A lot is being said about immigration lately and the debates will go on and on and on. (They are politicians you know) While everyone tries to figure out a way to rewrite the rules, lets keep in mind how the whole thing works. A person comes to this country and applies for citizenship, and after learning the language and completing the needed documentation, they become an American Citizen with all the rights of any other citizen. Where the rub comes in is when someone tries to cheat or go around the rules for citizenship. Basically, someone who tries to cheat is not willing to go through the process that all others have to go through and that disqualifies their right for citizenship. We seem to have a lot of that lately as people try to illegally gain whatever they can and try to “beat the system.” The system is set up that way for a reason and in reality we all are immigrants, except for the American Indian. I believe, like our motto, that our shores are open to all, but they must do what is required for their citizenship. No shortcuts. No cheating. Rules are rules.
In the Christian life we see ourselves as immigrants of another sort. When we hear of that place of true freedom and life eternal, we also have something that has to happen to receive that citizenship. For me, I realized I was lost without Christ and on my way to hell. At that point I knew I needed the freedom that had been presented to me and desired to receive this citizenship. I read what the scripture says it takes to get that freedom and then I had to decide if I was willing to do what it required. I took that step of faith and received the freedom I longed for and a spiritual immigrant became a citizen of the kingdom of God.
In the many years I have shared this same path to freedom with many people, some have accepted it and others have rejected it. Some have tried to cheat their way in and the end result has been drifting away from faith and the church. You may say, “David, do you think a person who drifts away from serving Christ is really not saved?” Let me ask you a question. When that person receives Christ and they are “new” what does that new look like? The Bible says they are radically changed!!! They don’t become someone you have to beg to come to church. They don’t become someone who can take God’s Word or leave it. Their personality is the same, but different as the old things pass away (or die) and the new things take residence. They have a desire to forgive others, to live God’s Word, to reach the world, to love others as never before, and to follow God’s direction, wherever He may lead. If those things aren’t evident, then the fruit of a “present” Spirit (as in Holy Spirit) is not evident. The Bible says if that fruit is not there, then their tree is not of the spiritual kind. Jesus said in John 15:4, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in You. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” As in our immigration system, there are definitely those who have tried to get this citizenship in heaven through cheating and going around the rules for citizenship. The fruit that is seen from their lives vividly shows that they are “Illegal Spiritual Aliens” and they actually believe they are “in” when they truly aren’t citizens. So, if you are trying to keep from letting Christ totally change your life, but you want to get to heaven, I have some good news for you. You can still make the cut by:
1. Admitting you are a sinner. Really admit it. I felt utter remorse about my sin and knew I was lost in that sin. It was the condition I was in and it wasn’t good. So know what you are and where you are coming from.
2. Confess your sin to God. You may say, “All of them?” Well, I confessed a lot of them and God brought them to mind for me quickly. The rest were taken care of by my confessional minded attitude at the time. Confess that you are a sinner and mean it!!!
3. Repent of those sins. Repent means to turn away from the direction you are headed and turn to God for forgiveness. It’s a total 180′ change. For me, it was a life that just drifted through like everyone else, but I knew there was something more, but I had to make a conscious turn to this new way of thinking. This is the tricky part for some. We think we can sneak across the border into God’s grace with just a little turn and then we turn back. Not so!!! You have to give up your citizenship here on earth and turn to a new country or a new way of thinking.
4. Believe in your heart that Jesus is the way to eternal life and that His Word is true and He forgives you. Ask Him to come into your life and surrender to His Will. You will do this by faith. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith.” God’s grace kicks in the moment you have that faith cry and give your life to Christ.
5.The rest is learning and growing and knowing more about the Savior. Here’s the part where we really can fail and fail bad. We get eternal life and go ahead and live our life knowing that when we die we go to heaven, but we don’t grow. Why does this happen? There are two faults here. One who is at fault is other Christians. Christians who are growing in the Lord forget that we are supposed to help new believers get on their feet and then turn them loose. The other one at fault is the new believer. The immediate invasion by the old self, known as the flesh, will try to pluck this new seed out of the ground so it won’t grow. Every new believer has a desire to pursue God, but they must act on that desire and God gives them the discernment and the power to do that very thing.
So! Are you an Illegal Spiritual Immigrant trying to get in to God’s Heaven by avoiding what must happen to get there. If you are then you need to own up to it and give your heart, really give your life, to Jesus in faith. You may ask, “when do I need to do this?” NOW!!
When the Lord comes for His people, all the reasons why you didn’t go through the process won’t mean a “hill of beans” because it will be too late and you won’t be on that flight. So, don’t get cozy in your avoidance and own up to the fact you may not know Christ at all, and you will not have citizenship in heaven if you don’t change that now.
1 Peter 2:11 says, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” Here’s my take on the whole thing. Don’t play games with God’s Grace. If you don’t really have it, then get it today. Then you will be a Legal Spiritual Citizen of a place known as Heaven!!!
The Pilgrimage continues…