Our Citizenship Is In Heaven

“Our citizenship is in Heaven!” -Philippians 3:20

St. Paul wrote these words from prison in Rome. We know this from Philippians 1:13-14, where Paul writes, “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

These are powerful words and more prescient after last week’s Supreme Court ruling. I believe that as orthodox Christians who uphold the Bible as the inspired Word of God, we will come to understand the Scriptures in a more relevant way than we ever have before.  We have received another reminder that as Christians we are exiles in this world and that our ultimate hope never has resided in worldly government, but in our Lord Jesus Christ alone. The Bible is very clear about the definition of marriage; one man and one woman (Genesis 2:21-25). Marriage is a First Article gift of God’s creation and therefore a simple fact of biology. God created us male and female to be united in the sacred bond of marriage for love, companionship, and the reproduction and raising of the next generation in the Faith. No government legislation can ever change the special nature and sanctity of marriage that God has blessed us with. The good news is your pastors will stand firm in teaching the truth of God’s Word and obeying God rather than man (Acts 5:29). We will not perform same-sex marriages and we pray that our government will never force us to go against God’s Word! As of right now, we have the first amendment to exercise our religious freedom, but we do not know what the future holds.

Paul’s words remind us to set our sights on things above, where our real hope resides. “Our citizenship is in Heaven!” Our present-future hope is in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, which we have been made citizens of through the blood of Jesus Christ. No matter how our nation decides to govern in the future, we have the assurance of Heaven now in Christ.

Our present situation today reminds me of when Martin Luther was asked to appear before the Diet of Worms in 1521. There, Luther was pressured to recant his writings about justification by grace through faith, apart from works and against indulgences. Instead, he gave the famous “here I stand” speech and the world has never been the same since. There is great hope and progress when God’s people stand firm in their faith and follow God’s Word, rather than man’s will. In the following excerpt, you only have to substitute popes, councils and the Holy Roman Empire with our present government today. Luther recounts his faithful stand, “Therefore, I was asked to answer in a simple and unsophisticated manner whether I would recant. Thereupon I said, ‘Since your Imperial Majesty and Lordships demand a simple answer I will do so without horns or teeth as follows: Unless I am convicted by the testimony of Scripture or by evident reason (for I trust neither in popes nor in councils alone, since it is obvious that they have often erred and contradicted themselves) I am convicted by the Scripture which I have mentioned and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Therefore I cannot and will not recant, since it is difficult, unprofitable and dangerous indeed to do anything against one’s conscience. God help me. Amen.’” –The Reformation by Hans J. Hillerbrand

In the meantime, we orthodox Christians will continue to be good citizens of the nation we love, praying for our government and our leaders, obeying every just law of the land, working hard to serve our neighbor as ourselves, daring all the more to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel without fear and remaining ever fixed upon our heavenly home as citizens in the Kingdom of God.

God Bless,

Pastor Joel