Come Forward to Get Ready

In Matthew 24 and 25 the Lord speaks about our being ready for Him as our Bridegroom. (see posts:  ) This corresponds with Revelation 21:2, “New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

New JerusalemIn Luke 22 the Lord spoke about His death. Peter said to the Lord, “I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (v. 33) but the Lord responded, “I tell you, Peter, a rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me” (v. 34). Peter’s example shows that we cannot get ready by our own determination, our own zeal, or our own effort.

To be ready, we need the Lord’s mercy. Romans 9:23 calls us “vessels of mercy, which He [God] had before prepared unto glory.” As vessels, we can receive whatever God wants to pour out. Yet, we must cooperate by opening to Him, coming to Him.

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.” This throne is in the heavenly holy of holies. A note in the Recovery Version* asks and answers a question:

How can we enter the Holy of Holies while we are still on earth? The secret is our spirit, referred to in Hebrews 4:12. The very Christ who is in heaven is now also in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). As the heavenly ladder (Gen. 28:12; John 1:51), He joins our spirit to heaven and brings heaven into our spirit. Hence, whenever we turn to our spirit, we enter into the Holy of Holies. There we meet with God, who is on the throne of grace. See also this note.

Our spirit connects us to the heavenly throne of grace. Here we receive mercy and grace to get us ready for the Lord’s return and for New Jerusalem.

* The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; it is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Those Who Are Ready Will Enter

In Matthew 25:1-13 the Lord Jesus speaks about virgins going forth to meet a bridegroom. In the whole universe He is the real Bridegroom and all His believers are individually virgins and corporately His bride, New Jerusalem.

Our going forth is our cooperation with God’s preparation of New Jerusalem as the bride (Revelation 21:2). Matthew 25:10 says, “those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.” The virgins who were ready “took oil in their vessels with their lamps” so that their lamps were shining with a good supply of oil rather than “going out” (v. 8).

New JerusalemOil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 25:9 indicates that a price must be paid to be filled with the Spirit. In Matthew 16:24-25 the Lord said that to follow Him we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and lose our soul life. This is the price to gain extra oil in our vessels so that we shine brightly.

We can pray, Lord, I desire to follow You. Grace me to deny myself.

An example of paying a price is in Philippians 3:7-8. Paul tells us, “What things were gains to me, these I have counted as loss on account of Christ. But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ.”

We can pray, Lord, I want to be ready to go in. Manifest Your excellency to me and show me what I need to count loss so that I may gain more of You today. Lord, I want to get ready for You and for New Jerusalem.

Related post: We Have Oil in our Vessels, We are Burning

We Cooperate with God’s Preparation

New JerusalemJohn saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). The prior posts in this series have focused on God’s preparatory actions in eternity past and His actions in Jesus Christ in time.

We are very thankful for what God has prepared. Now we look more at our cooperation with His preparation. The Lord Jesus warns about His coming, “be ready, because at an hour when you do not expect it, the Son of Man is coming.” To be ready for His coming is to be ready for New Jerusalem.

The Lord likens the time before His coming to the time before the flood (Matthew 24:32-44). While Noah was preparing the ark in response to God’s revelation, other people were occupied with their human living. The end of Genesis 6 says, “according to all that God commanded him, so he [Noah] did.”

In Matthew 24:35 the Lord said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.” This indicates the importance of His words in our getting ready. We need to give attention to His speaking as Noah did and not be so occupied with things of earth which will pass away.

Second Thessalonians 2:13 tells us “the word of God operates in you who believe.” We need to read the Bible, then tell the Lord, “I believe Your word.” It is good also to pray with the words of the Bible. For example, we can pray from Matthew 24:38 and 44, Lord, save me from being occupied with eating and drinking; I want to be ready for You.

Our God has worked and is working to prepare New Jerusalem. May we be the best cooperators with His working!

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 Crab Nebula, courtesy of NASA.

Love God to Partake of What He Prepared

Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God gained us as vessels to contain and display the riches of His glory. He also created us as His masterpiece in Christ Jesus to walk in the good works He had prepared beforehand. These steps are part of the preparation of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

New JerusalemGod has completed another preparation. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

These things are spiritual, not material. Rather, 1 Corinthians 2:6-14 shows that these things have the following three characteristics which relate them to New Jerusalem.

✽ These God-prepared things are of God’s wisdom, in a mystery, predestined for glory (v. 2:7). Both God’s wisdom and glory will be manifested through New Jerusalem.

✽ These God-prepared things are of the Spirit, revealed through the Spirit, known by the Spirit we received, and discerned spiritually (v. 10-12, 14). Like all of God’s New Testament building work, New Jerusalem is a spiritual city with the Spirit Himself flowing as the river of water of life to supply the city.

✽ These God-prepared things are spoken in words taught by the Spirit to full-grown spiritual men (v. 13, 6). New Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb, Christ and in Revelation 22:17 the Spirit and the bride speak together. Also, God’s New Testament building work is a matter of growth in life (Ephesians 2:21, 4:16); in New Jerusalem as the consummation of the New Testament all the believers are full grown.

