OUR CONVERSATION IS IN HEAVEN
By John C. Carpenter
The apostle Paul wrote believers in Christ in Philippi: Brethren, be
followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often,
and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly,
and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation [our true community and citizenship] is in heaven;
from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto
his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Phil 3:17-21). Many believers
in Christ are wrongly focused on a temporal, earthly, worldly life, and not on an eternal, spiritual, and heavenly life. In our busy,
materialistic world, focusing on eternal life is often difficult for the believer in Christ. Work, family, illness, responsibility
and a hundred other things, are antithetical to thinking and behaving with spiritual and heavenly priorities. The Holy Scriptures
make it clear, though, that the believer in Christ is nothing more than a temporary stranger and pilgrim on this earth. If you trust
what you read in the holy scriptures, believers have a heavenly citizenship, and should be looking only for our Savior, the Lord Jesus
Christ, who makes that heavenly citizenship possible.
BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD
The apostle Paul personally knew what
the believer's true focus should be. Paul told believers in Rome, And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your mind [understanding], that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom 12:2). The
apostle James also taught, Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship [fondness] of the world is enmity [hostile
to, opposes] with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4). The apostle John clearly
instructs us, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not
in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father,
but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16). Jesus warns us that seeking our own will, doing our own thing, and loving our own life, can
and will cause us to lose it: He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto
life eternal (John 12:25).
I BESEECH YOU AS STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS
Believers in Christ are destined not for a visible, worldly
life, as we experience now, but for an unseen, eternal life in the presence of Jesus Christ and God the Father. As the scriptures
teach, we should consider ourselves as aliens and foreigners to this current life, as individuals who are on this earth temporarily.
We should strive to not get entangled with the world's worldliness. Peter instructs us about this: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as
strangers [alien resident, foreigner] and pilgrims [an alien alongside, a resident foreigner], abstain from fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul (1 Pet 2:11). Referring to Israel, the author of the letter to the Hebrews explained: These all died in faith, not
having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they
were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they
had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire
a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Heb
11:13-16). Like Paul, believers in Christ are often torn between their momentary life of service on this earth and their desire to
be eternally with Christ. Paul explained his conflict in this regard when he wrote Philippian believers, For to me to live is Christ,
and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait
betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ [eternally]; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh[temporarily] is more needful for you [Philippian believers] (Phil 1:21-24). Sadly, many believers are also in a strait between our
earthly lives and our eternal lives.
HOPE TO THE END FOR THE GRACE THAT IS TO BE BROUGHT UNTO YOU
We can learn much about
what the believer's proper attitude and focus should be by examining the attitudes and focus of biblical characters.
In the Old
Testament, Job revealed his eternal focus: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the
earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes
shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me (Job 19:25-27). Definitely looking to the future, the prophet
Ezekiel prophesied about the temple that will be present in Jerusalem during the millennial reign of Christ: And the gates of the
city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi.
And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan.
And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate
of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate
of Naphtali. It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there (Ezek
48:31-35). The heart of the prophet Isaiah clearly longed for the future presence and salvation of God when he prophesied, Oh that
thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting
fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy
presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. For
since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what
he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee
in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved (Isa 64:1-5). Micah prophesied
about the future house of the God of Jacob in Jerusalem: And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain
of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall
go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Micah 4:2).
In the New Testament, the author of the book of Hebrews
referenced Abraham's faith in God's future Jerusalem when he wrote, For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder
and maker is God (Heb 11:10), while the apostle Peter wrote Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end
for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). Throughout Scripture, those who know
and love God the Father look forward to and expect, without fail, the second appearance of Jesus Christ, and the salvation available
through faith in Him.
HAVE HOPE TOWARD GOD
For believers in Christ to focus on eternal life, at least one thing is necessary:
hope. But, Holy Scriptures are not slack in instructing and encouraging us to have hope. We are instructed to have hope toward God,…, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust (Acts 24:15). Paul wrote the believers in Rome, Therefore
being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace
wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation
worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad
in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Rom 5:1-5), and that the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly,
but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:20-21). As believers, hope in eternal life is a necessity for salvation:For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that
we see not, then do we with patience wait for it (Rom 8:24-25). For whatsoever things were written in the Scriptures were written
for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope of salvation and eternal life (Rom 15:4).
To Ephesian believers, Paul desired their enlightenment and understanding so that they may know what is the hope of his calling, and
what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Eph 1:18). Paul instructed the Colossian believers about their heavenly
hope when he wrote, We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your
faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye
heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel (Col 1:3-5), and then encouraged them to continue in the faith grounded and settled,
and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel [good news about salvation and eternal life], which ye have heard, and which was
preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister (Col 1:23). Paul also teaches that the source
of the believer's hope is Christ (1 Tim 1:1), and that the believers hope is regarding eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, has
promised before the world began (Titus 1:2). Peter explained to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia,
and Bithynia the source of their hope when he wrote, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his
abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible,
and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet 1:3-5).
THE FORMER THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY
Regarding our future with Christ,
new Testament apostles and disciples accurately and fully instruct believers in Christ what they should be looking for. The apostle
Paul wrote to his own son in the faith, Titus, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us
that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that
blessed hope [of salvation and eternal life], and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself
for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11-14).
To those who had obtained like precious faith, Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Christ, wrote, Seeing then that all these
things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto
the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet 3:12-13). The
apostle Jude further explained that our attitude and vision should be focused on eternal life when he wrote, Keep yourselves in the
love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 1:21). Writing to the Colossian believers, Paul
unquestionably establishes what the believer's priority should be when he wrote, Set your affection on things above, not on things
on the earth (Col 3:2).
Life on this earth is temporary, fragile, and fleeting, but believers must have patient hope, as the
apostle James explained: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth
for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14). True and faithful believers in Christ should consistently have their spirit,
mind, and body focused not on seen, temporal things, but on unseen, eternal things. Paul taught For our light affliction, which is
but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2
Cor 4:17-18). The revelation of Jesus Christ to the apostle John leaves no doubt what the future holds for the believer in Christ:And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. AndI John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard
a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his
people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be
no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev 21:1-4). AMEN.
THE CHURCH SHOULD SUBMIT TO ALL
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land
which the LORD thy God giveth thee (Exo 20:12).
And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that
standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from
Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously (Deu 17:12-13).
And Jesus came and spake unto them,
saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Mat 28:18-20).
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ;
and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3).
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear
of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ
is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be
to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your
heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With
good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive
of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your
Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him (Eph 6:5-9).
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for
this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all
things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever
ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Col 3:18-23).
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there
is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of
God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt
thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God
to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God,
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience
sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore
to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Rom 13:1-7).
exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings,
and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with
all purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well (1 Peter
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto
their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid
with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker
vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having
compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous (1 Peter 3:5-8).
Obey them that have the rule over you, and
submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:
for that is unprofitable for you (Heb 13:17).
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the
king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them
that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not
using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour
the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is
thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted
for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable
with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his
steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened
not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being
dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned
unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls (1 Peter 2:13-25).
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of
you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves
therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1 Peter 5:5-6).
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates,
to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men (Titus 3:1-2).