomplish, and what we could expect from His reign. That Messiah is Jesus.

Our prayer “Your kingdom come…” is our prayer of agreement giving God legal permission to lovingly invade this planet and plant His gracious flag of conquest in the hearts of all who will bow the knee to Him.

The Kingdom of God

Matthew 6:10 completely refutes the bogus Augustinian concept preached by both Calvinist ministers/churches and Roman Catholicism alike that everything which happens to us, whether good or evil, is God’s will. As I’ve discussed in great depth in the previous articles on this topic linked in this paragraph, God is indeed absolutely sovereign, but has limited His own sovereignty by His own choice through His delegation of some of His authority to men, what He has proclaimed in His Word, including His promises to us as believers. So again, I will not rehash those issues here.

Here’s the logical conundrum:

If our Heavenly Father is indeed already absolute ruler over every event happening to every inhabitant of this planet, why would God-in-Sandals command us to pray for a kingdom to come which was already in place and operational?

It makes no sense at all!

But if His command is intended for us to co-labor with Him in reestablishing the reality of his heavenly kingdom on an earth whose inhabitants have chosen to rebel against Him, then it makes perfect sense.

Here is reality as I believe the Scriptures proclaim:

  • Not everything happening here on earth is at God’s direction and causation because each one of us has the God-given ability to choose whether to obey or rebel.
  • We have a psychopathic arch-enemy named Satan who passionately hates us. He is a rebellious, created-not-divine being who does everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy whatever he can in the life of every human being on the planet.
  • That relentless enemy continuously influences us to either continue or return to our rebellion through his lies as well as negative circumstances.
  • The entire lot of us is doing our own thing in our own particular idiom, like a bunch of rebellious teenagers, dancing around with our fingers stuck in our ears, shouting “La, la, la!”
  • The Almighty looked down on our endless and desperate, yet futile quest for a spiritual clue and determined we are eternally incapable of even coming close to finding one.
  • His solution is Jesus. The price for our rescue was:
    • On God’s part: the Christ Event (His virgin birth, sinless life, supernatural ministry, substitutionary death, triumphant resurrection, and exaltation to heaven), and;
    • On our part: the abandonment of our rebellion and our absolute surrender to Him as Ruler of our lives.
  • We Christ-followers are currently His children fighting as His soldiers in a war between His Kingdom and the kingdom of darkness over this planet. Our mandate is to pray for His Kingdom to be restored to this earth and otherwise co-labor with Him to make that happen until Jesus returns to earth in His glory.
    • Let me expand on that last point a bit: since His resurrection, we Christ-followers are His National Guard, if you will, enlisted to enforce His will upon the earth on His behalf. That means enforcing it against the powers of darkness, not other human beings, by the way (see Ephesians 6:12). This is not accomplished through political coercion, legal enforcement, psychological manipulation, or physical force, but by love, the selfless giving of ourselves in service to others.

      Let me emphasize here this does not imply creating a theocratic polity at all, a frequent accusation levied by skeptics opposing us in the marketplace of ideas. Whether founded upon Christianity or a false religion like Islam, all prior attempts at utopian theocracies have utterly and miserably failed.

      All future such attempts will continue to do so until God decides it’s time for Jesus’ turn at bat. The only theocracy guaranteed to have zero dysfunction will be Christ’s millennial reign on the earth at sometime in the future. The reason a theocracy will work for Him and not for us has entirely to do with that pesky flesh of ours, which consistently rears its ugly head to sabotage us at the most devastatingly inconvenient moments despite our best efforts to do otherwise. But I digress…

      So reestablishing His Kingdom is not accomplished via political will and force majeure, but through:

      • Our humble surrender to — and love for — Him
      • As measured by our selfless love expressed towards our frequently annoying fellow humans (first to our brothers and sisters in Christ, then to those in the world at large).

      There are two arenas where His kingdom is to be expressed in the earth:

      1. Internally toward ourselves
      2. Externally towards culture

      In the next two installments in this series, we’ll explore each of these in turn.

      Now on to the next article in this series: The Kingdom of God Internally

      Thanks for reading!