New Jerusalem is a Living City, a City of Life

New JerusalemFrom Matthew to Jude God’s building is the Triune God as life working in His people to build us together. New Jerusalem, the consummation of this New Testament building, is the same; it is God and His people built together. It is not composed of physical materials. John tells us,

I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

An angel told John that the city coming down from God is

The bride, the wife of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:9-10)

This is the clearest word in Revelation that New Jerusalem is a living entity. The bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is not a material city. The Lamb’s bride is a living city to match Him who is life. Furthermore, in Revelation 19:7 and 22:17 we read,

Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
The Spirit and the bride say, Come! 

The wife of the Lamb has made herself ready and she speaks one with the Spirit. These also are clear statements that the wife, New Jerusalem, is a living entity, not a city constructed with physical materials.

Since New Jerusalem is a city built in life, let us give ourselves to Jesus Christ our life and to His growth in us. The apostle Paul was laboring intensively to present every Christian full grown in Christ (Col. 1:27-29). Through his epistles in a sense he is still laboring; let us labor with him. Our advance to full growth in Christ is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo of Ireland by Toby Shelton.

Freed from Self for God’s Building Work

Ephesians 2:22 speaks of our “being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” and 1 Peter 2:5 says that we “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” This spiritual building comes out of our growth in life, the eternal life we received in regeneration (see related posts).

Matthew 16 and Luke 14 show the other side of the coin: if we love our soul-life and do not take up our cross, then we cannot participate in God’s New Testament building work. In Matthew the Lord speaks of His building of the church and in Luke He gives an example of a man building a tower.

In both chapters the Lord instructs us to deny ourself and take up our cross. We have been crucified with Christ and baptized into His death (Romans 6:3-6); this is the spiritual fact and our spiritual history. Now, we need to cooperate to apply this fact to our daily living.

We apply this fact by the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) in our spirit. In Romans 8:13 we by the Spirit we put to death the practices of our body. This is equal to Galatians 5:24-25 where we crucify the flesh that we may live and walk in the Spirit.

New JerusalemDenying our self for God’s building is expressed in a hymn (words music) which begins:
__Freed from self and Adam’s nature,
____Lord, I would be built by Thee.

This hymn concludes by looking toward New Jerusalem:
__In God’s house and in Thy Body
____Builded up I long to be,
__That within this corporate vessel
____All shall then Thy glory see;
__That Thy Bride, the glorious city,
____May appear upon the earth,
__As a lampstand brightly beaming
____To express to all Thy worth.

Related posts:
We Have the Life Supply for the NT Building
We Grow into Christ for His Building
Holding Christ, We Grow unto Building Up
Let’s Go On to Maturity for God’s Building

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The words of the hymn are © by Living Stream Ministry.

Knowledge Puffs Up, But Love Builds Up

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 8:1b makes a clear distinction between knowledge and love, saying, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” This love originates from God (1 John 4) and, as regenerated people, we love not with our natural love but with the love of God which is in us (4:16).

The knowledge in 1 Corinthians 8 is natural. It may come from our education, upbringing, or society, or it may be self-generated ideas and conclusions. All such knowledge (in contrast to that which proceeds from the Lord’s shining into us) is soulish and not of the Spirit. That is why it cannot build up.

God’s love is in not soulish but spiritual, and is intimately related to God’s life. When we supply God’s love and God’s life to other Christians, we build up the Body of Christ. This is the New Testament building work. Ephesians 4:16 says our growth in Christ “causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” Jude 20-21 says,

You, beloved, building up yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Here the mutual building up of the believers, praying in the Spirit, and the love of God are tied together. These three aspects of our Christian life all bring us toward the second coming of the Lord Jesus. That time will be the greatest mercy to us and a time when we will enter a fuller experience of eternal life than we have today.

