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 is Heavenly on Earth (2)

Hebrews 11:16 tells us that the Old Testament people of faith, living on the physical earth, “long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” We likewise live in an earthly environment but should have the same longing for a heavenly one.

#NewJerusalemGod’s response to our longing is that He has prepared a heavenly city. This is “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). Although it is a heavenly city, John saw it “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2, 10). New Jerusalem is a heavenly city on earth.

The first half of Hebrews 8 tells us that the Old Testament tabernacle was a shadow of the heavenly things (v. 5). Both this chapter and the following one speak of the Holy of Holies. Verse 9:8 says that “the way of the Holy of Holies has not yet been manifested while the first tabernacle still has its standing.”

That “first tabernacle” stood during the first, the old, covenant. Now that Jesus Christ has come, died, and risen, the new covenant has been established and the way to the holy of holies is open. This New Testament holy of holies is the heavenly one, the New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the heavenly holy of holies because it is a cube, like the smaller holy of holies in the tabernacle and the temple. Revelation 21:16 declares that New Jerusalem is a cube, saying, “the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”

The way to this heavenly holy of holies is open! Jesus Christ has opened the way for us! We cannot see the way physically but we can come forward in faith. Hebrews 10:22: “Let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith;” our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Inside of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:8 and 22:15 speak of people who are not only outside New Jerusalem but also in the lake of fire.

These verses are the ultimate development of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, and Ephesians 5:5, which name many unrighteous things saying, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The kingdom which they will not inherit consummates in New Jerusalem with the throne of God and the Lamb as its center.

We, in ourselves, are not better than those people. The difference is that we have, by faith, received Christ as our righteousness. The first stage of this receiving is our initial repentance and believing in Christ. The continuing stage is our daily pursuit of Christ.

Our pursuing is to receive more of Him as our righteousness. “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). This reigning in life is more than having Christ as our objective righteousness. It is living Christ out as our daily righteousness.

Jesus Christ being our righteous living is portrayed in Revelation 19:8: New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ is “clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” These righteousnesses (plural) are the Christ we live out day by day.

This living is also in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city.” Our washing is actually His washing of us in response to our confessing (1 John 1:9).

This washing gives us right to the tree of life, Christ as our life and life supply. By this supply we live Him out. His living through us is bright and pure, matching New Jerusalem, thereby bringing us into it in reality. Thank Him that He enables us to be inside New Jerusalem and not outside.

Precious Faith Brings Forth Precious Stones for New Jerusalem

Jesus Christ is the living Stone and we too are stones for God’s building today and for New Jerusalem.

Genesis 2:7, “Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground…” In God’s creation we are earthen vessels but in His new creation by regeneration we become stones.

God created Adam, using a piece of clay taken from the earth as material. Therefore, all of us today who have been born of Adam are also clay. However, since we have been saved with God’s life, in God’s eyes we are no longer clay but stones. Immediately after Simon Peter confessed that the Lord was the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Lord said to him, “You are Peter” (Matt. 16:16-18). Peter is a translated word which means “a stone.” Likewise, every saved person is a “Peter,” a stone, used by God for the building of this city.

However, in the New Jerusalem the materials used by God for building are not merely ordinary stones but precious stones. Hence, it is not enough that we were saved and became stones; we still need to become precious stones. This requires us to put ourselves in the hands of God so that He can do the work of constitution.*

New JerusalemPaul speaks about building God’s house with precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12). This is directly in line with New Jerusalem in Revelation 21: “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (v. 19).”

Second Peter 1:1 says that we all have equally precious faith. Verse 4 tells us that God “has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature.”

By this precious faith we lay hold of the precious promises. Through these promises God works in us to make us precious stones for His building now and for New Jerusalem.

Lord, we are open to You. Work in us and constitute us with Your preciousness.

*A quote from The Building Work of God, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee
A short video by Christian Research Institute about Witness Lee.

Faith & Grace Bring Us to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem Romans 4:16: “the inheritance is out of faith that it might be according to grace.” We inherit a foretaste in this age, much more in the kingdom age, and the utmost in New Jerusalem. This verse shows that faith and grace are keys to our inheriting.

