Glory: the Lord’s Presence Manifested

In recent reading*, I was touched by the question, What is glory of the Lord? The next sentence of my reading gave this answer, It is the presence of the Lord manifested before the eyes of humanity. The glory will be manifested by New Jerusalem, but it was also manifested to people in the past.

Acts 7:2 says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia.” This appearing motivated Abraham to leave his fatherland and follow the Lord to a new place. Lord, motivate us to follow You daily.

The glory also appeared to Israel, when the tabernacle was completed (Exo. 40:35) and at other times (e.g. Exo. 16:10, Lev. 9:23, Num. 14:10). However, many in Israel were obstinate and the manifested glory was sometimes a rebuke to them. Lord, keep our hearts soft toward You.

New JerusalemLater, the glory of the Lord appeared at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:11). In the New Testament the glory was briefly manifested on the mountain (Mark 9:2-3), to Stephen (Acts 7:55), and to Saul (Acts 26:13-15). And the Lord promised that people “will see the Son of Man becoming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

Since Saul’s time, the glory is hidden but we do have the presence of the Lord. The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). He in us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). In spirit we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

He will come to fulfill the hope of glory and to manifest His glory in us (2 Thes. 1:10), in the coming kingdom, and in New Jerusalem.

* Witness LeeThe All-Inclusive Christ, chap. 9, Living Stream Ministry

Posts will resume, Monday, November 27.

The Light of the World, A City (3)

The light and the city in Matthew 5:14 are linked to New Jerusalem. This verse also speaks of a city “upon a mountain.” This indicates a high position. We always put lights in high rather than low positions, so that light may reach everywhere. Our high position is in Christ. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.”

New JerusalemHebrews 12:18-24 contrasts attributes of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament attributes are earthly but the New Testament attributes (both Heb. 12 and Eph. 2) are heavenly.

The first ‘New’ attribute is that we “have come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The heavenly Jerusalem is firstly associated with a mountain, which also is heavenly in nature. Our being the light of the world is not derived from any earthly position; it is a consequence of being in Christ and living one with Him.

The New Testament does not say that New Jerusalem is a city upon a mountain. Instead, by the time New Jerusalem comes down out of heave, the city and the mountain have become one, and New Jerusalem is itself the mountain. The angel “measured the city with the reed to a length of twelve thousand stadia; the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”

In summary, the light, the city, and the mountain all come out of the divine life in God’s people. The Lord spoke all of Matthew 5, including verse 14, to His disciples, and three times spoke of “our Father” (v. 16, 45, 48). As sons of the heavenly Father we are the light of the world and the city on a mountain. All of this culminates in New Jerusalem.

Photo by R. Robinson, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Light of the World, A City (2)

The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14). “You” (plural) are “the light” (singular). All of us, as His disciples, are a corporate light to the world. Eventually Jesus Christ, the Lamb, shines within New Jerusalem to be light to the universe.

New JerusalemJesus continued, saying, “It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” We, the corporate light, with Him shining within and through us, are the unhidden city. Ultimately we are New Jerusalem, His expression to the universe.

All who have believed into Jesus Christ are today His body (Rom. 12:5). We are all the one new man (Eph. 2:15. We are all God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). We are all the city of Matthew 5. And we will all be the eternal city, New Jerusalem. Matthew 5:14 is a foretaste of New Jerusalem. The body, new man, house, and city are God’s eternal purpose—a living, corporate expression of Himself in a corporate humanity filled with Himself.

In position, we are in this corporate entity, but we need care to keep our living according to it. The Lord told us, “let your light shine before men,” not hiding it under a bushel (Matt. 5:15-16). A bushel is for measuring grain, food. We should not hide our light by being overly occupied with our jobs, anxious to earn a living to take care of our eating (Matt. 6:25, 31).

Since we are “light in the Lord,” Ephesians 5 charges us to “walk as children of light.” In position we are light but we need to walk in the Lord, loving Him, musing on His word, and opening ourselves to Him in prayer. The shining that results from walking in light is a precursor of New Jerusalem as the unhidden city on a mountain.

Photo by Allan Shimada, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Light of the World, A City

New JerusalemIn Matthew 5:14 the Lord Jesus told His disciples, ” You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” But how dies this relate to New Jerusalem? We will use a few posts to consider this, but one obvious link is the word “city.”

Here the Lord tells His disciples “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 and 9:5 He says, “I am the light of the world.” How can we be what He is? It is because when we can receive Him into our being, He becomes both life and light within us.

He is “the light of life” and we are born again with this life. Now we have Christ as our life and our light. We become “children of God” who can “walk as children of light” and “shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

The Greek word φωστηρ translated “luminaries” in Philippians is used only one other place in the New Testament—”Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone” (Rev. 21:11). New Jerusalem shines because Jesus Christ is the light infusing the entire city.

