Our Heavenly Citizenship
“Our Heavenly Citizenship”
- · Arnold Schwartzenegger became an American citizen in 1983. He saw America as the “Promise Land.” He said the American people have been so generous and welcoming.
- · Anthony Hopkins became an American citizen in 2000. He celebrated by making a 3,000 road trip across the country. Steven Spielberg filmed his oath of allegiance to America.
- · Pierce Brosnan (2004) said he found a whole new life and identity in America!
- · Liam Neeson became an American citizen after his wife died from a skiing fall. He was so impressed by the outpouring of condolences from the American people.
Did you know the apostle Paul possessed triple citizenships? He was a Jewish citizen (Phil.3:4-5); he was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:24-28); and he was a citizen of Heaven which he deemed most important and meaningful. The word Paul used for “citizenship” (translated “conversation” in the KJB) is the Greek word, politeuma—we get our words “politics” and “political” from this word. Politeuma means (1) the place where a person has official status; and (2) the commonwealth where one’s name is recorded on the register of citizens.
Most of us are citizens of the United States, citizens of Tennessee, citizens of DeKalb or Wilson County, and citizens of Alexandria or Watertown. Do you know how a person becomes an American citizen?
- 1. Must be 18 years of age or older at the time of filing
- 2. Must have an ability to read, write, and speak ordinary English
- 3. Must have good moral character—this means paying taxes and clean criminal record
- 4. Must have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of United States history and government; must be prepared to take a required test on the fundamentals and history
- 5. Must be admitted to the Unites States as a lawful resident
- 6. Must have a continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years—this means the person must maintain status as a loyal resident: maintain address and paying state/federal taxes
The church at Philippi understood clearly the significance of the word, “citizenship.” In Acts 16:11-12, Philippi is called a “colony.” In honor of a great battle fought there in 31 B.C., the city was declared a Roman colony. This means they were like a Rome in miniature: had Roman law, Roman magistrates governed, Roman justice administered, citizens wore Roman clothing, official language was Latin, when a baby was born his name was recorded in Rome, and the city observed Roman festivals and holidays. To be a politeuma of Rome described your allegiance and identity. Though you lived in Philippi, Greece, you were a citizen of Rome!
Now let’s Apply this to Paul’s statement that “Our Citizenship is in Heaven.” Our 1st birth (physical) gives us a citizenship in this world. Our 2nd birth (salvation) gives us a citizenship in Heaven. As believers, we have been raised with Christ (Col. 3:1); we’ve been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13); and we’ve been raised up together to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:6). In other words, we are as fully accepted and established by God in His heavenly home—AS WE SHALL BE EVEN WHEN WE GET THERE! Certain things will happen when we get to Heaven (like v. 21), but OUR CITIZENSHIP IS AS DEFINITE NOW AS IT WILL BE THEN.
Sometimes celebrities have Knighthood bestowed on them by the Queen of England. When this happens, they have to put “KBE” (Knight of British Empire) around their name if they are not British citizens. He cannot be called “Sir” because he is not a British citizen. So, the title is honorary and does not endow him with the rights as a British citizen. This is not the type of citizenship we’re being granted as a Heavenly Citizen!
We must never think of ourselves as 2nd Class Citizens, as barely acceptable. Years ago, the Black people were considered 3/5 human, subhuman with no rights—how wrong we were to do this! There was a time when women were not allowed to vote—they had limited rights as citizens. We do not have a tentative citizenship that is purchased with works and will expire if we don’t continue to rack up points.
Principles of Having Citizenship in Heaven:
- 1. As heavenly citizens, Jesus is our King. Our allegiance is to Him.
- 2. A Christian’s goal ought to be to please Jesus first. Our first concern is the will of God—Mat.6:33
- 3. A Christian does not belong to the culture around him. This world tries to get the Christian to “conform” (Rom.12:2). “Conform” means to assume an outward expression that does not really reflect what is inside—a masquerade, an act. The “world” is the current system of values and beliefs—this is always changing. How shocking to compare how people believed in the 1950’s to how they believe in 2016. The world is constantly evolving downward in its morals—based on Hollywood and the spirit of the age. We are to resist that attempt by the world to crunch us into its image.
- 4. The Buzz Word today is “Politically Incorrect”—we must not go against the spirit of the age. Our Supreme Court says it is permissible to murder babies in the womb. Our President says same sex marriages are permissible. How we have changed the standard of morality over the years. The question is: WHAT DOES HEAVEN SAY? We are to be transformed in our mind (transform is “metamorphosis”—the change on the outside based on the inner nature and essence). The inside of us—that is in TUNE WITH HEAVEN—should cause us to do the good, the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. “Thy will be done—on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN!
- 5. Heavenly Citizens are different: strangers, pilgrims, aliens—“peculiar.” Jesus said we are IN the world, but not OF the world. I hope you will not mind if people think you are “peculiar”—especially if their opinion is based on seeing your light shine for Jesus!
- 6. This world—our Supreme Court—our Government-- tries to crunch us into their image. Remember the couple in Colorado with the bakery—they refused to prepare a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage (I would have done the same thing!) and have been prosecuted for this! Remember the battle Hobby Lobby had because they refused to give medical benefits to employees which covered abortion. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that closely held corporations have a right to religiously object to government regulations. Praise the Lord! Hobby Lobby also believed life begins at conception. Citizens of Heaven on earth will be deemed “peculiar” and be punished for it.
- 7. As heavenly citizens, our warfare is spiritual not physical. We can use the name of Jesus in prayer. We can claim the promises of Christ.
- 8. As heavenly citizens, we have FREE and CONTINUAL ACCESS TO THE KING. Psalm 61:2 says we cry out to God from the end of the earth. We can go, 24/7, to God’s throne. We don’t have to be afraid to go “unannounced” like Esther. In fact, we are encouraged to go to the King and we will always find Him ready to hear and help—see Hebrews 4:16.
- 9. As heavenly citizens and ambassadors of Heaven, we have the right to introduce everyone we want to the King and usher them into His presence.
Think about MOSES:
- · By faith – Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter
- · By faith – Moses refused to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin
- · By faith – Moses forsook Egypt
- · Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God
- · Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt
- · Moses looked to the reward
- · Moses endured as seeing Him Who is invisible
In other words, Moses’ heavenly citizenship governed his life – his values – his convictions – his behavior. The question comes: Do you have a citizenship in Heaven? We ought always to ask: What Does Heaven Think? WE ARE CITIZENS OF HEAVEN---LET US ACT LIKE IT!