The Holy Nation
Many people think that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality that will only be entered into upon one's death and resurrection. Although the Kingdom of God is spiritual and is not yet physically present on earth there are many parables, prophecies, and promises recorded in the New Testament concerning the elect's status as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Moreover, the scriptures clearly show that the Father's elect children who are alive today are subject to both the physical and spiritual laws of the Kingdom of God. See also Rom.14:17; Col.1:13.
A kingdom basically consists of four things: a King or Supreme Sovereign who rules over a territory having defined boundaries within which are citizens or subjects who are subordinate to the Sovereign's laws and governmental structure. The Kingdom of God fits this model: God the Father is its Supreme Sovereign, its territory is both the physical and spirit dimensions of existence, and it has physical and spirit subjects who are governed by God the Father's laws.
The Holy Nation
"But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession, so that you may openly speak of the One [the Father] who has called you out of spiritual darkness into his marvelous light. You who were not a people are now the Father's people; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I encourage you who are sojourners and aliens to abstain from lusts of the flesh which war against the spirit" (1.Pet.2: 9-10 Para.).
Although the elect are citizens of the Father's spiritual Kingdom, they are also citizens of a physical and spiritual entity that is defined in the New Testament as a holy nation. This nation is composed of the Father's firstborn sons of his new creation and is an extension of his heavenly kingdom, which is ruled by the King of kings, Jesus Christ. See 1.Cor. 15:25-28; Heb.10:10; Rev.1:1-6.
Because the scriptures show that the elect during the gospel age of salvation are citizens of the Father's holy nation and each citizen is called to fulfill certain responsibilities within his holy nation, it is extremely important to know and understand one's responsibilities as a citizen. In order to understand one's responsibilities, one must first know what the Father's holy nation is.
A Religious and Civil System of Government
During the time that national Israel existed under the rule of the Creator God's religious and civil governmental system, it was clearly understood how this system functioned and how it was to be administered. However, today, relatively few people understand how this ancient religious and civil system operates and almost no one understands how the spiritual Kingdom of God that is in heaven functions.
In order for one to understand how the religious and civil system of the Father's holy nation on earth today operates and how to fulfill one's responsibilities in this nation as a citizen, one must first understand what the Father's holy nation is.
The Father's holy nation began with the early church under the direction of Jesus Christ and the apostles (1.Cor.11:3). This nation is both physical and spiritual. It is physical because its citizens live in this world; it is spiritual because its citizens are subjects of God the Father who is sovereign of all that exists. Many people believe that a corporate building or organization with the name of God in its title constitutes the Father's holy nation, and that a person must associate with a collective group in order to be a citizen of the Father's holy nation; however, these beliefs are untrue and without biblical support. The only requirement for citizenship in the Father's holy nation is that a person be one of the Father's firstborn sons of his new creation.
The biblical record clearly shows that the governmental system which governs the Father's holy nation today under the direction of Jesus Christ is very similar to the one originally given to ancient Israel. This was the system that the early church was patterned after and is the system that will be established over all the earth after Christ returns. It is within this religious and civil system that each citizen of the Father's holy nation must function and fulfill the responsibilities to which they have been called.
The Father's holy nation is governed by his laws, precepts, and principles that are recorded in the biblical record. This nation has an organizational structure composed of spiritual leaders, ambassadors, and priests who fulfill various functions and responsibilities within the nation. Some of its citizens are given functions and responsibilities as elders, pastors, evangelists, prophets, teachers and other functions that are necessary in order to care for the needs of the elect and to carry out individual and collective works for the Father and Jesus Christ.
A major key to understanding what it means to be a citizen in the Father's holy nation and what the Father and Jesus Christ expect regarding each individual's performance within this nation is to understand that the functions and responsibilities of kings, ambassadors, and priests, apply to each of the elect to differing degrees, and that each function and responsibility and the degree to which each applies is dependent on some or all of the following things:
- Whether or not one fulfills a position of leadership within the Father's household such an elder, a pastor, or a teacher.
