Sunday, February 15, 2015 am                            Perfection 2015 Index


What it Means to be a Christian (3)

A Christian Is … A Citizen


We are in the midst of a detailed study of what it means to be a Christian.  We have identified what a Christian is and noted some of his/her blessings and responsibilities.  For the next few weeks I want to begin an examination of some descriptions of a Christian. 

We will begin our study by noting that a Christian is... a citizen.

 I.                    A Dual-Citizenship

a.        A citizen is someone who is a member of a nation or state to whom he owes allegiance and is entitled to its protection.  Typically it is associated with someone who is born in that nation OR who becomes a citizen through naturalization (i.e. one who follows the law as he/she fulfills the requirements set forth to become a citizen).   Citizenship is the privilege of belonging (to the city or nation) and all the benefits associated with it. 

b.       We are citizens of this country, (or some other nation).  Most of us were born here, while others might have become citizens.  As such we have responsibilities to this nation which we will discuss in a few moments. 

c.        But we are also citizens of heaven –

                                                   i.      Phil. 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

                                                  ii.      Col. 1:13, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

                                                iii.      Eph. 2:19, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

                                                iv.      It is a spiritual kingdom – not of this world – John 18:36, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)  

                                                  v.      We are not born into the kingdom naturally, but we are “born again” into it (John 3:3,5) NOTE: Another case for baptism – “Born again” ads us to His church/kingdom.

d.       Dual-citizens – how do we view this dual citizenship? AS we shall see, we have obligations to our physical kingdom, but we should view heaven with greater respect. 
Our sojourn here is as strangers and pilgrims – Eph. 2:19, 1 Peter 2:11, we are described as “sojourners and pilgrims” cf. Heb. 11:13-16.
“If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world” (Vance Havner). (Article, Kent Heaton)


 II.                  Duties to our physical citizenship

a.        As a citizen of heaven, we are called upon to be good citizens. 
Matt. 22:21, Jesus told us, “…And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Titus 3:1 calls for us to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey and be ready for every good work.

b.       We must obey the law - Romans 13:1-5, in unmistakable terms we are called upon to be subject to governing authorities (be reminded this was written with a hostile Roman government rising to power).  To resist the government is to resist God. 
1 Pet. 2:13-15, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—
We have obligations to submit to our government, regardless of how godly/ungodly it might be AND whether or not we agree with the laws.
The only exception is when their laws conflict with God’s laws (Acts 5:29) and even then we must ensure that is totally true.  (i.e. don’t use this as justification to rebel against the government because you find something you disagree with.  (I.e. refusing to pay taxes because you don’t agree with all its laws, etc.; just because abortion is sinful doesn’t give you the right to blow up an abortion clinic; to engage in civil disobedience, etc.).
NOTE: WE also have authority to appeal to the government to our advantage!  Just as Paul appealed to Caesar, so we can WITHING THE BOUNDS OF LAW use it to our greatest advantage.

c.        Pay our taxes – Rom. 13:6, “For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.”
Paul even takes time to specify the need to do this.  Jesus taught the same thing in Matt. 22:21.   

d.       Honor the government – Rom. 13:7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
1 Pet. 2:17 calls for us to honor the king.  NOTE again that this is not a suggestion.  We may not want to show respect for our president and governors, etc. – but God said to do so.  AGAIN, I remind you that this was peened at a time with Caesars were mostly hostile to the truth.  Some were corrupt in every sense of the word, but you STILL must respect them.  Cursing the king never gains headway.

e.       Pray for our kings  - 1 Tim. 2:1-2, Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Our leaders desperately need our prayers, even (or perhaps especially) the ungodly.

 III.                Duties of our spiritual Citizenship

a.        Honor our King – Jesus is our LORD and King (John 18:37, 1 Tim. 6:15, Rev. 19:16, etc.). 
He is the ruler of our kingdom and the One to whom we are subject in this kingdom.  
As our king we are subject to Him. 
Rev. 17:14 says, “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”” While dealing with the battle of the evil source of this chapter, we find victory with our Lord.  In this verse we read how He is King of kings and those who are with him are called, chosen and faithful.  WE honor Him and are subject to Him.
Phil. 1:27 calls for us to let our conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. 
Ephesians 5:24 speaks of the church being subject to Christ.  That would include us.

b.       To follow its laws – every kingdom has a law.  In the U.S., it is the constitution.  The law of the Christian is the Bible, particularly the New Testament that we are under.
James 1:25 describes it as “the perfect law of liberty.” 
John 12:48, in that day we will be judged by His words.  Rev. 20:12 speaks of books being opened that we will be judged by.  I am convinced that among those “books” is the New Covenant we are under.
Jesus Himself said, ““But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)   We need to be loyal to Him and faithfully serve Him.
Every text that calls for obedience applies here (cf. Matt. 28:18-20).  We cannot arbitrarily decide which laws we want to keep and which ones we want to reject.  We must keep the WHOLE law (cf. James 2:10).  We are living in a country and time where our laws are not respected as they ought to be (nor are they fully enforced).  This has caused confusion and an unhealthy attitude toward law itself.  It’s one thing to reject the laws of man, but totally different when we reject the laws of God.  He WILL hold us accountable!

c.        To Promote the kingdom

                                                   i.      NOTE: Our citizenship in heaven affects how we conduct our earthly citizenship. 

                                                  ii.      We need to live our lives changed – Col. 3:10, conduct yourself – 1 Peter 1:17. 

                                                iii.      Be an example – shine as a light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation – Phil. 2:14-16.  Our goal is to make the kingdom as appealing as possible (without any compromise) – cf. Matt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:11-12 – conduct honorable among the Gentiles.

                                                iv.      Pay your “taxes” – support it with your all. 
Matt. 22:21 – we need to render to God the things that are His.  We do “owe” Him! 
  Financial support of the congregation – 1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 9:6-8.
  Seeking His kingdom first – Matt. 6:33
  Support it every other way – Rom. 12:1 – presenting your body as a “living sacrifice”

                                                  v.      Evangelize – Because one is not naturally born into this kingdom, if it is to grow, we need to find and bring in subjects.  That means taking the gospel to the lost. 
Matt. 28:18-19 – make disciples of all nations.  Eph. 4:16 calls for every part to do its share to cause growth of the body
2 Tim. 2:2 – take what you learn and share it with others who will teach others
John 15:5-8 – branches need to produce fruit.

d.       Pray for the kingdom

                                                   i.      Just as we are to pray for kings (1 Tim. 2:1-2), so we need to pray for the spiritual kingdom.

                                                  ii.      Matt. 6:10 in the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus said, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  While we certainly cannot pray that in the same way as when He taught it (the kingdom HAS come), it does show a need to pray for the kingdom.

                                                iii.      Paul constantly urged brethren to pray for success in his endeavors in spreading the borders of the kingdom – 2 Thess. 3:1, Eph. 6:18-20, Colossians 4:2-4, etc.

 As Christians, our citizenship in heaven ought to be something we cherish.  It will be reflected in how we view His church, in our lives throughout, and in our dealings with others. Let us live our lives so that we let other know how honored we are to be a part of His kingdom.  What does this citizenship mean to you?