Where Do You Live?
Read – Philippians 3:17-4:1
Key Verse – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV)
Key Thought – The Christian’s home is not of this world, nor is the Christian’s prize. We are citizens of heaven, waiting for the Savior of heaven to come for us.
I recently had to fill out some paperwork to obtain a license. I had to provide my name. And I had to provide my address.
It is a common requirement, isn’t it? Whether you’re filling out financial paperwork, or legal paperwork, or applying for a loan, or filling out insurance papers, or whatever – “Where do you live?” is one of the questions you are constantly being asked.
So let me add to the list, and ask it now – “Where do you live?”
Paul states something interesting about that topic here. He says that, no matter where you might think you live, your real address is not here. It’s in heaven. You might fill out an earthly address when applying for that loan, but that’s not your address. You might give somebody a street number and zip code to punch into their GPS when directing them to where you are, but it’s not your real address.
“Where do you live?” It’s an interesting question, because your answer determines an awful lot about how you live. Well that’s the second of three questions I see arising from this passage. Those three questions are:
- Who are you following?
2. Where do you live?
3. What are you waiting for?
Let’s take them in order.
Who are you following?
Earlier in the letter, Paul had said some very pointed things about some false teachers. We saw those comments in 3:2when he was talking about the Judaizers who were teaching that circumcision needed to be added to the work of Christ on the cross in order for one to be saved. Now, at the end of the chapter, he may have been revisiting those thoughts.
He started here in vs. 17 by telling his readers to look at his example, and follow his example. It seems that he was contrasting his right example with the wrong examples of some others, perhaps those Judaizers he had mentioned in vss. 1-3.
“Follow my example.”
Now such a statement could easily be taken for arrogance, but remember Paul had already confessed he was not perfect (vs. 12). His desire was that to the extent he followed Christ, others would follow Him. In effect, his ultimate goal was always that people would follow Christ, by following his example of following Christ.
He told the Corinthians, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV). Taken alongside Ephesians4:11-12, this is a good reminder that God has given pastors and teachers in the local church as a gift, and their example should be followed, and their teaching heard. Not that they are perfect, but that they are where they are because God put them there, and so long as, and to the extent that, they are following Christ, we should follow them. God may bring others into your lives as well that are worthy of imitating. I can think of various believers throughout my years of Christianity that have been worthy of imitation.
So Paul starts by providing himself and others like him as positive examples to be followed. And then he turns his attention to some who were just the opposite. He once again warned the Philippians against false teachers, and he does so by telling them just how serious the issue of false teachers really is.
We ought to underline that word “many” in vs. 18, for it reminds us the problem was not then, and is not now, trivial. There were and are MANY false teachers. That word alone ought to wake us up to the problem. And we also ought to underline the last phrase in vs. 18 – they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. It is a serious thing to teach false doctrine. It is not a minor problem when someone stands in a pulpit or behind a microphone or in front of a camera and preaches untruth to people. Such might profess to know and love Christ, but Paul says here that the exact opposite it true. They are His enemies.
Just this week I read of a woman named Eva Brunne. She was described as the first lesbian bishop of a major denomination, in this case the Lutheran Church of Sweden. She was in the news for suggesting that the cross and other Christian symbols should be removed from a church or churches, and replaced with Islamic symbols, to avoid offending Muslims. Unfortunately, there is little one can be sure is true when reading the news anymore, but if that’s true it’s a wonderful illustration of what we have in Paul’s words here. This woman is one who claims to be a follower of Christ, but is in reality an enemy of Christ. cf. Matthew 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
It is interesting the depth of feeling Paul had about this topic. Notice that in this letter which is entirely focused on joy and rejoicing, Paul is weeping (vs. 18) over the reality of false teachers and false teaching. It is not a trivial issue. False teaching and false teachers send people to hell! Not only that, but Paul says the false teachers are, themselves, headed for hell. Their end is destruction. In another place, he wrote, These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:9 NKJV).
So, there are those we should imitate (such as Paul), and there are those we should avoid (such as the false teachers Paul warned about here.) Brothers and Sisters, can you tell the difference?
