The Course of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemOur Christian life begins with repentance and consummates with New Jerusalem. Although every Christian has had an initial experience of repentance, during the progress of our Christian life we might need further times of repentance.

It is sad that the New Testament has many examples of people who refuse to repent. The Lord rebuked multiple cities for this failure (e.g. Matt. 11:20-24), and large numbers in Revelation refused to repent (9:20-21) even when they knew they were under the judgment of God (16:8-11).

May we never be like those people. Lord, keep our heart soft to You every day. If we realize that we still have sin and sins, as we see in 1 John 1,and recognize that we are not sufficient in ourselves to serve the Lord, we will welcome His mercy. We are vessels of mercy, and God desires to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.”

Besides welcoming His mercy, we also confess our sins, exercising to be void of offense. This is our cooperation with His mercy. When we cooperate by confessing, we have boldness to come forward to His throne of grace, where we receive more mercy and find grace to meet every need (Heb. 4:16).

Thank God for His mercy to us that we may be vessels to contain and express His riches. This is for His glory. “To Him be the glory in the church” now (Eph. 3:21). And to Him be the glory in New Jerusalem for eternity.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Two Ends of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemThe New Testament begins with repentance and ends with New Jerusalem. These are the two ends of our Christian life.

The New Testament begins with a call to repent “for the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 3:2), “and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and “for forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3). When we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven and we also receive eternal life. These two steps bring us into the kingdom.

The New Testament ends with New Jerusalem; at the center of this city is the throne of God and the Lamb from which the river of water of life flows. Here the Lamb is a memorial of our forgiveness, the river is the divine life supply, and the throne indicates the kingdom.

Everyone who has been regenerated has had the initial experience of repentance. As we go through our Christian life, we might need more times of repentance. For example, Simon had believed and been baptized (Acts 8:13) but Peter exhorted him to repent. And Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians brought forth repentance among them (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord charges us to repent. This is to return to our best love to Him (2:5), to turn from false teachings and immoral actions (2:16, 22), and to rise out of deadness and lukewarmness (3:3, 19). These needs, or other actions which keep us from the Lord, require our repentance. This is part of our journey from initial repentance to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Gold of New Jerusalem is Spiritual

When John saw New Jerusalem, “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18). “And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (21:21). When we see these verses, we might think of natural gold. However, New Jerusalem is a spiritual entity, a city in resurrection. It is not built with physical gold.

“We ought not to suppose that what is divine is like gold or silver or stone, like an engraving of art and thought of man.” (Acts 17:29). Is New Jerusalem “divine”? Yes, it “comes down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10). Therefore, we should not suppose that it is physical gold.

James 5:3 speaks of gold rusting, 1 Peter 1:7 says that gold perishes, and 1 Peter 1:18 likens gold to corruptible things. New Jerusalem is eternal and does not rust, perish, or get corrupted. These three verses make it clear that the gold of New Jerusalem is not physical.

Gold in Revelation 21 signifies the divine nature, which is the basic element of the city. Second Peter 1 speaks about God’s wonderful provisions for our Christian life. Verse 4 says, “He has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature.”

By prayer, singing, praising, calling on the Lord, and diligently receiving the living word of God (Eph. 6:17-18, Heb. 4:11-12), we partake of the divine nature. This makes us divinely golden, corresponding now with the eternal nature of New Jerusalem.

Christ Magnified, Now and New Jerusalem

“Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, you love” (1 Peter 1:8). He is unsearchable, unlimited. However, He needs us to magnify Him to people in the physical realm. This magnification is to make Him visible in our living, to live Him in a way that declares His greatness. Surely New Jerusalem will do this, but the Lord desires magnification through us in this age.

New JerusalemMary was the first New Testament person to magnify God. She said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). The people in the house of Cornelius, after receiving the Holy Spirit, “magnified God” (Acts 10:46). Later, in Ephesus, “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17).

Paul said that his earnest expectation was “in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (Phil. 1:20). He could magnify Christ in every situation because, as the next verse says, “For to me to live is Christ.” Christ lived in Paul and was magnified through Paul.

