CITIZENS OF HEAVEN

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist     Gainesville, FL      07/05/20
 
"Citizens of Heaven”
Philippians 3:17-21
 
INTRODUCTION: This is Independence Day weekend. We celebrated our nation’s birth on July 4th with fireworks, family outings, and good food. While America has many problems and people are protesting to correct those problems, we still have much to be thankful for living in a land that promotes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Citizenship in the United States of America carries privileges and rights that few people experience anywhere else in the world. “Proud to be an American” is an apt phrase for this Independence Day weekend. But the Apostle Paul states that there is something even greater for Christians in any nation: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent the Kingdom of Heaven. How are we to live as citizens of Heaven while we reside here on Earth? Paul explains this in Philippians 3:17-21.
 
FOLLOW THOSE WHO EXEMPLIFY CHRIST.
 
*All Christians are on a journey. We are in a race aiming for the finish line and the prize that awaits us. We are striving to be like Jesus and be with him forever. Paul says we need to imitate godly believers who set a good example for us. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (3:17).
 
AVOID THOSE WHO EXPLOIT CHRIST.
 
*Paul had warned the Philippians of the legalists who demanded rituals instead of the freedom found in Christ (3:2-3). Now he warns them of libertines whose immoral lifestyles mock the name of Christ. They abuse the freedom in Christ to satisfy their personal desires. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ (3:18).
 
*The libertines are sexually unrestrained, indulge their appetites, and celebrate shameful behaviors. Their destiny is eternal loss and separation from God.   Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (3:18-19).
 
LIVE AS THOSE WHO EXPECT CHRIST.

*Christians have a dual citizenship. We are citizens of this world and the nation we live in, but we are also citizens of heaven. We have all the rights and privileges of a child of the King. We represent the Kingdom of Heaven as we live in this world. Our conduct should match our heavenly citizenship. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (3:20-21).
 
*We look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ to establish a new Heaven and a new Earth. He will transform our earthly bodies into immortal bodies fit for eternity. Until then we are to live as the people of God on this earth. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (3:20-21).
 
*The Christian hope and motivation: “For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too. For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever…
 
So, my dear brothers, since future victory is sure, be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever wasted as it would be if there were no resurrection”
 
                                                1 Corinthians 15:52-58 TLB