Citizens of Heaven - Awaiting Our King
Citizens of Heaven - Awaiting Our King
So one of the terrible consequences of growing old is the fact that you have seen it all before, it takes more and more to build expectation. I remember what Christmas used to be like as a child. Now it just another day its nice, but not what it used to be.
But being young expectation is in every experience: I remember the other day, Nic was particularly good at eating his supper and so as a reward Nats said toNic“do you want a Ginger biscuit?”
Nic’s face lit up, he instantly started clapping his hands shouting; “ginger biscuit, ginger biscuit!”
It was the most excited I have ever seen him he was stoked to be getting the ginger biscuit!
I wish i could get that excited over stuff! Life robs that of us.
But the reality is that we can and should get excited about life; this life! and I will tell you why…
Jesus is coming! Now you might be wondering how can we get excited about this life if Jesus is coming surely that is about the next life?
Well that is what I want to talk about this morning.
Let’s start by stating the obvious; Jesus is coming! Not figuratively He is actually coming to this world and He is coming as a conquering King who will subdue all evil and reign forever!
The question I want to ask is how and why does that affect my now? Why should I live with expectation of this?
And just to be clear from the get go I am not saying that we must be morbidly obsessed with the destruction of the world, no we must be excited that our King is coming!
Paul in his letter to the Philippian church shares this excitement with them focusing their hope in their coming King, charging them to be ready and to live as if He is coming!
Our passage this morning is Philippians 3:20.
If you would turn there is your Bibles. Now Paul is encouraging the church to walk like he does, to imitate him in his following after Jesus. He then warns the church that there are many who are enemies of the cross and they must be careful of these people. But in spite of this he calls the church to look forward to Christ’s return.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”
Paul tells the church something very peculiar here; we are citizens of heaven and we are awaiting our Lord Jesus Christ a truly significant statement in the time it was spoken and it is as we engage this statement that we will engage the world like we are supposed to.
We will engage life the way God desires us to engage it.
But if we are to understand what Paul is saying here we need to understand 3 key concepts firstly
What Is Heaven? What do we think of when we think of heaven? Clouds, streets of gold etc. Now those things are not essentially wrong, but when we think of heaven as a location rather than a positionof relationship with regards to God we miss what it means to be citizens of heaven.
Heaven in Biblical terms is where God reigns. It is where He goodness and His authority is positioned completely!
Effectively it is the fullness of His presence.
Revelation 21:1-2 describes this:
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
The very tabernacle of God will be with humans then and heaven is any place where God is.
Rev. 21:3, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
In Revelation 21 and this chapter is perhaps the best description of heaven that we know of; at least the heaven that will be seen by those who belong to Christ today.
Heaven will be here on earth in the resurrection and in fact that Has always been the desire of God. He has always longed to be with His people.
Paul understands the realities of Heaven as a place where the reign of God is unquestioned; where God's goodness dwells.
Positioned against this is the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of Darkness.
That is where people reject the rule of God and set up their own rule.
So to understand our citizenship we need to understand that Heaven is not a location as much as it is a rule.
What Is Citizenship? Well simply put it is belonging to a rule (we are citizens of South Africa, therefore we enjoy (or don't enjoy) the ruler ship of this country its rules and its leaders.
Now in the time of writing this letter Paul and his readers would be familiar with the Roman rule and in fact Paul was a citizen of Rome, and because of that enjoyed traveling rights and the legal rights of being a citizen of Rome.
In fact, what was unique about the way that Rome established its citizenship was the fact that your citizenship did not depend upon your location.
You did not have to live in Rome to be a Roman citizen.
In fact it was established for very good reasons. When Rome started to expand its territories it used large armies, these armies were well trained and were effective in there conquering of the world.
However at the end of these conflicts Rome had a problem on its hands; it had a large number of old Soldiers with lots of loot that they had claimed from battles and now lots of time on its hand.
The last thing Rome needed was for all their soldiers to flood back to Rome (an already overcrowded and small city)
So Rome extended Citizenship, telling the Soldiers to settle where they have conquered and bring the civilization of Rome to your new homes.
You are citizens of Rome, but you live in the extending of Rome's Rule!
This is what Paul is telling us in this passage; We who find ourselves in this world are citizens of heaven, we enjoy the rule and rights of being a citizen of heaven, but are not to live like we are going back, we are to live in a way to bring the civilization of Heaven to where we find ourselves.
That is why we preach! as people are saved so they are too added to this rule of God and so they too are established as citizens of heaven and so God's rule is extended!
We are bringing heaven to earth as we extend the gospel; just as Rome extended the civilization of Rome to the known world by granting citizenship to those lands that were conquered so too we are extending Heaven's rule here!
and so we have to ask the question;
What Are We Waiting For? Paul says
And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ
This is an interesting term, for the term in Greek was always applied to Cesar. What would happen is that as land was conquered by Cesar so He would come to that Land and bring his approval and declaration that that land was now Roman land!
We too await the return of our Lord; Jesus Christ. He will return and with full authority declare once and for all that all the earth is His.
Jesus is coming to finally establish this final rule of God on the earth.
And again Revelation gives us such a beautiful depiction of how that will be, there will be no more suffering no more pain; all will be submitted back to the rule of God and all will finally be in its right place!
This is what we look forward to! We don't look forward to the destruction; we await the confirmation of our Lord as King and ruler!
The reality is we have to ask ourselves the question; is the rule of our King questionable? No!
Are the forces that oppose us now insurmountable for him? Of course not No!
Then We long for Christ to come; for it will be the confirmation and full expression of what we have now.
But in that longing comes urgent action:
What Are You Still Waiting For? You see we have tasted the heavenly rule in part!
We know what it is to experience the power of the life to come (the power of the HS in us)
We have tasted of the fellowship to come (This church has tasted deeply of this (to God's glory))
We have see the joy and freedom that comes from Christ's rule in our life!
So when I ask "what are you still waiting for?" I am asking what is stopping us extending this rule?
What is holding us back in making sure everyone is a part and enjoying the same rule that we have?
Why would we deny any the security, hope, and love that comes when one's life is submitted to Christ?
You and I are Citizens of heaven not in a way that we have to simply endure this world until we go back home. No, We are Citizens of Heaven the great place where God rules, and we are bringing that rule to this earth!
We are bringing it when we learn to love each other like Christ loves us!
We are bringing it here when we oppose oppression and lift people up with acts of kindness.
We are bringing it here when we share the good news that everyone is invited to be a part of this new kingdom.
A Kingdom that will never end!
With a King who reigns with justice and love!
Who brings peace to His people and wipes away their tears!
This King so cares for His people that He Himself lay down His life!
We await this King to be finally revealed!
But we are also in the process of revealing Him to as many as would listen to our message.
And so, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are you still waiting for?
Jesus has one the victory, we are a part of His rule, established in the Kingdom His church!
Let us go out and establish His reign in the hearts of this world!
You are Citizens of heaven; a great and glorious Kingdom don't live like you are part of the kingdom of this world which has already being disarmed and destroyed on the Cross of Jesus Christ!
Know your King is coming soon! let us share the good news (the declaration of victory) with as many who would hear us!