(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
July 12, 2015
Christian Citizenship in a Degenerating Society, Part 2
Philippians 3:17-21 & Selected Scriptures
My purpose last week was to give you a brief background on the condition of the United States of America and how it degenerated to its present state. Unless there is at least some understanding of those things, I believe it is very difficult to know how to respond properly as a Christian citizen in a degenerating society, which is the focus of my message this morning. Let me very quickly review the major points from that sermon for the sake of those who were not here and to call them to remembrance for those who were (See Part 1)
The legal degeneration of our nation. The majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges was without precedent in that it was based on the whimsical wishes of five justices instead of law or prior cases. However, it is in a long line of such decisions made over the years in which words were redefined, laws were reinterpreted without precedent, and new rights were suddenly created with only the most tenuous legal reasoning, or to be more direct, legal absurdity. As Justice Roberts stated, “[the constitution] had nothing to do with it.” In the Obergefell decision, the five lawyers of the majority opinion not only redefined marriage, but also liberty, and in the process crushed the clear language of the 10th Amendment to create a new fundamental right that repudiates our country’s entire history and tradition and in contradiction to any meaning intended or implied by those who wrote and passed the 14th Amendment.
The Obergefell decision is already producing legal chaos as predicted. Inspired by the decision, Nathan Collier applied for a second marriage license saying, “It’s about marriage equality, you can’t have this without polygamy.” He plans to sue if the license is denied saying that he and his two wives deserve “legitimacy.” There is also the interview in New York Magazine about an 18 year old that has an incestuous relationship with her father and plans to marry him. Their relationship is legal in New Jersey, but they would not be able to get a marriage license – yet. In light of the Obergefell decision, how could a relationship that is legal be kept from the legitimacy of a marriage? And if it is legal in New Jersey, how could it be restricted in any other state? This past Monday (July 6, 2015), Bradley Flower filed a federal lawsuit in Michigan seeking $70 million in damages from Zondervan and Thomas Nelson because the term “homosexuals” is used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 in Bibles they published allegedly violating his civil rights. (After preaching this sermon, a church member told me he had done some research on this and that the case may have been actually filed July 7, 2008. Some news sites were reporting it again as if it happened last week. I was not able to find a link to the outcome of this case. If this did occur earlier, it only shows this kind of silliness had been going on for a long time – we can only expect worse to come). I think you can see the chaos to come that is already starting as people push to have their immoral relationships legitimatized by law and open season is declared on Christians who proclaim what the Bible states about homosexuality.
The moral degeneration of our nation – Romans 1:18-32
It is important to point out that this legal degeneration is a reflection of the moral degeneration that was already occurring in society. Romans 1:18-32 gives a broad outline of three steps down into moral depravity as the truth in suppressed in unrighteousness. The first step down begins with man no longer honoring God and giving him proper thanks. Though man inherently knows God and Creation declares Him clearly, man becomes futile in his speculations and his foolish heart is darkened. Professing himself to be wise, he becomes a fool. God’s wrath is revealed as He pulls His hand of protection away and yields man to the lusts of his heart. As American society turned away from God to embrace the supposed wisdom of evolutionary science and theological liberalism, God yielded America to the lusts of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s which became dominate by the 1990’s. Fornication became normal and expected.
The second step down began as Americans gave increasing attention, time and finances to getting things and finding pleasure and less and less to God and serving Him. Worship of created things was replacing the worship of God even among professing Christians. Not only were the restrictions previous generations had on shopping and recreational activities abandoned (blue laws), but church was increasingly skipped in order to pursue them. God responded by yielding society to degrading passions. The result is that the restrictions on homosexual and other sexual perversions were dropped in the name of tolerance and then they became acceptable as alternative lifestyles.
The Obergefell decision and the public response to it is glaring declaration that we are solidly in the third step down. We are a society that has excluded God from our public affairs. He is not included in the public discourse and discussion of public policies. God has given the USA over to depraved minds resulting in society giving hearty approval to those things God declares to be improper, unrighteous and evil. Only depraved minds could come up with the Obergefell decision. Only depraved minds could celebrate it.
That is how we have fallen into our current condition as a nation, and it is serious. How then should Christians respond?
Citizenship in the United States
The Nature of our Nation
Let me begin by quickly going over the nature and structure of the United States of America. Naturalized immigrants often know this better than the native born because our schools no longer teach well our history and government system, if they teach it at all. But an immigrant must know these things in order to become a citizen.
