Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (5)

Positionally we have all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now it gradually becomes part of our living, expressed in our daily life. This maturing in life is a foretaste of New Jerusalem, the ultimate corporate expression of Christ.

Growth in the Christin life is a gradual process. This life is Christ Himself. As He increases and spreads in us we grow. Some verses about this progressive growth:
• “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)
• “That He would grant you…to be strengthened…that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:16-17)
• “The Head, out from whom all the Body…grows with the growth of God.” (Col. 2:19)

New JerusalemOur gradual entering into the experience of all that Christ is to us is our growth in Christian life. This is in resurrection. How does this relate to going through the cross to New Jerusalem? The answer is: for Christ to increase in us requires the decrease of our natural life.

There are three New Testament Greek words translated life in English; one indicates our physical life, one our psychological life (soul life), and one eternal life. For the increase of eternal life, the Lord instructed us to deny our self life. “Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).

To deny ourself is to follow the Lord; this is the key to Christian growth and is how we progress by the cross to New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (4)

The Lord Jesus, by His death on the cross, terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released divine life, and created one new man. The Spirit makes this real to us.

Objectively, all that Christ accomplished has become real to us. We acknowledge and accept these things (even though full comprehension comes only with Christian growth) when we believe into Him and are baptized. An example is Romans 6:3, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Physically we were baptized in water but at the same time the Spirit of reality brought us into the fact of Christ’s death.

New JerusalemObjectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. An illustration: a positional move from one nation to another is quick, but to fully absorb and live according to the language, food, and culture takes years.

We are in Christ and are new objectively. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17). Now we are growing to absorb and live out the reality of His redemption, life, and the corporate new man. Thus we gradually reach “to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21)—Christ lives in me and expresses His virtues out through my living.

Christ expressed in our living is the precursor of New Jerusalem. This city is not physical, it is a living composition of God in Christ in all His people. He lives in us and He lives out through us to be expressed through us; this is New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe death of Christ terminated, redeemed, released, and created to bring all of God’s people onto the path to New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:21 says about New Jerusalem, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was, respectively, of one pearl.” These pearls portray the wonderful achievements of Christ on the cross as our entrance into the city.*

The effectiveness of Christ’s death is eternal. Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” The eternal Spirit makes His death eternally effective and applicable to us at every time. And His death purifies us to serve the living God, which service will continue in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3).

The Lord promised us “when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality” (John 16:13). In resurrection this Spirit came and is guiding us into the reality of all that Christ accomplished on the cross in order to bring us unto New Jerusalem.

Through the Spirit all that Christ accomplished is available to us. Through the eternal Spirit His redemption with the forgiveness of sins is applied to our conscience, so that our conscience can be free of condemnation. Through the Spirit the released divine life comes into us to regenerate us. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). And the Spirit of reality makes the new man real to us. The Spirit is the reality of our path to New Jerusalem.

* Links to many posts on this are in Jesus Opened the Pearl Gates, Let’s Enter!

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (2)

The death of Christ on the cross had a terminating aspect which consummates in the lake of fire. It also has redeeming, releasing, and creating aspects which consummate in New Jerusalem. All of these steps are for our path to New Jerusalem.

The first aspect ended our flesh, our old man, and our sinful nature. It also terminated the world and the ruler of the world. The second aspect bought us for God and includes the forgiveness of our sins. The third aspect released the divine life which has now been imparted into us to regenerate, renew, transform, and glorify us. The fourth aspect brought us into God’s corporate new man in the new creation. All of this is necessary for New Jerusalem. Praise the Lord for His accomplishments.

New JerusalemThe epistles state definitely that we were crucified with Christ. Romans 6:6: “Our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves.” Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ.”

The epistles also state definitely that we were raised with Christ. Ephesians 2:5-6: God “Made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together with Him.” Colossians 3:1: “You were raised together with Christ.”

Our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ have nothing to do with our birth date nor with what kind of person we are naturally. It was accomplished by God who is outside of the limits of time. And He accomplished it for His eternal purpose, to bring us to His goal, New Jerusalem.

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Through the Cross to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work, a corporate composition of all His people to glorify Him and to reign with Him. This fulfills God’s intention in Genesis 1:26 in creating man in His image and giving man dominion.

However, the devil tempted man, man fell into sin and death. God called Israel as an outward picture of what He wants to do, but the reality was hidden until God came in the man Jesus. In Him God was incarnated to live a God-man life, to die on the cross, and to be resurrected.