- Whether or not one is fulfilling the role of head of a household as a father, mother, or eldest child with siblings to care for.
- Whether or not one is an evangelist, or a prophet, or is sent to build congregations.
- Whether one is a part of a local congregation or is without fellowship with other elect.
Clearly, the degree to which one fulfills their function or responsibility as a citizen within the Father's holy nation is dependent on one's personal circumstances and the opportunities that one has to serve their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith and to perform a witness for the Father and Christ. Therefore, this study will focus on the definitions, functions, and responsibilities of citizens, kings, and ambassadors within the Father's holy nation in order to give an overview of how one can fulfill their obligation as a citizen.
CITIZENS OF THE HOLY NATION
The apostle Paul speaks of the elect's citizenship in the Father's royal household and his heavenly kingdom:
"Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph.2:19 KJV).
"Yet as to where we have reached, let us walk to the same rule, being of the same mind. Be fellow-imitators of me, brethren, and consider those walking this way, even as you have us for an example. For many walk, as enemies of the cross of Christ, of whom I often told you, and now even weeping I tell you that, their end is destruction, their belly is their god, and they glory in their shame, and they mind earthly things. However, our citizenship [Greek politeuma] is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil.3:16-20 Para.).
Make no mistake, as citizens of the Father's holy nation, each of the elect is to actively participate in the overall goals that he has set for his nation. Although not all citizens are given the same exact functions and responsibilities, all are kings, ambassadors, and priests within the Father's nation under the guidance of Jesus Christ.
In The Beginning
In order for the first citizens of the Father's holy nation (the early church) to perform their individual and collective responsibilities, each citizen was given physical and spiritual authorizations and powers depending on their specific need and function within the nation. These authorizations and powers made it possible for them to do a great work for God before they disappeared from the world scene as a collective entity.
In Paul's letter to the elect at Corinth he talks about the spiritual gifts that are given to individuals in order for them to fulfill their personal and collective responsibilities within the Father's nation:
"Now God gives many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same holy spirit which is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. The spirit displays God's power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church" (1.Cor.12:4-7 LPB).
Although there are many different kinds of special abilities given to the elect through the Father's holy spirit and certain individuals are made responsible for specific kinds of work within the holy nation, all spiritual gifts and responsibilities are given to help the entire nation accomplish the purpose for its existence. The following are a few of these spiritual gifts and responsibilities:
- Discerning of spirits
- Languages and language interpretation
- Teaching of Wisdom
"For to one is given by the spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; To another faith by the same spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of languages; to another the interpretation of languages: But all these work that one and the selfsame spirit, dividing [to distribute] to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ" (1.Cor.12:8-12 KJV).
Although there are many different kinds of abilities, authorizations, gifts, and powers that can be given to an individual, all are given for the benefit of the entire nation, each citizen of the Father's holy nation must actively use whatever they have been given in order to fulfill their personal responsibilities as a citizen and their responsibility to further the collective work of the whole nation.
"For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" (1.Cor.12:13-16 KJV).
Paul repeatedly stressed the point of unity within the Father's holy nation and the necessity for each citizen to diligently work to accomplish the common goal.
"If the whole body were an eye, where is the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where is the smelling? But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him. And if they were all one member, where is the body? But now are they many members, but yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness" (1.Cor.12:17-23 KJV).
God the Father has specifically called each individual that he wants to be a part of his holy nation (i.e., his holy priesthood, his royal household, the body of Christ) (Jn.6:44,65). Each individual who accepts the Father's call is just as important to him as any other individual that he has called.
"For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1.Cor.12:24-26 Para.).
Individual citizens must endeavor to have the proper love, behavior, and attitude and be supportive of one another in order to foster peace, harmony and teamwork among the citizenry. When this is accomplished, all of its members can rejoice.
"Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of languages. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with languages? do all interpret [Greek: diermeneuo, i.e., translate, thoroughly explain'?]" (1.Cor. 12:27-30 KJV).
When the Father calls individuals to become a part of his holy nation, he calls some to fulfill specific functions and responsibilities, he then gives these individuals the spiritual gifts that are necessary for them to fulfill their particular function and responsibility.
"And he gave some apostles; and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Until we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph.4:11-13 KJV).
When a person is placed into the body of Christ (the Father's holy nation) and is given a position of authority, a responsibility, or a spiritual gift, this position, responsibility, or spiritual gift is not given for one's personal aggrandizement or entertainment. These are given for the work of proclaiming the gospel and for the edification and enrichment of the Father's elect children who are being perfected in his law and way of life in order to serve him and all of mankind through his family and government.
Citizenship Today and The Future
Clearly being a citizen in the Father's holy nation today (1.Pet.2:1-10) and in the Kingdom of God after Christ returns (Rev.1:4-6; 5:5,8,10) is a a major part of one's calling; therefore, it behooves one to diligently strive to be a productive citizen. Some of the ways one can do this is through the study and practical application of the Father's laws, precepts, and principles through showing concern for the well-being of their fellow-citizens, through requests on behalf of their fellow-citizens to the Father, and through the giving of their substance when possible.
Regardless of whether or not one is able to fellowship with others of the Father's household and regardless of one's geographical location or personal circumstances, each of the Father's elect children are expected to fulfill their function and responsibility within the Father's holy nation to the Father, Jesus Christ, and their fellow-citizens.
Each citizen must have a righteous attitude and behavior that will benefit the nation as a whole and promote the nation's overall goals. Some of these goals are the follows:
- To help each citizen to grow toward spiritual maturity
- To prepare to help Jesus Christ rule this world after his return
- To show the benefits of following the ways of God
- To proclaim the Father's good news message concerning Jesus Christ and the soon-coming Kingdom of God
KINGS OF THE HOLY NATION
A king is generally one who inherits his position and rules for as long as he lives. The elect are inheritors of the Kingdom of God as a gift of the Father and will rule it for eternity under the Father and Jesus Christ:
"When the Son of man [Jesus Christ] shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt.25:31-34 KJV).
"Seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be you of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things. But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Lk.12:29-33 KJV).
There are many scriptures in the New Testament that speak of the elect being rewarded with important positions of rulership after Christ returns to rule the earth. Moreover, one reason the Father calls people to participate in the first resurrection is because he wants to prepare a people to fulfill positions of authority and rulership in his heavenly kingdom:
"Then Peter said to him. Behold we have forsaken all, and followed you, what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, you shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt.19:27-28 Para.).
After Christ returns everyone who has been called to salvation throughout the ages and has qualified to be given immortality in the Father's Family and Kingdom will rule the earth with Jesus Christ as spirit kings and priests:
"And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father" (Rev.2:26-27 KJV). See also Matt. 10:22.
"Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Rev.20:6 KJV). See also Rev.1:4-6; 5:5,8,10.
The King of Kings
Although God the Father is the Sovereign ruler of his kingdom (Rev.15:3), Jesus was born to be a king (Lk.1:26-33; Jn.18:33-37) over Israel and over other kings (Rev.17:14; 19:11-16). As the King of kings, Jesus also presides over the citizens of his Father's holy nation on earth. The scriptures clearly show that it is Jesus who is responsible for the care and protection of his Father's elect children as their king, elder brother, and high priest (1.Pet.2:1-5; Heb.2:10-12).
"Be followers of me, even as I follow Christ. Now I praise you brethren, because you remember the things that I told you and hold on to the traditions that I gave you to follow. 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 the Sovereign God" (1.Cor.11:1-3 Para.).
"And he [Christ] is head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col.1:18 KJV). See also Eph.1:19-22; 4:1-15; 5:23.