First, to illustrate. We commonly hear that the American Revolution was fought because of the issue of “taxation without representation.” Yet, if you read the Declaration of Independence you will find that there are 18 independent reasons given showing the “history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Taxation is the fourth sub-point in the thirteenth point that the King was subjecting them to a jurisdiction foreign to their constitution. The revolution was fought not as an act of rebellion, but as an action of self preservation.
Part of the reason our nation is in such trouble now is that so many of our citizens do not know our own history nor do they know the nature of our government. The United States is a Constitutional Republic. That means we are governed by the rule of law as set forth in our Constitution and legislated by elected representatives. We have an elected President who is charged with enforcing those laws and a judiciary that is responsible to apply those laws in individual cases. All elected government officials, judiciary, and military are required to swear to uphold the Constitution as are naturalized citizens. All citizens have a responsibility to know the Constitution and elect representatives that will follow it, a president who will defend it, and judges that will uphold it.
We are a nation in which the rule of law, not the rule of men, was designed to be supreme, and this has a direct application on our allegiance. Our loyalty is not to a legislature, for then we would be an empire. It is not to a President, for then we would be a kingdom. It is not to a judiciary, for then we would be an oligarchy. Our allegiance is to be to the rule of law framed in our Constitution which separated the powers so that we could be a union of independent states joined together in a republic. We are in trouble nationally because so many government officials lied when they swore allegiance to the Constitution and instead usurp it, and the people ignorantly cheer them on in their selfish desire to get what they want.
What does this mean personally? It means that as a citizen of the United States my allegiance must remain set on the Constitution even when government officials or a branch of government acts contrary to it. To do less would to be to aid and abet the usurpation of the rightful authority of our various government branches, the states and the people. However, I must recognize that I put myself at risk of suffering loss by the actions of those who have already usurped the Constitution. Many have already suffered legal hassles, the loss of their businesses, property, freedom of association and even been jailed because they will not yield to laws and directives that are contrary to our Constitution.
Those who argue that a decision by SCOTUS is final fail to remember that 1) SCOTUS has a long history of reversing previous decisions, so nothing is final, and 2) without the aid of the executive arm and the States, none of their judgments have any efficacy (as specifically pointed out in Justice Scalia’s dissent). Presidents and States have ignored them in the past, and have great reason to ignore them in the present.
Citizenship and Romans 13. This issue of allegiance also goes to the heart of the application of Romans 13, a text used to proclaim that Christians are to submit to the governing authority, and therefore must acquiesce and comply with whatever dictates come from government entities unless they require direct disobedience to God. I have preached on this passage before (See The Christian and Government – March 23, 2003), and it is not my purpose to exposit this text today, but I do want to make a few quick points.
First, I agree that Romans 13:1 is clear, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” However, the mistake in the application of this verse is that in the United States, the governing authority is the Constitution and rule of law, not Congress, the President or the Supreme Court. The application of Romans 13:2 is that when any of these usurp the Constitution, they are resisting authority and are opposing the ordinance of God and will receive the condemnation upon themselves. When the people accept such usurpations without protest and resistance, then they include themselves in opposing the ordinance of God and will receive His condemnation. We have seen that played out in this nation as we have degenerated into legal chaos and depravity of morals and mind.
Romans 13:4 is clear that God establishes government as His minister for good. Those who do good will receive its praise and those who do evil should fear its wrath. Because the rule of law is being usurped in our nation, we have those in government positions that are doing the opposite. They are exercising their personal wrath upon those who are doing good and giving praise to those practicing evil, and I am referring to much more that sexual perversion for the graft, greed and corruption in many government entities within the United States has become pervasive. The farther our nation departs from God’s ordinances and purpose for government, the more at risk we are for being overtaken by another nation or destroyed.
There are many political ramifications of this and there are many political actions that need to be taken by both Christians and non-Christians who still uphold our Constitution. However, I will leave the debate about political actions to groups such as The Heritage Foundation which has much more expertise in those areas than I do. It is my responsibility to call on Christians to behave as Christians even in the midst of a degenerating society.
Citizenship in Heaven – Philippians 3:17-21
Please turn to Philippians 3:17-21. The fact that Paul writes this from prison awaiting trial reveals that he lived out the advice that he gave to others and had indeed learned to rejoice in all circumstances. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Paul’s argument is simple. His premise is that if your citizenship is in heaven, then you should follow his example, for those that do not prove by their lives that they are enemies of the cross. We need to understand first what it means to be a citizen of heaven and the hope that brings. Then we need to examine Paul’s example so that we might follow it.
