June 18, 2013
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 18 JUNE 2013
Philippians 3:20 reveals that the believer’s “citizenship is in heaven.” Earthly citizenship has a characteristic spirit of its own. Life in this world has the common bond of citizenship inherent to it; in other words, many people find a common bond in living based upon life in the temporal. God’s Word reveals that there is another commonwealth. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), and thus the Lord’s statement should encourage those who trust in the Lord to live with a different character of life. Believers are to “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right of God” (Col 3:1).
When the Epistle of the Philippians was written, the security and stability of the pax Romana (Latin term meaning “Roman peace”) often aroused intense feelings and thoughts with regard to citizenship and its value. To have the right to possess all the privileges of Roman citizenship would have been greatly esteemed by the believers residing in the city of Philippi. Christians are to eagerly wait for the Savior’s return from heaven.
The believer’s citizenship is in heaven, and therefore, Christians may “lay hold” of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:12, 14), just as the Philippians could legally expect protection (salvation) from Rome. The exhortation to “eagerly wait” indicates anticipation and eagerness for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ as the habitual perspective of the believer whose citizenship is in heaven. The normal attitude of the believer is eager anticipation of the Lord’s return. The longing for the coming of the Savior is also an incentive for holy living (cf. Tit 2:13; 1 John 2:28).
When the Lord Jesus returns, the body of the believer’s “humble state” will be transformed “into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21). The transformation of the believer’s body will be into a glorified body just like the Son of God (1 John 3:2). The distinction is between the “the body of our humble state” and “the body of His glory.” In this earthly life, the believer’s body is humbled by death, disease, persecution, and sin. The body is earthly, perishable, weak, natural, and mortal (1 Cor 15:35-58), so that believers “groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of the body” (Rom 8:23).
When the Lord returns, the transformation (glorification) of the body will occur either by resurrection of the dead or by the instant translation of the living (cf. 1 Cor 15:50-58; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 5:9-10). The glorified and resurrected body will be just like the Son of God (“the body of His glory,” Phil 3:21), and the believer’s sanctification will be ultimate. The expectation of the Lord’s return should produce a purifying hope for those who are (even now) citizens of heaven even while sojourning on earth (1 John 3:1-3). The transformation will occur “by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil 3:21). The same power that will ultimately subject all things in the universe to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ is what accomplishes the transformation.
As those who understand this glorious hope, surely we can “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14). The heavenly citizenship of Christians should stimulate us to live holy and pure lives “so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).
Pressing Onward toward the Goal,
P.S. Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.