Summary: Ninth in the series "Restoring the Joy" - in this message we explore the "Joy Is Found In Remembering Our Citizenship" - (1) Because of the Assurance of our heavenly home (2) the anticipation of Our Lord’s return and (3) the Awaited transformation of Our
“Restoring the Joy”
Sermon # 9
“Joy Is Found in Remembering Our Citizenship”
I understand human nature enough to understand that some of you have had enough of being told that you need to have joy. All this stuff about being positive and maintaining a good attitude may be starting to wear thin. You want to say, “Listen preacher, you live in a different world than I do. You don’t work where I work. You don’t live with the people or the problems that I do! My world is not that great, things are getting worse not better. How can a Christian have joy and have laughter in their lives when we are surrounded by all manner of evil and wickedness.” It can get confusing as pointed out by A.W. Tozer: “A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passes all knowledge.”
[A. W. Tozer. The Root of Righteousness. (Harrisburg, Pa: Christian Publications, 1955) p. 156]
In verse twenty Paul draws a contrast between the hopeless future of the unsaved and the glorious future of the believer.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) 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.”
First, We Can Be Joyful Because Of The Assurance Of Our Heavenly Home.
(v. 20a) “For our citizenship is in heaven.”
In Philippians 1:27 Paul wrote, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” The word translated “conduct” here (3:27) (politeuma) is the word we get “politics” from and it means to “behave as a citizen.” Now in verse twenty Paul uses the same word again only here it is translated “citizenship” and had to do with one’s behavior as a citizen.
Paul used an analogy of citizenship that would easily be understood by the Philippians.
Rome settled communities of army veterans, called colonies, as garrisons in conquered territory. The Emperor Augustus extended this practice by giving full Roman citizenship not only to settlements of veterans but to important provincial cities and to men who had distinguished themselves in public service. These provincial communities held equal rights and privileges with the citizens of Rome itself. In return they were expected to represent Rome and all things Roman to their neighbors, so that the Roman way of life might permeate their province….
During New Testament times the city of Philippi, where Paul founded a church on his second missionary journey, was a Roman colony. When Paul later wrote to the church at Philippi and underscored the meaning of church membership, he had at hand an illustration his readers could easily understand. “Our citizenship,” he wrote, “is in heaven.” James Moffatt translates the statement even more strikingly: “We are a colony of heaven.”[Christian Theology in Plain Language, B. Shelly, p. 193. - www.bible.org/illus/nt/nt-640.htm]
The city of Philippi although located geographically in Macedonia was considered a colony of Rome and thus its citizens; were considered citizens of Rome. And though they were in fact many miles from Rome, they still were too live and act as citizens of Rome. Their conduct is regulated by Rome’s laws, they are loyal to Rome’s cause and they are answerable to Rome’s emperor.
Therefore the believer’s in Philippi had an even higher calling then being citizens of Rome, they are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as Philippi was a colony of Rome on foreign soil, the church is a “colony of heaven” on earth. Christians are temporary residents of Earth, but are citizens of Heaven. As citizens of kingdom of heaven Christians are like residents in a foreign country. As citizens of Heaven, believer’s actions and attitudes should reflect the place where their citizenship resides. They are like a colony of heaven on earth. Heaven is not just a place of future abode, but a place of which the saved are presently citizens. Their names are enrolled in heaven’s register, their conduct is regulated by heaven’s laws, they are loyal to heaven’s cause and they are answerable to heaven’s Lord.
Citizenship is important. When you travel to another country in is essential that you have a passport that proves your citizen-ship. According to Luke 10:20 when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior your name is written down in heaven. The word “written” used there is perfect tense and means “it is once for all time written and stands written.”