The Gospel of Glory and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemDuring my Bible reading I came to the phrase “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11). Since New Jerusalem has the glory of God, this phrase tells us that the gospel points toward or includes New Jerusalem. 

Soon afterwards I came to “peace as the gospel” (Eph. 2:17). Because Jerusalem means foundation of peace, this is another phrase linking the gospel and New Jerusalem. These two verses initiated this series of posts.

Gospel and glory are together in three verses (see the next post also). In 2 Corinthians 4 the essence of the gospel is Christ Jesus Himself (v. 5). God desires to shine into our hearts “to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6). This is “the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (v. 4).

Apart from Christ Jesus, we cannot participate in the glory of God. But in response to the gospel, we believed and He shined into us. Now “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (v. 7). We are merely earthen but He is the excellent treasure in us. 

Whenever we turn our hearts to Him and behold Him within, we reflect His glory, He grows and spreads within us, and we are transformed “from glory to glory” (v. 3:16, 18). The corporate consummation of this development and expression of glory is New Jerusalem. This is the goal of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

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The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 6:24

The Lamb is Jesus Christ and the wife of the Lamb is the holy city New Jerusalem. Their marriage is in love, the love of God to us and our response to and with His love.

Ephesians concludes, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” The Lord certainly desires that we love Him. This love is the first commandment (Mark 12:30) and in response to this love He and the Father make their dwelling with us (John 14:23), a precursor of New Jerusalem as their eternal dwelling.

New JerusalemWe are to “love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Our love must originate from God because our natural love is corruptible. He is the only incorruptible One and New Jerusalem will be an incorruptible city to match Him as His wife.
New Jerusalem: Incorruptible Inheritance
Incorruptible and Undefiled and Unfading
Pursue the Incorruptible New Jerusalem

In contrast, the Gospels have examples of corrupted, selfish love. In Matthew 20 the mother of James and John, who loved the Lord, asked that her sons sit on His right and left in the kingdom. In response the Lord told His disciples not to strive for greatness but to be a servant, even a slave.

We have been regenerated of incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23) and all our love for the Lord should spring from this. Lord, thank You for Your love to us that we may love You in purity from now unto New Jerusalem.

Photo by NASA, ESA, STSci; courtesy of NASA.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 6:23

New Jerusalem“Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him [the Lord our God the Almighty], for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). “The bride, the wife of the Lamb” (21:9) is “the holy city, Jerusalem” (21:10).

The love of this marriage is foreseen in the love of God for us, Christ’s love in giving Himself for the church, and our loving Him in return. Prior posts considered this love in Ephesians 1, 2–3, 4, and 5.

Ephesians 6:23: “Peace to the brothers and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Love with faith is the means by which we partake of and experience Christ (1 Tim. 1:14). Faith is for receiving Him (John 1:12), and love is for enjoying Him (John 14:23)….By means of this traffic of love and faith, peace remains our portion. We are kept in peace by the coming of God’s love to us and by the going of our faith to Him. This traffic also keeps us in the continual supply of grace, in the enjoyment of the Lord (v. 24).*

All that we have is “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” so that the Triune God can bring us all the way to New Jerusalem and the marriage dinner of the Lamb.


Part of footnote 2 on Eph. 6:23 in the Recovery Version Bible, footnote written by Witness Lee, Bible © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.
Titus 3, “This Wonderful Faith and this Super-Excellent Love” in song.
More on faith and love, in Luke 7, John 21, Gal. 5, Eph. 3, and 1 John 3.
Photo by Mary Hollinger, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 5

The eternal marriage of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and the bride, New Jerusalem, is presented in Revelation 19:7-9 and 21:2, 9-11. This marriage is in the love of God which becomes our love to Him and to one another.

New JerusalemEphesians exhorts to walk worthily of God’s calling (4:1) and to “walk in love” (5:2*). Our walk in love is “as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us” (5:2). When we experience the love of Christ to us and respond by loving Him, our walk becomes worthy. Lord Jesus, we love You.

Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks about human marriage as a picture of the eternal marriage. “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church” (5:32).

“Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (5:25). The wife’s subjection [5:22] plus the husband’s love [5:25] constitutes a proper married life and typifies the normal church life, in which the church is subject to Christ and Christ loves the church.** This normal church life is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Christ loved the church and gave Himself “that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word” (5:26) with the goal “that He might present the church to Himself glorious…holy and without blemish” (5:27).

The characteristics of the church in 5:27, which match New Jerusalem, show us that the consummation of Christ’s loving and giving is New Jerusalem.


*Verse numbers without a book name are in Ephesians.