These things are God-prepared “for those who love Him.” As the bride, New Jerusalem surely loves the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

Vessels of Mercy, Prepared unto Glory

New JerusalemThrough Christ’s death and resurrection, God gained us as vessels so that He can live in us and we can live in Him. These steps to our mutual indwelling are preparation for New Jerusalem. Here are two more aspects of the preparation:

One, we are vessels for God firstly by His creation and secondly by His redemption and regeneration. Romans 9:23 calls us vessels of mercy because we did not arrive at mutual indwelling by our own doing. The verse says that God “might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory.”

God has prepared us as vessels for His glory. He will make known not only His glory but the riches of His glory! Eventually New Jerusalem will be a corporate vessel of mercy with a full display of  the riches of God’s glory.

Two, we, as God’s corporate vessel, are a masterpiece, but not in or of ourselves. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand in order that we would walk in them.”

This masterpiece was created for us to walk in the good works prepared beforehand by God. These works should be very special, in accord with the content and flavor of Ephesians, and consistent with our being God’s masterpiece in Christ Jesus.

Surely these good works include making known the multifarious wisdom of God, being filled to the fulness of God to express HIm, and manifesting glory to God (Ephesians 3:10, 19, 21). These good works should be our experience today, leading to much more in New Jerusalem.

I am in My Father, You in Me, and I in You

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is being prepared! God already sent John the Baptist, came in the man Jesus, and sanctified us through His death on the cross.

Another step of preparation is in John 14. In verses 2-3 the Lord Jesus tells us, “In My Father’s house are many abodes; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.”

In John 13–17 Jesus speaks ten times about going to the Father but He never speaks about going to heaven. His destination is a Person, not a location. His goal is God dwelling in us and us dwelling in God.

His going was in His death and His coming is in His resurrection (John 20:19). The “place” is not a physical location; the place is God Himself. In resurrection He lives and we also live (John 14:19) and in resurrection, living together with Him, we know that we are in the Father by being in Him and that He is in us (v. 14:20). Through death and resurrection He prepared the way to bring us into the Father.

His living in us and our living in Him is the characteristic of the New Testament from resurrection to eternity. Examples:
• We are in Christ Jesus and He is in us (Romans 8:1, 10).
• The New Testament building is a living building in Christ Jesus and He is making His home in our hearts (Ephesians 2:20-22; 3:16-17).
• Our life is hidden with Christ in God and Christ is in us as our life (Colossians 3:3-4).
• We abide in Him and He abides in us (1 John 4:13).

Praise the Lord for His death and resurrection. They accomplished so much. Now, as a result of our believing, He is in us and we are in Him unto New Jerusalem.

Related posts: In the Triune God,   No Mansions,   Mutual Abiding unto New Jerusalem
Mutual Abiding from Resurrection to New Jerusalem

Free Study Bibles (for others and for you)

This post, a break in the series about the preparation of New Jerusalem, has photos of free New Testament distributions done earlier this year in North America and Europe.

These New Testaments have features which greatly enhance the understanding of the deeper meaning of the Bible. “The subject provided at the beginning of each book and the outline of each book take the historical facts as their base and express the spiritual meaning in each book. The footnotes stress the revelation of the truth, the spiritual light, and the supply of life more than history, geography, and persons. The cross references lead not only to other verses with the same expressions and facts but also to other matters related to the spiritual revelation in the divine Word.” (source of quote)

Distributions were made on college campuses, city centers, and other locations.

www.bfa.org

www.bfa.org

www.biblesforeurope.org

If you would like a free New Testament or other Christian books, please contact:
Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.36.38 PMUSA: www.biblesforamerica.org
Canada: www.biblesforcanada.org
___(English, Français)
Europe: www.biblesforeurope.org
South America: www.rldsa.org
___(español, portuguese)
Australia: www.biblesforaustralia.org.au
New Zealand: www.biblesfornewzealand.org.nz

If you would like free Christian books available to 100 nations and in 30 languages, please contact: www.rhemabooks.org

God Prepared, Christ Accomplished, We Receive

The New Testament begins with two steps of God’s preparation of New Jerusalem. First is John the Baptist, sent to “prepare the way of the Lord” by turning our hearts to God. Second, God was incarnated in the man Jesus to be the salvation prepared for all peoples.

Southeast Alaska, USFS photo, CC 2.0This God-man Jesus lived a wonderful human life and then gave Himself to be crucified to redeem us from our sins.

Hebrews 10:5-10, quoting Psalm 40, tells us that the Lord declared to the Father, “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You did not delight.” In contrast, He also said, “a body You have prepared for Me.” The writer of Hebrews concludes, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

In Hebrews we see that the preparation of a physical, human body for the Lord Jesus is a step in God’s preparation of us to participate in New Jerusalem. As sinners we could never enter the holy city. But, by the Lord’s offering of Himself in His physical body, we have been sanctified positionally.

Furthermore, Hebrews 10:14 says “by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Not only has our position, our standing, been sanctified to match the holiness of New Jerusalem. We also are being sanctified dispositionally so that our attitudes, our desires, and our living are fully in accord with the holy city.

God prepared, Christ accomplished, we receive; this is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, Creative Commons 2.0.