The Lord’s second coming with His mercy and the fullness of eternal life, plus His reigning and many other blessings, will bring us further onward toward New Jerusalem. Let us echo Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

We Are Growing and Being Built Together

The prior post touched 1 Corinthians 3. Ephesians 2 is another chapter about God’s New Testament building; verses 19-22 have many rich points about this building:

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.

New Jerusalem“In whom” (twice) and “in the Lord” tell us that the building is in Christ Jesus Himself and the building work takes place in Him. The dwelling place of God is in Christ Jesus, who is the embodiment of God (Colossians 2:9).

It is of God (not of ourselves) that we also are in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30) and fellow citizens and members of His household.

Christ Jesus Himself is also the cornerstone and He is the foundation laid by the apostles.

“You also are being built together” reminds us that the building work involves us as members of Christ’s Body. “Being built” (twice) and “being fitted together” show that the building work is in progress now.

“Growing” declares that the temple in the Lord is a living building. It is composed of the living God and all who have been made alive with eternal life by receiving Jesus Christ.

We are being built together “in spirit.” This is our human spirit regenerated (John 3:6) and indwelt by the Spirit of God. It is in this mingled Spirit/spirit that we live and walk (e.g. Galatians 5:25). For more, see Living in the Mingled Spirit.

Photo by Rhea S. Rylee, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

Receive the Word of God by Prayer

New JerusalemGod’s New Testament building work is in progress now. Acts 20:32 tells us that the word of God’s grace is able to build us up. Ephesians 6:17-18 presents a way to take this word of grace:

And receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints.

According to these verses, we receive the word of God by means of prayer, praying in spirit. It is good for us to pray audibly, following this pattern in Psalm 119. While we read the Bible, we pray, and we pray using the words of the Bible. This could include:
+ repeating phrases or words
+ using phrases in prayer for ourselves or others
+ giving thanks for what we have read
+ singing parts of what we read
+ declaring portions that touch us
+ praising God for what is in His word
+ reciting a verse through the day

The intent of this praying, praising, and thanksgiving is not to learn more (that can be done at another time of day). The intent here is to be nourished (Matthew 4:4), to become joyful (Jeremiah 15:16), to be graced (Acts 20:32).

God’s present building work consummates in New Jerusalem. As we partake of His word for nourishment and grace, His word works to build us together. This building work keeps us on the path to New Jerusalem.

More:
• select Pray-Reading the Word in this alphabetical list
• Pray-read the Word of God to be Spiritually Nourished

Photo by Jay Martin, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

The Grace of Jesus Christ is with Your Spirit

New JerusalemJesus said, “I will build My church” and He made us living stones for this building. Acts 20:32 says, “And now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who have been sanctified.”

Building up does not refer to strengthening me as an individual believer. Rather it refers to our being joined/fitted/united/tied/knit* together in the body of Christ.

In the prior post, coming to Jesus (John 5:39-40; Hebrews 4:16) is a key to experiencing the word of God’s grace for our building up. Another key is our human spirit. Consider these verses:
• Hebrews 10:29 “…the Spirit of grace.”
• Galatians 6:18  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers.”
• Philippians 4:23  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
• 2 Timothy 4:22  “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

The Spirit of grace conveys grace to us. This divine Spirit made our human spirit alive when we were born again (John 3:5-6). Because this Spirit of grace is now one with our spirit (Romans 8:16), grace is with our spirit.

Grace supplies us for the New Testament building work. To know this grace, we must know our human spirit. We can pray simply, “Lord Jesus, cause me to know my spirit. Bring me to realize and appreciate the grace which is with my spirit. Grace me for Your building work. Thank You, Lord.

See also The Secret of the Christian Life—Living in the Mingled Spirit.

* Various translations in Ephesians 2:21 and 4:16, thanks to biblehub.com

Let Us Keep the Feast

We continue looking eating through the Bible from the garden of Eden to New Jerusalem. Exodus 12:14-15 say, “And this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall keep it as a feast to Jehovah; throughout your generations as a perpetual statute you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread…”

Christ is our feastFirst Corinthians 5:8, referring to the Passover feast says, “let us keep the feast…with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” To keep the feast for seven days is not only an Old Testament practice; it is also something for us in the New Testament.

