We all should be somewhat familiar with the parable of the prodigal son. A young man full of vigor and convinced of his knowledge of worldly ways departed from his father's house intent on trying out his wings and throwing off the yoke of his father's rule. He soon learned that he was not as wise as he first thought, when he found himself in a place of great need, having spent everything that his father gave him. Bob Dylan, during a period of some enlightenment, wrote a song entitled, "You Gotta Serve Somebody". This young prodigal made the same startling discovery when he had to enter into servitude to a citizen of a country to which he did not belong. This parable gives us a picture of the true sons of GOD. By our own choice, owing to our hearts desire and sinful nature we cast off our true FATHER's rule and rebelled against HIM. We spent and destroyed all that he gave us that linked us to HIM and sold ourselves into slavery to one who was not our father and willingly became his bondmen in the pig sty of our sin. We forgot who our FATHER was and for all intents and purposes became like those who dwelt in that country. Looking at us in that fallen state one would assume that we were as all the others who had citizenship there. We acted the same, we thought the same, we talked the same, we even smelled like the hogs with whom we companied. But unbeknownst to us, we were still loved by our FATHER who had a design for us that did not include citizenship in this world nor the lifetime occupation of feeding and eating with hogs with whom we consorted and delighted in such as they had to eat.
When it pleased our heavenly FATHER, HE awakened us, brought us to our senses and reminded us of the glories of HIS house. By the miracle of grace he made our mind to dwell on the fact that in our FATHER's house was more than enough to satisfy our desire. HE brought us on a journey back to the place which HE had intended that we dwell in before we were ever born. At first, we thought that the idea of making this journey was our own and we only had expectations of occupying the place of a servant in HIS house. But when we arrived we discovered that HE was waiting for us with open arms and knew the exact time of our arrival because HE had marked out our journey according to HIS purpose and had sent HIS HOLY SPIRIT to bring us to HIM. Now that we have arrived back in HIS presence, we wonder why we ever departed. We have now been made aware that it was HE who paid our debts and bought us out of slavery even while we were yet wallowing in our sin. By HIS grace HE has set us free from the law which brings condemnation to the citizens of the country wherein we dwelt. HE loves us as though we had never left, though we at times have difficulty grasping the magnitude of such affection. Our old nature causes us to be plagued with doubts and fears about it.
To demonstrate HIS love and power to us HE has even sent us as HIS ambassadors back to that land in which we once dwelt as apparent citizens. Once again to help us on our journey HE has sent HIS HOLY SPIRIT to guide us and teach us. Since we spent so much of our life learning the ways of this world, we need a tutor to instruct us in the ways of that country that we are truly citizens of. Much of our time is spent pondering the glories of that country. On certain days, however, because of the lingering quality of our old nature, we pass by the hogpen and find ourselves strangely attracted to its stench. From time to time we even consider a return to that wretched place, sometimes with more than a passing fancy. But our FATHER is faithful to bring the rod of correction to us, reminding us of the price which HIS dear SON paid to deliver us from the bondage of this world. When we are thus put in mind of our SAVIOR's love we are brought to our senses and made to confess our citizenship in the country of our FATHER. The delight of this world seems foreign to us. This world is not our home, we are strangers and sojourners here.
Here are some characteristics of those whose citizenship is in heaven:
Though we are as deserving of destruction as any citizen of this world we are not assigned to that future.
"For GOD hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with HIM." (1 Thess 5:9-10)
We have not earned it nor has our natural birth secured it for us, but we have been given an inheritance beyond our comprehension.
"Blessed be the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of JESUS CHRIST from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:3-4)
We are no longer subject to the curse of the law nor fearful of its condemnation.
"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto CHRIST, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of GOD by faith in CHRIST JESUS." (Gal 3:24-26)
Our acceptance in that continuing city is not ours because of obedience but because of HIS promise.
"Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." (Gal 4:28)
Though we find ourselves living in this dark world we are not a part of it nor do we find here anything of lasting value.
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the SAVIOR, the LORD JESUS CHRIST:" (Phil 3:20)
Though we live in this world in the present time we are already tasting of the glories of that country in which our citizenship lies.
"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living GOD, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to GOD the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to JESUS the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Heb 12:22-24)