Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

While we are growing in our Christian life we are also being perfected. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemOur perfection includes transformation. Romans 12:2 exhorts us, “…be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.”

The result of transformation is that we corporately show forth the will of God. This will is good, in God’s sight, as is New Jerusalem. However, there may be outward events which help our transformation, which are not “good” according to our understanding.

In the same way, Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Again, this is God’s view of “good” and it applies to those who love God, those who are foreknown and predestinated by Him in eternity past to go through a process in order to be glorified (8:29-30). This glory ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Our transformation, the renewing of our mind, includes a change in our concept of “good.” God’s view of “good” is that we be transformed, conformed to the image of His Son (8:29), and glorified for New Jerusalem. This is far beyond a good job, a good, car, a good vacation, good food, etc.

Paul was pursuing God’s “good” (Phil. 3:12-14). Hence, in physical things he was content to abound or to be abased (Phil. 4:11-12).

The will of God in Romans 12 is well pleasing to Him, and to us when we are one with Him. God has predestinated us from eternity for His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5). And His good pleasure consummates in eternity with New Jerusalem. The will of God, including New Jerusalem, is perfect since God is perfect.

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Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemOur Christian life is a time for our growth and perfecting in this life so that we may match New Jerusalem.

In Luke 6 the Lord spoke quite a while about the proper living standard of His disciples. In verse 40 He said, “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who has been perfected will be like his teacher.” He is indicating that He expects us to be perfected.

We must be perfected to match the perfection of New Jerusalem, but how? Part of the answer is in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The divine life of our heavenly Father, growing in us, enables us to be perfected.

Similarly, the Lord prayed in John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” He is “the life” and He is in all His believers. This is how we can be “perfected into one” and perfected in any other way. Thank You Lord that You have become our life to work in us and perfect us.

This perfection into one is also the oneness in Ephesians 4:13, the oneness of New Jerusalem. This eternal city has one throne, one street, one river, one light; it is the perfection of oneness, the final answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

Second Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Here it seems that we are doing the perfecting work. However, in ourselves we cannot do it, but “the fear of God” indicates our cooperation with Jesus Christ as the perfecting life in us. This perfecting causes us to match New Jerusalem, the holy city (Rev. 21:2, 10).

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Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem, a city of divine life, is mature in this life. We have received this life and are growing in it so that we match New Jerusalem. Our growing involves our perfecting, similar to proper human growth requiring many years of education. Here we continue looking at verses about our growth and perfection.

Ephesians 4:11 tells us that the ascended Christ gave gifted members to His Body. Verses 12-14a tell us that these members are, “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ, until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we may be no longer little children.”

New JerusalemThese verses speak about growing from little children to a full-grown man. This growth is a normal part of our Christian life. New Jerusalem will not be full of spiritual children but is composed of full-grown believers.

This growth also takes us from children (plural) to a full-grown man (singular). This is the building together of the Body of Christ as the precursor of New Jerusalem. In ourselves we are individuals, but in Christ we become the one new man. This is part of our Christian perfecting.

These verses also speak about our being perfected for our participation in the work of the ministry which causes the building up of the Body of Christ. We all have a share in the building up of His Body, which is the building up of New Jerusalem. Lord, cause me to be perfected for this!

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We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

#NewJerusalemWe received the Christian life, the divine life, the life of New Jerusalem, at our regeneration. Now we pursue growth in this life that we may reach God’s goal for us. On one hand, God will bring us to this goal. On the other hand, there is need of our pursuing and our laboring in prayer (prior 3 posts).

Hebrews 13:20-21 is on the side that God will do what is needed. “Now the God of peace, He who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of an eternal covenant, perfect you in every good work for the doing of His will, doing in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to Him be the glory forever and ever.”

His doing in us is based on the Lord’s blood shed in His redeeming death. The goal of His doing is eternal glory to Him through New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:1-2 is on the side that we need to cooperate. “Let us…put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…” We follow the example of the Old Testament people of faith, described in Hebrews 11, to put away all hindrances and run the race before us.

Are we able to do this? Not in ourselves! But we “look away unto Jesus!” He attracts us and empowers us to overcome all the distractions and run toward Him with New Jerusalem as the ultimate goal. While we are looking to Him, He perfects our faith, just as He has already authored (initiated) it. Praise Him! Lord, keep me looking away to You!

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We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

#NewJerusalemMany New Testament verses speak about our growth. Growth is needed so that we will mature in the divine life to match New Jerusalem.

First Peter 5:10 says, “But 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.” With our cooperation, God Himself will perfect us. All the sufferings we go through are for our perfecting, for our reaching God’s goal, New Jerusalem.

