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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Citizens of Heaven"

September 17, 2005

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It is by grace you have been saved, through faith. Ephesians 2:8

The Bible tells us how the Israelites entered the Promised Land. It wasn’t easy. The meandering journey took 40 years. They encountered many hardships in the desert. The greatest challenge came when the fortress city of Jericho had to be taken. Then the land had to be conquered.

The “promised land” for many Europeans and other peoples was the United States of America. Between the years 1892 and 1924 some 16 million foreigners entered through Ellis Island. It wasn’t easy for them, either. They had to pass physical examinations and meet other conditions. The fortunate ones were issued a “landing card” and were told through which door to pass to enter the new world.

The real “promised land” for God’s people is not Canaan nor the United States of America. It is the heavenly country toward which they are striving and in which they are citizens already. Saint Paul declares, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” He said it is the home from which “we eagerly await a Savior … the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

The key question has always been: How do we get admitted into heaven? Do we have to pass all kinds of tests and have a “landing card”? Must we make an arduous journey through the wilderness of this world before we can gain entrance? Those who believe in salvation through good works—through human effort and merit—say yes. But this is not what Holy Scripture teaches. Saint Paul clearly states, “By grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). He means the faith by which we rely completely on the saving merit of Jesus Christ. And what is the blessed result? This: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Spiritually speaking, there is for us no wilderness to cross, no Jericho to conquer, no Ellis Island to pass through. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our names are already recorded in the book of life.

PRAYER: O Holy Spirit, continue to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ, the only Way into heaven. Amen.

(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)

Today's Bible Readings: Isaiah 17-19    Ephesians 4

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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