New JerusalemThe death of Christ on the cross has four aspects:
Terminating all negative things, such as the flesh, the old man, the world, the ruler of the world (Rom. 6:6; John 12:31; Heb. 2:14; and many other verses)
Redeeming and reconciling us to God, with forgiveness of sins (Rom. 3:24, 5:10; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; and other verses)
Releasing the divine life (Luke 12:49-50)
Creating the new man (Eph. 2:15)

Briefly, the four outcomes are:
• All that was terminated will eventually be in the lake of fire. This includes the fallen part of our being. The terminated things have no place in God’s purpose and will not be in New Jerusalem. (Rev. 20)
• All God’s people were redeemed; this qualifies us to receive the divine life (Gal. 4:5)
• In resurrection the released divine life was imparted into us for regeneration (1 Peter 1:3)
• The new man, the corporate composition of God in Christ with all His chosen, redeemed, and regenerated people is the forerunner of New Jerusalem. (Col. 3:10-11)

The Lord’s death on the cross and His resurrection are crucial accomplishments not only for our present Christian life but also for us to get to New Jerusalem.

The Word of the Lord Jesus Brings us to New Jerusalem

In Revelation 21:1 John said, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more.” This new heaven and new earth are the scene in which New Jerusalem appears.

The Lord Jesus foretold the passing away of the old creation when He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Perhaps the Lord’s word is the basis for Peter to quote Isaiah, “the word of the Lord abides forever” and to declare “according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

New JerusalemThe Lord’s comparison indicates that we should give more attention to His words than to heaven and earth. They will be replaced but His words will carry us onwards into New Jerusalem. Here are a few of the many functions of this word.

• We have been regenerated by incorruptible seed, “the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)
• We live, not by bread alone, but by “every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)
• We grow spiritually and taste the Lord by means of “the milk of the word.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
• We are sanctified to match the holiness of New Jerusalem by the “washing of the water in the word.” (Eph. 5:26)

To hold to the Lord’s word is tied to loving Him. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23) and “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (15:10).

Loving the Lord Jesus and holding His word are basic necessities for today. They also prepare us for New Jerusalem and will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

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New Jerusalem: Serve God as Priests

Revelation 22:3 says about New Jerusalem, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him.” In what way will we serve as slaves in New Jerusalem? The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and includes three different words translated “serve.” The word in Revelation 22:3 means serve as a priest, or serve in New Jerusalemworship.*

How do we get into this eternal priestly service? The praise in Revelation 1:5b-6 says, “To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.” The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ released us from sins and made us a kingdom of priests!

Becoming priests is not by our choice nor by our effort. And we should not question or doubt our qualification for this service. It does not depend on us—He “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” This declaration in 1:5-6 is confirmed by the same word in Revelation 5:9-10.

He made us priests and He is our High Priest. As such He is “merciful and faithful” (Heb. 2:17), “great” (4:14), “holy, guileless, undefiled, higher than the heavens” (7:26), and perfected forever” (7:28).

Jesus Christ is so much, and we, always coming to Him (1 Peter 2:4), “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (2:5). We are not merely individual priests, but are being built together as a priesthood. As such we are “priests of God and of Christ” now, in the coming age (Rev. 20:6), and in New Jerusalem eternally.

* Some other verses with this word for serve are Matt. 4:10, Luke 2:37, Rom. 1:9, 2 Tim. 1:3.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

 

 

God our Master Rewards His Slaves

New JerusalemGod and the Lord Jesus Christ are our Master and we are His slaves. Revelation 22:3 says “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” In this age we should be faithful in serving as slaves. If so, in the coming age our Master will reward us, and this reward will be a foretaste of blessings in New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 24 is a slave assigned to give food to members of the Master’s household. “Blessed is that slave whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Truly I say to you that he will set him over all his possessions” (v. 46-47).

In Matthew 25 is another slave who invested the gift His Master gave him. The master went away and returned after a long time, a picture of the Lord’s second coming. “His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful over a few things; I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” Our Lord’s, our Master’s, great joy will be in the kingdom age and His fullest joy in New Jerusalem.

In both parables the reward includes being set over many things. This corresponds with the reward of the kingdom age in Revelation 20:6 and the eternal reward in New Jerusalem in 22:5.
• “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
• “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; and they will reign forever and ever.”

In New Jerusalem the Lord God shining upon us is also part of our reward.

 

New Jerusalem: Our Master Bought Us

Revelation 22:3 tells us that as slaves we will serve God in New Jerusalem. Many verses present God and the Lord Jesus as our Master, who acquired us as slaves by buying us.

New JerusalemSecond Peter 2:1 says that our Master bought us. This is His redemption. A definition of redemption in the Oxford Living Dictionary is, The action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment. God created us for Himself but we were taken away by Satan. Through the death of Christ we were redeemed, regained by God in exchange for payment.