Paul expresses this cooperation as counting all things loss for the excellency of Christ (Phil. 3:7-8), an excellency fully manifested by New Jerusalem. He sought to gain Christ and be found in Him (3:8-9). He was also pressing onward toward the goal, the fullest experience of Christ, which would prepare him for the prize, New Jerusalem (3:13-14).

When we have a goal different from New Jerusalem, our attitude is not like Paul’s and we try to escape the sufferings and we hold on to all things. But Paul was a person fully for God’s eternal purpose. His desire was to live Christ and magnify Christ whether through life or death (Phil. 1:20-21), whether his outward circumstances were bountiful or pitiful (4:11-12).

On the road to New Jerusalem, outward circumstance do not matter. Our attitude should be, “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). The sufferings are “things seen” but New Jerusalem is among “things not seen.”

Lord, turn my view away from the temporal things to Your eternal things.

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description. Earlier in the New Testament there are many verses about our perfection/completion/maturity so that we will match New Jerusalem.

As believers in Christ, we have eternal life. Isn’t this enough? Yes, this life is sufficient for everything. But, this life must grow in us. We cannot remain infants (1 Cor. 3:1). Every kind of life in God’s creation has growth; they are here to portray the normality of our spiritual growth. We grow so that the maturity of New Jerusalem may shine forth.

In 2 Corinthians 13:9 Paul said, “this also we pray for, your perfecting.” To grow and be perfected in the divine life is normal but does not happen in passivity. Our growth requires our cooperation and our prayer for one another.

Two verses later Paul says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice, be perfected, be comforted, think the same thing, be at peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Here are some helps for our growth and perfecting. First, rejoice in the Lord. Second, open needs to Him that He may be comfort and peace (Phil 4:6-7) to us. Third, ask Him to tune us into the same mind, into His thinking (1 Cor. 1:10).

The importance of our growth is seen in Colossians 1. In verse 27 Paul announces Christ in us as our hope of glory, our hope for the glory of New Jerusalem. In verse 28 he says that this announcing includes “admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man full-grown in Christ.” He was not satisfied to present saved sinners; his longing was to present full-grown believers, believers who match the perfection of New Jerusalem.

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

In the New Testament there are several dozen verses which include Greek words translated complete/completion, perfect/perfection, or mature/maturity/full grown. These words all point toward New Jerusalem because every believer will mature in their Christian life to participate in this wonderful/complete/perfect city.

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description.
See: Numbers in the Bible
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

This post begins a look at some verses containing these words, including their relationship to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48 is a good beginning, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our Christian perfection comes not from ourselves but from the Father’s life within us. His life is perfect and when it matures in us, we will be perfect.

Our Christian life begins with our new birth, as in John 3:5-6 and 1 Peter 1:23. A birth is the beginning. Now we need to grow for a considerable period of time. The beginning of this growth is by the milk of God’s word, just as newborn babies drink milk to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But New Jerusalem is not a city of babies; it is mature and complete.

We should heed the words in Hebrews: “everyone who partakes of milk is inexperienced in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant; but solid food is for the full-grown” (5:13-14). This requires spiritual exercise (5:14). So, “let us be brought on to maturity” (6:1). Lord, I am willing; bring me and my Christian companions on to maturity. Give us solid food so that we can grow!

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New Jerusalem: No More Tribulation (2)

In the New Testament, tribulation refers to the persecution of the Lord’s people throughout this age (e.g. Matt. 24:9, Acts 14:22) and to the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19), the last three and a half years (Rev. 12:14) of this age, immediately prior to the Lord’s visible return.

#NewJerusalemGod, in His sovereignty, uses both aspects of tribulation to prepare His people for New Jerusalem. Here are more verses about this.

Acts 14:22, “Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” This was spoken by Paul and Barnabas in caring for relatively new believers. Tribulations would not be rare to them, but through these they were brought into the reality of the kingdom, which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

To participate in this entrance, we must continue in the faith. Some ways to do this are to read and say amen to God’s word, to sing about our Lord, and to praise Him. Also, since Romans 8:35 promises that neither tribulation nor other difficulties can separate us from the love of Christ, we can continue by declaring, Lord Jesus, I love You.

Revelation 1:9: “I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John partook of the endurance in Jesus to suffer tribulation for the word and the testimony. May we follow his example.

At that time John tells us that he was in the kingdom. This was the spiritual reality. Like the believers in Acts 14:22, John was still waiting for the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom at the Lord’s return and the fullest experience of the kingdom in New Jerusalem.

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New Jerusalem: No More Tribulation

In the New Testament, tribulation is used in two ways. One is the general persecution and sufferings of the Lord’s people throughout this age (e.g. Matt. 24:9, Acts 14:22). The other is the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19), the last three and a half years (Rev. 12:14) = 42 months (Rev. 11:2) = 1260 days (Rev. 11:3) of this age, immediately prior to the Lord’s visible return.