Romans 4 makes much use of the example of Abraham. Hebrews 11 also includes him in the discourse on faith. By faith Abraham “eagerly waited for the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (v. 10). This clearly points to New Jerusalem, the city which has foundations (Rev. 21:19).

Are we eagerly waiting for New Jerusalem? Or is our eagerness toward a human achievement, a human honor, greater income, a nicer home, or a special vacation? Lord, have mercy on us; align our eagerness with that of the faith people of Hebrews 11.

Romans 3:23-24 say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Because we were sinners, we were separated from glory and couldn’t inherit anything of God, including New Jerusalem, the city full of the glory of God. But by grace we have been justified by the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus through His death, which qualifies us to inherit.

Romans 3 and 4 strongly declare that works, human effort according to the law, is not the way to inherit from God. God’s way is by faith and by grace. Faith and grace carry us to New Jerusalem.

Neither faith nor grace originate with us. Peter says that God has allotted faith to us (2 Peter 1:1). Paul says the grace of God was given to us (1 Cor. 1:4). God’s eternal plan, expressed in His creation (Gen. 1:26), is to have a corporate man to express Him. For this, God wants us to be part of New Jerusalem, and to make this possible He has provided faith and grace. Thank Him!

Photo courtesy of US Forest Service.

Pictures of New Jerusalem in Exodus (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies. The holy of holies described in Exodus portrays something of New Jerusalem.

The veil (Ex. 26:31-33) separated the holy of holies from the holy place. Entering the holy of holies was extremely restricted (Lev. 16:2, 29-30). Hebrews 9:7-8 speaks of this, “…only the high priest enters [the holy of holies], once a year and not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people, the Holy Spirit thus making this clear, that the way of the Holy of Holies has not yet been manifested…”

However, we are not in that age! Hebrew 9:11 has a great turn: “But Christ, having come…”! When Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was split in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). As a result, “Having therefore, brothers, boldness for entering the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus, which entrance He initiated for us as a new and living away through the veil, that is, His flesh…” (Heb. 10:19-20).

Through the death of Jesus Christ the veil has been rent! We can enter the spiritual holy of holies now and our entrance to New Jerusalem is guaranteed. Having the new and living way, “and having a great Priest over the house of God, let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:21-22a).

Although the pictures in Exodus convey something about New Jerusalem to us, they do not show us the way to enter. Thank God that we are in this age, after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We exercise our faith to receive His redemption and thereby have boldness to enter the holy of holies now on our way to 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. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Photo courtesy of www.goodfreephotos.com.

One Flock, One Shepherd, One City

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the consummation of every positive quality in the Bible. Jesus told us, “there shall be one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:16). This is the first definite word in the New Testament about our spiritual oneness. This oneness develops through the one Body, the one new man (upcoming posts), to the one New Jerusalem.

In John 9 the Lord gave sight to a man blind from birth. This man, viewed as a disciple of Jesus (John 9:28), was cast out of the Jewish fellowship in the synagogue (John 9:22, 34, 35). From the religious Jews’ viewpoint, he was cast out. However, from Jesus’ viewpoint, he was a sheep and Jesus led him out of the sheepfold to find pasture that he might have eternal life (John 10:9-10).

The sheepfold represents the law which guarded the Jewish people until Christ came. Galatians 3:23-24 speaks of this guarding— “But before faith came we were guarded under law, being shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed. So then the law has become our child-conductor unto Christ that we might be justified out of faith.”

In John 10:16 the Lord says, “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must lead them also.” These sheep are from the nations. Then He said that from these sheep and from those of the sheepfold, “there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.”

The Lord also says He laid down His soul life, His human life, to accomplish redemption for His sheep (vv. 1517-18) that they may share His zoe life, His divine life (v. 10b), the eternal life (v. 28), by which they can be formed into one flock under Himself as the one Shepherd.* This eternal life makes us one and brings us all the way to New Jerusalem.

* An extract from the note on John 10:11 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, www.recoveryversion.org, published and © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Pursue now, unto New Jerusalem (2)

Our present New Testament pursuing includes peace, love, sanctification, and building up (verses in prior post). All of these point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAdditionally, 2 Timothy 2:22 entreats us to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Our pursuing of righteousness is our pursuing of Christ because God has made Him righteousness to us (1 Cor. 1:30).

