Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (2)

While the eternal life grows in us and perfects us for New Jerusalem, we also have outward sufferings.

Second Corinthians 4:17 tells us that “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” Our afflictions remind us how much we need the Lord. Sufferings remind us that “should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” The afflictions push us to the Lord, and as He spreads within us, the “eternal weight of glory,” a strong characteristic of New Jerusalem, is developing within us.

With this eternal and glorious view, our attitude about sufferings matches 2 Corinthians 4. “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” (v. 18). Lord, turn our eyes and thoughts from what is seen to what is unseen!

New JerusalemRomans 5:2 says that we “boast because of the hope of the glory of God.” This hope is not our determination but is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). This includes the Lord’s visible return as “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and culminates in the glory of New Jerusalem.

Romans 5:3 continues “we also boast in our tribulations.” The basis for this boast is a development through a series of steps involving hope, love, and a “much more” salvation in the Lord’s wonderful life
(v. 3-11). This view matches what is in 2 Corinthians 4.

We cannot endure the sufferings/afflictions/tribulations on our own. But Christ is in us! He endured the cross, despising the shame. He is very real, although presently unseen physically. He is our hope of glory, and He will be our glory in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

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Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod created, formed, and made us for His glory (Isa. 43:7), a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11, 23).

Between the first and last chapters of the Bible, on our journey from creation to glory, we receive the redemption from Christ and experience His life entering and maturing in us. While eternal life is maturing in us, conforming us to the perfection of New Jerusalem, there are often outward sufferings.

We should not be surprised by sufferings. The Lord told us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The sufferings are outward but the peace of the Lord is inward. Sufferings are in the old creation and temporary; peace is in the new creation and is eternal. The name Jerusalem means foundation of peace.

Paul and Barnabas, visiting recently saved Christians, were “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” (Acts 14:22). Inwardly, in spirit, we are already in the kingdom of God (see next paragraph). Outwardly, we will participate in the global manifestation of God’s kingdom in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

John describes himself as “your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). This indicates that we too are partakers in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.

These verses speak about troubles, but if our view is on eternity, on New Jerusalem, we will echo 2 Corinthians 4:17, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory,”

Created for the Glory of New Jerusalem

In Isaiah 43 God speaks of gathering His scattered people, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created, formed, and even made for My glory” (v. 7).

The words create, form, and make all appear in Genesis 1–2 (e.g. 1:1, 26; 2:4, 7-8). The declaration in Isaiah 43:7 shows us that all God’s work from the beginning of creation has a goal—His glory. God created us not merely to live a good human life. God put man in the garden of Eden with the tree of life. This is a picture of God wanting to be life to us.

New JerusalemThis picture in Genesis 2 is before sin, before death, before the curse, before rebellion against God. God being life to us is not a reaction to these negatives. God wants His life to be received by us, to be in us for His glory.

The tree of life is also in New Jerusalem. Christ has become life to all His believers and is our life eternally. This life operates in us to transform us and build us together to be His corporate Body in this age and to be the city of New Jerusalem in eternity.

This is “for God’s glory.” New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God illuminates New Jerusalem (21:23). And, because the city is like clear, transparent glass (21:11, 18, 21), God’s illuminating glory will shine out through the city.

In these verses we see three steps. First, God created, formed, and made us. Second, God in Christ became life to us. Third, the result is God’s glory. These three steps cover the entire Bible, from creation to New Jerusalem.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (7)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). At that time we will see Him clearly, face to face without any veil or obscuration.

We should not wait until New Jerusalem to behold His face. We cannot see our Lord physically today, but prior posts have verses about beholding in our current Christian life.
• By believing, we behold the Lord in resurrection (John 12:44-45; 14:19).
• He said that after His resurrection “you will see Me” and rejoice (John 16:16-22).
• Then He prayed that we may be with Him to “behold My glory” (John 17:24).
• Through receiving the gospel, God “shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of
__the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
• By turning our heart to the Lord, we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:16-18).
• Also, putting away encumbrances and sins, we “look away unto Jesus”  (Heb. 12:1-2).

