|Vol. 15 No. 10 October 2013||
Paul, the great evangelist and apostle of Jesus Christ, was born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), and he became a Roman citizen by birth just as so many of us are American citizens by birth. On an occasion recorded by Luke in Acts 22, the Jews created a stir as Paul had entered the city of Jerusalem. He was rescued by the Roman officers, and they were preparing to scourge him in attempt to obtain information. However, there were rights Paul held as a Roman citizen. So he asked, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25). In his investigation of the matter, the chief military officer told Paul he had purchased his own citizenship with “a great sum.”
Irrespective of one’s national citizenship, far more important are the incomparable blessings and privileges that come to all those who are citizens of the heavenly kingdom through the new birth. Having been “born again” (John 3:3-5), we are presently the Sons of God (1 John 3:1-2). What greater honor can be bestowed upon an individual? You and I have been made “kings and priests” unto God by our brother who is “the prince of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5-6).
Being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you and I are free from the captivating power of sin. Through the Gospel, the Prince of life has delivered us from the prince of this world and the kingdom of darkness so that we are no longer held by the dominion of sin. The inspired penman wrote, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). The expression “free from sin” is found in Romans 6:18 and 6:22. What liberty is ours “in Christ”!
Being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you and I are free from the law of sin and death. We read, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). You and I do not live under the sentence of death. Through the vicarious suffering of Jesus on the cross, God deals with us as though we had never sinned. We are justified freely by his grace (Romans 3:24).
Being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you and I are free from the burden of guilt associated with our past. Life under Christ and His new covenant is a rich blessing to all of us as God made promise before through the prophet Jeremiah, “…for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). See also Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17.
Day by day, you and I can truly rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4) as we recognize to whom we belong (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Philippians 3:20 ASV), where we are spiritually (Ephesians 2:13), how He will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and remembering that Jesus is coming again (Revelation 1:7). Are you a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?
David A. Sargent
John DeFrain, Nick Stinnett and their colleagues have done extensive research with over 24,000 families since 1974 into what makes families strong. This ongoing research has revealed six qualities of strong families:
“Spiritual Well-Being” has to do with the foundation of a family: their core values, code of conduct, sense of purpose and beliefs about life. No family is stronger than its foundation. That’s why it’s so important for us to build our families upon a solid foundation. Jesus identified the proper foundation for our lives and the lives of our families:
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Our families encounter many “storms.” However, Jesus has promised that if we build our lives and our families upon the rock – which is Jesus Himself, the only sure Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) – by hearing and doing His Word, then we will be able to withstand those storms!
Building our families on the Rock directly shapes our relationships within the family, but it primarily has to do with our relationship with the Architect of the Family: God. Sin will destroy us and our families, but God loves us so much that He sent His Only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).
Through Jesus, we can be reconciled to our Heavenly Father and also have the “tools” that we need to build a strong family. We build our lives on the Rock when we place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).
Strong families are built on the Rock. Why not begin with yourself! Are you building your life upon the Rock by hearing and doing the Word of God? Why not begin today?