Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Their citizenship is in heaven

The Kingdom of God is the only kingdom or nation that is rightfully called Christian. The citizens of this kingdom are on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They do not treasure things that are highly esteemed in this world, which are an abomination to their heavenly King. Their treasure is in heaven, where they long to be when their earthly time and duties are done.

The values that govern their lives do not conform to the prevailing value system of the world, but their minds have been transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit so they understand the will of their heavenly King.

They are also citizens of the nation or kingdom where they live and are subject to all the laws of that kingdom or nation. They are loyal citizens and thankful for the benefits conferred by their earthly citizenship. But their first loyalty is to their heavenly King and His Kingdom.

It is folly for citizens of the kingdom of God to think an earthly kingdom can be a Christian nation. The principles of the kingdom of God don’t work in earthly nations because too many people follow the enemy of the heavenly King.

It is necessary for earthly kingdoms to use some measure of force to maintain order, sometimes lethal force. The kingdom of God is governed by the Holy Spirit working in the heart of those people whose hearts have been transformed to value peace and love above all other things. Those whose hearts are hardened and cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit must be governed by other means.

The heavenly King gives us the freedom to choose between good and evil, therefore He allows the enemy to work. There is a day coming when He will destroy the enemy and all earthly kingdoms; today He calls people the world over to come into His kingdom and find peace.

The methods of the enemy of God will never result in peace. When citizens of the heavenly kingdom take part in the government of an earthly kingdom, they must abandon some values of the heavenly kingdom. They will have more power to transform the world if they pray to their King and implore Him to overrule the plans of the enemy, to protect His people, and soften hard hearts.

Their citizenship is in heaven

5:1  For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs.
5:2  For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practise an extraordinary kind of life.
5:3  Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are.
5:4  But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation.
5:5  They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign.
5:6  They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring.
5:7  They have their meals in common, but not their wives.
5:8  They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh.
5:9  Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.
5:10  They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives.
5:11  They love all men, and they are persecuted by all.
5:12  They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life.
5:13  They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things.
5:14  They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated.
5:15  They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect.
5:16  Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life.
5:17  War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility.

[Chapter 5 of The Epistle to Diognetus, 2nd century AD, English translation by J. B. Lightfoot, 1891.]

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