** Part of footnote 1 on Ephesians 5:25 in the Recovery Version Bible, footnote written by Witness Lee, Bible © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 4

Ephesians presents the eternal love of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and His wife, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). Ephesians 1 and 2 focus on God’s love to us. Chapter 3 begins to set forth our experience of this love.

New JerusalemChapter 4 begins with an exhortation to walk worthily of God’s calling (4:1*). The first step in this walk is “with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love” (4:2). This is not our own love. Instead, as stated in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” This love maintains us in the oneness (4:3).

To no longer be tossed about as children (4:14) we need to grow into Christ in everything by holding Him, the reality, in love (4:15). As we grow into Him, a rich supply flows out from Him for “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love” (4:16).

The building up of the body of Christ, in love and by the rich supply flowing out from the Head, is part of the preparation of the bride of Christ. Both the body and the bride are living compositions of all His believers. By the rich supply we are not only “joined together” but even more “knit together” (4:16).

In New Jerusalem we will be “no longer little children,” nor “tossed about,” but fully knit together, grown to maturity, and built up in love.

*Verse numbers without a book name are in Ephesians.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 2–3

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Their marriage is in love. Ephesians 1 presents God’s love in the context of His purpose and all that He accomplished.

In contrast, chapter 2 begins with us being dead in our offenses and sins (2:1*). Nevertheless, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ” (2:4-5). God loved us before creation (1:4), and now, although we are in a fallen creation, He still loves us.

Because of this love, God was merciful to forgive us and to make us alive with Christ, to raise us up with Christ, and to seat us in the heavenlies with Christ (2:5-6). This is our salvation by God’s mercy and grace based on His love.

Now we are in position to experience the love of God. Paul prays that we be strengthened into our inner man so “that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith”
(3:16-17). By His making home in us, we are rooted and grounded in His love. This empowers us to apprehend the vast riches of Christ (3:17-18) and “to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (3:19).

In experiencing this love we are “filled unto all the fullness of God” that there may be glory to God in the church (3:19-21). This experiential love, filling, and glory all increase unto New Jerusalem.

*Verse numbers are in Ephesians.
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The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 1

A voice from heaven declares, “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. 19:7). Then John told us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).

New JerusalemEphesians speaks about the church, God’s household, God’s kingdom, His temple, the body of Christ, one new man, and marriage. All of these point to New Jerusalem. Since New Jerusalem is a marriage, it is in love. Let us therefore look at love in Ephesians.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love”
(1:3-4*). Thus, the love of New Jerusalem originated in eternity past, as part of God’s eternal plan. In this love God predestinated us to be His sons (1:5) so that we may have His life to match His Firstborn Son for the eternal marriage.

In time we are touched by and enter into this eternal love. Paul commends the Ephesians, saying he “heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you and your love to all the saints” (1:15). These believers were already living in the eternal love of New Jerusalem.

*Verse numbers without a book name are in Ephesians.
Art courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem; the Kingdom of God in Romans 14

Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Because New Jerusalem is the eternal kingdom of God, Romans 14:17 describes New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe first characteristic is righteousness. The beginning verses of Hebrews 7 say that Melchisedec, whose name means “king of righteousness,” is a type of the Son of God, who will be on the throne of New Jerusalem.

Christ, the king of righteousness, will be on the throne in New Jerusalem. Because of His reign and because all unrighteousness will be in the lake of fire, the new creation will be full of righteousness. This is Peter’s declaration, “According to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

The second characteristic is peace. Melchisedec is “king of Salem” which means “king of peace.” Several epistles begin with grace and peace to us “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the New Testament peace is not merely external calmness nor lack of war; peace is Christ. “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14) now and eternally.

The third characteristic is joy. Again, Jesus is our joy. In John 16 He told His disciples that when He came to them in resurrection “your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.”

Jesus Christ within us is the reality of righteousness, peace, and joy both today and in New Jerusalem. Today these are inward; then they will be both inward and outward.

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The Narrow Way of Bearing the Cross and Denying the Self unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 16:24-25, “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.” These words are followed by the Son of Man coming in His glory and in His kingdom, both of which point to New Jerusalem. This is the constricted way the Lord spoke about in Matthew 7.

New Jerusalem

This subject seems negative, BUT remember, the death of our natural life manifests the resurrection life, the only life present in New Jerusalem. “Always bearing about the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” (2 Cor. 4:10).

Here is one key point or verse from each post in this series, with a link to the post.

The death of Christ terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released the divine life, and created the new man.

We were crucified with Christ and also raised with Him (Rom. 6:6, Col. 3:1).

Christ offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). In this Spirit His death and His life are available to us.

Objectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. Galatians 2:20 is about our experience.

Christian growth in life is gradual (Gal. 4:19). To deny ourself is the key to growth.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, begin in Matthew 10:38, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

Luke adds a word not in Matthew, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 14: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own soul-life, he cannot be My disciple.” If we are not disciples, how will we be in New Jerusalem?

