Jesus Christ, the Holy One, Makes Us Holy

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2, 10) and it is the consummation of all the holiness in the Bible.

God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt to be His holy nation. However, they did not remain with God in their hearts. Jeremiah 2:3 says, “Israel was holiness to Jehovah” and the whole chapter speaks of their failures. God’s answer was to promise a new covenant in Jeremiah 31.

The new covenant was prepared by the coming of Jesus Christ. He was “begotten of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20) and was holy in His birth (Luke 1:35). He is “the Holy One” in His human living (John 6:69), in His death and resurrection (Acts 3:14), and in His ascension (Revelation 3:7). He is also God’s “holy Servant” (Acts 4:27).

In Psalm 16:10 David foretold that God would not allow His Holy One to see corruption. Peter applied this word to Jesus in Acts 2:27 and Paul applied this word to Jesus in Acts 13:35. Both spoke this concerning the resurrection of Jesus, that He was not left in the tomb. Both before and after death and resurrection Jesus is “the Holy One.”

In Jesus, the holy God came into humanity. This is a big step toward New Jerusalem. In resurrection He can become our life so that we may partake of His holiness. This prepares us to participate in the holy city Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ Becomes our Holiness

New JerusalemIn Revelation 21:2, 10 and 22:19 New Jerusalem is called the holy city. New Jerusalem, as the consummation of everything positive in the Bible, is the ultimate expression of God’s holiness through His people.

God is unchangingly holy; His plan is to impart Himself into His people so that we may be holy with Him. This post is the first of a series looking through the Bible at God’s operating to make His people holy. This series will concentrate on God’s people; it will not touch holy days, holy garments, holy places, etc. Even so, this series will touch only a minority of the verses about God’s holy people; you are welcome to add verses in the comments.

Regarding holiness, God’s basic word to us is in Leviticus 11:44-45 and quoted in 1 Peter 1:16, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” We shall see that this is not an outward imitation of His holiness but rather the result of God in Christ becoming our holiness.

In the Old Testament God’s people would be a holy nation to Him if they obeyed His words and kept His covenant (Exo. 16:5-6). In the New Testament we are a holy nation as a result of the life received in regeneration (1 Peter 2:9, 1:23). Eventually New Jerusalem will be the holy nation including God’s people from all the ages.

The verses in the prior two paragraphs clearly present God’s desire. New Jerusalem is called the holy city because God will fulfill this desire to make all His people holy! Praise Him.

Photo of Liège, Belgium, from International Space Station, courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center.

God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing (2)

New JerusalemHebrews 11:16, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says God “has prepared a city for them.” If God has already prepared the city, why don’t we have any realization of it?

The answer has two parts. One is that God’s view is eternal (prior post), outside of our temporal limitations. The other is that we are gradually growing into what He has done. New Jerusalem has not yet been manifested, but we can grow into some realization of it now.

In regeneration we received the divine life and became children of God. Now we need to grow. As we grow we realize and experience more of what God has prepared and provided for us. Here are some paths for our growth:

• First Peter 2:2 tells us to “long for/desire the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation.” Longing/desiring indicate we should not be passive.
• Hebrews 5 and 1 Corinthians 3 also couple milk and solid food with spiritual growth.
• Colossians 1:5-10 speaks of the word of the truth of the gospel which causes us to know the grace of God in truth. This, coupled with prayer that we “may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”, results in our walking worthily, bearing fruit, and growing.

The main lesson here is that we have to come, with prayer, to the Bible for nourishment, not merely for knowledge. We should pray for increased spiritual hunger and increased spiritual thirst. Pray this chorus:
__Feed me, Lord Jesus, give me to drink,
____Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst;
__Flood me with joy, be the strength of my life,
____Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst.
Even better, pray all the words of this hymn (words, music).

Our spiritual eating and drinking will bring forth spiritual growth including an increased realization and appreciation of New Jerusalem.

God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing

eastern Sierra near BishopHebrews 11:16, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says God “has prepared a city for them.” If God has already prepared the city, why don’t we have any realization of it?

There are two parts of the answer to this question. One* is that God’s view is eternal, whereas our view is temporal. If we ask one another, When did you receive the Lord Jesus? the answer from our side will be in the recent months or years or decades.

In contrast, God’s view is different:
• “God, being rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
• “those whom He predestinated, these He also called; and those whom He called, these He also justified; and those whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30)
According to Ephesians, God has made us alive, and seated us in the heavenlies when Jesus Christ resurrected and ascended. In Romans, God has already glorified us.

With God’s eternal view, He has already prepared the city New Jerusalem for those whom He has chosen, called, justified, made alive, and glorified. We need to see as God sees. Hebrews 11:16, God “has prepared a city for them” is in a chapter full of faith, not sight. “We walk by faith, not by sight/appearance” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Lord, cause our faith to grow (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

He has prepared a city for us. May we exercise our faith to say “amen” to what God has said. He has prepared and He will bring us on to New Jerusalem.

