December 2014 / January 2015 - Vol. 77
  people holding crosses
Citizens of Heaven 

by Corrie Ten Boom

[Paul the Apostle's Letter to the ] Philippians 3:20–21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

In being born again, we are born into the family of God, and there the Lord Jesus gives us eternal life. He makes us citizens of the kingdom of heaven. We already have that eternal life now, if we are children of God, whether we are aware of it or not.

A small foretaste of heaven
My father was very aware of it. If, for example, we had an unexpectedly happy evening through a blessed visit, a conversation, or beautiful music, he often said, “That was a very small foretaste of heaven, of the joy that we will experience there.” But he also saw everyday life in that glow of eternity. He said, “My name is on my watchmaker's shop, but God's name should actually be on it, because I am a watchmaker by the grace of God.”

I worked with my father for twenty-five years, and I saw that he was first a child of God, and then a businessman, and that he led a holy life in the workshop and the shop. Being citizens of a kingdom in heaven doesn't make us unworldly, because it says in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

But if I was just a citizen of the world, I would run the risk of becoming desperate; I can see that all around me. Atheism is marching across the entire world. The unclean is becoming more and more unclean. People say that there will be a nuclear war in the future. But that is the amazing thing. We know that the earth is the Lord's. You can't understand all this with your logical mind; it's the foolishness of God which can only be understood by faith.

Death does not rob us of our heavenly citizenship
I saw an awful part of a Nazi concentration camp, where bodies had been laid on the ground in a wash house. Those who wanted to wash themselves had to step over them. There I saw a little bit of the citizenship of the kingdom of heaven. It was the dead face of my sister, Betsie. There was a heavenly peace and joy to be seen.

As the Bible tells us, we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. “In my Father's house are many rooms,” the Lord Jesus once said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you.…And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2–3). Yes, from there we expect the Lord Jesus Christ as Redeemer. The signs of the times of the second coming of He who “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21) are very clear, so it could happen very soon.

Jesus will transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body
We know something of Jesus' body from what the Bible tells us. He could enter through closed doors. We read that about the gathering of the ten, and later eleven apostles. He ate and drank; He could travel great distances; He could make himself invisible. Just read the story of the road to Emmaus. But the most important thing was that Jesus' glorious body had no sin, illness, or death, and that He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. The purification already starts here, and so it must.

When John speaks of the second coming, he says, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). How? Looking to Jesus makes us mirrors of His love. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

When the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh was in England and rang at the door of a house somewhere, a little girl said, “Mummy, it's Jesus standing there!” Sadhu had looked to Jesus so much that he had received something of Jesus' appearance. I saw him myself when I was young, and I can imagine that Jesus looked like that.

The resurrection power of Jesus changes us
Yes, perhaps we can accept it of someone like Sadhu. But this text in Philippians 3:21 is written about you and me. Is that possible? By the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control. There is a resurrection power, which is so strong that Jesus can bring everything under His control, and that power is strong enough to change us small, insignificant, sinful people so that we will be like Jesus' glorious body. He will bring everything under His control; that is a wonderful future. Philippians 2:10–11 says, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Judge or Savior?
Will He be your judge or your Savior? Do you know that you are holy, set apart for such a wonderful reality? Paul writes, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). And you and I can say that too.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have made us citizens of heaven and that You will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like Your glorious body. Thank You, Lord, that the best is yet to come. Amen.

[This reflection was originally given by Corrie Ten Boom as part of a series of devotional radio broadcasts made for a Dutch audience beginning in 1966 and through the 1970s. The transcripts were later edited for written publication and copyrighted (c) 2008 by the Trans World Radio Voor Nederland en Belgie. The English translation is excerpted from the book, I Stand at the Door and Knock: Meditations by Corrie Ten Boom, published by Zondervan, 2008.]

Brief bio
Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) grew up in a devoutly religious family in Haarlem, Netherlands. Corrie's father ran a watchmaker's shop on the ground floor of their home. Corrie trained to be a watchmaker and in 1922 became the first woman licensed as a watchmaker in Holland. In addition to working in her father's shop, she established a youth club for teenage girls, which provided religious instruction as well as classes in the performing arts, sewing and handicrafts.

In May 1940, the German Blitzkrieg ran though the Netherlands and the other Low Countries. Within months, the "Nazification" of the Dutch people began and the quiet life of the ten Boom family was changed forever. During the war, the house became a refuge for Jews, students and intellectuals. The façade of the watch shop made the house an ideal front for these activities. A secret room, no larger than a small wardrobe closet, was built into Corrie's bedroom behind a false wall. The space could hold up to six people, all of whom had to stand quiet and still. A crude ventilation system was installed to provide air for the occupants. When security sweeps came through the neighborhood, a buzzer in the house would signal danger, allowing the refugees a little over a minute to seek sanctuary in the hiding place.

The entire ten Boom family became active in the Dutch resistance, risking their lives harboring those hunted by the Gestapo. Some fugitives would stay only a few hours, while others would stay several days until another "safe house" could be located. Corrie ten Boom became a leader in the "Beje" movement, overseeing a network of "safe houses" in the country. Through these activities, it was estimated that 800 Jews' lives were saved.

All ten Boom family members were sent to prison, including Corrie's 84-year-old father, who soon died in the Scheveningen prison, located near The Hague. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, near Berlin. Betsie died there on December 16, 1944. Twelve days later, Corrie was released for reasons not completely known.

Corrie ten Boom returned to the Netherlands after the war and set up a rehabilitation center for concentration camp survivors. In the Christian spirit to which she was so devoted, she also took in those who had cooperated with the Germans during the occupation. In 1946, she began a worldwide ministry that took her to more than 60 countries. She received many tributes, including being knighted by the queen of the Netherlands. In 1971, she wrote a best-selling book of her experiences during World War II, entitled The Hiding Place. In 1975, the book was made into a movie starring Jeannette Clift as Corrie and Julie Harris as her sister Betsie. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. (source)
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