“We are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Not only New Jerusalem, but also the entire new universe will be characterized by righteousness. Furthermore, Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.” Ultimately the throne is in New Jerusalem from which the living water flows for eternity (Rev. 22:1).

We also pursue faith. This faith is our conviction of things not seen, including New Jerusalem, the city with foundations toward which Abraham looked (Heb. 11:1, 10, 16). We pursue peace too, which comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (start of Rom., 1&2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil) and is called “the peace of Christ” in Colossians 3:15. Additionally we pursue love, the love which is of God (Rom. 5:5) and is God Himself (1 John 4:16).

All our pursuing (and our fleeing also) is “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” To call on the Lord is to cry out to Him. This is an audible calling, as in Acts 7:59, and 9:14, 21. Here is much more on the Biblical history of calling on the name of the Lord. Given this long history, it is likely that even in New Jerusalem we will call on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Lord, bring me into the practice of 2 Timothy 2:22. Give me calling companions with whom I can call on You and pursue You as my righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

More: Discovering the Indwelling Christ as the Spirit by Calling on Him at Holding to Truth.

New Jerusalem is One in Christ Jesus

The nations on the new earth around New Jerusalem walk by the light of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24), bring their glory and honor into it (Rev. 21:26), and are healed by the leaves of the tree of life (Rev. 22:2). God’s people are not these nations because the Lord Jesus has purchased us for God, redeeming us “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

New JerusalemGalatians 3 says we are justified by faith (v. 24), we are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (v. 26), and we were baptized into Christ and put Him on (v. 27). Because of these divine steps, verse 28 says “There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there cannot be slave nor free man, there cannot be male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ Jesus (and in New Jerusalem) there is no distinction between nationalities, no distinction between social statuses, and no distinction between make and female. Galatians 3:28 does not say “there should not be” but “there cannot be.” In Christ and in New Jerusalem there are no nationalities.

First Corinthians 12:12 reminds us that our human body is one with many members, then tells us, “so also is the Christ.” Verse 13 continues, “For also in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all given to drink one Spirit.”

All of us are one Body in Christ, not by our determination, but by His baptizing us in one Spirit into the one Body. In this Body there are no separating nationalities; we are one Body in Him. This reality continues into New Jerusalem, where eternally there is oneness in Christ and no nationalities.

 

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (2)

New JerusalemFirst Timothy 3:15 tells us “the house of God is the church of the living God.” This house is being enlarged to be the city of God, New Jerusalem. The believers in Jesus Christ are the house of God. In eternity all God’s people will be His city, New Jerusalem.

The word church in the New Testament refers not to a physical building, but to the Lord’s corporate people, His mystical Body. More examples:
• Ephesians 1:22-23, Christ is “Head over all things to the church, which is His Body”
• Ephesians 5:25, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”
• Ephesians 5:29, Christ nourishes and cherishes the church
• Colossians 1:18, Christ is “the Head of the Body, the church”
• 1 Thessalonians 1:1, “to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace”
• Revelation 2:7, “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Today the church, the house of the living God, is in the Lord Jesus Christ and in God our Father. This is the fact in the Bible. It is not confirmable with our physical senses but it is substantiated by faith and experienced in spirit.

The church is being enlarged to become the city of the living God, New Jerusalem. Like the church today, New Jerusalem in eternity will not be physical. It will be a living composition of all God’s people and it will be in God our Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. As grace and peace are to the church in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, grace and peace will flow even more in New Jerusalem. What a wonderful living city this is!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is Prepared as a Bride

The apostle John declares “I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalemprepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2). This post concludes a lengthy series on the preparation of the bride.

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the bride and the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:9-10). The preparation of this city-bride has two sides:
God’s side—God “has prepared a city” for His people of faith who turn their back on the fallen world and “long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
Our side—we must cooperate with God’s operation to get ready. “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

Here is a summary statement, a key Bible verse, and a link to each post in this series on the preparation of the bride of the Lamb. Some posts also link to a coordinating song.

✦ The first step in the preparation was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3-4 and quoted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

✦ To prepare the way is by exhorting people to repent, to have a change of heart (Matthew 3:3). This is followed by many other words in Matthew concerning our heart.

✦ Jesus was declared to be God’s salvation, “prepared before the face of all the peoples” (Luke 2:30-32). Without Him as our salvation, we cannot come to New Jerusalem.

