Citizens of Heaven Standing Firm

Excerpted and Adapted from Preparing for Heaven: A Guide for Going Home to God, by Steve Swartz

June 16, 2020

 

Heaven: Our Glorious New Home, Part 4

As Christians we live in a world that is more and more godless and where heinous sins have become the norm for our society. Materialism, post-modernism, and self-centered philosophies have invaded every walk of life and continue to invade the church with startling regularity. However, we are called to stand firm in our faith and we know that a joyful understanding of our heavenly citizenship gives us such power and determination to stand firm for the Lord in such a world. Here are two truths that we must understand to be further encouraged and strengthened to stand firm in our faith.

Heavenly Kingdom Citizenship: Explained

Matthew 5 is seen as the introductory sermon of Christ. It is a sermon that explains kingdom citizenship: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3). “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:10). “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (5:20). “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (6:10). “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (6:33). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (7:21). This Sermon on the Mount is all about kingdom citizenship. Now we’re getting close to understanding that God does have a kingdom and that mankind must enter it. So how is the kingdom entered?

Heavenly Kingdom Citizenship: Offered

Only to those who would repent of their sin and receive Christ as Lord and Savior, God offers heavenly kingdom citizenship. The book of Acts recounts the beginning of the spread of this good news that heavenly citizenship is available. It opens with the offer of the kingdom and closes with the offer of the kingdom. In the opening lines of Acts, Jesus “presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3, emphasis added). Then in the closing lines of the book, “He [Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (28:30–31, emphasis added). This is the age we live in now: Jesus still needs to be proclaimed, because one day, justice will come and grace will be withheld from the unrepentant. In the meantime, the kingdom continues to be offered to potential citizens.



"Preparing for Heaven: A Guide to Going Home to God"

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Steve Swartz, D.Min

Dr. Swartz is the senior teaching pastor of Grace Bible Church in Bakersfield, California and author of Shattered Shepherds and Strength in the River. You can hear him on the Steadfast in the Faith broadcast.


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