Christian Citizenship and Allegiance – vs. 20
“Citizenship” is from polivteuma / politeuma. The KJV translated this as “conversation,” but we no longer use this word in the way they did in the 1600’s. They meant it as “a keeping company;” “intimate fellowship or association;” “commerce in social life.” Some British translators use “commonwealth” for this word. TDNT explains its usage in Greek literature “which employed polivteuma / politeuma for foreign colonies outside the mother country with certain specified rights.” That was exactly the situation that existed in Philippi where Paul sent this letter. It was a Roman colony in Macedonia, and those who belonged to it were also citizens of Rome with all its respective rights. I believe Paul purposely used this word to convey to the believers in Philippi a great spiritual truth of the same nature.
The Christian is radically changed at salvation. The most radical change is going from being dead in trespasses and sin into being made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). God’s grace is extended to us, and on the basis of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are justified before Him and forgiven our sins (Romans 3:26; 1 John 2:12). We are adopted into God’s family and made his children (John 1:12; Galatians 4:5). We are also given citizenship to a place we have never been, but because it is the dwelling place of our Father, we belong there too. Heaven becomes our true home.
It is important to note that the word translated as “is” here, (uJpavrcw / huparchô), is not the normal verb for “is.” This word means “to begin, to be ready” or “at hand;” “being, belonging to;”
“to possess.” By using this word Paul places emphasis that this is something that is, as Lloyd-Jones puts it, “being already in existence and manifesting itself.” Heaven is not something that is just off in the future somewhere, but instead is, as Lightfoot describes, “our citizenship is even now in heaven.” Though we are not there yet, it is current reality. Every true Christian is already a citizen of heaven.
The Philippians would have easily understood this concept, for there would have been some there that were citizens of Philippi, and therefore also Roman citizens, who had never been to Rome. They understood that it was the reality of their citizenship that was important and not their location. Paul’s stress here is the reality of being a citizen of heaven even though you have never been there and you are still located here on earth.
Having citizenship in heaven has a very pragmatic consequence in relationship to my life here on earth. My primary allegiance switches to heaven. That is why though I am a citizen of the United States and I love my country, I absolutely cannot obey any law instituted that would be contrary to God’s commands, for to do so would be in violation of that primary allegiance. That is to be true for every Christian no matter the nation in which they live. As Peter said to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” This change of allegiance is one of the reasons that Christians, though good citizens in every other respect, are persecuted by totalitarian governments. Dictators demand primary allegiance to themselves.
Citizenship and Hope – vs. 20-21
There is also a change in desire for the true disciple of Jesus Christ. There is an increasing awareness that this world is not your real home. You gain a sense of being a stranger in the very world into which you were born and an increased longing for a home in a place you have never been. The hope of heaven becomes more motivating.
Perhaps your experience is similar to my own. The longer I walk with Jesus Christ, the less attractive are the things of this world. There are cultural events and national celebrations that I enjoyed at one time, but now I find some of them to be a waste of time and others have become offensive. Those that I still enjoy leave me with a cognitive feeling that there is a lot missing. There is much more to life than anything this world can offer me. I long for that heavenly country and that city whose builder and maker is God. That longing in turn causes me to change my behavior and actions because everything begins to be seen in light of the hope of heaven. A mind set on heavenly things looks for all that is related to heaven including the glory of our returning Lord and all that brings with it. We seek and find eternal satisfaction in our God and pleasing Him instead of the fleeting pleasures of our appetites or gratification of worldly glory or power.
We have an eager expectation (ajpekdevcomai / apekdechomai) of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and for what will happen as a result. This is an eager but patient waiting, for though we do not know the timing of His return, it is something we are confident will happen and all of His promises will be fulfilled. This is a reason Paul desired to reach forward to what lies ahead and forget about what was behind (Philippians 3:13). All the things he longed for the most were in the future. That is an important point for us to keep in mind for it would be easy to become melancholy or even depressed if we thought about what our nation once was, what we have become, and where we are headed. For the Christian, the future is always exciting because the promises of Jesus transcend this temporal world including the United States.
