Author: Ron Graham
The Priceless Citizenship (B)
—More on Our Wonderful Inheritance
We continue, in this lesson, with our list of characteristics of the precious heavenly citizenship that Christians possess, as described in Ephesians chapter two.
"You are fellow citizens with the saints" (Ephesians 2:19).
5 A Promised Citizenship
The fact that heavenly citizenship was pre-ordained for the world is underlined by the covenants made down through the ages. Paul calls them "the covenants of promise" (Ephesians 2:10,12). God can only promise what he has already prepared and pre-ordained, otherwise his promise would be of the variety that goes, "I haven't done anything about it yet, but I'll get around to it, I promise".
We must keep in mind too, that God's promise has been confirmed with an oath (Hebrews 6:17) and with a seal (Ephesians 1:13-14). The promise is absolutely guaranteed. Christ cancelled out "the certificate of debt" (Colossians 2:14) and has given us a certificate of promise which cannot be cancelled by any authority. Only we can cancel it, should we be so foolish.
6 A Present Citizenship
Although we are presently in this world and not in heaven, we do presently have citizenship there. "Our citizenship is in heaven" affirms Paul (Philippians 3:20). He says "is". He does not say "will be". Paul does not say, "God will raise us up and seat us in heavenly places" although it would of course be true to put it in that way. However Paul chooses to state it as an accomplished work: "God... raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:4-6). We are not in that state yet, but we certainly have that status. We are already privileged citizens. We are now journeying through a land in which we do not belong. We are journeying to our homeland above, the land where we do belong.
In Ephesians 2:7-10, you will note that Paul speaks in three different tenses, future, past, and present. In a way he is saying, "We shall be saved, we have been saved, we are being saved". Each tense, in its own sense, is perfectly true.
- Future: "In the ages to come" we will see God's rich grace (verse 7).
- Past: "We have been saved" (verse 8).
- Present: "We are... created in Christ" (verse 10).
7 A Peacemaking Citizenship
One of the themes in Ephesians 2 is peace and reconciliation. Peace between people and God, and peace among the people (Ephesians 2:14-19). The citizenship we have been given imparts obligations, and it is a given "that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). One of our main obligations is to be peacemakers, by bringing the gospel of peace to others that they might be reconciled to God, and by encouraging peace and unity among people.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).
- Only if we are heirs do we have citizenship in heaven
- Only if we are sons are we heirs
- Only if we are peacemakers shall we be called sons
Heaven is a place of peace perfect peace. That does not mean inactivity or silence, but full fellowship and unity. We are "fellow citizens with the saints" (Ephesians 2:19). God's gift to us now is peace, reconciliation, unity, and fellowship. We must grow in this gift so as not to be found misfits in heaven. Heaven has no high walls so that people who are enemies will be kept away from one another. Whoever is there, you'll have to live in their company forever. So make peace with them now.
8 A Patriotic Citizenship
Citizens of any country are usually patriotic about their country and loyal to it. They honour the leaders of their nation. They would certainly not work for the enemies of their nation, for that would be treason.
At the beginning of Ephesians 2 Paul is clear about "the prince of the power of the air", that evil spirit who is working in "the sons of disobedience" who therefore work for him. These are "children of wrath". Now we can be on that side or God's side. Choose you this day whom you will serve.
Later in Ephesians, Paul says, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against... the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wicknedness in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armour of God..." (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are called upon to fight the good fight. We are called upon to be patriots, zealots, ready, willing, and able soldiers for our country, our homeland, in the heavenly realms.