May such living and magnifying become our experience also! Contributors to this seen in Philippians are praying for one another to be bountifully supplied with the Spirit (1:19), counting all things loss because of the excellency of Christ (3:7-8), rejoicing in the Lord (4:4), and letting our requests be made known with thanksgiving so that we have no anxiety (4:6). This is our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Where Does the River Flow Today?

In New Jerusalem there is “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1).

Where is this river today? The answer is in John 7. “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He said concerning the Spirit.”

New JerusalemThe river of New Jerusalem in Revelation is “of life” and this life is the eternal life of God. This is not a physical river but a spiritual river.

This river flows in everyone who comes to the Lord. To come is to drink. This drinking is spiritual: “we were all given to drink one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

How do we drink? The Lord invites us to come to Him. We can pray honestly and simply to Him, telling Him whatever is on our heart. First Peter 5:7 asks us to cast “all your anxiety on Him because it matters to Him concerning you.”

Isaiah 12:3, “Draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.” When we praise the Lord, we are drinking. And Isaiah 55:1, 6, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters….Call upon Him while He is near.” The Lord is rich to all who call upon Him; this is another way to drink the river.

The river of New Jerusalem is the same flowing Spirit we drink today.

Take Freely the Water of Life

 

 

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:2, 9). This marriage is foreshadowed by Christ and the church, presented in the context of human marriage in Ephesians 5. This relationship is in love. Here is a link to each post about this relationship in Ephesians plus a verse from each. The last four links are for a song about Christ’s love for the church.

New Jerusalem

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 1
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 2–3
“God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Christ.”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 4
“Holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ” for “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 5
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…that He might present the church to Himself glorious.”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 6:23
“Peace to the brothers and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 6:24
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Spoken to Ephesus in Revelation 2
“I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love”

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Spoken to Ephesus in 1 Timothy 1
“Remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things….The goal of the charge is love.”

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 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.”

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 2
“I was their Husband, declares Jehovah.”

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 3
“The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 4
“The bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 4

Here is the last verse of a song about Christ’s love for His wife, initially the church and eternally New Jerusalem. This part of the song begins with resurrection. Both the church and New Jerusalem are in resurrection because they exist solely in and with the resurrection life of Christ.

New Jerusalem“She beholds her Bridegroom…” This is like Hebrews 12:1-2, let us “run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” He is both the Initiator and the Completer. We are not capable of becoming the glorious church and city, but He will complete this process in us. Thank Him.

“His glory floods her heart.” This is happening today. In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our hearts to the Lord and “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit” (v. 18).

His open appearing in glory will be at His second coming: “they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). But His spiritual appearing is available to us now as we turn our hearts and look away to Him.

Eventually His bride will be raptured and then come down out of heaven, “the bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:9-11).

 

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 3

This is the next verse of a song about Christ’s love for the church as His wife. This love extends to New Jerusalem, His eternal wife.

New JerusalemIt begins with mercy and love. Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of our fallen condition but 2:4 declares the contrast, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” Through mercy and love, God made us alive together with Christ and raised us up together with Him.

Ephesians 2:7 tells us that God’s desire is that “He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The ability to produce this display out of our fallen condition manifests God’s unsurpassed wisdom and is through His grace, both mentioned in the verse and the song.

Certainly we can sense the love of God and must thank Him for this love, yet we are limited. We should expect, as in the song, that the fulness of this love is only comprehended by God.

This verse of the song ends with Christ laying down His life as a fragrant offering. The Lord spoke of this in John 10:11, “the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” And Ephesians 5:25 tells us, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

The fragrance at the end is clearly typified by the fragrance of the offerings in Leviticus and implied by the Father’s word “This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight” (Matt. 3:17).

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 2

We look at a song about Christ’s love for the church, a love clearly stated in Ephesians 5:25-27. This statement is in the context of human marriage as a portrait of Christ and His wife, the church in Ephesians and New Jerusalem in Revelation.

