I’m a citizen of the United States of America. Unfortunately, it’s something I too often take for granted. There are benefits to citizenship. Citzenship in the kingdom of God comes with certain benefits too. Here are two of them:
1. Delegated authority. In earthly kingdoms, the status of citizenship is necessary to identify persons who will be loyal to the king so the king can know with whom he can share power. In the Roman Empire one had to be a citizen to vote and hold political office. In Ancient Greece one had to be a citizen of their city-state to participate in the Assembly that met to make decisions regarding the affairs of state. In modern democracies one must be a citizen to vote or participate in governing the kingdom. This is not by mere coincidence. Citizenship helps identify those who are loyal to the king, and the king needs to know who is loyal so he can know to whom he can delegate authority.
It’s no different in the kingdom of God. Citizenship in the kingdom is reserved for those who have been born again (John 3:5-8) and have believed and confessed Jesus’ Lordship over their lives. (Rom. 10:9). One who is not born of the Spirit cannot hear the voice of the King who rules from the spirit realm. And one who has not acknowledged Jesus’ Lordship is not likely to obey what King Jesus orders. So, both are necessary. God is not parsimonious about sharing rulership with those who serve Him, but one must be a citizen to be delegated authority from the King.
2. Inheritance rights. The kingdom of God has both a spiritual and earthly dimension and is woven seamlessly into the fabric of realty. When one is born again, one becomes a citizen of the kingdom, with full privileges in both the spiritual and earthly realms and can begin to function in both. One who is birthed spiritually gains entrance to the spiritual part of the kingdom as well as the earthly part of it. Because the kingdom has a spiritual dimension, when a citizen of the kingdom dies he continues in eternal life in the spiritual realm of the kingdom known as heaven. By contrast those who are not citizens of the kingdom, do not inherit the kingdom at their death. Cf 1 Cor. 6:9 (“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”). Although they can live under the covering of the kingdom of God while on earth, at death they do not inherit, but are taken out of the kingdom. (Matthew 13:30, 49).
Too many Christians only consider their inheritance rights, never realizing that a citizen of the kingdom of God they can also share in the delegated authority of King Jesus. GS