Paul mentions two specific events that will happen when Jesus returns. The first is the transformation of the physical body into a glorified state like that of Jesus. This will happen to the bodies of all Christians whether dead or alive at the time for we all shall meet the Lord in the air to ever be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We do not know all the properties of this future body, but 1 John 3:2 states we shall be like Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 states that this body will be imperishable and immortal, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It will also happen instantly, in the “twinkling of the eye,” which is the amount of time it takes for light to go through the cornea of your eye and reflect back out off the lens. If this be so, then other than the momentary pain, the fear of torture or even execution is removed because we shall receive even better bodies and will no longer sin when final glorification is accomplished.
The second event will be the exertion of His power to subject all things to Himself. Jesus is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21-22), and He will conquer and do away with the evil systems of the present world to set up His kingdom in which truth and justice will prevail. Abraham Lincoln called the Union “the last best hope of earth” (December 1, 1862), and Ronald Regan used that phrase or similar ones many times for the USA in his political career. However, both were wrong. Certainly the United States of America proved itself to be one of the best nations in history, but we have been watching its system increasingly corrupted by politicians of low character who freely lie and offer delusions of utopia . These are then repeated and promoted by the media and social elite who can no longer recognize truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or good from evil. The last best hope of the earth is its final kingdom which will be ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s Manner of Walk – Philippians 3:17
Because Christians have a hope that transcends the circumstances of life, Paul says we are to follow his example instead of those who have proven themselves enemies of the cross and whose end will be destruction. Paul was the opposite of those people. Their god was their appetite – (koiliva / koilia) literally, their belly (1 Cor. 6:13). What is ultimately important to them is feeling good by satisfying the lusts of their flesh, the lust of their eyes and their boastful pride of life (1 John 2:15). Paul learned to be content whether filled or going hungry (Philippians 4:11-12). Their glory is their shame as they prove the depravity of their minds in giving hearty approval to what God declares is sinful (Romans 1:28-32). Paul’s glory was in walking with Christ and serving Him (Philippians 1:11; 2:16). Their minds were set on earthly things which are passing away (1 John 2:17). Paul’s mind was set on heavenly things and that which reflected it – that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
Even a cursory outline of Paul’s character from the book of Philippians shows why he is a good model to imitate. He was a man of prayer (1:3-4, 9-11; 4:6-7) with a supreme confidence in God’s faithfulness (1:6). His great joy was the gospel being proclaimed regardless of his own personal circumstances (1:12-18). For Paul, to live was Christ and to die was gain, yet he desired to continue to live for the sake of those to whom he ministered (1:21-24). He was a humble man who sought the interests of others above his own (2:1-4). He did not grumble and so was a light in the world in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (2:14-15). He rejoiced to be a drink offering in the sacrifice and service of the faith of others (2:17). He counted his former life, though viewed as success by the world’s standards, to be rubbish in view of the value of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ (3:8). His desire was to know Jesus, the power of His resurrection and even the fellowship of His suffering (3:10). Paul kept his priorities in order by pressing on toward that goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus and did not let himself become distracted by the past or side issues (Philippians 3:12-14). His hope was set on the return of Jesus and the fulfillment of His promises (3:20-21). He learned to rejoice in the Lord always (4:4) and be content in all circumstances trusting the Lord to provide what was needed (4:10-13). His mind was focused on the right things (4:8).
I will also add from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that for the sake of the gospel, Paul was also adaptable to the cultures he was trying to reach with the gospel without compromising any of God’s commands or becoming assimilated. As you face various situations, ask yourself “what would Paul do?” or even better, “What would Jesus do?” Then do it. Consider these questions.
Would you befriend a homosexual and tell him the gospel the same manner you would tell any other sinner? Would you participate in or attend the wedding of two non-Christians? What if it was a professing Christian marring a non-Christian? What if it was a man who divorced his wife to marry the woman with whom he was committing adultery? What if it was a homosexual “wedding”? Would you attend a party celebrating an anniversary, graduation or successful business venture? What if it was to celebrate a successful business scam? A bank robbery? An adulterous relationship? A homosexual relationship? An abortion? Your answers to these questions will depend on whether you are living as a citizen of heaven or not. Paul lived as a citizen of heaven while dwelling on earth which is why he could say for him to live was Christ (1:21). You will do the same if your goals and motivations are the same as his. Paul also learned how to use his earthly citizenship to its full advantage.
Paul and Government
Much is often made of the fact that there is no record that Paul sought to change the government as if that was a virtue we are to apply in American society. The fact is that Paul lived in a dictatorial empire and he had no means of petitioning a change in the empire even if he wanted to do so. In addition, the only recorded interaction we have of Paul with governmental entities is when he was under arrest. (As Saul, he had gained governmental authority to arrest and persecute Christians). From those incidents we learn that Paul used his Roman citizenship to his advantage.