New JerusalemThe graphic begins with part of the second verse of the song. Creation is presented in Genesis, but the church and New Jerusalem are the “mystery which has been hidden from the ages” until after the resurrection of Christ. Although it was not revealed before the resurrection, as the song says, it was “hidden in God” and hinted by the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2.

The graphic continues with part of the third verse of the song. Sin entered and man was shut out of the garden of Eden, with no chance to be one with God. Man’s helpless state is shown in many ways through the Bible, for example in Romans 7.

Nevertheless, Christ’s love for the church and His longing for New Jerusalem did not end. He is not discouraged. Even during the Old Testament times, God sometimes spoke of Himself as the Husband of His people (e.g. Jer. 31:32).

God waited for the time proper in His divine view, the time to come in incarnation, the time to manifest His love for mankind. Continued in the next post.


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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem

The graphic is the first verse of a song about Christ’s love for the church. His love is clearly stated in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Christ also New Jerusalemloved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her…that He might present the church to Himself glorious.”

This expression of love is in the context of human marriage, which is a pattern of Christ and the church. Christ and the church as Husband and wife eventually develops to Christ and New Jerusalem as Husband and wife (Rev. 21:9-10).

This song says, “Before the earth’s foundation His thoughts were filled with her.” This eternal thought is unveiled in Genesis 2. Man was created and then placed in front of the tree of life. With the tree of life is a river (of life) and out of these came Eve, the wife of Adam.

This is a picture of Christ desiring to become our life so that we match Him and can become His counterpart, His wife, first as the church, then as New Jerusalem.

In Genesis 3 man fell into sin which brought in death. But, as the song says, “His heart’s love is established, And nought can Him deter.” God cannot be defeated. We can delay Him but eventually He will win our hearts and bring forth New Jerusalem. Then we will join the multitude to declare:
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 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.” (Rev. 19:6-7)

New Jerusalem: the Bride’s Clothing

New Jerusalem is “a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). “And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean.” (Rev. 19:8).

The prior posts showed from Paul and Peter’s writings that the adornment of New Jerusalem is not outward, but is the virtues of Christ brought forth through us. The same principle applies to the fine linen clothing of the bride. This clothing is not a fancy dress as is often seen in human weddings.

There is a multitude “standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes” (Rev. 7:9). The angel told John that this multitude made their robes “white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 13). This implies that the clothing of New Jerusalem, the bride composed of all this multitude, is not a physical dress but is Christ Himself.

Revelation 19:8 speaks of the clothing, then says “the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” Christ is the objective righteousness of all His believers. But here Christ as our righteousness has been experienced and is being lived out as righteous deeds, our righteousnesses (plural)._________ two aspects of righteousness

The clear word in Revelation 19 about our clothing being Christ as our virtues is the flip side of Isaiah 64:6, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” When we live Christ, our garment is bright and clean, but when we live in self, our garment is filthy. Other verses about our garments should be viewed in the same way. This is New Jerusalem: the city is clothed with Christ to express Him.

 

New Jerusalem, a Bride Adorned (3)

New Jerusalem is “a bride adorned for her husband.” And, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:19.

The prior posts present verses from Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, and Peter, in 1 Peter 3, showing that Christian adornment is not outward. It is not anything like the world with its fancy clothes, jewelry, and makeup. Rather, in God’s view, the proper adornment is Himself wrought into and radiating from our inner being. The worldly things are corruptible and will be consumed, but God in our hearts is our incorruptible adornment. This “is very costly in the sight of God.”

If we love the worldly things, we would be very disappointed with New Jerusalem. But God will turn our hearts to Him to love His ways.

The adorning of the foundations of the wall of New Jerusalem follow the divine principle of God’s operation in our being. These precious stones, precious to God, are believers who have been transformed by the Spirit’s work in them throughout their human lives. This adorning testifies both the riches of God New Jerusalemand the complete cooperation of these believers with the Spirit.

For this, we can to declare our love for the Lord, which saves us from love for the world. We may also pray with the words of a hymn,
___Lord, transform us to Thine image
_____In emotion, mind, and will;
___Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
_____All our being wholly fill.

This is our path to New Jerusalem and its adornment.

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