New JerusalemAll these verses are for us today, not waiting until New Jerusalem. These are not unusual  events like Peter, James, and John on the mountaintop (Matt. 17) nor Stephen while being stoned (Acts 7) nor Paul on the way to Damascus (Acts 9). What is in the verses above should be a “we all” (2 Cor. 3:18) experience of beholding His face.

This experience requires denying our self, turning our heart, and putting away every hindrance. We are running a race with endurance. Our reward will be at the Lord’s return.

“We know that if He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him even as He is” (1 John 3:2). This unobscured seeing will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (6)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). In this age, God has shined in our hearts and we turn our hearts to the Lord to behold and reflect His glory.

In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our heart from everything to the Lord to behold Him. This is the same as Hebrews 12:1-2, “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.” Lord, enlighten us to see and put away the encumbrances.

The sins we must put away, by confessing and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), are obviously negative. The encumbrances however may seem positive—our attitudes, goals, preferences, interests, etc. However, we must put these away because they hinder our “looking away unto Jesus.” This is like Matthew 1624-25; we must deny ourself and take up our cross to follow Him.

Many parallels are in these verses: looking away, putting away, turning (2 Cor. 3), denying (Matt. 16). Moses is an example; he considered “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked away to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). He had the Lord’s presence as his reward then and will participate in New Jerusalem as the ultimate reward.  Lord, grant us the same attitude and consideration that Moses had!

By denying and turning, we look to Jesus. This looking, to see His face in spirit today, is our current reward, our foretaste of seeing His face in New Jerusalem. In our looking away to Jesus He, as the Author/Source/Initiator and as the Perfecter/Completer of our faith, will energize us to run the race with endurance to the goal.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (5)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). To prepare us for this, God has already “shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 the Israelites looking at the face of Moses is likened to our looking at the Lord’s face. This is for today, not waiting for New Jerusalem.

During our Christian life we should continually behold the face of Jesus Christ. Whenever our heart turns to the Lord our veils are taken away (v. 16). These veils could be our ideas about what is best, our human goals, our attitudes about people and events, our complaining about outward sufferings, or many other things. When the veils are gone, we contact the Lord who is the Spirit and experience His inner freedom (v. 17).

As a result, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit” (v. 18). Our transformation is by our looking to the Lord, beholding His glory, so that He can infuse us with it. This is our preparation for New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

Our continual (or sadly, intermittent) beholding of the Lord produces continual (or sadly, intermittent) transformation, “from glory to glory.” God’s desire, for which He predestinated us, is that we “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). With this image and with “reflecting the glory of the Lord” we become a corporate expression of Him. which consummates in New Jerusalem.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (4)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb with no obscuration and will be fully in His glory. But we must not forget that the Lord’s prayer for this is already being answered.

New JerusalemSecond Corinthians 4 speaks about the proclamation of the gospel now. When we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and not ourselves (v. 5), “the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6).

God has already shined into the heart of everyone who believes. This shining brings us the knowledge, the spiritual realization, of the glory of God. And this glory is in the face of Jesus Christ. This is an experience of New Jerusalem today.

We in ourselves are merely earthen vessels, but we have this excellent treasure in us (v. 7). Inwardly we have the treasure and outwardly our Christian life may have troubles (v. 8-12).

Our outer man is decaying (v. 16), but despite the troubles, this treasure is renewing our inner man (v. 16) to match the newness of New Jerusalem. With the heavenly view (v. 18), we can declare with Paul, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory” (v. 17). This eternal weight of glory is our participation in New Jerusalem.

To continue seeing the glory in the face of Jesus Christ and to cooperate with the renewing process through which we are passing, we exercise our spirit of faith to speak (v. 13). This speaking is based on our bold confidence in the resurrecting God (v. 14), whose work in us culminates in New Jerusalem.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (3)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). Now, in resurrection, we see the Lord in spirit and He is our joy.

