How to Become a Citizen of Heaven
Paul TautgesPaul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.
- 2016 Sep 13
A passport is a powerful document. It certifies a person’s citizenship and carries authority to travel to foreign countries. While visiting other countries as a guest, your citizenship remains, along with a certain amount of protection that your country’s government promises to its citizens. And when it’s time to come home your passport guarantees your safe re-entrance. But as wonderful as all of that is, there is something infinitely more valuable: a spiritual passport, the guarantee of safe entrance into heaven when we die.
Therefore, I need to tell you how to become a citizen of heaven. Just as not everyone reading this blog post is a citizen of the same country, so not everyone is a citizen of heaven. There are 3 truths that I am compelled to help you understand from the Bible.
You are not automatically born into God’s family.
A baby born in the United States is automatically a citizen of this country. However, you are not automatically born a child of God, or a citizen of heaven. First John 3:10 indicates there are only two spiritual families in the world: the family of God and the family of the devil.
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
You are not automatically born into God’s family. Instead of automatically being children of God, the Bible says we are naturally born “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3). How then can we become a child of God and, therefore, also a citizen of heaven?
To be a citizen of heaven you must become a child of God. In order for this to be true, you must be born again.
In John 3:1-3 we read of the encounter Jesus had with a religious leader.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus then corrected this religious leader’s misunderstanding about spiritual things, and called him to turn the eyes of his heart to Him by faith.
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (vv. 12-15)
To become a citizen of heaven you must be born again. To be born again you must look to Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Savior with eyes of faith.
When you are born again; that is, when you are saved, you become a citizen of heaven and receive a spiritual passport.
In Philippians 4:3, Paul refers to his fellow workers “whose names are in the book of life.” What does that mean? To answer that question, we need to look to the last book of the Bible, the book of the Revelation. In the twentieth chapter we read of a future judgment at the Great White Throne. This is the judgment of all non-believers; i.e. those who have not turned to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. As you read the verses, below, notice the mention of books. There are multiple books, which record all the deeds of men. And there is another book called the book of life. This is where the names of those who have turned to Christ are written.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
Later, in the next chapter, this book of life is called the "Lamb's book of like." Who is the Lamb of God? Jesus Christ. Those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life are those who are connected to Jesus Christ through saving faith in Him—and His death, burial, and resurrection.
When you are born again; that is, when you are saved, you become a citizen of heaven and receive a spiritual passport. And the visa is not stamped in black ink, but in the red blood of the crucified Lamb of God. This guarantees your safe entrance into heaven after your guest tour on earth is complete. As a result, you need not live in fear of death.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
Therefore, Jesus told his disciples not to rejoice in the miraculous, super-spiritual experiences they had been involved in, but instead “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
So, let me ask you, my friend, “Are you a citizen of heaven? Is your name written in the Book of Life?” If it is then rejoice that your name is written in heaven. If not, today is the day to repent of your sin and turn to Jesus Christ who died and rose again to save you forever.
Listen to the sermon Live Like a Citizen of Heaven.
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