These were people whose god is their belly – they were in it for what they could get out of it. Their glory was in their shame. The very things they took pride in and gloried in were the things they should have been ashamed of. And they set their mind on earthly things.
“Where do they live?” we might have asked Paul, and he would have said, “This world.”
But that is not the right answer.
Where do you live?
Our citizenship is in heaven. This would have been particularly meaningful to the people living in Philippi, for since it was a Roman colony they enjoyed Roman citizenship, with all the rights and privileges that went with that citizenship.
There are many today who think citizenship doesn’t mean anything. A great battle rages in the halls of our government, and on the campaign stops of those running for public office, over whether being a citizen is important or not. Oh, but the privilege it is to be a citizen!
I have a passport, which has my picture on it, and my name within. It tells all who see it that I am a citizen of the United States of America. I used it to travel to Rome, to Israel, to Turkey, to England, to Canada, and to the Bahamas. I showed it to the officials in those places, and they recognized me as a citizen of this great country.
In like manner, I have a heavenly passport. My name is written therein, and it tells all who would read it that I am a citizen of heaven. Jesus said, Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20 NKJV). By the way, when that verse says your name is written, it means that it is written forever. The Greek verb there is in the perfect tense, which Warren Wiersbe notes could be translated “it is once-for-all written and stands written.”
I may never see my name in lights, or carved on some monument wall.
It may never be listed alongside the heroes as history’s great deeds are recalled.
And if I search through the credits that roll ‘cross the screen, my name might never be found.
But there is one place, there is one page where it has been written down.
My name is written in heaven.
It’s written in heaven for eternity.
What on earth can compare?
It’s written in heaven and that’s all that matters to me
Oh, that’s all that matters to me.
Our citizenship is in heaven. Do you see it? This is in direct contrast to the end of vs. 19 – who set their mind on earthly things. The believer should mind HEAVENLY things, rather than earthly things. This does not mean we cannot enjoy the things of this earth, or that we shouldn’t mow our lawns or care for the things that make up our daily lives. It does mean that those earthly things should not be our focus, but that our focus should be where we really live – heaven.
I believe that the greatest sporting event in the history of American sports was the 1980 Olympic Hockey team victory over the Soviet Union team. Of course that’s a completely subjective statement. If you ask 100 people what was the greatest sporting event in history, you’d probably get 100 answers. But unless they mentioned the 1980 Olympic Hockey team victory over the Soviet Union team, they would simply be wrong!
The Disney movie entitled “Miracle” was filmed to tell the story of that hockey team. There is an iconic scene in that movie where Coach Herb Brooks is trying to get this ragtag bunch of college hockey players to play as a team. Coach Brooks had a habit of walking up to any one of the players at any time and asking them their name and who they played for. They would say something like, “Jim Craig, and I play for the Boston University.” They had, up until becoming part of this Olympic team, been on opposing teams and had built up intense rivalries against one another. This was apparent in their early exhibition games, where they didn’t play well together. After one such disappointing performance, Coach Brooks demanded that the players return to the ice after the game and he forced them to run a series of drills over and over and over. He would send them flying down the ice back and forth from line to line again and again. He would punctuate each of their agonizing sprints with reminders of how they needed to come together and get it together. This went on, at least according to the movie version, for a long time. The other coaches thought Coach Brooks had lost his mind and were trying to get him to stop. Still, he sent his now broken and hobbling players sprinting again and again. Finally, one of the players, Mike Eruzione, shouted out his name. Coach Brooks looked at him and asked, “Who do you play for?” “I play for, the United States of America,” he said.
It made all the difference in the world when those men got straight in their minds who they played for. And the same is true of you and me.
Where do you live? If you understand that your citizenship is in heaven, it effects everything else. Things of this earth fade in importance. Eternal things loom with significance.
Where do you live, my friend?
Paul went on.
What are you waiting for?
*… from which we eagerly wait for the Savior.* Oh my brothers and sisters, do you believe it? Jesus IS coming again. That is our hope… what we wait for. Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3 NKJV).