The prior posts touched John 14 and 16. Then the Lord prayed, “I desire that they also may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory.” (17:24). To behold His glory is to behold Him, to have a foretaste of the promise in Revelation 22.

The fulfillment of this matter began with the Son’s resurrection, when He brought His believers into participation in His resurrection life, and will consummate in the New Jerusalem.*

New JerusalemFor this beholding, the Lord says we must be with Him, where He is. To be with Him is in resurrection. He told us in John 14:20 that from the time of His resurrection, we “will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

This mutual indwelling is in spirit. The Spirit of reality has regenerated our human spirit (John 3:6) and now indwells it (John 14:17, Rom. 8:11). We are one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17).

In spirit we see the Lord! It is wonderful to await the Lord’s second coming when “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7), and to pray Amen, Lord, come quickly (Rev. 22:20). Yet, while doing this, we must not forget that today we are in Him and He is in us so we can behold Him and His glory now.

New Jerusalem will be the fullness of beholding the Lord and His glory, but this is available in lesser degree now. Lord, grant us this beholding experience today!

* Part of footnote 1 on John 17:24 in the Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (2)

In eternity, in New Jerusalem, we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). Before that time the Lord has promised, that in resurrection, we will behold Him and we will live (John 14:19).

New JerusalemOur present beholding is spiritual. We behold the Lord in spirit because the Spirit of reality is in us. In contrast, the unbelievers cannot behold Him because this Spirit is not in them (John 14:17).

Shortly before His death, looking forward to His resurrection, the Lord said, “A little while and you no longer behold Me, and again a little while and you will see Me” (John 16:16). While He was in the tomb, the disciples dd not behold Him, but after three days they saw Him again.

Their seeing of the Lord in resurrection was physical and spiritual. However, their physical seeing was intermittent and short-lived. But their, and our, spiritual seeing is permanent, continuing into New Jerusalem.

The disciples were confused about the Lord’s word, so He explained. He told them “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (John 16:22). This inward joy is a proof that we are seeing the Lord spiritually. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not physically recognize the Lord, but they testified “Was not our heart burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32)

Certainly in New Jerusalem there will be a greater, clearer beholding of the Lord, along with greater joy. The Lord has promised that no one takes this joy away from us, but we need to pray, Lord, keep me in resurrection beholding You, that I may experience this joy.

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Now and New Jerusalem: Behold His Face

New JerusalemRevelation 22:3-4 says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him; and they will see His face.”

Seeing the face of God and the Lamb will be an eternal blessing, and a foretaste is available now for those who seek Him. First Corinthians 13:12: “now we see in a mirror obscurely, but at that time face to face.” After the Lord’s visible return to earth, in the kingdom age and in eternity, we will see God’s face clearly.

Today we see “obscurely.” Yet, we will look at many verses about seeing the Lord’s face now, a preview of Revelation 22:4’s word about New Jerusalem.

“Jesus cried out and said, He who believes into Me does not believe into Me, but into Him who sent Me; and he who beholds Me beholds Him who sent Me.” (John 12:44-45) In this word, beholding the Lord follows believing into Him.

In John 14:19 He said, “Yet a little while and the world beholds Me no longer, but you behold Me; because I live, you also shall live.” This beholding is in the realm of resurrection. It is a result of the Lord’s death and resurrection, and by our believing, that we enter this realm, we live (with His eternal life), and we behold the Lord.

Beholding the Lord in resurrection is much more than physically seeing the Lord during His time on earth. The same will be true in New Jerusalem, even though we expect also to see Him physically from the time of His second coming.

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.

