People in the world have their own goals for life. They make plans with the hope for their future when they will buy a house, how they will educate their children, and so on.
Unless we have hope, we cannot feel joy at work, either. When we have hopes and goals to obtain a better position and live a happier life in the near future, we gain strength and work harder at our job, don’t we?
God’s people should also have goals for the future. Now, let’s take the time to check our goals and hopes, thinking about what we have planned for our future in our life of faith.
There is nothing harder than going down a path while not knowing where to go—without knowing the destination. If a man on a journey knows that after about 100 meters he will reach his destination, he will feel less tired. But what if he does not know how far he still has to go? He will become exhausted and worn out easily.
Now, let us consider whether or not we are living the life of faith with a definite goal. If we feel no joy in our heart and no strength in our spirit when we keep God’s commandments and preach His word, it is proof that we have not yet understood something significant in our life of faith and that our faith in God is still somewhat vague and obscure.
Suppose anyone blindly attends worship services on the Sabbath day and at the feasts, blindly studies the word of God, blindly prays, blindly preaches the gospel, and blindly dreams of going abroad to preach. Since he does not even know why he should do these things, how can he gain strength? Likewise, if we do not clearly know the reason why we should devote ourselves fully to saving souls and do not have a definite goal for that, our fervent hope for the kingdom of heaven will disappear and we will lose our fervor for the gospel as well.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.Php 3:12-14
Apostle Paul always had a goal in his life of faith. He worked, clearly knowing why he had to devote himself to preaching the gospel. As a result, he never lost the fervor and zeal of his faith.
Our life of faith has a certain reason and a definite goal as well. Who are we? What made us come down to this earth? Why should we keep the Sabbath, the Passover and all the other feasts? Why do we have to pray for the kingdom of God and His righteousness through the worship services? Why should we listen to God’s word and be concerned about the affairs of the kingdom of God? Now, we need to figure all these things out one by one.
Let’s find out who we are, where we came from and where we belong to, through the Bible.
Jesus came to this earth 2,000 years ago, and began to preach the gospel, saying,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 4:17). Through these words, Jesus reminded His people of the affairs of the kingdom of God. Even though our body lives on earth now, our spirit must go back to the kingdom of God where it came from.
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 3:20-21
If our citizenship is in heaven, there is no doubt that we are the people of God. Let’s reconfirm through the Bible that we are God’s people whose citizenship is in heaven.
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… . This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD.“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”Jer 31:31-34
God said to us,“I am your God, and you are my people,” when He established the new covenant as a new law for us. God also told us clearly, “You who keep the new covenant! Your citizenship is in heaven.” So, we are God’s people, and our country is in heaven.
People do not easily give up their citizenship, no matter how burdensome their physical life is. Spiritually, our citizenship in heaven is precious beyond compare. Nevertheless, some people give up such a valuable citizenship easily. How foolish! After receiving the truth, they feel joy in their hearts and begin to keep God’s commandments. However, they fall into temptation easily and their faith is shaken even by the smallest matters. It is because they have not consolidated their spiritual identity. Since they do not understand the glorious heavenly realm, they easily forget their noble status as heavenly citizens and abandon their right and duty.
Now, we have to find our spiritual identity. We must value our citizenship in heaven, which we will possess forever and ever, and fulfill our duty as heavenly citizens.
During the period of Japanese rule, many Korean patriots strove for the independence of their country. Even though they were cold, hungry and poorly clothed, they ran toward one goal—the independence of their country.
Wandering in foreign countries, they suffered sorrow, oppression and persecution. They endured all these things and were wholeheartedly devoted to the independence movement. They worked hard, believing that they would be fully compensated for all their bitter pain and sorrow on the day when their country gained independence.
Now we are spiritually in the same situation. The devil, our enemy, changed the set times and laws of God (Da 7:25); he invaded and devastated Zion—the city of God’s appointed feasts, the realm of the gospel of God. For a long time, he has been the ruler of this world, taking God’s people captive.