We are told “You have been bought with a price.” (1 Cor 6:20). This price, God’s payment for us, is not corruptible things like silver and gold, “But with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

In Revelation 5:9 a heavenly song praises the worthy Lamb, “You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” The next verse praises the Lamb for the outcome of redemption, He made us “a kingdom and priests to our God.” This ultimately indicates New Jerusalem, God’s eternal kingdom with us in His eternal priesthood.

Acts 20:28 also shows us God’s purchase and His goal. “The church of God, which He obtained through His own blood.” God, through the blood shed by His Son, purchased us out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Based upon this redemption we received eternal life which constitutes us the church of the living God, the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). This church grows into God’s ultimate dwelling, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

New Jerusalem: God is our Master

Revelation 22:3 says “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Three posts have looked at all of us as slaves of God. Now consider a few verses showing the Lord Jesus as our Master, the One whom we serve.

New Jerusalem“No one can serve two masters….You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). We serve our Master, God, now and in New Jerusalem. Then, the parable in Matthew 13:24-30 portrays the Lord as the Master, who sowed good seed in his field to bring forth sons of the kingdom of God. What He sows is always good.

In a parable in Matthew 18, the Lord as the Master was moved with compassion and forgave His slave’s debt. This is a picture of the forgiveness of sins that we received. However, later the Master disciplined the slave because he did not forgive his fellow slave. Full forgiveness, from the Lord to us, and from us to one another, is necessary on the path to New Jerusalem.

Second Peter 2:1 speaks of the Master who bought us. This purchase was by the redeeming death of the Lord Jesus. Because He paid the price for us, we can receive the forgiveness of all sins. His redeeming death also cleanses us from all our filthiness. This is illustrated by His cleansing of ten lepers who cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Finally, Colossians 4:1 instructs human masters “grant to your slaves that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Our heavenly Master is just and equal, having no respect of persons. This righteousness, equal treatment, forgiveness, mercy, cleansing, and more characterize the One we will serve as slaves in New Jerusalem.


Bible verses are quoted 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 LSM.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

New Jerusalem: God’s Slaves Serve Him (3)

New JerusalemRevelation begins, “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show to His slaves the things that must quickly take place; and He made it known by signs, sending it by His angel to His slave John.” This book was written to God’s slaves and we should receive it as such. We are here to serve Him now and in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3).

The word of Revelation 1:1 is repeated in 22:6, “These words are faithful and true; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show to His slaves the things which must quickly take place.” As slaves, we deny our natural, human sense of time and say amen to the Lord’s repeated word “quickly take place.”

The last part of Revelation 11 sums up many things, with the following chapters giving details. Verses 11:14-18 briefly have the last trumpet, judgements, God’s kingdom and eternal reign, and the reward to His slaves, saints, and those who fear Him. At this time “the mystery of God is finished, as He has announced the good news to His own slaves the prophets” (10:7). Although chapter 11 does not name New Jerusalem, it surely is implied by the eternal kingdom and reign and is a reward to all God’s people.

Another word to God’s slaves is in Revelation 19:5: “A voice came out from the throne, saying, Praise our God, all His slaves and those who fear Him, the small and the great.” Surely we should praise our God! We praise Him now and we will praise Him in New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem: God’s Slaves Serve Him (2)

New JerusalemRevelation 22:3 says that in New Jerusalem God’s slaves will serve Him. The prior post presents New Testament verses identifying specific people and also all His disciples as God’s slaves.

The pattern for all God’s slaves is the Lord Jesus Himself. Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus,…existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave…He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death.”

His obedience as a slave unto death and His subsequent resurrection opened the way for us to reach New Jerusalem. This is portrayed by the pearl gates of the city. The twelve gates of New Jerusalem are twelve pearlsJesus Opened the Pearl Gates, Let’s Enter!

The Lord, being in the form of a human slave, was obedient unto death. This matches His word in to us Matthew 16 to deny our soul life. This denying is unto death, as He prayed in Gethsemane immediately before His arrest, “My Father…not as I will, but as You will.” Many of His slaves lived this way, as Revelation 12:11 declares, “they [His slaves] overcame him [the devil] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their soul-life even unto death.”

Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus emptied Himself and humbled Himself. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). In our serving God as slaves, denying ourselves includes denying our pride. Then God will grace us.

Second Peter ends, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and unto the day of eternity.” The grace we obtain in humility, and knowing the Lord as the slave who emptied Himself, will bring forth glory to God “both now and unto eternity [New Jerusalem].”

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