* The second will be in the next post.

God Builds Through Us

Hebrews 11:10, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says it is

“The city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God”

Since God is the Builder, what part (if any) do we have in the preparation of New Jerusalem? To answer this, let’s look at Matthew 16:18, where Jesus declares, “I will build My church.”

New JerusalemThe Lord is building His church, but He is not doing it directly from the heavens. Rather, He works through the many members of His Body. This is clearly seen in Ephesians 4:15b-16, “the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

In this verse (and the parallel Colossians 2:19), the rich supply for building comes out of the Head, Christ, yet it also comes through the joints of supply and through the operation in each member. The result is the building up of the Body of Christ.

The same principle applies to what God is doing to build New Jerusalem. God is the Builder of the city! Yet He is not acting alone. Rather, He is building through His people. Christ’s building of His Body through the gifted joints of supply and through His operation in every member is part of God’s building of New Jerusalem. Lord, keep me open to Your operation so that You can build through me.

Experience the Light of Life (2)

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:23 says about New Jerusalem, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

The glory of God as the light and the Lamb as the lamp signify that God in Christ is the light of the New Jerusalem in eternity. In the new city there is no need of the sun, the natural light, or any man-made lamp because God Himself will be the light, and Christ will be the lamp, shining out God to enlighten the entire city. This means that God in Christ is everything in the New Jerusalem. In the presence of the greatest light, all the lesser lights count for nothing. Outside the New Jerusalem there will still be day and night, but inside there will be no night (21:25).*

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God is in Jesus Christ who is our light of life (John 8:12) today. Thus, inwardly we can experience the light of New Jerusalem. This light gives us a sense about things and actions. The sense may be peace or joy, indicating that something corresponds with the light. Or, the sense within may be uneasiness or confusion, indicating something that is of darkness rather than light.

We need first to be aware of this light, this sense, within and then give heed to it. Gradually we learn to live according to this inward divine light. God’s word is a help in our learning to live in the light.

Psalm 119:130 says that the opening, or entrance, of God’s Word gives light. Day by day we need to enter into the holy Word. Then we will see and be in the light, which is God Himself through His Word. Therefore, we should not realize or do anything according to our natural ability or according to the education we have received. We have God as our unique light to apply to our life.*

When we read, we need an attitude of seeking to gain the light of life, not merely seeking to have some knowledge. We need to be nourished by spiritual eating, with praying, meditating, and singing. These are good ways to open to the light of life and experience a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* These are excerpts from the book Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM. See message 431 in online reading.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Experience the Light of Life

New JerusalemRevelation 22:5 says about New Jerusalem, “Night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them.” The sun is one of the natural lights created by God and a lamp is one of the artificial lights made by men. Neither of them are needed in New Jerusalem.

The light of New Jerusalem is God Himself in Christ Jesus. This is Revelation 21:23, “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

God is light (1 John 1:5) and Jesus Christ is the light of life (John 1:4). They are not two separate lights; God is in Christ and shines through Him today. In New Jerusalem the glorious God shines from within the Lamb-Lamp.

In the ancient times the outer court of the tabernacle was lit by the sun during the day and by the moon at night, and the Holy Place was lit by the lampstand. In the Holy of Holies, however, there was no sun, no moon, and no lampstand. The light in the Holy of Holies was God Himself in His eternal glory….Besides the New Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies in both the tabernacle and the temple is the only structure in the entire Scriptures that is equal in three dimensions. Similarly, the Holy of Holies is the only other place where there is need of no light other than God. This shows that in eternity the holy city will be the Holy of Holies. In the New Jerusalem God Himself in Christ will be everything to us. The Triune God will also be our light to enlighten us. Here we have the intrinsic essence of the New Jerusalem.°

Thank you Lord Jesus that You are our light of life today. Enlighten us more today.

° This is an excerpt from the book Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM. See message 431 in online reading.

Walk in the Unique, Eternal, Divine Light

Revelation 22:5 says about New Jerusalem, “Night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them.” New Jerusalem is and our Christian life today should be characterized by God’s shining.

New JerusalemThe light of the holy city is the unique, eternal, divine light in which the redeemed elect live and move within the city (Rev. 21:23, 25). In the whole universe there are only three kinds of light. First, there is the natural light, the sun and the moon, created by God. Then there is the artificial light made by man. Third, there is the real light, the genuine light, which is God Himself. Revelation tells us that in the New Jerusalem we do not need the natural light of the moon and the sun or any artificial light. This is because we have the real light, which is the source of all the light. This light is God who shines within Christ and is diffused over all the nations.°

We should not wait for New Jerusalem to experience God as light. John 1:4, speaking about the incarnation of Jesus, says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Later Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

When we receive Jesus as our life, we have the real light. This is the unique, eternal, divine light of New Jerusalem. Now we should walk in this light (1 John 1:5-7). When we have a sense of darkness or confusion, we need to stop a moment and pray, opening ourselves to the Lord: Lord, shine in me now as You will shine in New Jerusalem.