Kingship and Rulership
Clearly, after Christ returns, the elect will assume their respective roles as kings and rulers of the earth; however, until that time arrives the elect will learn how to rule their own lives and practice the government of God individually and collectively within the Father's holy nation, which is detailed throughout the Bible.
After the beginning of the early church, on the Day of Pentecost, the apostles formed the elect into an organizational structure patterned after the existing Levitical system with a formal council of the apostles and elders governing the church from Jerusalem. It is within this organizational structure that we see the elect of the early church functioning as the Father's royal household, his holy nation of kings, ambassadors, priests, and temples, being taught how to correctly practice his worship system and fulfill their commission to proclaim his good news message.
There are many easily understood scriptures that detail the positions of authority within the collective body of the elect. The following references show that there are elect who are authorized to rule within the Father's holy nation today:
"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (Heb.13:7 KJV).
"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. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honesty" (Heb.13:17-18 KJV).
"And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. Know you that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen" (Heb.13:22-25 KJV).
There are also many scriptures that show the kind of character, attitude, and behavior that one who rules the elect must have in order to serve in a position of authority and many instructions as to how to carry out these responsibilities. Because of the serious nature of rulership responsibilities within the collective body of the elect, the apostle James issues the following warning to those who would seek a position of rulership and service within the Father's household:
"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" (Jms.3:1 KJV). See also Acts 20:28-35; 1.Tim.3:1-7; 2.Tim.2:24-25.
The following are examples of rulership responsibilities that do not necessarily involve rulership over the collective body of the elect, but are nonetheless rulership opportunities and responsibilities:
- A husband's leadership as head of the family
- The wife's leadership and authority as a mother
- Single parents as heads of households
- An eldest child with siblings to care for
Regardless of whether one has a rulership responsibility within the collective body of the elect, in a family, or in one's work environment, each of the elect rule something in their life through which one can learn many valuable lessons of righteous rulership.
AMBASSADORS OF THE HOLY NATION
An ambassador is the highest ranking official representative of a sovereign ruler or of a nation that is sent to a foreign nation. An ambassador lives within a foreign nation as one who is authorized to speak for his sovereign ruler or nation to the foreign nation.
The apostles were clearly ambassadors of Christ. By extension, all the elders, evangelists, pastors, and members of the early church were also ambassadors because they were all representatives of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God. Notice what the apostle Paul said about being an ambassador:
"If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, because the old things have passed away. Clearly understand that things have become new. And all things are of God the Father, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; Whereas God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, on behalf of Christ we are ambassadors, as though God did exhort through us, therefore we, urge you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2.Cor.5:17-21 Para.)
"And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Eph.6:19-20 KJV).
Ambassadors of a Foreign Government
Jesus confirms that the Father's elect children are aliens on this earth and represent a foreign government (the Kingdom of God).
"If you [the elect] were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (Jn.15:19 KJV). See also Eph.2:19; Heb.11:13; 1.Pet.2:11.
The Father's ambassadors bring his good news message of awesome promises and wonderful benefits of a future containing safety, security, happiness, and prosperity under his loving care and protection. However, it has never been a popular message and those who proclaim this message have historically been persecuted and will continue to be persecuted until Christ returns, according to biblical prophecy. Make no mistake, the elect who represent the Kingdom of God will be hated and persecuted by this world's inhabitants if they correctly represent the Kingdom of God, because both the elect and their message are alien to this earth:
"I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I am not asking for you to take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Set them apart for your holy purpose through your truth: your word is truth. And as you have sent me into the world, therefore, I have also sent them into the world" (Jn.17: 14-18 Para.). See also Matt.10:34-35; chp.24; Mk.chp.13; Rev.5: 9-10; 11:15; 20:4-6.
Although the elect will be hated for the truth that they hold and proclaim, each individual within the Father's holy nation is called to similar responsibilities concerning being his ambassador to the world. And each individual is sent forth into the world by Jesus Christ as an ambassador just as his Father sent him into the world as an ambassador. The only difference between one individual and another as an ambassador of the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God is the degree to which one performs one's function as an ambassador. Therefore, it is important to explore what it means to be an ambassador to the world from God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God.