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV)
And to Titus, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13 NKJV)
In the Revelation we read, Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7 NKJV)
Actually, the return of Jesus Christ is mentioned in almost every book in the New Testament. Only Galatians, 2 John, 3 John and Philemon omit reference to it. Jesus IS coming again. And we need to keep that ever in remembrance.
We need to “eagerly wait” for it. Now that’s a neat word in vs. 20. It is found several other places in the For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. … Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. … But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:19, 23, 25 NKJV)
so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7 NKJV)
For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Galatians 5:5 NKJV)
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28 NKJV)
Now I think this verse speaks particularly of what will happen at the rapture of the church. The most complete description we have of that event is in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
When the rapture takes place, all believers will be “caught up” (that’s what the word “rapture” means) to meet Jesus in the air. Those who have already died physically before that day will burst from their graves, and those who have not yet died will rise without dying to meet Christ. And all believers will be changed on that day and receive a wonderful new body… a glorified body, like Christ’s resurrection body. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2 NKJV). What a day that will be – no more disease or sin… no more limitations of the flesh.
On that day, our sanctification will be complete, and we will have reached the goal line. On that day, He will transform our body and make it like His resurrection body.
There’s an interesting Bible study for you to pursue this week – read the gospel accounts and write down everything you notice about the body Jesus had after the resurrection. It was physical. He ate and drank. Some people think when we get to heaven we’ll just sit around on clouds and play harps. Hogwash. We will be everything there that we are here, but without sin and with all the perfection God originally intended. We will once again be as Adam and Eve were before the fall. I like to eat, and I plan on eating when I get there! I believe that the food and other enjoyments we have here are nothing compared to what we’ll have there. I’m even pretty sure Carl will find he loves coffee in heaven. Jesus’ body was a physical body. He ate. He drank.
But it was more than that. Jesus could be in one place and immediately disappear and be in another. We’ll have a body like that! It will be the Star Trek transporter on steroids!
On that day, our Savior is going to transform our sick, broken, diseased, tempted, foolish, fumbling, failing, stupid, out of shape, aging, bodies, into one like His. And he’s going to do it using the same power that enables Jesus to subdue all creation. In other words, the same power that will cause every knee to bow to Him whether they want to or not (2:10), will enable Him to transform these broken bodies of ours’ into glorious resurrection bodies like His!
I don’t know about you, but that makes me wanna shout!
If you have been born again, you have nothing to fear, and everything to look forward to. When we look at chapter 4we’ll notice that verse 1 starts out with the word “Therefore.” That famous question comes to mind, “What’s that therefore there for?” It’s there to remind us that because of all the truths in chapter 3 we can stand fast in the Lord. Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so STAND FAST IN THE LORD, beloved (Philippians 4:1).
We CAN live for Jesus. We CAN stand fast. We have NOTHING to fear. We have EVERYTHING to look forward to and rejoice in. This world is not our home. Our home is infinitely better. The things this world has to offer are not our prize. We wait for the Savior who will make us whole.
I like the account of D.L. Moody’s death.
“Moody had been declining for some time, and his family had taken turns being with him. On the morning of his death his son, who was standing by the bedside, heard him exclaim, “Earth is receding; heaven is opening; God is calling.” “You are dreaming, Father,” his son said. Moody answered, “No, Will, this is no dream. I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” For a while it seemed as if Moody was reviving, but he began to slip away again. He said, “Is this death? This is not bad; there is no valley. This is bliss. This is glorious.” By this time his daughter was present, and she began to pray for his recovery. He said, “No, no, Emma, don’t pray for that. God is calling. This is my coronation day. I have been looking forward to it.” Shortly after that Moody was received into heaven.” (James Montgomery Boice, Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 224.)
Oh Christian, where do you live? Get your mind around that vital truth, that your citizenship is not here… it’s in heaven.
And what are you waiting for? Are you eagerly waiting for the Savior? Does the impending rapture and all it promises motivate you at all? Get your mind around this amazing truth – you ARE going to experience the rapture, Christian, whether you are one who rises first from your earthly grave, or one who meets those in the air afterwards. All Christians will experience the rapture! Get your mind around it! Eagerly look forward to it!
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV)