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.

New Jerusalem, a Bride Adorned (2)

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2: “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” And 21:19: “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone.”

First Timothy 2:9 clearly says that Christian adorning is not external things. This principle should extend to New Jerusalem.

Furthermore, 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Let your adorning not be the outward plaiting of hair and putting on of gold or clothing with garments, but the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God.”

Peter is firm that Christian adorning is not outward, not with physical things, but is a matter of our heart  and our spirit, and is incorruptible. The Spirit regenerated our spirit (John 3:6). The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). The Father, by His Spirit, strengthens us into our inner man that Christ may make His home in our heart (Eph. 3:16-17).

These verses show that the adorning spoken of by Peter is the Triune God entering and filling our being. This is the adornment for our Christian life today and for New Jerusalem.

This adorning is incorruptible because the Triune God is incorruptible and has conveyed this to us through the gospel to regenerate us with incorruptible seed (1 Pet. 1:23). All kinds of outward adorning, even silver and gold, are corruptible (1:18) and do not correspond with our incorruptible inheritance (1:4), New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem, a Bride Adorned

John declares in Revelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” New Jerusalem is a corporate person, the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

This bride is adorned. Let us use the Bible to determine what this adorning is and is not. Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:9 exhorts “that women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Here the genuine Christian adorning is not outward decoration but proper virtues*.

New JerusalemWe should apply this to our expectations for New Jerusalem. The gold of the city is not physical gold but a sign (Revelation is a book of signs) of the divine nature which saturates the city. Likewise the pearl gates are not physical but portray the death and resurrection of Christ through which we enter the city.

Additionally, the precious stones are not something of human jewelry but display the transforming work of the Spirit in all the believers. This work causes the city to have the appearance of jasper (Rev. 21:11) which is also the appearance of God on the throne (Rev. 4:3).

The adorning of New Jerusalem is the Triune God Himself wrought into all believers and shining out through them. By partaking of the divine nature, the gold (2 Pet. 1:4), experiencing the death and resurrection of Christ as our pearl (Phil. 3:10), and participating in the transforming by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18) to make us precious stones, we become constituted and adorned to be New Jerusalem to manifest the Triune God.

* More on this in the next post.

The Gospel: a Promise of Resurrection and Incorruption

“Our Savior Christ Jesus, nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). His resurrection nullifies death and His resurrection life changes our corruption into incorruption, thus preparing us for New Jerusalem.

In Acts 13 Paul spoke of “the gospel of the promise made to the fathers.” This gospel is characterized by resurrection and incorruption. The first step for us, as mentioned in Acts 13, is forgiveness of sins as God’s response to our repentance. This is Luke 24:47, “Repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.”

Based on this forgiveness, we receive God’s eternal life, an incorruptible life, the life of resurrection. This life matches New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection.

When we receive this life, the first action in us is that our deadened spirit is made alive. Then gradually this life spreads in our being to renew our soul—our mind, emotion, and will—making our soul life. Gradually this life is imparted into our mortal body, an impartation which will be completed at the Lord’s return so that “the body of our humiliation” may be “conformed to the body of His glory.”

This life saturating our being makes us people full of life and full of incorruption, swallowing all the death and corruption in our being. Through this development, we get fully conformed to New Jerusalem to become a part of this city “having the glory of God.”


Some phrases about this development of life:
Eph. 2:5 God, “when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ”
Rom. 8:10 “if Christ is in you…the spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Rom. 8:6 “the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
Rom. 8:11 God will “give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Death & Resurrection unto New Jerusalem

The Lord Jesus asks us to deny ourself, take up our cross daily, and lose our soul life. This is our path to New Jerusalem but it seems quite negative. But remember, the Lord’s death is followed by resurrection. The Lord’s death applied in us is followed by His resurrection applied in us.

New Jerusalem is a city of resurrection, not a city of our natural life. Our natural life must be denied so that resurrection life can spring forth.

New JerusalemDeath and resurrection was the life of the Lord Jesus and today it is our life. Second Corinthians 4 speaks of this. Verse 10: “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

Verse 11: “We who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

When the Lord returns, we will experience the redemption of our mortal body. Until then we bear, not an ordinary death, but “the putting to death of Jesus” that the resurrection life may be manifested. This manifestation will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

Verse 12 says that death operates in us. This is our experience of the cross. Verses 13-14 say we have a spirit of faith, “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.” This coming experience of resurrection brings us into the manifestation of the kingdom and then to New Jerusalem.

Photo by David Goodrich, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (2)

Our path through the cross to New Jerusalem includes 1) the accomplishments of the Lord Jesus in His death on the cross, 2) their objective application to us through believing and baptism, and 3) our subjective experiences by denying our self, taking up our cross, and losing our soul life, our fallen natural life. The degree to which we lose our soul life is the degree to which the Lord’s eternal life can grow in us.

New JerusalemThe Lord’s word about denying our self in Luke 9 is “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” This is not once-for-all; it is continual, throughout our Christian life until we die or until the Lord returns.

In Luke 14 the Lord gives us another unique word—we need to hate our soul life. He makes this equivalent to carrying our own cross and says that without this hating and carrying, we cannot be His disciple.

If we are not His disciples, we should not expect to be in New Jerusalem. However, He is merciful, and He will eventually discipline us to be worthy of New Jerusalem.

This is the narrow way of the cross to New Jerusalem.

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

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.

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