✦ In Hebrews 10:5-10 we see the preparation of a human body for the Lord Jesus, that He could be the unique sacrifice for sins, a step in God’s preparation of New Jerusalem.

✦ In John 14:2-3 the Lord Jesus tells us, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again.” He went through His death and came again in resurrection.

✦ Romans 9:23 calls us vessels of mercy, saying that God “might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory.” New Jerusalem will be the consummation of this glory.

✦ In 1 Corinthians 2:9 are “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Verses 6-14 show that these things have spiritual characteristics related to New Jerusalem.

✦ In Matthew 24:32-44 the Lord Jesus warns us about His coming, “be ready, because at an hour when you do not expect it, the Son of Man is coming.” He also said, “My words shall by no means pass away.” His words are important for our getting ready.

✦ In Matthew 25:1-13, “those who were ready went in.” This is to be with Jesus Christ our Bridegroom. For this we need the extra supply of oil.

✦ In Luke 22 Peter said to Jesus, “I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death.” Peter’s failure that night shows that we cannot get ready by ourselves. Rather, we must “come forward to the throne that we may receive mercy and find grace.”

✦ We should get ready and by ourselves we cannot. But “the word of God is living and operative” (Hebrews 4:12). We receive this word by faith (4:2) to get ready for the Lord.

✦ Our receiving the living word of God by faith is our cooperation with the Lord. We also “pursue…with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

✦ To call on the Lord out of a pure heart is needed, but in ourselves we are not pure. Nevertheless, we can “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He is our Father and we have His perfect and pure life.

✦ The “things which God has prepared for those who love Him” are “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (1 Cor. 2:9).

✦ God prepared the city New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16), the city is the bride (Revelation 21:2), the bride made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). Did God do the preparation or do we get ourselves ready?

God operates and we cooperate. We are those engaged to Christ, to become New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, and we should maintain our simplicity and purity toward Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). More about God operates and we cooperate.

✦ God has prepared the city but we do not see it. Why? God is eternal but we are stuck in time. So, we turn our hearts to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) and exercise our spirit of faith to care for the unseen, eternal things (2 Corinthians 4:13, 18).

✦ God has prepared the city and we have come forward by faith. We continue to pursue, to stretch forward to what God will manifest (Philippians 3:12-14).

✦ We pursue toward the goal and “we are not of those who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39). What are we pursuing? Christ Jesus. We pursue that we “may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

✦ God prepared and we are pursuing to gain Christ and be found in Him. Yet, there are tribulations while we strive to enter into what God has prepared. Nevertheless, Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we will receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

✦ God has prepared New Jerusalem. We do not see the city with our eyes but “faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

✦ New Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:7 proclaims, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Love is the critical factor for a bride’s preparation.

✦ Love is the critical factor and Ephesians 5:2 encourages us to “walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” To walk in love is to have our daily life governed by and filled with love from the Lord to us and reflected from us to Him.

✦ New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the things God has prepared for His lovers.  The crucial factor in our preparation is that our hearts be filled with love for our Lord.

Lord Jesus, we love You!

God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing

eastern Sierra near BishopHebrews 11:16, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says God “has prepared a city for them.” If God has already prepared the city, why don’t we have any realization of it?

There are two parts of the answer to this question. One* is that God’s view is eternal, whereas our view is temporal. If we ask one another, When did you receive the Lord Jesus? the answer from our side will be in the recent months or years or decades.

In contrast, God’s view is different:
• “God, being rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
• “those whom He predestinated, these He also called; and those whom He called, these He also justified; and those whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30)
According to Ephesians, God has made us alive, and seated us in the heavenlies when Jesus Christ resurrected and ascended. In Romans, God has already glorified us.

With God’s eternal view, He has already prepared the city New Jerusalem for those whom He has chosen, called, justified, made alive, and glorified. We need to see as God sees. Hebrews 11:16, God “has prepared a city for them” is in a chapter full of faith, not sight. “We walk by faith, not by sight/appearance” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Lord, cause our faith to grow (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

He has prepared a city for us. May we exercise our faith to say “amen” to what God has said. He has prepared and He will bring us on to New Jerusalem.

* The second will be in the next post.

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