Summary: Learn how we can help others experience a little of Heaven on Earth.
Before I give the introductory information, which may not be exciting to all, I just want you to know that we’re going to cover the exciting topic of how to experience a bit of Heaven on earth. The doctor who says, "The good news is you’re going to Heaven, the bad news is you’re going on Monday," has a limited knowledge of what Heaven is like.
Revelations 21:1-4 tells us, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
So "going to Heaven" and "bad news" should never be in the same sentence. Before we go further, let’s review some old and look at some new introductory information.
We are studying through the letter to the Philippians, written by the Apostle Paul from a Roman prison cell around 60 AD. The church at Philippi, to which this letter was sent, was a diverse church made up of Asians, Greeks and Romans.
The city, Philippi, which was named after Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, became a colony of the Roman Empire around 42 BC. As a result many Roman veterans and Roman citizens settled in Philippi. Therefore, many in Philippi were loyal and proud citizens of Rome, but living far from Rome.
From our knowledge of this setting, we can better understand this morning’s portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 1, verses 27-30.
We will be looking at this passage under the framework of bringing some of Heaven to earth. This framework comes from the observation made in verse 27, where the Greek word translated into the English word, "conduct" can be more accurately translated as, "to live as a citizen." So we can read verse 27 as, "Whatever happens, live as a citizen worthy of the gospel of Christ." The gospel of Christ is the good news that God has come as man in Jesus Christ to die on the cross to make right a relationship with sinners, with you and me. A right relationship with God includes the promise of Heaven, and a new identity as a citizen of Heaven.
Paul is writing to the Christians in Philippi, who understand the reality of Roman citizens not living in Rome but living in Philippi, and Paul uses this analogy to encourage Christians, who are citizens of Heaven not yet living in Heaven but living on earth.
Hebrews 11:13-16 tells us about those who have faith in God’s provision of Heaven: "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."
This morning we’re going to answer some of the following questions: "How should we live as citizens of Heaven while on earth?" "How can we endure the difficulties of a fallen world, when we have received the promise of a perfect world?" "How can we be heavenly minded and be earthly good?" "How can we enjoy some of Heaven on earth?" And "Can we bring some of Heaven to earth?"
Paul points out three ways for us to bring some of Heaven to earth, so that we can enjoy some of Heaven on earth.
The first way to bring some of Heaven to earth is for citizens of Heaven to stand together for the good news of Jesus Christ. We read this in verses 27b-28a.
Living as citizens of Heaven on earth is often made difficult when citizens of Heaven are not standing together for the good news of Jesus Christ. The frequent observation that Christians shoot their own wounded is the opposite of what Paul calls us to do. I have not seen this kind of foolishness at our church. But in some churches, they will admit to being sinners saved by God’s favor and not of their own effort. Yet, when a brother or sister is caught in sin or weakness, they are less compassionate toward him or her than the citizens of earth are toward him or her.