Denying and losing the soul life is our responsibility, yet self cannot deny self. We apply the death of Christ in Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, “by the Spirit you put to death…”

The Lord told us to deny ourself, and He did this. An example: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26).

In John 7 and 8 the Lord declared that He did not seek His own glory.

To deny ourself is to deny our opinions, preferences, like and dislikes, complaints, and vain talking. Perhaps none are evil, but they are self and will not be in New Jerusalem.

Denying and losing the self seems negative, but death is followed by resurrection. We are being put to death that the life of Jesus may be manifested (2 Cor. 4:10-12).

The word of the cross is…to us who are being saved…the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

We boast in Christ Jesus and long “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:3, 10).

To deny the self requires constant exercise, empowered by His resurrection with a longing for the fuller resurrection at His return and the fullest in New Jerusalem.

Looking away unto Jesus” enlivens us to be delivered unto death and to deny ourself.

The denial of our soul life is presented in Ephesians 4:22: “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man. Then we put on the new man who continues into New Jerusalem.

To deny our self and lose our soul life is to take the constricted way which leads to life (Matt. 7:14), eventually to the city of life, 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Not Loving the Soul Life – Examples

Revelation 12:11 speaks of those who “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” (Rev. 12:11). Not loving the soul life equals denying it, fulfilling the Lord’s command in the gospels. This denying, and the losing of our soul life, are to follow the Lord, to be His disciples, and to participate in His glory and kingdom, both of which consummate in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Acts 7 Stephen boldly testified for the Lord. Then, while dying, he unselfishly prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

In Acts 15 the apostles and elders in Jerusalem recommended Barnabas and Paul as “Men who have risked their [soul] lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:26).

In Acts 20:24 Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, where he was arrested. He declares, “I consider my [soul] life of no account as if precious to myself, in order that I may finish my course and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus.”

In Philippians 2:25-30 Paul commends Epaphroditus. “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy, and hold such in honor, because for the work of Christ he drew near unto death, risking his [soul] life…” (v. 29-30).

Lord, have compassion on me that I may love You completely. For Your ministry now and for New Jerusalem, make me one who risks my own soul life, not counting it precious.

* Notes 2, 3, 4 on Rev. 12:11 are about the blood, the word of testimony, and not loving.

Not Loving the Soul Life for New Jerusalem

Near the beginning of the New Testament, the Lord Jesus told us to deny our self, take up our cross, and lose our soul life. This denying, taking up, and losing is the practical termination of our natural life so that His resurrection life, the life of New Jerusalem, may be manifested.

New JerusalemNear the end of the New Testament we read about some who faithfully carried out this word of the Lord. “They [some believers] 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” (Rev. 12:11). Not loving the soul life = denying it.

In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord had multiple churches in Asia Minor, yet He was not satisfied. In the epistle to every church, he called for overcomers. Even in speaking well about Philadelphia, He called for overcomers. And in Revelation 12 we see that He gained some.

These overcomers “loved not their soul-life even unto death.” In contrast, they loved “our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility” (Eph. 6:24). This means that they loved the Lord absolutely. They did not love with any selfish motive* but denied themselves.

Incorruptibility is a characteristic of New Jerusalem. We need to deny even our natural love for the Lord, that we may love Him with this incorruptible love. We love Him in this way now, when He comes, and unto New Jerusalem.

*James and John loved the Lord Jesus, but in the early years they loved selfishly. They asked, “Grant to us to sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:37). In their later years, after the Lord’s resurrection, they were faithful unto death.
Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

 

The Narrow Way unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 7:14: “Narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life.” We have this life today through regeneration. We take the narrow, constricted way now to New Jerusalemthe fuller joy of this life in the mani­­festation of the kingdom and to the fullest joy in New Jerusalem.

The narrowness and the constriction correspond with taking up our cross daily and denying our self, our soul life. The narrow, constricted way does not accommodate self-indulgence, selfishness, selfish ambition, self-love, self-will, seeking gain through base means, seeking our own things (even if good), nor apparently good things like self-chosen lowliness.*

In contrast, a walk on the constricted way is to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteous­ness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Our fleeing is our denying. Righteousness, faith, love, and peace are all Christ Himself supplying us to bear our cross on the constricted way.

Similarly 1 Timothy 6 speaks of things that cannot come through the narrow gate, such as pride, contentiousness, envy, strife, slanders, and love of money. Verse 6:11 then tells us that to be “a man of God” on the constricted way, we need to flee all the selfish things “and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness.” All of these virtues are Christ Himself as our life in resurrection and all will continue on the constricted way unto New Jerusalem.

*All these “self” characteristics are from New Testament verses.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

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