Salvation Prepared for All Peoples

The apostle John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2). This preparation involves what God has done, what God is doing, and our cooperation with His doing.

A good example of this cooperative preparation: God sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” by preaching repentance for His kingdom (Matthew 3:2-3). Some people cooperated by confessing their sins and being baptized (3:6).

Lenk, 1999

Another step on God’s side of the preparation was the incarnation of Jesus. After His birth, His parents brought Him to the temple in Jerusalem. Simeon, a righteous and devout man, was there and the Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25).

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and declared to God, “my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). The Spirit’s speaking through Simeon reveals that Jesus is the salvation prepared for everyone, both Jews and non-Jews.

Without God’s salvation, we cannot have a share in New Jerusalem. Only by receiving Jesus as our Savior and having Him as our salvation, can we get to New Jerusalem. Thus, God’s preparation of His salvation for all people is part of His preparation of New Jerusalem.

Lord, Keep My Heart Always True to You

The first step in the New Testament toward New Jerusalem “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2) was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3).

Milford Sound, NZ, USFS photo by Robert Westover, CC 2.0This preparation was to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart, to seek and love the Lord.

Matthew records many words of the Lord Jesus regarding our hearts.
We should be pure in heart (v. 5:8), seeking only God and His glory, a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem
Our treasure should be in the heavens so that our heart may be there also (v. 6:21)
The Lord Jesus is meek and lowly in heart (v. 11:29) and we can take Him as our lowliness and meekness
We should never let our heart get fat (calloused, dull, hard) but rather eagerly receive all the Lord’s words that they may grow in our hearts (v. 13:3-23)
We should not live a life according to traditions but always keep our heart close to the Lord (v. 15:1-9), loving Him and seeking Him
We apply the Lord’s forgiveness to forgive our brothers from our heart (v. 18:35)
We feed our fellows slaves with spiritual food, rather than being drunk with worldly people and saying in our heart that our Master delays (v. 24:45-51)
Above all, we love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. (v. 22:37)

The Lord says to the church in Ephesus, “I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). The more we love the Lord, the more we take Him as our life supply, symbolized by the tree of life (v. 2:7), which is a prominent characteristic of New Jerusalem (v. 22:2).

Here is a song, “Lord, keep my heart always true to You.” Lord, draw us to love You wholly and purely that we may be supplied by You as our tree of life to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

U.S. Forest Service photo by Robert Westover, Creative Commons 2.0.

The Preparation of New Jerusalem

The apostle John saw a new heaven, a new earth, and the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2). This post begins a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2 does not say who accomplished the preparation of New Jerusalem as the bride. However, through this series we will see clearly from many New Testament verses that this preparation requires both God and man.

The first step in the preparation was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord.” This was prophesied in Isaiah 40. Verses 3-4 say, “The voice of one who cries in the wilderness: make clear the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be made low, and the crooked places will become straight, and the rough places, a broad plain.”

It seems that Isaiah, and the quotations in Matthew, Mark, and Lukmarten, by Nathan Stone, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Statione, speak about changes in the physical landscape. However, these physical descriptions are portraits of people’s inner condition. Therefore, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that John prepared the way of the Lord by proclaiming repentance for the king-dom and the people responded by being baptized while they confessed their sins.

Another indication that “the crooked places” (and valleys, hills, rough places) refer to our heart is in Acts 8. Peter said to Simon the magician, “your heart is not straight before God. Repent therefore from this wickedness of yours and beseech the Lord if perhaps the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (8:21-22).

The real preparation of the way of the Lord is in our hearts. This preparation begins with our repentance and our confessing our sins. In this age we cannot say we have no sin and we cannot say that we have not sinned. But, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-10). More confessing in His light brings more forgiveness and more cleansing, which means more preparation for New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nathan Stone, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

Our Father, Thou Art Forever New !

“He who sits on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Only God can make all things new. We are already new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17); corporately we are the new man in Christ and we are being inwardly renewed to His image (Colossians 3:10-11). Ultimately everything God has done will be displayed in the new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem at the center.

New JerusalemThe first verse and chorus of a hymn* extols God’s newness and freshness:
__Our Father, as the evergreen,
____Thou art forever new;
__Thou art the ever living Lord,
____Thy freshness as the dew.

Chorus
O Father, Thou art unchanging,
__Thou never hast grown old;
Thru countless ages, ever fresh,
__Thy newness doth unfold.

The fourth verse of the hymn speaks about us. We are a new creation and we have a new spirit and new heart, which were promised in Ezekiel 36:26.
__Now we Thy new creation are —
____New spirit and new heart;
__We’re daily from the old renewed,
____New life Thou dost impart.

The fifth verse includes the new heaven, new earth, New Jerusalem, and the tree of life bearing twelve fruits (Revelation 21:1-2, 22:2).
__The earth and heavens will be new
____And Thy new city share;
__New fruits each month will be supplied,
____For all is newness there.

Eternally New Jerusalem will manifest the ever new God with His thoroughly renewed people as God’s masterpiece in the new creation.

* author: Witness Lee, composer: George F. Rootwordsmusic.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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