The Blessings of Canada
THE NEW CITIZENS stood before the judge, pledging their allegiance to their new country. They had come from widely differing backgrounds and situations. Some came from near or from places a little like Canada. Some came from distant places or even from countries where tyranny reigns. Some had lived through wars and suffered under political oppression or escaped from mass murder and genocide.
This court was not in session to try them or condemn them. This judge was here to grant them a share of their own in this nation.
Now they were all Canadian citizens, members of the great, nation-wide family of Canada. They now had rights and freedoms much of the world can only dream about. One good lady, from a land once ruled by tyranny, wept when she received her citizenship here!
Citizenship in our country and its rights are not available to all the people on this planet. But there is a citizenship open to everybody, everywhere – and to Canadian citizens as well. It gives rights and benefits far beyond even the wonderful, God-given benefits of citizenship in our country. The benefits of this larger citizenship are greater, good in any country on earth and last beyond death – they last forever!
This is the citizenship the Bible says belongs to all who put their confidence in the Lord Jesus for salvation from their sins. “Our citizenship is in Heaven” Philippians 3:20. It also tells how this personal trust in the Lord Jesus’ death in our place to pay for our sins and save us from them makes us right with God. Then we are not just admissible to the Kingdom of God and to Heaven under its “immigration rules”, but actually citizens there.
Some people in the Bible had obtained this citizenship. The apostle Paul wrote them about their wonderful rights and privileges. Before trusting in the Lord Jesus they had been “aliens” from the people of God, he told them. The apostle said they previously had “no hope” and been “without God in the world” Ephesians 2:12-19. But they were “no more strangers and sojourners” (in God’s sight and only temporarily enjoying the blessings He gives on this earth). They were now “fellow citizens with the saints”. And these new citizens had become members “of the household” or family “of God”, just as Canadian citizens are members of a large family in a manner of speaking.
Something about citizenship rights and freedoms
The country where you are a citizen will always let you in. When life on earth is over – God will let you into Heaven, if you are a citizen there. And, if a citizen, you already belong to Heaven right now, even though you aren’t there yet.
A citizen has a right to bring petitions about needs to a country’s ruler. And citizens of Heaven can do that. To people the Bible says have been “justified”, or put in a right standing with God, by receiving His Son Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the Bible says to “let your requests be made known unto God” Philippians 4:6 in prayer, which He will listen to.
Canadian citizenship gives certain freedoms
Heavenly citizenship also gives freedom; the Bible says “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin” and the spiritual death going with it (Romans 8:2). By trusting their new ruler, Jesus, many have been freed from sinful habits, drug addiction, lives of crime.
When Canadian citizens outside their country become destitute and can’t pay for necessities and transportation home, the Canadian government sometimes provides aid to get them back to Canada. And when the citizens of Heaven need the mercy and grace to live their daily life and sustain them on their trip to their home with the Lord Jesus, they too can apply for this and get it. “Let us… come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:16. Don’t worry about not being able to make it to Heaven if you trust in the Lord Jesus and become a citizen of Heaven!
That mercy includes forgiveness of our sins when we fall into wrong thoughts, deeds or words. The apostle John wrote, “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (that is, anyone who knows the Lord Jesus as his or her personal Savior), “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one… if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9. You don’t lose your citizenship in Heaven if you fail, but you can be made right by sincerely asking God for it.
Like all things belonging to this world, Canadian citizenship is not perfect. One man who acquired it said he found many people still didn’t treat him right. But he put a higher value on his citizenship in Heaven; in exercising that citizenship, he always went first class, he said. The Bible says that in God’s kingdom there is “neither Jew nor Greek… male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28 - they are all the same before God.
There’s an important difference between Canadian citizenship and Heavenly citizenship. You automatically get Canadian citizenship if Mom and Dad are Canadian citizens. But you can’t get Heavenly citizenship because your parents know and serve the Lord Jesus and are citizens of Heaven. You have to “apply” yourself.
How do you do that?
We saw that the Bible shows that being citizens of Heaven is the same as being members of God’s household or family. You become a family member by being born. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God”, the Lord Jesus told a very religious, probably good man. “As many as received Him” (the Lord Jesus) “to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” John 3:3 Believing on His name is putting your trust in Him as your own Savior. You become a child of God and a fellow citizen with the saints, a citizen of Heaven (John 1:12-13)
There are really only two countries – spiritually. If you don’t belong to one, you belong to the other. The Bible tells some new citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven that God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear son” (that is, of Jesus) Colossians 1:13. That evil “power of darkness” is a little like the ruling, compelling and leading power a strong government has. That’s why the Bible talks about “powers… the rulers of the darkness of this world”; they are spirits who under Satan rule human lives in various degrees unless we belong to God’s family. When God finishes His long war against these causes of sin, evil, war and wrongful suffering, Satan and these spiritual rulers will be thrown into a “lake of fire” for eternal punishment. People ruled by these powers of darkness and whose names are not found “written in the book of life” have to go there with these rulers (Revelation 20:15).
God doesn’t want that to happen to you. That’s why “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16. By putting your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you get that eternal life right now and on through eternity – your name is in the “book of life”.
By sending His Son to die in your place for your sins, satisfying His justice and enabling God to forgive you without condoning sin, God is morally free to save you. Mere humans have a duty to forgive others because we are sinners needing forgiveness ourselves; but God is sinless and must maintain His freedom from it by punishing it in justice – that’s why He took care of the punishment Himself by coming as a perfect human being qualified to bear it for us. Then by Divine power, that genuine human, Jesus, rose from the dead, proving our sin “debt” was paid.
Some countries will not let anyone immigrate or give them citizenship if they have even one past criminal conviction. That’s the way it is with Heaven. The Bible tells us that if we have committed one sin, but not another, we are still “a transgressor of the law” James 2:11. In God’s high standards, good deeds don’t make up for a sin record. We may be good people – relative to other people – but no one is good in relation to God. Everyone has sinned and comes “short of the glory of God”, the Bible says (Romans 3:23). You and I aren’t exceptions.
The Bible, God’s word, says: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16:31. So accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior; God will forgive your sins and you will become a child of God and a citizen of Heaven. You need only to trust Jesus for this, but it may help you do this if you pray to God and ask Him to forgive your sins through the Lord Jesus’ death in your place and believe that He has.
Then God will help you live a good life worthy of this wonderful new Heavenly citizenship and acknowledge Jesus as Lord to others. Your good deeds cannot obtain Heaven, but God’s purpose in saving us is to enable us to live good lives and glorify Him. The Bible says, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:8-10. We can’t earn salvation – it is a gift. We are called to do good – not to earn Heaven, but in love toward the God who has loved us.
Be a citizen of Canada; but also become a citizen of Heaven.