A citizen is a native of a city, or an inhabitant who enjoys the freedom and privileges of the city in which he/she resides. A citizen is distinguished from a foreigner, or one not entitled to its privileges. Citizenship is the state of being sanctioned with the rights and privileges of a citizen.
In order for a non-U.S. citizen to voluntarily become an American U.S. citizen there is a 10-step naturalization process. Once one becomes a U.S. citizen, they owe their allegiance to the United States and are entitled to its protection. They also have rights and responsibilities that they should exercise as citizens.
Being a member of the church of the body of Christ today has the unique privilege of receiving salvation by grace and the glorious position (never before revealed or enjoyed by any previous believer or calling) of sitting together with Christ in heavenly places—the new realm of citizenship (Eph. 2:1-9). This heavenly place is ‘far above’ all principality, power, might, dominion, name, and all things (Eph. 1:20-23). “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). The process is much easier today if one desires to voluntarily become a believer (or a Christian) and receive heavenly citizenship.
Obtaining Heavenly Citizenship
· One voluntarily hears the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation and believes in Christ—receiving what He has accomplished for them (redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins) (Eph. 1:7, 13, 2:8). That’s it. They become sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise—purchased by His blood (Eph. 1:13). This seal is a distinctive mark that implies possession and security. It’s permanent—not transitory like a visa or passport. This seal is the earnest of their inheritance (Eph. 1:14). Signed, sealed, delivered—now His! The new citizen becomes ’hid in Christ’ in God and protected until it’s time for Christ to appear. At that time, they’ll appear with Him in glory in their heavenly home (Col. 3:1-4).
This calling and citizenship goes far beyond the one offered during the time of the Acts period where the Gentile believer (called the uncircumcision) was subordinate to the Israelite believer (called the circumcision) and was grafted in as a wild olive branch (contrary to nature) into the true olive tree (Rom. 1:16, 11:11-32). Chapter 15 of Acts goes further, due to disagreements with believing Jewish leaders regarding Gentile believers customs and habits, to instate certain ordinances and decrees. It was advised to the Gentiles that they needn’t be circumcised or keep the law of Moses, but it would be helpful for them to abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication (Acts 15:28-29). This is what the apostle Paul is referring to in Ephesians 2:11-13, likening it symbolically to a ‘middle wall of separation’. But beginning in verse 14 of Ephesians 2, Paul describes how all the decrees and ordinances of the Acts 15 period have now been abolished in order to create, in Christ, one new man from the two (the believing Gentile and believing Israelite). Gentiles are now fellow heirs of the same body (Eph. 3:6). “Now, therefore…no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). They both would be made one, where every kind of distinction that they carried previously would now cease to exist, “so making peace” (Eph. 2:15, Col. 2:14-23, 3:10-11). Neither Jew nor Gentile had ever in times past been associated with a calling that went back to before the foundation of the world, or rose so high as to be “far above all” where Christ sits (Eph. 1:4, 2:6, 4:10). This new man/one body, where Christ is the Head, and new program/dispensation of the Mystery is described and explained in Ephesians three and Colossians 1:18-29, 2:8-23.
Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities
As the heavenly realm is the place of citizenship, that’s where all spiritual blessings, in Christ Jesus, will be found (Eph. 1:3). The citizen’s acceptance in the Beloved and standing is based solely on what Christ has done in their stead (Eph. 1:6, 2:4-9). The gift of the new nature is a pledge of God’s future gifts in the same kind, thus differing from any ordinary pledge. This gift enables the heavenly citizen to walk worthy and fulfill the good works that God has preordained for them to walk in while in their temporary dwelling. These responsibilities are spelled out in Ephesians 4-6 and Colossians 3-4.
The imperative for the heavenly citizen today is to keep their focus on their true homeland and spiritual blessings above, not on earthly things as doing so may cause them to fall into temptation and a snare (Phil. 3:20-21, Col. 3:1-4, 1 Tim. 6:9-10, 1 John 2:15-16). They’ll be able to stay on course as they refer to their Citizen’s Handbook (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and travel light— “… godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it’s certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8).
How glorious it will be when we finally reach our heavenly home to dwell forever with the Lord in eternal glory! Hallelujah!