Paul and Philip
Paul and Philip are examples of the Father's elect who were in a high profile position as ambassadors for him, his son Jesus Christ, and his heavenly kingdom:
"And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8 KJV).
"I have kept back nothing that was profitable to you. Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more" (Acts 20:20-21,25 KJV).
"And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in to him, Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things that concern the Lord Jesus Christ. " (Acts 28:30-31 KJV).
"When they believed Philip's preaching concerning things of the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12 Para.).
Clearly, not everyone will be able to fulfill their responsibility as an ambassador in the same way as those who were in high profile positions in the early church. However, every citizen in the Father's holy nation will be able to fulfill the function of an ambassador at sometime. The question is only to what degree will one be able to fulfill this responsibility.
A Mission With a Warning
As Jesus was preparing his disciples to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God after his death and resurrection, he told them that he was sending them into a hostile world and warned them about the adverse reaction that most people would have to the message that they were sent to bring as his personal ambassadors:
"I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: therefore, be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you to the councils, and they will beat and scourge you in their synagogues; And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you, don't worry about what you're going to say, because it will be given to you at that time. For it will not be you that speaks, it will be the spirit of your Father that speaks through you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt.10:16-22 KJV Para.).
When asked about the events that were to transpire at the end of the age by four of his disciples, Jesus gave a similar warning to the one he had given to his disciples about the treatment that some of them would receive as his ambassadors:
"And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don't be troubled: for these things must happen For nations, and kingdoms shall
rise against one another, and there will be earthquakes in different places, and famines, and troubles. These are just the beginnings of sorrows. But be careful, because they will deliver you to councils; and beat you in their synagogues: and bring you before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall bring you, and deliver you, don't prepare what you are going to say beforehand: but whatever you are given at that time, speak: because you are not speaking it is the holy spirit" (Mk.13:7-11 KJV Para.).
A Light to the World
Although the world at large will surely come to hate and persecute those who diligently perform their function and responsibility as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, the Father expects each one of his children to perform their responsibility as his ambassador with enthusiasm. Jesus explains the elect's responsibility to represent the Kingdom of God and to impart their spiritual knowledge and understanding through the parable of the light to the world:
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket, but they put it on a lamp-stand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. So let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt.5:14-16 Para.).
We are all told to let our light shine, but what is our light and how do we let it shine? Our light is the spiritual knowledge and understanding with which we have been blessed and we let it shine by practicing it and sharing it with other people.
Obviously how bright one's light shines depends on many things, such as how much light one has, one's particular circumstances, talents, skills, financial resources, resourcefulness, and the dedication with which one does a work for God. As an ambassador of the Kingdom of God, each person must diligently strive to live according to the Father's laws, precepts, and principles and worship him as he instructs in his holy word. As the circumstance and opportunities present themselves, one must proclaim the Father's good news message, Jesus Christ as the Savior of humanity, and the coming Kingdom of God as the solution to humanity's problems.
The apostle Paul also spoke to the Philippians about one's function as a light to the world:
"Do all things without murmuring and disputing: That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Phil.2:14-15 KJV).
The following are two things that one can do in order to help one fulfill one's responsibility as a spiritual light to other people and represent the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God properly as an ambassador:
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1.Pet.3:15 KJV).
In order to sanctify the Lord (i.e., set apart for a sacred purpose) in one's heart, a person must be totally committed to one's calling and in order to be ready to explain the hope one has in the Father's promises that he offers through his son Jesus Christ, one must clearly know and understand these promises. This kind of knowing comes from diligent communication with the Father and the study and meditation on his word.
It is clear from the scriptures that all the elect are called to represent God the Father as citizens and ambassadors of his holy nation and his heavenly kingdom. Moreover, each of the elect is to represent his son Jesus Christ and proclaim his coming to rule the earth. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand the enormous implications of being a king, an ambassador, and a citizen within the Father's holy nation, because how one performs one's responsibilities in these three functions will impact one's future as an immortal spirit-being in the Family and Kingdom of God.