Revelation 21:23 tells us, “the glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem], and its lamp is the Lamb.” Because the city is transparent (21:21), clear as crystal (21:11), the glory of God in the Lamb radiates through the city to the entire universe. In this way, New Jerusalem is the fulfillment of the Lord’s word in Matthew 5:14.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm (2)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Lord’s redeeming work on the cross, the Lord’s sanctifying/purifying work now, and His glorifying work at His return.  We see New Jerusalem by being carried away in spirit (out of the natural realm) onto a great and high mountain (above the level of our ordinary living).

To consider Revelation 21–22 as something natural is to miss the reality presented here. This is to repeat the error common in John’s gospel—interpreting or trying to grasp the Lord’s spiritual presentation by natural understanding. Here are more examples of this.

New Jerusalem• In 6:51-55 no one understood how the Lord could give us His flesh to eat for eternal life. But He spoke of the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
• In 8:32-34 He spoke about being free from the slavery of sin but the hearers thought only about human slavery.
• In 8:51-53 the Lord spoke about keeping His word to overcome eternal death but the hearers could only think of physical death.
• In 11:11-14 the Lord used sleep as a picture of death; the disciples thought of physical sleep and could not comprehend His word.
• In 14:7-11 the Lord told the disciples that they had seen the Father manifested in His living and doing, but they only thought of physical seeing.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church as the Body of Christ, His fullness (Eph. 1:22-23). New Jerusalem is also the consummation of the new man created by Christ in Himself (Eph 2:15), the holy temple growing in Him (2:21), and the dwelling place of God in spirit (2:22). Surely this is not in the natural realm. Lord, carry me away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm

New JerusalemJohn saw New Jerusalem when an angel showed it to him and carried him away “in spirit onto a great and high mountain” (Rev. 21:9-10). The angel’s showing, in spirit, and on a high mountain, indicate that seeing New Jerusalem is not based on human capability, is not in the natural realm, and is not on an ordinary level.

New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the consummation of His work of redeeming, sanctifying, and glorifying all His believers (Eph. 5:25-27). Thus, we should not think of New Jerusalem as a physical city. To think about the Lord’s words in the physical realm is to repeat a recurring error. Here are examples of this error from John’s gospel.

• In 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were in the natural realm, thinking He spoke about the physical temple. But, He spoke about His body in resurrection.
• In 3:3-6 Jesus spoke about being born anew, being born of the Spirit. Nicodemus misunderstood, thinking about natural birth.
• In 4:10-14 Jesus spoke about living water but the Samaritan woman only could conceive of physical water.
• In 4:32-34 the Lord spoke about being nourished by doing the Father’s will but the disciples only thought about physical food.
• In 6:38, 42 the Lord spoke about coming out of heaven but the Jews could not get beyond their knowledge of His human family.

These examples (and more in the next post) show the futility of depending on our own knowledge and comprehension with divine things. To see and understand New Jerusalem we need to be out of our natural understanding. We need to ask the Lord to carry us away,to keep us in spirit, and to bring us the high mountain so that we may receive a revelation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Glory, Now to New Jerusalem

Our present sufferings bring forth eternal glory. Posts on this connection touched verses in John and Acts, Romans and 2 Corinthians, more in Romans, 2 Corinthians (again) and Philippians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, and again 1 Peter.

New JerusalemRevelation moves from “John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (1:9) to New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11). While we also partake of the tribulation in Jesus and are supplied by the endurance in Jesus, we look away to Jesus and to the glory of God filling New Jerusalem.

First Peter 1:11 speaks of “the sufferings of Christ and the glories after these.” The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and then entered into His glory in His resurrection (Luke 24:26, 46). Also, after “the suffering of death” He was “crowned with glory and honor,” in His exaltation (Heb. 2:9). At His visible return to earth, He “comes in His glory” (Matt. 25:31). He will also be glorious in the kingdom age and in New Jerusalem.

With us, there is some glory now, mostly hidden within us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we “exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). And, “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (2 Thes. 1:12).

One aspect of the Lord’s return is that He “comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). At that time He will “present the church to Himself glorious” (Eph. 5:27). This glorious church will continue to radiate His glory in the time of the kingdom and as His wife, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (7)

New JerusalemSuffering in our Christian life, which is normal but temporary, brings forth glory in stages from now to New Jerusalem. We continue with Peter’s speaking about this.

First Peter 5:10 speaks of “the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” We thank this wonderful God that we have been called into His eternal glory!

This is not only glory in eternity (after time ends) in New Jerusalem. It is also glory which is eternal in nature, of which we partake now. This is a foretaste of New Jerusalem “having the glory of God.”