In the Bible seven indicates completion. In regard to the feast of Passover, seven days indicates our entire life. For our whole Christian life we should feast on Jesus Christ, who is the unleavened bread for us to live a sinless life. He is the one without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and who committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22). He is the one who supplies us to overcome sin.

In Romans 7 we are trapped under sin but in Romans 8:2, “the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” This freeing law of the Spirit is not outside us but rather is a innate property of the Spirit who is in us (v. 9-11).

Romans 8:9 and 8:11 both say, “if the Spirit dwells in us.” The Spirit in us is a fact; this same Spirit dwelling, living, being at home in us is conditional. When we feast on the Lord Jesus as our heavenly manna every day, we cooperate with the Spirit’s desire to live in us and are empowered to overcome sin.

Let us keep the feast! In New Jerusalem we will not have the problem of sin but we will keep the feast there for eternity.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

To God Be the Glory

New JerusalemThe prior post, from Stefan, is about the church as a miniature of New Jerusalem, having God’s presence, God’s ruling, the supply of life, and God’s light.

The church as a miniature of New Jerusalem also has God’s glory. In Ephesians 3:21 Paul exclaims, “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever. Amen.”

This glory to God in the church is the outcome of the steps included in Paul’s prayer, which should also be our prayer. First, we bow our knees to the Father (v. 14), expressing our dependence on Him. “Our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). Second, we ask for strengthening through His Spirit that we may live in our inner man (v. 16). We do not want to live in our self, but it is only “by the Spirit” that we can put to death our old ways (Romans 8:13).

Third, we open to Christ for His making home in our hearts (v. 17). We can take time to open specific areas of our heart to Him—for example, the way I do this, or my attitude toward that person, or my reactions in a certain situation. Fourth, we seek more rooting and grounding in love (v. 17), by asking in prayer and by letting the Word take root in us (the parable of the sower).

Fifth, we coordinate with all saints to lay hold of the vastness of Christ (v. 18). Bible study with others is a good way to do this. This summer college students, in the Christian Students club I support, are reading a chapter of the Bible daily and texting to their companion(s) something that touched them. Sixth, we realize Him as the surpassing love and we open further to be filled unto all the fullness of God (v. 19).

We should pursue these steps in Ephesians 3:14-21. Yet, at the same time we realize that these are not accomplished by our effort but by “the power which operates in us” (v. 20). The result is “to Him be the glory in the church” now and in New Jerusalem eternally.

God’s Slaves Serve in the Mingled Spirit

New JerusalemRevelation 22:3 says, “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Jesus Christ purchased us as slaves (Revelation 5:9) and made us priests to God (Revelation 1:5-6).

The prior post has a few verses about serving as priests. Here are two more:
• “For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God” (Philippians 3:3a)
• “For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son” (Romans 1:9a)
These two verses use the Greek word for serving as a priest. In Romans Paul says, “my spirit,” clearly referring to his human spirit and not to the Holy Spirit. Our service to God is in the mingled spirit—the Spirit of God united in life with our human spirit.

Here are two more verses that combine the two spirits.
• “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6b)
• “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16)

These verses show that our serving God and the Lamb is not merely outward activity. Our activity needs to spring from love for the Lord and living one with the Spirit in our spirit. In Revelation 2:1-7 the church in Ephesus was very active (v. 1-3) but the Lord had one thing against them: they had left their first (first not only in time but also in rank; best) love (v. 4). They needed to repent, to come back to this love (v. 5). Then they could do the first works (v. 5), the works that flow out of loving the Lord supremely.