The devil is invading our territory, insisting that it belongs to him. Is it proper for us to look on idly without fighting against him, seeing our spiritual country being invaded? If we just sit by and watch the forces of the devil gradually invading the realm of the gospel of God, we cannot say that the kingdom of God is our home country and we are God’s people, can we?
As the people of the kingdom of God, we should be more concerned about the affairs of the kingdom of God. If a country on this earth is invaded by another country, all its people become indignant. How much more indignant should we become when we see the devil invading our spiritual country, the realm of the gospel! We must not put our guard down even though we can’t see the things of the spiritual world.
If we are off our guard, the realm of the gospel which God has established on earth will be gradually invaded by Satan. Satan, the devil, is trying to attack the kingdom of God through numerous schemes. If our faith is easily shaken by minor hardships and persecution, we will be ashamed to say that our country is the kingdom of God.
Satan deceives the whole world. We should plant the true gospel in the world, so that the whole world may be saved. Unless we establish our identity and consolidate our faith, the devil will approach us to plunder our souls.
Apostle Paul was determined to devote himself to establishing his spiritual country, the realm of the gospel of God. Though he encountered so many hardships and dangers, he was entirely devoted to preaching the gospel. It was for the establishment of the realm of the gospel—our eternal home. For that country, Apostle Paul shared in the cross of Christ, enduring all kinds of hardships and persecutions.
As heavenly patriots, we should devote ourselves to the restoration of the kingdom of God, our eternal home, regaining our spiritual identity which was lost. God our Father has opened the way before us; He has restored the truth of the new covenant, through which the realm of the gospel can be restored. And our Mother personally leads us down the path we must go. Following the examples of our Father and Mother, we should strive for the realm of the gospel of God, so that it may be restored throughout the world.
Preaching the gospel to Samaria and to the ends of the earth—this is the movement to restore the lost realm of the gospel. For this, Apostle Paul worked very hard, in spite of all kinds of hardships and dangers.
… I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches… .2 Co 11:22-30
Paul understood his spiritual identity and preached the gospel with a definite goal—the kingdom of God. Although many hardships and persecutions befell him, he did not hesitate or stop saving souls. When he wrote to the saints of the early Church, he emphasized that it was for the realm of the gospel of God that they suffered persecution and hardship and that as a result they would be worthy of the kingdom of God.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.2 Th 1:3-5
We keep the decrees and laws of God, because we are the people of God. It is also our duty as God’s people to restore the realm of the gospel of God by preaching the gospel.
The patriotism of the people, who struggled for the independence of their country, still touches their descendents deeply. Likewise, let us remember the lives of the saints of the early Church, such as Apostles Paul, Peter, James and John, who worked wholeheartedly with all their strength for a definite goal—the realm of the gospel. Now is the time for us to rise up without hesitation and restore the realm of the gospel, which has been devastated and ruined by our enemy, the devil, for a long time. So the Bible says,“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isa 60:1).
To restore the entire territory of the realm of the gospel, we should preach not only in our own country, but also in all the other countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, South America and North America. When the realm of the gospel of God is established throughout the world, the gospel work which God has planned to accomplish on earth will be finished.
The following verses in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk fully describe God, who guides and directs us, and the glory of the kingdom which God Himself restores.
LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden… . the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot… . Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; …Hab 3:2-19
The One who is always with us and fulfills the work of salvation with amazing power—He is our God and we are His people.
We must not slacken our pace in running the race of faith until our country, the realm of the gospel of God, is established throughout the world and all peoples are guided into the arms of God. The devil has destroyed the realm of the gospel of God by deceiving so many people. Now, let us go and restore it. Let the whole world become the realm of the gospel, so that God may be greatly glorified.
Apostle Paul was ready not only to be bound, but also to die for the kingdom of God—his spiritual home, facing all kinds of dangers (Ac 21:13). Let us deeply cherish the spirit of faith which our forefathers had, rather than regard what is written about them merely as past history. We are God’s people whose citizenship is in heaven. With a strong faith that does not waver under any hardships or difficulties, we shall find all of our lost brothers and sisters and establish the realm of the gospel of God on earth.