The devil is the source of all tribulation, including its hatred, persecution, and killing. But the devil “was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10). Hence, when the new creation and New Jerusalem appear, there will not be any devil nor any tribulation.

New JerusalemEven though tribulation is of the devil, God uses it to prefect us for His purpose. God is magnificent and able to use the devil’s opposing actions to His advantage. This is part of our path to New Jerusalem. Here are some verses:

Acts 11:19: “Those then who were scattered by the tribulation which took place on account of Stephen passed through as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word…” Here tribulation spread the gospel.

Romans 5:3: “…we also boast in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces endurance.” This is not our endurance; rather, it is “the endurance of Christ” worked into us (2 Thes. 3:5).

Revelation 2:9-10: “I know your tribulation and poverty (but you are rich) and the slander….Do not fear the things that you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that you may be tried, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Amazing! The crown of life, surely a characteristic of New Jerusalem, comes forth from tribulation.

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Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (5)

New JerusalemFirst John 1:2: “And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” This life was first manifested through the incarnation and human living of the Lord Jesus. It will be fully manifested by New Jerusalem.

This eternal life brings us fellowship with God and with one another (v. 3, 7). This fellowship is for this time and will continue ever richer into eternity in New Jerusalem.

To announce this life to one another is a matter of joy now (v. 4). This life will also fill New Jerusalem with joy. Furthermore, in this life we have God, who is light (v. 5). This light is within us now and will characterize New Jerusalem as a city with God in the Lamb as its light (Rev. 21:11, 23).

In New Jerusalem there will be no sin, so there will be no further need of confessing sins (v. 9). But, the Lamb will be in the city (Rev. 21:22-23, 22:1, 3) as a reminder that He is the One who “took away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

Verse 8 speaks about the truth (reality). This truth is Jesus Christ Himself (John 14:6) both now and in New Jerusalem.

Verse 9 tells us that God is faithful and righteous to forgive the sins we confess. In New Jerusalem there will be no more sinning so no more confessing of sins, but God will still be faithful and righteous, and we will still “openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). And we will “see His face” (Rev. 22:4).

All of these blessings in 1 John 1 characterize Christian life today and in New Jerusalem. It is a city of eternal life, eternal fellowship, eternal joy, eternal light, eternal truth (reality), and the eternal presence of the faithful and righteous God.

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Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (4)

“He who believes into the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). When we believe into Jesus Christ, we immediately receive eternal life. This life grows in us and brings us to New Jerusalem, the city of eternal life.

New JerusalemWe have already received this life, yet this life will accomplish much more in us during our Christian life. This is Romans 5:10, “If we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.”

Our reconciliation was accomplished by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross. By His resurrection the divine life was released and by believing we have received it. Now this life is saving us from our sins, our negative attitudes, the world, our fleshly living, and many other things. This is a “much more” salvation!

This salvation brings us ut of everything that is not in New Jerusalem and fills us with all the riches that will be displayed in New Jerusalem.

Romans 5:17 continues, “much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” We received eternal life once for all. Now we receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness with the result that we will reign in life, ultimately reigning in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:5).

Romans 5:21 declares “In order that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus Christ is all-inclusive; He is our Lord, our grace, our righteousness, our life. Whenever we turn our heart to Him (2 Cor. 3:16) He brings us onward toward reigning in life in New Jerusalem.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (3)

“He who has the Son has the life” (1 John 5:12). By believing, we received eternal life (John 3:15-16) and we have this life today. This is the life of the eternal city New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWe let this life abide, be active, move freely, in us (1 John 2:24-25). As this life abides, it grows, it increases in us.

A key contributor to this growth is the word of God. We long for the milk of the word to grow unto salvation (1 Peter 2:2-3). This is “the word of the truth of the gospel” which we heard (Col. 1:5) and which is now growing in us (1:6).

Although we have this life, we still need to cooperate, to turn from other attractions and “lay hold on the eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12). Instead of so much time with worldly pleasures or recreations, we should “lay hold on that which is really life” (6:19). This life is eternal and prepares us for New Jerusalem; all other things delay our preparation.

Galatians 6 also speaks this way. We must not be deceived; if we sow to the flesh we reap corruption, but if we sow unto the Spirit we will reap eternal life. Do not lose heart; we will reap (Gal. 6:7-9). The ultimate stage of our reaping is our participation in New Jerusalem.

Jude 21 also encourages us to be faithful, to cooperate with this life. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” We have received this life already, we “have the life” (1 John 5:12) yet there is a greater degree of life, a fuller experience of this life ahead of us. This we faithfully await, looking away unto the Lord’s second coming and then unto New Jerusalem.

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