May I, and each of us, have a daily turn to the best love for the Lord that we may serve Him in the best way now, the way that we will serve in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Related Posts

The Triune God in Revelation 22
Living in the Mingled Spirit

 

Receive the Promise of the Spirit

needleworkAnd there will no longer be a curse” (Revelation 22:3). This blessing in eternity is an outcome of Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. However, God’s goal is not merely to save us from sin and death, but to bring us into Himself. The history of Israel is a picture of this—they were brought out of Egypt but God’s goal was to bring them into the good land. It is the same with us—we come out of death so that we can come into life.

Redemption from the curse in Galatians 3:13 is for the blessing of the Spirit in 3:14. Together, these verses say, “Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law…In order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

This blessing, also mentioned in Galatians 3:8, was promised in Genesis 12:3. The blessing comes to us “in Christ Jesus,” we received it “through faith,” and it is “the Spirit.” This blessing is not in the material realm but is the Triune God Himself.

At the time we first believed, our spirit was “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6). Now this Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16), dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16), bountifully supplies us (Philippians 1:19), and much more.

Our position in Christ Jesus and the blessing of the Spirit continue into eternity. In New Jerusalem we will still be receiving the Spirit as the river of water of life flowing out of the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1). The Triune God flowing to us in New Jerusalem is the eternal realization of the blessing promised to Abraham long ago.

Related Posts:

The Spirit with Our Spirit
The Spirit, the Bountiful Supply
A River of Water of Life

The Foretaste of Our Inheritance

The Spirit, our foretaste of New JErusale, our inheritanceHebrews 9:11-15 tells us that Christ, through His own blood shed on the cross, entered once for all into the heavenly holy of holies, obtaining an eternal redemption. By this He became Mediator of a new covenant, so that we might “receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that, when we heard and believed the word of the truth, the gospel of our salvation, we “were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance.” The word “pledge” means an advance partial payment guaranteeing the later full payment. It is also translated deposit, guarantee, earnest, down payment.

The promise written in Hebrews 9 is confirmed by the Spirit in our spirit. The Spirit in us is a deposit guaranteeing the riches of the full eternal inheritance ( ). This living deposit is smaller in quantity but identical in quality to the full inheritance. Therefore, what we experience of the Spirit in this age is a foretaste of what we will experience in New Jerusalem.

The believer possesses already in reality, though but in part, the life of the future; the inheritance of the present and the inheritance of the future differing not in kind but only in degree, so that even now we have the life and blessedness of the future in the way of foretaste.*

New Jerusalem is our eternal inheritance. New Jerusalem is also our present possession to be enjoyed now by means of the Spirit in our spirit. For more on the Spirit in our spirit, I recommend The Secret of the Christian Life—Living in the Mingled Spirit.

*S. D. F. Salmond, The Epistle to the Ephesians, in W. R. Nicoll (ed.) The Expositor’s Greek Testament; original by Hodder and Stoughton, 1903; reprint by Eerdmans, 1976.

Righteousness and Peace in the Holy Spirit

Second Peter 3:13 declares that “according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” This prevalent righteousness causes peace throughout the new creation.

righteousness is by faith in ChristPeace is the fruit of righteousness; turmoil and fighting are the result of unrighteous-ness. “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). At present, the kingdom of God is not openly manifested, but is “in the Holy Spirit” who is one with our human spirit (Romans 8:16). The kingdom of God here is the present church life, in which we receive all believers because God in Christ has received them (Romans 15:7).

In this kingdom life righteousness is first, peace follows, and joy is the result. This righteousness is not our own striving to be proper, which results in the repeated failures and condemnation described in Romans 7. Rather, this righteousness comes from the Spirit with our spirit.

A principle of the gospel is “the righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). This is righteousness imputed to us by God in response to our believing (Romans 3:21-22). Then we can live out this righteousness, as stated in Romans 8:4, “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit.” Such a living is based on what Christ has accomplished on the cross (Romans 8:3) and on Christ as life in us daily. This righteousness, universally spread and openly manifested, will dwell in New Jerusalem and in the whole new creation.

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