In Acts 16, Paul had been arrested and beaten without trial after being falsely accused by local merchantmen. Later, when the magistrates sent to release Paul quietly, he brought up the fact that he was a Roman citizen and that made the magistrates come themselves because they were now afraid. That gave him opportunity to explain who he was, what he was doing, and that the accusations were false. That would serve to help protect the fledgling church in Philippi from further false accusations. He left the city only after accomplishing what he wanted instead of being driven out.
In Acts 22 Paul brought up his Roman citizenship just as they were preparing to flog him. That put some fear into them so that they treated him with respect, and even more so after finding out he was a Roman citizen from birth. From that point on the commander is both favorable and protective of Paul even preventing an assassination attempt. Paul is still unjustly imprisoned for two years during which he takes advantage of the opportunities given to tell his story and proclaim the gospel to the Roman governors and other officials.
When governor Festus sought to do a favor for the Jews and improperly move Paul’s trial back to Jerusalem, a place Paul knew they would make another attempt to assassinate him, Paul used his Roman citizenship to appeal to Caesar (Acts 25). That gave him a trip to Rome at government expense and where he would continue to proclaim the gospel to whomever would come while awaiting trial.
We ought to follow Paul’s example in using whatever earthly citizenship we have to our full advantage in furthering the cause of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and of righteousness. In the United States this means exercising our various Constitutional rights and especially those of public speech, freedom of assembly and practicing every aspect of our religion. We do not compromise our faith to appease the ever changing winds of political correctness. We speak the truth in love, but we still speak the truth even when it is against the tide of public opinion. It also means entering into the public debate about issues and petitioning government. Paul could not influence the laws and direction of government, but we can and should. Paul was not in a position to become a Roman Senator or judge, but Christian citizens of the U.S.A. can and should become involved in government to become legislative officials who establish law, judicial officials who apply the law and executive officials who enforce the law.
We certainly desire for the law to be upheld and for justice to be served, but Paul did not receive that and we should not expect it either in a degenerating society. In standing up for truth and righteousness, we expect to be persecuted by those who are evil, but we do so anyway because it is proper before God.
The legal and moral condition of the United States is bad and we can expect it to get worse. The nature of the United States is such that our allegiance is to the rule of law defined by our Constitution instead of to men. As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven and so our first allegiance is to God and so we must obey Him rather than men regardless of the temporal consequences. Because our citizenship is in heaven, we also have a hope that transcends everything that is earthly. When Jesus returns we will receive glorified bodies that are immortal and incorruptible, and Jesus will crush all earthly realms to establish His own kingdom in which truth and righteousness dwell.
Paul is a fitting model of how to live as a Christian citizen in a degenerate society. His life reflected Jesus Christ in every aspect and he kept that as the priority. He learned to use his Roman citizenship for the advantage of righteousness and the gospel. You must do the same with your citizenship.
Ultimately it comes down to applying Galatians 2:20 to your own life personally. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” If that will be your motivation and manner of living, then you will boldly live according to your citizenship in heaven though dwelling on earth in the midst of a perverse generation. You will also be able to take full advantage of your national citizenship to advance the gospel and righteousness to the glory of God. As Jesus explained in John 16:33, though we know that we will have tribulation in this world, we take courage and have peace because He has overcome the world.
Sermon Notes: Christian Citizenship in a Degenerating Society, Part 2
Obergefell is without _______precedent, but it is in a long line of redefinitions, reinterpretations & creations
Obergefell is already producing legal ___________- polygamy, incest, and a lawsuit against Bible publishers
The legal degeneration is a reflection of the moral ____________that has already occurred in society
Men do not honor and give thanks to God, and He yields them to their ___________passions (Rom. 1:18-25)
Men worship what is created instead of the Creator and He yields them to _________passions (Rom 1:26-27)
Men no longer acknowledges God and He yields them to ______________minds (Rom 1:28-32)
Citizenship in the United States
Taxation was a very _________reason for the American Revolution – fought as an action of self preservation
The USA is a Constitutional Republic – we are governed by the rule of law set forth in our ______________
Allegiance is to be to the _______________, not people (Congress, President, Supreme Court, etc.)