New Jerusalem: Living Temple and Eternal Holy of Holies

The Old Testament temple was physical and earthly. The New Testament temple is living and heavenly. It is the incarnated Jesus and the resurrected Jesus in His believers. Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” Verse 2 says that our Lord, the real High Priest, is a Minister “of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”

Here are a posts which compare the shadow and the true, and use the shadow to show characteristics of the true, including New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Each summary begins with a link to that post and ends with one key verse reference.

New Jerusalem

The Lord told the Jews that if they destroyed the temple (of His body), He would raise it up in resurrection. This shows that the New Testament temple is living, not physical. (John 2:19-22)

In resurrection, the Spirit is dwelling in every believer. This makes us “the temple of God.” (1 Cor. 3:16)

The overcomers, who hold fast to the Lord’s word, will be pillars in the living temple. (Rev. 3:11-12).

John tells us, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Rev. 21:22)

Jesus Christ “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” As priests, we are qualified to serve in the temple and will serve eternally in New Jerusalem. (Rev. 1:5-6).

God is not only our living temple but also our dwelling place now and in New Jerusalem. (Psalm 90:1)

We have been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. We serve God day and night in His temple, which is God Himself. (Rev. 7:14-15).

Colossians 2, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body [the reality which casts the shadow] is of Christ.” (Heb. 8:5)

The Old Testament things are shadows because “grace and reality came through Jesus Christ,” in His incarnation. (John 1:17)

The shadows in the Bible illuminate us concerning the reality. The Old Testament holy of holies had the ark of the covenant with its contents, all pictures of the reality. (Hebrews 9:4)

The ark contains manna in a golden pot, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant. All portray something about New Jerusalem. (Hebrews 9:4).

The lid of the ark is the propitiation place, testifying of the forgiveness and cleansing of sins. (Heb. 9:5, 14)

The cherubim of glory are above the propitiation place, symbolizing New Jerusalem which has the glory of God. (Heb. 9:5)

Above the propitiation place and between the cherubim is where God meets with us and speaks with us. (Exo. 25:21-22)

In New Jerusalem we have been brought into the holy of holies to have full fellowship with the Triune God, there is no more need of the outer court nor the holy place. (Rev. 22:1-5)

We come forward with boldness, with full assurance of faith, to the holy of holies, to New Jerusalem. (Heb. 10:19-22)

To come forward to the holy of holies is also to come to the throne of grace. (Heb. 4:16)

To come forward to the holy of holies is to enter through the veil, which was torn when the Lord was crucified (Heb. 9:3, 10:19-20). Here is a hymn about entering through the veil:
Enter the Veil and Go Without the Camp
Taste Heaven’s Sweetness
Enter the Veil, Come Forward to the Throne

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Come Forward to the Throne of Grace

New JerusalemGod meets with us in the holy of holies between the cherubim of glory above the propitiation place. This meeting place is also the throne of grace. Because the throne of grace is in the holy of holies, Hebrews encourages us to come forward both to the holy of holies (10:19-22) and to the throne of grace (4:16).

Today the holy of holies is our human spirit, where Christ dwells in us. To touch Him, to be with Him, is the be in the holy of holies and to come to the throne of grace. To come forward is an exercise today and will be our perpetual living in New Jerusalem.

The encouragement to come forward is captured in a song (music). The first words are:
__In the holiest place, touch the throne of grace, Grace as a river shall flow.
The chorus is, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Grace as a river shall flow.
Grace flowing from the throne is equivalent to the river of life flowing from the throne of New Jerusalem.

The second verse of the song says:
__In the holiest place, live before His face, Light of glory thru me will shine.
This is equivalent to New Jerusalem, in which we see God’s face and His light shines on us (Rev. 22:4-5). And because the entire New Jerusalem, including us, will be transparent, pure, clear (Rev. 21:11, 18, 21), light of glory will shine not only on us but also through us.

We can rejoice with the last verse of the song:
__Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Touch the living fountain of life.
In John 4:14 the Lord promised in us “a fountain of water gushing up into eternal life.” Today He is the fountain in our spirit and this life will flow in and through us forever in New Jerusalem.

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