Loyalty and Teamwork
From what is recorded about how the early church operated and the relationship that existed between God the Father, Jesus Christ, and each of the elect, we see a working relationship built on mutual loyalty and teamwork: loyalty to the Father and Jesus Christ from the elect, loyalty to the elect from the Father and Jesus Christ, and loyalty among the elect to each other. Teamwork existed because each of the elect were fulfilling their various functions and responsibilities as an integrated part of a collective effort.
It was within this framework of mutual loyalty and teamwork that a great work was accomplished by the members of the early church as they fulfilled their functions and responsibilities as kings, ambassadors, and citizens of the Father's holy nation.
The foundation of loyalty within the Father's holy nation is godly love, trust, respect, and performance. All four of these things are necessary in order for loyalty to be established and maintained within the Father's holy nation, but the foundation of these four things is godly love. Without godly love, none of the other three can be established or maintained for very long. Jesus said the following about godly love:
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your life, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself " (Matt.22:36-39 KJV).
"A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another" (Jn.13:34-35 KJV).
Within these scriptures, Jesus addresses the need for godly love in the following order: 1) toward God the Father; 2) toward fellow man; 3) toward the household of God. Each of these areas of godly love are vital, in that, without godly love in all of these areas, loyalty to the Father, his plan for the salvation of humanity, and his children cannot be maintained, because godly love fosters trust, respect, and performance.
It is true that the Father personally calls each individual to the opportunity of salvation (Jn.6:44,65) and it is true that each individual is responsible to work out one's own salvation (Phil.2:12-13) and it is true that the scriptures show that each individual must perform a personal work for the Father and his Son. Although these individual aspects of one's calling are true, it is also true that the early church was established to perform a collective work.
Jesus spoke many parables about the performance of those who are called to become his Father's elect children. The parable of the sower and the seeds shows that some who are called do not endure the test of time and die spiritually, while others mature spiritually and perform the functions and responsibilities that they were called to perform exceptionally well (Lk.8:5-15). The parable of the servants who are given a certain amount of money to increase while their master is away illustrates that, when a person is called to become a member of the Father's royal household and his holy nation, that person should diligently pursue their calling and become a profitable servant as circumstance allow (Matt.25: 15-28).
Unless there is an individual and a collective mind-set of the citizens within the Father's holy nation of kings, ambassadors, and priests and an individual and collective realization of the enormous opportunity and responsibility that each citizen has within the Father's holy nation, very little will be accomplished on an individual or a collective level. However, with the concept and consciousness that each individual is an integral part of the Father's holy community that is destined to inherit his kingdom and rule the earth, great things can be accomplished under the guidance of Jesus Christ and through the power of the holy spirit.
The apostle Paul summarized the condition of teamwork that should exist within the Father's holy nation in his letter to the Corinthians:
"For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit. For the body is not one member, but many" (1.Cor.12:13-14 KJV).
Just as in the beginning of the Father's holy nation, each citizen has a function and responsibility within the nation and each citizen is an integral part of the whole (1.Cor.1:1-31). Some citizens are responsible for leading and shepherding their spiritual brothers and sisters or doing the work of an evangelist or a prophet, while others have equally important responsibilities that are necessary in order to accomplish the common goals of the Father's holy nation.
The scriptures show that all functions and responsibilities of kingship, ambassadorship, and citizenship within the Father's holy nation are inseparable from each other, because all must harmoniously work together in order to perform the holy nation's goals and to be an example of the way people should live in order to have happy, abundant, and productive lives and obtain eternal life as the Father and Jesus Christ intend. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each person who is a part of the Father's holy calling to diligently seek the Father's will in all matters concerning his holy nation in order for all citizens to benefit from this awesome and wonderful opportunity.
By B.L. Cocherell b6w12