Now many of our spiritual brothers and sisters are coming from so many different places in the world, according to God’s prophecy-Your children will come from afar, flying like doves to their nests.’ This shows us that not one of God’s prophecies can pass away without being fulfilled.
Though they are of different races, all of them have the same faith in the Spirit and the Bride and do the gospel work faithfully. Seeing that they are so quick to understand the word of truth, we can feel that the due time has come and God is giving the power of the Holy Spirit abundantly to all the brothers and sisters in Zion. Whether we are in the east or in the west, we are the people of God and have the same duty. No matter what country we belong to physically, we are God’s people having the citizenship of heaven.
One of our church members visited Korea from the United States to study the Bible. One day he asked me, “Is it safe to go out at night here?” I said to him, “You can go out anytime if you want.” Then he opened his eyes in surprise, saying it is unbelievable. He admired Korea over and over, saying, “Korea is really good to live in.” How-ever, there is a better country prepared for us. It is the kingdom of heaven, our eternal home. Having the citizenship of heaven is the greatest hope we can have.
People seem to consider America as the best country on earth. Many people throughout the world long to live in America where they can find various jobs, living out the American dream.’ They make every effort to immigrate to the United States and obtain denizenship and citizenship in that country, so that they can settle down there and exercise their civic rights.
Actually there are not many native Americans except a small number of American Indians. Most American people are from Europe, Asia, Africa: An American of Italian origin, an American of Philippine ancestry, and an American of Germanic extraction, …. Thus, America is a multiracial nation. So it is called a nation of immigrants.
Every immigrant thinks that once he obtains American citizenship, he will be acknowledged as American citizen envied by most people around the world. So many people are trying to leave for America, where illegal immigrants are flooding into. There they endure all prejudice and racism, looking forward to acquiring citizenship someday. They say that their greatest desire is to acquire American citizenship and they will be extremely happy if they get it.
What if they see the spiritual world with a spiritual eye? They will no longer say that, won’t they? Our citizenship is much more valuable, which is the citizenship of heaven.
… But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.Php 3:17-21
We’ve obtained heaven’s citizenship. God let us know that only those who have their citizenship in heaven can be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s glorious body. If a person has acquired the citizenship of a particular country which provides the right to live there, he is envied by the people around him. How much more will we be envied if we have a permanent citizenship in heaven!
When Jesus came to this earth and was mocked and persecuted by creatures, He didn’t care about it at all, because He was looking forward to a spiritual country.
“Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. … Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Jn 18:33-37
Through the above passages, we are to understand what Christ’s will is. Jesus shows us His will as follows: My kingdom is not of this world which is like a drop in a bucket and regarded dust on the scales. My kingdom is not an earthly country fading away, but the eternal kingdom of heaven.’
Earthly citizenship is not valuable to us. We should be proud of our citizenship in heaven. They make every effort to gain American citizenship in this earth like fine dust. How much more should we labor for the kingdom of heaven! We must not disregard or overlook the things of the invisible world.
When the eternal kingdom comes, the most valuable thing is the citizenship of heaven. Even though tens of thousands of people give us their American citizenship cards, we will never exchange our heavenly citizenship for theirs. We are envied by all the spiritual beings in the universe. God tells us how to acquire the citizenship of heaven.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”Mt 7:21-23
Nobody can enter the kingdom of heaven without the citizenship of heaven. Then, who can acquire the heavenly citizenship? Only those who do the will of the heavenly Father can acquire it. The Bible clearly shows us the way to obtain the citizenship of heaven and also the reason to be rejected.
Those who have American citizenship can travel freely in and out of the country; none of them are refused entrance to it. How about those who try to enter the country without its citizenship? Immigration officers inspect them, asking why they visit the country and how long they will stay there. After passing through the inspection, they are admitted into America.
We can find the same situation in Matthew 7:21-23. Only those who do the Father’s will are admitted into heaven. For God grants the citizenship of heaven only to them. Without the heavenly citizenship, no one can enter the kingdom of heaven.
Even a nation’s citizenship in this earth is given through the admission of the country. In order to acquire American citizenship, immigrants must pass through an examination. Who is the first president of the United States?’ or When did the Civil War break out?’ Examiners ask such questions about the outline history of America, and the people should answer in English. Only after passing through the examination, they can obtain American citizenship.
In the same way, to acquire the citizenship of heaven we must gain God’s approval. Only those who do the will of the Father can enter the kingdom of heaven, because He has granted them the heavenly citizenship.
“… He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”Jn 8:45-47
He who belongs to God is to hear what God says. God clearly commands us to keep the Sabbath, but some insist on keeping Sunday. God commands us to celebrate the Passover, nevertheless some insist on celebrating Christmas. This is an expression of their strong will not to hear what God says. God sternly says that such people do not belong to Him: “The reason you do not hear what I say is that you do not belong to Me.” What a dreadful word! Through this word, God shows us the way to distinguish between those who can acquire the heavenly citizenship and those who can’t.
