Our Citizenship Is in Heaven (Philippians 3:17 - 4:1)
Topic: Philippians Scripture: Philippians 3:17–4:1
First Scripture Reading: Psalm 2:1-12
Second Scripture Reading: I Corinthians 1:18 - 2:5
Sermon Text: Philippians 3:17 - 4:1
The idea of citizenship is important to many people in our world, especially those who dream of becoming citizens of a wealthy and politically stable nation. Citizens gain benefits from their respective countries, but they also have responsibilities to live according to the laws and customs that have been established. There is a certain allegiance that comes with citizenship. When the Apostle Paul writes that we are citizens of heaven, he has in mind the status, privileges, and responsibilities that we have toward the Lord of heaven, who is our sovereign King. We have been received into the wealthiest and most powerful Kingdom in existence, and we have been given all the rights and privileges that accompany our heavenly citizenship. We know that though we live in this world and in this country, our true allegiance is to the Lord, and our lives must be patterned according to his Word. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “We are in Christ; we have experienced a heavenly calling; we belong to another country and are citizens of a different city. Our character is bound to be different. We inevitably stand out for our minds are not on earthly things.”
1. For review, read Philippians 3:12-16. What is Paul referring to in verse 12 when he writes that he is not “perfect”? Can we be perfected in this life? If we cannot be perfected in this life, what is the purpose of “straining” according to verses 13-14?
2. Read Philippians 3:17. What role does imitating mature, godly Christians have in our faith? Is there a Christian in your life that you look up to? How does having a person like that in your life help you grow in your faith?
3. Who are the “enemies of the cross” that Paul is referring to in verse 18? According to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and Romans 3:21-26, why is Jesus’ crucifixion central to our faith? Why do you think some who call themselves Christians would want to undermine the importance of the cross?
4. How does Paul describe the enemies of the cross in Philippians 3:19? Can you think of false teachers today who fit some of these descriptions?
5. In what sense are we citizens of heaven? Consider these verses as you formulate your answer: John 17:14-16; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, and 1 Peter 2:11.
6. In preparation for next week, read Philippians 4:2-3. What do we learn about church conflict in these verses? What do you think Paul means when he says that Euodia and Syntyche should “agree in the Lord” in verse 2?