The Christian Citizen Part 1: A Citizen of a Heavenly New Jerusalem

John 18:36; Ephesians 2:4-6,19; Philippians 3:20
       My kingdom is not of this world.
       God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus)…fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.
       For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Our “conversation”―the Greek word is of a very extensive meaning.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The word properly signifies the administration, government, or form of a republic or state.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The Ethiopic version renders it, “we have our city in heaven;” and the words may be truly rendered, “our citizenship is in heaven.”

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): Those who receive the risen Christ as their righteousness before God and confess Him as their “Lord” are a heavenly people, whose citizenship is in heaven.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): They belong to a kingdom which is not of this world.

JOHN GILL: Heaven is the saints’ city; here they have no continuing city, but they seek one to come, which is permanent and durable; a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, Hebrews 11:10. As yet they are not in it, though fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; they are pilgrims, strangers, and sojourners on earth.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The patriarchs made no secret of the fact that their citizenship and inheritance was elsewhere. Unto the sons of Heth, Abraham confessed “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you,” Genesis 23:4. Unto Pharaoh Jacob said, “the days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty,” Genesis 47:9. Nor is this to be explained on the ground that other nations were then in occupation of Canaan: long after Israel entered into possession of that land David cried, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were,” Psalm 39:12; and again, “I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me,” Psalm 119:19. So too before all the congregation he owned unto God, “For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers,” I Chronicles 29:15. Clear proof do these verses furnish that the Old Testament saints equally with the New, apprehended their heavenly calling and glory…They were “strangers” because their home was in heaven; “pilgrims,” because journeying thither.

JAMES HARRINGTON EVANS (1785-1849): A citizen of the New Jerusalem travelling homewards is our true standing and our real position; everything below that, is below ourselves and our high calling.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Nevertheless, government and law and order are essential because man is in sin; and…as all are sinful, reform is legitimate and desirable. The Christian must act as a citizen, and play his part in politics and other matters in order to get the best possible conditions. But we must always remember that politics is ‘the art of the possible;’ and so the Christian must remember as he begins that he can only get the possible. Because he is a Christian he must work for the best possible and be content with that which is less than fully Christian. That is what Abraham Kuyper seems to me to have done as Prime Minister [of the Netherlands].

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a minister should think it worth his while to appear in the line of a political writer, or expect to amend our constitution or situation, by proposals of political reform.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): We would ask you, dear friend, to which world does the Christian belong? Does he belong to this world or to the world above? Is his citizenship on earth or in heaven?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Heaven is his home, he’s a citizen of heaven.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: “Our citizenship―politeuma―is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” So also, in the epistle to the Colossians, we read, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with: Christ in God. When Christ our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”
      Is [the Christian] dead to this world, or alive in it? If he be a citizen of this world—if his place, his portion, and his home be here, then, assuredly, he cannot take too active a part in its affairs. He should vote for town councillors and members of Parliament, he should strain every nerve to get the right man into the right place, whether it be at the municipal board, or on the floor of the House of Commons. He should put forth every effort to mend and regulate the world. If, in a word, he be a citizen of this world, he ought, to the best of his ability, to discharge the functions pertaining to such a position. But on the other hand, if it be true that the Christian is, as regards this world, “dead”—if his citizenship is in heaven, if his place, his portion, and his home be on high, if he is only a pilgrim and a stranger here below, then it follows that he is not called to meddle in any way with this world’s politics, but to pass on his pilgrim way, patiently submitting himself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, yielding obedience to the powers that be, and praying for their preservation and well-being in all things.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The fact is the Christian by definition is looking down upon all these [political] things, he isn’t in them, and immersed in them. And he’s not concerned about them to that extent that they grip him and control him. He hasn’t set his affections on them. He rides very loosely to them.

ABRAHAM KUYPER (1837-1920): Politico-phobia is not Calvinistic, is not Christian, is not ethical.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We know no politics but this, “Let God be magnified.” All nationalities sink before our relation to our God. Christians are cosmopolitan; we are burgesses of the New Jerusalem—there is our citizenship; we are freemen of the entire new creation. What is all else to God’s glory! So long as the Lord is glorified, let the empires go and the emperors with them; let nations rise or fall, so long as He comes whose right it is to reign; let ancient dynasties pass away, if His throne is but exalted.

JOHN NEWTON: I am a stranger, and a pilgrim. My citizenship, my charter, my rights, my treasures, are, I hope, in heaven, and there my heart ought to be…I may be removed—and perhaps suddenly—into the unseen world, where all that causes so much bustle upon earth at present, will be no more to me than the events which took place among the antediluvians—many things which now assume an air of importance, will be found light and insubstantial as the baseless fabric of a vision.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well then, live as a man who’s got his eye on that. Open your eyes. Don’t be blind. Don’t look in some perpetual mist. See the eternal glories gleeming afar. Look at them. Set your affections on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Live like citizens of heaven.


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