Now, we need to find out where God our King reigns in order to know where we are now, examining the requirements we must meet in order to qualify for heavenly citizenship.
Look upon Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved … There the LORD will be our Mighty One. … the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.Isa 33:20-22
Here, us’ mean those celebrating God’s feasts in Zion. God is called their King; He is the King of Zion, the city of His appointed feasts. We, the people of Zion, celebrate the feasts. So it is clear that we have a heavenly citizenship.
“For I am the LORD your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves roar-the LORD Almighty is his name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand-I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”Isa 51:15-16
The people who dwell in Zion are the ones who have obtained the heavenly citizenship, though they live in this sinful world now. We must feel proud that we have acquired the heavenly citizenship even though we are cast down to a small planet called earth.
If we have the citizenship of heaven, we ought to hear what God says. Now, let’s see if we obey God’s word as heavenly citizens, considering what are the requirements for the heavenly citizenship.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”Ex 20:8
First, citizens of heaven ought to keep the Sabbath day. Those who do not keep the Sabbath cannot acquire the citizenship of heaven. When they stand before Jesus at the last day, they will beg Him to let them into heaven, saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name pray and drive out demons, and help the poor?” However, Jesus will turn His face away from them, saying, “I never knew you.”
“Show Me your citizenship of heaven. Do you know the reason why I have not granted you heavenly citizenship? Have you ever kept the Sabbath holy?” If God asks them such stern questions, what will they answer?
God said, “My sheep listen to my voice” (Jn 10:27). How can they acquire the heavenly citizenship without obeying even a single command of God-“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”? So Jesus told them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Second, heavenly citizens ought to celebrate the Passover.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”Lk 22:14-20
The Bible teaches us that we can receive the forgiveness of our sins only by celebrating the Passover. So God has established the Passover, saying, “This [Passover] is for you.” It is a qualification for the citizenship of heaven to celebrate the Passover.
If a man commits a crime, he will forfeit his rights of citizenship at once and be punished according to his country’s Criminal Procedure Code. So did we. We committed an unpardonable sin in heaven, and were cast down to the earth. We lost our heavenly citizenship and forfeited all of our rights as citizens in heaven.
Christ, however, came into this earth to forgive all our sins by shedding His blood and tearing His flesh. For the mortal sinners, He opened the way to the forgiveness of sins through the Passover of the new covenant. That’s why we have come to reinstate our heavenly citizenship.
So the Bible says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Th 5:16-18). When our faith becomes weak, we can neither rejoice, nor give thanks, nor understand why God has given those words to us. Think of our heavenly citizenship! Christ died for us, so that we might have the forgiveness of sins and the citizenship of heaven. How joyful and how grateful! No matter how difficult our lives may be, we must endure in order to avoid going to hell, a place of eternal punishment. God has granted us, sinners, the citizenship of heaven. Whatever difficulties we face, we are supposed to be joyful and thankful.
Here is one more necessary condition for the heavenly citizenship-knowing God’s name and celebrating God’s feasts such as the Sabbath and the Passover. To obtain American citizenship, people have to know its president’s name. How much more should we know the name of God to acquire the heavenly citizenship! Can we obtain it without knowing God’s name? God said, “My people will know my name” (Isa 52:6).
The citizenship of heaven can be acquired when we always live in Zion, know God and obey everything He has commanded us. We have the heavenly citizenship granted by God. Let us take pride in our citizenship in heaven. God has given us the Passover and let us know what the Savior’s name is; and He clearly said to us, “You are My people.”
What we are to do now is to help all the peoples of the world ac-quire the citizenship of heaven. They do not know the way to obtain it.
When I first went to America for the gospel work, I was at a loss as to how to act. Some put themselves out trying to help me, and I felt so thankful to them for their help. People naturally express their thanks to him who teaches them what they do not know, even though it is a little thing. How much more will they give thanks to him who helps them know the way to acquire the eternal citizenship of heaven! In heaven they will ever be deeply grateful to him for his help.
When we go back to the glorious kingdom of heaven, we will enjoy the powerful privileges of heavenly citizenship. Many people, who have not obeyed God’s commands, will entreat God to let them in before the heaven’s gate. However, Christ will sternly say to them, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” What about us all in Zion? We shall all enter heaven’s gate safely. For heaven is our home and our country.
Giving thanks to God who has given us such a great blessing, let us help numerous people who are longing for the heavenly citizenship. From the east to the west, let’s preach the gospel diligently. I hope all our brothers and sisters in Zion will bear much fruit through God’s grace and love.