° This is an excerpt from the book Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM. See message 431 in online reading.

Photo courtesy of University of Iowa and NASA.

The Riches of God’s Glory

New Jerusalem is a city of glory, a city “having the glory of God
(Revelation 21:11).

New JerusalemEphesians 3 shows something of the development of the glory which ultimately will be in New Jerusalem. Paul prayed, asking the Father to “grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man…” (v. 16).

This strengthening is so “that Christ may make His home in our hearts…” (v. 17) which results in our apprehending the vastness of Christ and knowing His love (v. 18-19), which results in our being “filled unto all the fulness of God” (v. 19). The conclusion is “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever.” (v. 21).

The apostle prayed that the Father would strengthen the saints according to the riches of His glory. This implies that the glory of God can be wrought into the saints. In the doxology he said, “To Him be the glory” (v. 21), implying that the glory of God, which has been wrought into the saints, returns to God. First, the glory of God is wrought into us; then it returns to God for His glorification….The apostle prayed that God would strengthen the saints according to His glory, “but” eventually God’s glory, after being wrought into them, returns to Him along with the strengthened saints. This is the way in which God is glorified in the church.*

The glory wrought into us is first for glory to God through the church in this age. Consummately it is for glory to God eternally and for God’s glory to be expressed universally through New Jerusalem.

* A part of footnote 1 on Ephesians 3:20 in this online NT (© LSM).

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Living House Becomes the Living City

New JerusalemIn Genesis 28 Jacob had a dream and he named that place Bethel, which means house of God. Then the tabernacle was the house of God (Mark 2:26) and later the temple was the house of God. The temple was in the city of Jerusalem but was much smaller than the city.

Both tabernacle and temple were physical pictures. Today the house of God is a living house, the church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the Son of God and the great Priest over this house (Hebrews 3:610:21). This house is not a physical building but is composed of all God’s New Testament people.

The house of God today is built by Jesus Christ growing in us (Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Peter 2:2-5). At the end of the Bible we do not find the term house of God because the house has grown to become the city of God:
 the city whose Architect and Builder is God (Hebrews 11:10)
 the city which God has prepared (Hebrews 11:16)
 the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22)
 the city of God, New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12)
 the holy city, New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2)

Colossians 2:19 declares that when we hold Christ the Head, who in verse 17 is the reality of all positive things, all the Body is richly supplied and knit together and thereby grows with the growth of God. Lord, keep me holding You as my Head every day that we may be richly supplied for growth in You.

This song expresses a longing for the Lord to grow in us.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: God Manifested in Humanity

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is a living city and the consummation of all the spiritual blessings we have in the New Testament.

In 1 Timothy 3:15-16 Paul says, “I write that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth. And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh…”

The house of God today is a living house, the church of the living God. This house will grow to the city of God, New Jerusalem.

The sentences above from 1 Timothy are joined by And.* And ties the house of God to the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh. The New Testament begins with this manifestation, as seen in the early part of John 1 and in 1 John 1:1-3. This manifestation continues with the church as the house of the living God.

The New Testament manifestation of God consummates in New Jerusalem. The city has the glory of God; the glory has been wrought into the city. It is the ultimate manifestation of God.

We cannot say that the city is “God manifested in the flesh” for our fallen, sinful flesh will have been eliminated by our transfiguration at the Lord’s return (Philippians 3:21). However, we can say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in humanity. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17, 30) when He returns, thereby allowing New Jerusalem to fully manifest God’s glory. Praise Him!

* Although And often does not appear in English Bibles, it is clearly in all Greek texts from which our English New Testaments are translated.

New Jerusalem is a Living, Spiritual City

New Jerusalem is a living city. It is the eternal expansion of the house of the living God—a composition of the Triune God and all God’s people.

Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” All the New Testament blessings are spiritual, including our participation in God’s New Testament building (Ephesians 2:22) which consummates in New Jerusalem.

The blessings in Ephesians 1 are both spiritual and heavenly, and New Jerusalem is both spiritual and heavenly. One day the city will “come down out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2). From that time it will be on earth but it will still have the heavenly nature, not an earthly nature.

New JerusalemThe spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1 include:
• God’s choosing and predestinating us,
• Christ’s redemption and abounding grace,
• The Spirit’s sealing and pledging,
• God’s revealing of His will (His eternal purpose) and His giving us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Jesus Christ.
All of these blessings are on the path to New Jerusalem.

God’s choosing and Christ’s redeeming were accomplished without any effort on our part. Now we need to receive forgiveness and grace, to cooperate with the Spirit’s operation in us, and to join in the prayer of verses 16-23 by asking for a spirit of wisdom and revelation and by asking for the eyes of our heart to be enlightened.

May we all see and experience more of our Lord Jesus Christ, more of the hope of God’s calling, more of the riches of God’s glory, and more of the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us who believe. May our seeing extend from our current Christian life all the way to New Jerusalem.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo of Venus (upper right) crossing the sun, courtesy of NASA.

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