The Signs of the Times, vol. 21

The Signs of the Times, Vol. 21


April 4, 1895

“Citizenship and Ambassadorship” The Signs of the Times 21, p. 144.


[From a discourse before the General Conference Institute.] SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.1

“OUR citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20, R. V. This is the Lord’s statement concerning every Christian. Every Christian’s citizenship is in heaven. The Authorized Version is, “Our conversation is in heaven,” but that word “conversation” does not mean simply our words and the conversation which we have one with another in talking about neighborly affairs, or whatever it may be, but our manner of life, our course of conduct, our walk, is in heaven. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.2

Now, as our citizenship, the citizenship of every Christian, is in heaven, what has any citizen of heaven or of the heavenly government rightly to do with the political or governmental affairs of any other government or any other kingdom? In fact what has a citizen of any government rightly to do with the political concerns or management of any other government? SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.3

Many people who profess to be of those whose “citizenship is in heaven” are constantly involving themselves in the political workings of the governments of this earth. They profess to have a citizenship in heaven and yet they manipulate the affairs of the kingdom of earth. They profess to be citizens of the kingdom of God, yet they propose to regulate the affairs of the governments of men. But that is a thing that never can rightly be done. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.4

If a citizen of Great Britain should come into the United States, still retaining his citizenship in the government of Great Britain, and should take part, or attempt to take part, in the political affairs of this government, his action in that respect would be resented by every citizen of the United States. It matters not with what party he might wish to ally himself and work, they would not have it; they would say to him, That is none of your business; you do not belong here; you are a citizen of another government; if the laws of this country do not suit you, that has nothing to do with the case. The political systems of this country suit us, and if things do not suit you, just let them alone, or else change your citizenship from the government to which you belong, and bring your citizenship here, and then begin to discuss the laws and how they should be made and what they should be. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.5

You know that that is so. You know that that is the way that a citizen of another country would be treated by all the citizens of this country if he should undertake to manipulate, to control, or have any part in the political concerns of this country. That is not denying his right to live here; he may do that, but all do deny his right and his very citizenship in another country denies his right to have anything to do with the citizenship of this country or with the political affairs of this country. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.6

As the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, that itself, the very principle of it, prohibits him from taking part in any of the political concerns of any other government, even though it be the government of the United States. And that is so; it exists in the very nature of the case. It lies in the very principle of citizenship itself. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.7

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20. This is not simply the ordained minister, for all who receive the grace of God are to minister that; they are ministers of that grace. So it is written: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.8

So then, “we are ambassadors for Christ.” An ambassador is one sent, and accredited by one government as the representative of that government to another country. Now the principle of ambassadorship prohibits him from any interference whatever with the political concerns of the government to which he is accredited. If the British ambassador to the United States, or the ambassador from France or any other of these countries, should express an opinion upon, or take any part in, any of the political concerns of this country, his sovereign would be immediately notified that he was no longer an accepted person here, and would be called upon to withdraw him from the position of ambassador in this country. That has been done at least twice in my recollection. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.9

“We are ambassadors for Christ.” The people who are building up the “beast and his image” profess to stand in the place of and profess to be, ambassadors for Christ; yet they not only express opinions, but they lay down laws, they manipulate campaigns, they mold politics, and shape the whole political course of the governments among the nations and the people to whom they are accredited, and thus violate the first, the last, and every principle that is involved in ambassadorship. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.10

Here then are two distinct reasons given in these two plain Scriptures,—the same principle expressed in two ways,—which demonstrate that the course of these professed citizens of the heavenly kingdom, these professed ambassadors for Christ, is absolutely wrong. And our preaching the message and the warning against the worship of the beast and his image, against the evils which are simply the result of the violation of the principles here laid down—our opposition to that, our warning against it, must be one of principle, and not merely in theory, nor from policy. Unless our proclamation against it is founded upon principle and is loyal to principle, our proclamation will amount to nothing. If we hold in theory only that it is wrong and make the proclamation against it even in the words of Scripture and in practice ourselves violate the principle, our proclamation will amount to nothing. So that our connection with this must be with the principle and that in principle and in loyalty to the principle and that from the heart—not in theory, not assenting to it merely. The principles of Jesus Christ speak to the heart. They take hold of the heart and are of value only as they have hold upon the heart. If they do not have hold upon the heart, the man who professes these principles will violate them in his actions, no matter what his profession. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.11

Again: Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” John 18:36. If his kingdom were of this world, then for what kingdom would his servants fight?—For a kingdom of this world. For what kingdom would they contend? for what would they work?—For the kingdom of this world. Then the man who fights for a kingdom of this world, who contends for supremacy and power in the kingdom of this world, denies his connection with the kingdom of Jesus Christ, for his kingdom is not of this world. But that is what these men are doing who involve themselves in the political affairs of this world. They seek to take possession of the kingdoms of this world, to rule the governments of this world, to fight, actually to fight, for the governments of this world; to work to put themselves in places of position and relationship to the governments of this world; and, therefore, they proclaim with the loudest voice they possibly can that they are of this world and not of the kingdom of Christ at all. SITI April 4, 1895, page 4.12