To partake of this glory involves sufferings. As in verses in recent posts, this suffering is not borne by ourselves. The God of “all grace” (not barely enough grace) is in us. The grace today will surely continue with us into New Jerusalem. Here are some of the many verses about grace with us now:
John 1:16, “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”
Acts 11:23, Barnabas arrived and “saw the grace of God” in the believers in Antioch.
Romans 5:2, “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand”
1 Corinthians 16:23, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”
2 Timothy 4:22, ” The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”
1 Petter 1:2, “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”
Rev. 1:4-5, “Grace to you and peace from Him…and the seven Spirits…and Jesus Christ.”

First Peter 5:10 concludes that God “will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” The result of all this divine work in us is “to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever” (v. 11). Forever points to New Jerusalem, full of glory and might to God.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (6)

New JerusalemThis series of posts presents verses showing that suffering in our Christian life is normal but temporary. This suffering brings forth glory in stages from now to New Jerusalem. This post begins our look at Peter’s view of this process.

In 1 Peter 1 we who are regenerated (v. 3) “are being guarded by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time” (v. 5). This salvation will be the transfiguration of our mortal bodies to free the faithful believers from suffering.

We exult in this last time, the time of the Lord’s visible return “though for a little while at present, if it must be, you have been made sorrowful by various trials” (v. 6). These trials are “so that the proving of your faith…may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 7). Rejoice.

Similarly, 1 Peter 4:13 encourages us “inasmuch as you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice exultingly.” His glory is revealed in a limited way through us now, much more at His coming back, and completely in New Jerusalem.

Then verse 19 reminds us”let those also who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing to a faithful Creator.” Remember that our Creator says we were “created, formed, and even made for My glory”  (Isa. 43:7). May we look to His eternal goal, New Jerusalem, remember His faithfulness, and commit ourselves to Him.

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.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (5)

Suffering in our Christian like is normal but temporary. This suffering brings forth glory in a limited way now (see 2 Thes. 1 below), in a strong way at the Lord’s return, and completely in New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemColossians 1:10 charges us “to walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things.” The following verses touch several aspects of this walk, including “being empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all endurance and long-suffering with joy” (v. 11).

Like verses in recent posts, glory and suffering are coupled here. And again, we are not encouraged to bear the sufferings ourselves. Instead, we should be empowered according to the might of His glory. This empowering is “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” and is able to bring forth joy in suffering.

The sufferings are only now, but he empowering, the life, and the joy are for now and the coming age and New Jerusalem.

Second Thessalonians 1 includes persecutions and afflictions. It concludes with prayer for God’s working in the believers (v. 11) “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (v. 12). Again, trials can bring forth glory. This is not by our own effort but because of God’s operation within us.

The mutual glorification in verse 12 is “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Lord, grace us in every situation that You may be glorified in us and we in You.

The name of the Lord glorified in us includes today. When the Lord returns, “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (v. 10) and we will experience “rest” (v. 7). The glory and rest will then continue into New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (4)

Romans 5, Romans 8, and 2 Corinthians 4 all speak about passing through sufferings to glory.

The first step of this glory an inward beholding, as in 2 Corinthians 3:18. The second step is the Lord’s visible return to earth. “We eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:20-21). The ultimate step of this glory is New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemPaul prayed for the development of the virtues of Christ in the Philippians “to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11). He also told them, “to you it has been graciously granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe into Him but also to suffer on His behalf” (1:29). Again we see sufferings and glory in the Christian life. However, New Jerusalem will be glory without sufferings.

This gracious granting to suffer implies the supply of grace to carry us through the sufferings.

Paul also stated his own desire (and no doubt his desire for us also) “to gain Christ and be found in Him…to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead” (3:8-11).

It is by the power of His resurrection that we are enabled to be in the fellowship of His sufferings. Gaining Christ and being found in Him daily develop the power of His resurrection in us and bring us into the fellowship of His sufferings. This fellowship eventually brings us to the resurrection, the transfiguration, of our mortal body to meet the Lord in glory at His return and to participate in New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection and glory.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe Christian life includes sufferings, but our focus is not on them. Instead, we focus on the unseen, weighty, eternal things including Christ as our hope of glory—the glory of His return and of New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:16-18 says, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.”

Romans 8 is clear that we are children of God growing to be heirs. During this growth we suffer, but not by ourselves. “We suffer with Him.” The result is “we may also be glorified with Him.” May we be filled with the attitude that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory, a glory which concludes with New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:35 asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” Verse 40 answers that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Romans 5 our hope, which is Christ in us, energizes us to pass through sufferings. In Romans 8 love, which is also Christ in us, energizes us. Then Romans 12:12 encourages us to “Rejoice in hope; endure in tribulation; persevere in prayer.” By rejoicing and praying, we contact the Lord, and He supplies us to walk the suffering path to His return, after which we enjoy New Jerusalem.

 

 

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