Author: Ron Graham
Our fifth and last priceless thing that we find in Ephesians two, and which also starts with C is our Citizenship in heaven.
"You are fellow citizens with the saints" (Ephesians 2:19).
In this world, we can gain the right to enter another country and stay there awhile, even though we are not citizens of that country. The permission to enter usually comes in the form of a visa. When we come back to our own country, we have no need of a visa, for we are citizens. Heaven is a country that issues no visas. Nobody may enter that country unless they are citizens. If you do not have citizenship, you cannot come in. Heaven has no tourists, temporary residents, or asylum seekers. Citizens only may enter in.
This citizenship has several characteristics. As we meditate, in this lesson, upon the nature of our heavenly citizenship, we will look at some of these characteristics.
Our citizenship is a very personal thing. When Paul says, u are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints" (Ephesians 2:19), he is speaking to a group of Christians (the Gentiles in the churches of Galatia), but he is also expecting each one individually to take what he says to heart and make a personal application of it. For we are not known and recognised by God merely as a group, but each one of us is known personally.
I have a number of navy blue socks. They are recognised, when they come out of the wash, as my socks. But they have no individual identity. They are neither numbered nor named. And any two of them will be put together as a pair with no concern as to which is which. God doesn't look upon us Christians as navy blue socks. Our "names are written in the book of life" (Philippians 4:3).
Jesus spoke of "one flock and one Shepherd" but he also said, "I am the good Shepherd, and I know my own" (John 10:14-16). The shepherd does not merely know the flock as a whole. He knows each individual sheep. He does not lay down his life for the flock only as a whole, but for each one of its members individually.
We have noticed many times, in our study of Ephesians 2, the "surpassing riches of God's grace in kindness toward us..." (Ephesians 2:7). All our studies have emphasised "Priceless Things". The granting of our citizenship in heaven came at a price far beyond our ability to pay. It was purchased with "the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13).
How precious then is this citizenship granted us. We do not have a piece of paper to prove our citizenship. It will be the personal testimony of Jesus that will certify our right to enter heaven. When he puts the sheep at his right hand and says, "Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," (Matthew 25:34), there will be no argument. If he sets you on his right hand, that is your certification, and there is no other.
If you had a piece of paper which certified you as a citizen of heaven for eternity, and you could not get into heaven without it, how carefully would you look after it? How much would you insure it for? Would you consider selling it at any price? We have no paper, but we do have the King's personal recognition. How much is it worth to be known personally by him? It is the most precious thing we have, this friendship with the King. Nothing else has any value in comparison.
There is no expiry date on our citizenship in heaven. It is eternal. When God "seated us with Christ in the heavenlies" (Ephesians 2:6), he did so for all "the ages to come" (Ephesians 2:7). Those ages in that new world are "without end" (Ephesians 3:21 KJV). In that verse, the Greek expression "age of the ages" means "forever and ever".
The song Amazing Grace expresses how, "when we've been there ten thousand years... we've no less days.. than when we first begun". John Newton stretches the grammar a bit there, and he stretches our minds too. It's hard to grasp eternity. But citizens of heaven have a place in a city of absolute happiness in the joy of God. And they will live there for ever without end.
Three words in Ephesians 2, "God prepared beforehand", make a powerful phrase(Ephesians 2:10). Paul, in Ephesians, emphasises "God's eternal purpose which he carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11). We were "chosen in him before the foundation of the world" to be citizens of heaven (Ephesians 1:4).
It has always been God's purpose that every human being should have citizenship in heaven. When Jesus puts the goats on his left hand, that will not be what God wanted. God never chose for anyone to go to hell. I know that, because Jesus clearly says that hell is "prepared for the devil and his angels" not for human beings (Matthew 25:31-34,41). Those who are sent there, will be sent to a place that was not prepared for them, and will miss out on the place that was. It was pre-arranged that they should be citizens of heaven, but they broke the arrangement. When God tried to restore the arrangement, they chose not to respond.