A SCOTUS decision is ________final – 1) They reverse themselves. 2) Executives / States can ignore them
Citizenship and Romans 13
Romans 13:1 – we submit to governing authority because authority is from _________
Our governing authority is our __________- those who usurp it bring God’s condemnation upon themselves
Romans 13:4 – government is to be a minister of God for ______- departing from good risks our destruction
Citizenship in Heaven – Philippians 3:17-21
If your citizenship is in heaven, then ________Paul’s example, for those that do not are enemies of the cross
Christian Citizenship and Allegiance – Philippians 3:20
Citizenship – polivteuma / politeuma -a __________________outside the mother country with certain rights
A Christian goes from death to ___, is justified & forgiven, adopted into God’s family, is a citizen of heaven
Our citizenship is in (uJpavrcw / huparchô = belongs to) ___________- our citizenship is even now in heaven
The Philippians, as a Roman ___________in Macedonia, would have understood this well
A Christian’s primary allegiance switches to ____________so that he may not obey anything contrary to it
Citizenship and Hope – Philippians 3:20-21
Christians develop an increasing awareness this world is ________home – we long for a different place
We have an _________expectation of the Lord’s return for what we desire the most is future
At the Lord’s return, believers are ____________with immortal, imperishable physical bodies – no more sin
When the Lord’s return, He conquers the world and establishes His _______- the true last best hope of earth
Paul’s Manner of Walk – Philippians 3:17
Paul was the opposite of those who were enemies of the cross – Phil. 3:18-19
Their god was their belly – Paul learned to be ___________in all circumstances (Phil. 4:11-12)
Their glory was their shame – Paul’s glory was walking with _______and serving Him (Phil. 1:11; 2:16)
Their minds were set on earthly things – Paul’s mind was set on ___________things (Phil. 4:8; Col. 3:2)
He was a man of ______________with supreme confidence in God (Phil. 1:3-4, 6, 9-11; 4:6-7)
His great joy was the gospel, living for ____________and serving God’s people (Phil. 1:12-18, 21-24).
He was _____________setting the interest of others above his own – as did Jesus (Phil. 2:3-8)
He did not grumble & so was a _____in the world in the midst of a crooked & perverse generation (2:14-15)
He counted his former worldly success as ___________in view of the value of knowing Jesus (3:8)
His desire was to know Jesus, the power of His resurrection and even the fellowship of His ________(3:10)
His ___________and priorities were order so he was not distracted by the past or side issues (3:12-14)
His _________was set on the return of Jesus and the fulfillment of His promises (3:20-21)
He learned to ________in the Lord always and be content in all circumstances trusting the Lord (4:4, 10-13)
Paul adapted to other cultures without ________________any of God’s commands or becoming assimilated
Paul lived as a citizen of _____________while dwelling on earth
Paul and Government
Paul lived under a __________government without means of petitioning for a political change in the empire
Acts 16 – Paul used his _________citizenship to force a meeting with the magistrates and leave as he desired
Acts 22 – Paul used his Roman Citizenship to stop an injustice and gain the ________of the Roman soldiers
Acts 25 – Paul used his Roman Citizenship to ________an injustice and get a government paid trip to Rome
Follow Paul’s example: Use your ____________citizenship to furthering the gospel & righteousness
Exercise your _____________rights and never compromise the practice of your faith, speak the truth in love
Paul could not influence the laws, the direction of government or selection of leaders – we _____and should
Because it pleases God, we are to ___________for righteousness while knowing we will be persecuted for it
As citizens of heaven, our first allegiance is to ____, and we have a hope that transcends every earthly thing
Paul models how we are ____in the midst of a degenerating society – even proper use of national citizenship
Galatians 2:20 – you will live like Paul if your commitment and ____________________are the same as his
John 16:33 – expect tribulation, but you can be at peace & have courage because __________has overcome
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Discuss with your parents the importance of national citizenship. 2) Discuss with your parents the importance of citizenship in heaven
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Read the Declaration of Independence – why was there a revolution? What is the nature of the government of the U.S.A.? Is a SCOTUS decision final? Why or why not? Romans 13 requires Christians to submit to the governing authorities – what is the supreme governing authority of the U.S.? What happens to governments that do not minister for good? What is the importance of having citizenship in heaven? What will happen at Christ’s return? How do they give us hope in the present? Describe Paul’s manner of life? What were his goals? What were His motivations? How did Paul use his Roman citizenship to his advantage? How can you use your national citizenship for the advantage of the gospel?
(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)
For comments, please e-mail Church office