Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our Citizenship is in Heaven

Our Citizenship is in heaven

Philippians 3:7-17
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern
Philippians 3:20-21.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (NKJV)

One second after his conversion, Paul laid aside all confidence in rite, race, religion, reputation and human righteousness. He now possessed God’s righteousness. Earlier in the Chapter he had listed what he set aside for Christ’s sake. Now let us see what he gained in return

1. He gained a new knowledge (3;7-8)

2. He gained a new righteousness (3:9)

3. He gained a new power (3:10)  

One thing about this verse (verse 10) is that far too many Christians are excited about the implications of the first half of this famous verse but show little interest in the last part. But it must be kept in mind that there is no power of the resurrection without the fellowship of the suffering. These go hand –in- hand. To know Christ in this manner has been the goal of all godly believers throughout history. Ready testimonies that quickly come to mind are those of 
  • Moses – Exodus 33;13
  • David – Psalm 42:-2;  63:1-2
  • Philip  - John 6:3-5; 8:17

4. He gained a new goal (3:11-17) 

Paul began by saying; “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (verse 12). The perfection he would have at the future resurrection was not yet attained, as he still had a sin nature, a sinful body, and was only too aware of the need for further spiritual progress.
In stating that he was not already perfect, the apostle Paul used a Greek word meaning “to reach a goal or fulfill a purpose”. What Paul said here is this: “I did not attain perfection by a single act in the past, I was not perfected in the past and still am not perfect now, but it is a continual exercise of my life to pursue perfection in the hope that I may apprehend or seize or make my own, that for which I have been seized by Christ”. In other words, it was his desire to achieve perfection in the sense of fulfilling God’s purpose in his life.

Paul continues; “Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended” (v13). Here he used the perfect tense meaning; “I count not myself to have been perfected once for all.” Paul is clearly denying sinless perfection or having experientially achieved complete holiness.

Note especially Paul’s statement in (3:13) “This one thing I do” He has an over reaching ambition. This passage is vital to the proper understanding of the discourse in Philippians.

5. He gained a New Hope (3:20-21)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Citizenship is rendered "Conversation" in the King James Version but a better translation is “For our city home is in heaven” It is still even better to translate it in this way; “We are a colony of heaven”. Let us discuss this last translation. Picture now the people to whom Paul is writing. They live in Philippi, which was a colony of Rome.

It was one of the few cities in the Roman Empire that was classed as a colony. In these cities lived the Roman officials. People living in Roman colonies dressed like people of Rome. If you wanted to see Roman’s latest styles, you could go to Philippi because they would be on display there. Those cities had the same laws and regulations that Rome had; and the people in Philippi obeyed the laws that were made in Rome. Everybody living in a Roman colony was a Roman citizen. In Philippi they would have been very glad to tell you “my citizenship is in Rome”. Now Paul also was a citizen of Rome; but what he is saying here is “Our citizenship is in heaven” or we are a colony of heaven.

What does that mean? It means that the believer, since he is a citizen of heaven, is to take his orders from up there. He is to obey the laws from heaven. As someone has said; “All the way to heaven is heaven”. A believer’s life down here should mirror all the way to heaven. That is exactly what Paul is saying. This is the future. Thus just as Philippi was a colony of Rome on foreign soil, the Church is a colony of heaven on earthly foreign soil.

Paul’s writing here should challenge every Christian to order his life that people see him as a citizen of heaven while on earth. This should be seen in our attitude to the desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the attractions of the world. When you speak, do people consider your word as seasoned with the flavours of heaven? Does your manner challenge people to say “He has been with Christ”? What do people see in your attitude to wealth? Do you remember that we have no continuing city here below? Once an architect said, "People build today as if they will live here forever!” It reflects the life of many a people including believers.

To you non-believers in our midst today: I only want to recount that “He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” Your present citizenship is very temporal and no matter what you do, you cannot keep it as long as you would want to. Why not today, give up your citizenship of this temporal life and get the citizenship of heaven. Christ said; “I am the door, by Me if anyone enters in he will find pasture”; would you want to enter the city of heaven through Christ who died; yea, who lives that you may not die?

God bless you as you take this decision today.

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