The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (4)

“Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus Christ] has come, and His wife [New Jerusalem] has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Our getting ready is by cooperating with the Spirit, not by self effort.

New JerusalemSimon Peter is a warning to us. “He [Simon] said to Him [Jesus], Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). His readiness was his decision out of his own zeal, his natural love for the Lord, and his self-confidence, but that night Simon Peter failed completely.

The readiness of the bride comes only from God working in us in response to our cooperation. In contrast to Peter’s zeal before the Lord’s crucifixion, Romans 12 charges us to “be burning in spirit” and 2 Timothy 1 charges us to “fan into flame the gift of God” which is in us.

In contrast to Peter’s natural love, Ephesians concludes with grace to “all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Such love comes from God. First John 4 tells us that “God is love” and that we love “because love is of God.” At that time Peter was confident in himself but later Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God.”

Eve was constituted with a rib taken out of Adam to match him. In the same way, New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife, to match Christ. Her constitution must come from Him, not from anything of the fallen, natural realm.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 4

Here is the last verse of a song about Christ’s love for His wife, initially the church and eternally New Jerusalem. This part of the song begins with resurrection. Both the church and New Jerusalem are in resurrection because they exist solely in and with the resurrection life of Christ.

New Jerusalem“She beholds her Bridegroom…” This is like Hebrews 12:1-2, let us “run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” He is both the Initiator and the Completer. We are not capable of becoming the glorious church and city, but He will complete this process in us. Thank Him.

“His glory floods her heart.” This is happening today. In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our hearts to the Lord and “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).

His open appearing in glory will be at His second coming: “they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). But His spiritual appearing is available to us now as we turn our hearts and look away to Him.

Eventually His bride will be raptured and then come down out of heaven, “the bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:9-11).

 

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through the Cross, Looking to Jesus

The Lord desires to constantly apply His death to our natural life so that His resurrection life may be manifested. “We who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” (2 Cor. 4:11). This is our path to New Jerusalem, the consummate manifestation of the life of Jesus.

New JerusalemOn one hand “we are being delivered unto death.” On the other hand, we have to deny our soul life and bear our cross. We cannot do this ourselves. We need to be empowered by Him.

“Let us…run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:1-2).

We need the endurance of Jesus, so that we may reach the joy set before us, a joy which culminates in New Jerusalem. Thus, we look to HIm. This is similar to the first part of Romans 5. Being justified “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Standing in grace, equal to looking away to Jesus, brings forth many virtues including endurance.

A related verse is 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the endurance of Christ.” When our hearts are loving God we have endurance, but we are not the source. It is “the endurance of Christ.” He brings us through all the killing of our natural man into the reality of the new man, which becomes New Jerusalem.

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.

Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

New Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb, is composed of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified people. God’s choosing determined that we are on the path to New Jerusalem. Although we were among fallen men, Christ’s redemption brought us back to God and regeneration gives us God’s eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemTRANSFORMED: Regeneration is to be born of the Spirit in our spirit, as the Lord spoke in John 3. Transformation is the spreading of divine life into our soul to renew our mind. This renewing is also our transformation (Rom. 12:2).

This is based on our consecration (Rom. 12:1) and is accomplished by our cooperation with the Spirit’s work in us and is “unto glory” that is, unto New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

GLORIFIED: Transformation develops God’s glory within us. However, transformation is in our soul and the expression of glory is still constrained by the body of our humiliation (Phil. 3:21). Glorification, transfiguration, is the divine life saturating our mortal body so that it will “be conformed to the body of His glory.” This is “the redemption of our body” which is the full sonship.

This glorification will occur when the Lord returns, “When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). This, our glorification, is “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8) whose glory we “behold and reflect” (2 Cor. 3:18) throughout our transformation, saturating our entire being and radiating through us that all may behold.

This glory developed in us began with regeneration, continues through transformation, and is concluded by glorification. This causes us to match New Jerusalem, the city which “has the glory of God.”

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory

The Bright Lamb-Lamp of New Jerusalem

In Matthew 16:28 the Lord said that some disciples would see “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” A week later three saw Him transfigured. This is the kingdom of God with the glory of God. Ultimately, the kingdom and glory is New Jerusalem. John tells us that he saw the city has the throne of the kingdom at its center and has the glory of God (Rev. 22:1, 21:10-11).

The seeing of the kingdom in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 gives us a preview of New Jerusalem. These chapters speak not about outward power but about the appearance of the Lord.
“He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light.” (Matt. 17:2)
“He was transfigured before them, and His garments became sparkling, exceedingly white.” (Mark 9:3)
“And as He prayed, the appearance of His face became different, and His garment dazzling white.” (Luke 9:29)

New JerusalemAlthough Jesus knew beforehand that this transfiguration would happen, Luke records that He prayed. We need to pray to release what God wants for His kingdom on earth, as in Matthew 6:9-10.

His prayer and transfiguration indicate that the change in His appearance was from within, not from outside. The Greek word translated transfiguration is also transformation in 2 Corinthians 3:18. There the word clearly indicates a change by the Spirit operating within us to bring us onward in glory.

The brightness of the Lord Jesus on the mountain is a preview of His brightness as the Lamb-lamp in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). This is the glory of God radiating through Him, a glory brighter than the sun, so that New Jerusalem “has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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,”

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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