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.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Spoken to Ephesus in 1 Timothy 1

New JerusalemLast month there were six posts from Ephesians on the love between Christ the Husband and His wife the church (now) and New Jerusalem (eternally). My most recent post was the Lord’s rebuke to Ephesus in Revelation 2 because of their loss of the first love to Him.

How did they lose this love while remain-ing very active for the Lord in many things? First Timothy 1 gives us a view.

Paul exhorted Timothy to “remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things nor to give heed to myths and unending genealogies, which produce questionings rather than God’s economy, which is in faith”
(v. 3-4)

Then Paul says “the end/goal/purpose* of the charge is love out of a pure heart and out of a good conscience and out of unfeigned faith” (v. 5). These three inward sources of love make for a proper church life and prepare us for New Jerusalem.

The goal of Paul’s charge is love for the Lord out of a proper, upright inner being. The things which quench our love for the Lord and oppose this goal are different teachings, myths, genealogies, vain talking, and law teaching (v. 4-7). In contrast, 2 Timothy 2:22 exhorts us to pursue love “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Lord Jesus, I love You! Save me from all the distractions to remain in Your love.

* Various translations in 1 Tim. 1:5, thanks to Bible Hub.

Srong Contrast: Babylon and New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:18 says about New Jerusalem, “the city was pure gold, like clear glass.” Verse 21 adds, “the twelve gates were twelve pearls….the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” In contrast, Revelation 17:4 says that the woman, Babylon, was “gilded with gold and precious stone and pearls.”

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is composed of pure, precious materials but Babylon is only gilded with them. New Jerusalem is pure, clear, transparent. But Babylon, behind the gilding, is “full of abominations and the unclean things of her fornication.” Babylon is a mixture—abominations cloaked in precious things.

Abominations hidden in a good covering is not new in Revelation. The Lord Jesus speaks of many examples in the Gospels. One is, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly appear beautiful but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:37).

James 4:8 guides us: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-souled!” Our heart is for loving. Lord, purify us from any doubleness, save us from any mixture of loving You while loving other things. Bring us to loving You with our whole heart.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

The pure in heart will see God and will be prepared as constituents of the pure city, New Jerusalem.

This post is based on the first part of chapter 5, “The Holy City, New Jerusalem,” in The Glorious Church by Watchman Nee. This book can be freely downloaded from Bibles for America (English) or Rhema Literature (30 languages).

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Purified for New Jerusalem by Cooperating with the Lord (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is pure: “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18), “the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (21:21). New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (21:9); “it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean/pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

For us to match the purity of New Jerusalem, first the Lord cleanses/ purifies our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). Second, He cleanses us from unrighteousness as we are enlightened and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Third, He purifies us as we cooperate with His moving in us both to depart from unrighteousness and to let Him live through us as righteousness.

Ephesians 5:26 is also in the third step of this cleansing/purifying. The Lord sanctifies the church, “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” Here word is the Greek rhema, which means the instant word, the particular word or speaking enlivened to us as we read or remember the printed words of the Bible.

The Lord is cleansing the church but we need to cooperate. The exhortation in James 4:8 hits responsibility on our side, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-souled!” Double-souled is double-minded, having the heart divided between two parties — God and the world.*

These rhema words to us “are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). They might be as simple as “no” to separate us from something of the world. When we respond to these words, the life in us has a way to flow. This is “the washing of the water in the word.” By this washing we experience a little more of the purity of New Jerusalem.

*From the footnote on James 4:8 in NT Recovery Version Online.
For the verses cited in this post, clean and pure both come from the same Greek noun and cleanses and purifies both come from the related Greek verb.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service. 

Purified for New Jerusalem by Cooperating with the Lord

The Lord Jesus early in the New Testament said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). The New Testament concludes with New Jerusalem, “the city was pure gold” (Rev. 21:18) and in it we “will  see His face” (22:4).

New JerusalemIn ourselves we are not pure* in heart; we need the Lord’s cleansing*! And we can receive His cleansing! He cleansed our hearts in response to our faith and He cleanses us from unrighteousness when we confess our sins. These are two steps toward the purity of New Jerusalem.

We also need an experiential purification of our being. This requires our cooperation with the Lord.

First John 3:3 says, “everyone who has this hope [His second coming, v. 3:2] set on Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” Here to purify ourselves is to abide in Christ by the teaching of the anointing (v. 2:27) and to live Him as our righteousness (v. 2:29).

Our cooperation with the Lord in purifying ourselves is also seen in 2 Timothy 2. “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness” (v. 19b). “If therefore anyone cleanses himself from these [vessels of dishonor, v. 20], he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared unto every good work” (v. 21). “Flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (v. 22).

We can turn from the unrighteous things, respond to the inner anointing, and pursue Christian virtures by calling on the Lord with companions. Thus the Lord will purify us, gradually making our inward nature and condition match the pure gold of New Jerusalem.

*For the verses cited in this post, clean and pure both come from the same New Testament Greek noun and cleanses and purifies both come from the related Greek verb.

Purified by the Lord for New Jerusalem

In a recent Bible reading I was touched by a parallel between Matthew 5:8 and New Jerusalem. In Matthew the Lord says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Revelation 21:18 says, “the city was pure gold, like clear* glass” and 22:4a says, “they will see His face.”

New JerusalemMatthew has a wonderful promise and New Jerusalem completes the fulfillment. However, in ourselves we are not pure, so what should we do? We let the Lord purify us!

Hebrews 1:3 says that the Son, “having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” By His death He accomplished purification and the success of this purification is testified by His resurrection and ascension.

Acts 15:9 says that the Lord cleanses/ purifies** our hearts by faith. When we believe into the Lord Jesus Christ, we become a new creation; our old things are cleansed away. That is the first step of cleansing; a change in position. This is a first step unto the purity of New Jerusalem.

First John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin,” and 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The blood He shed in His death has cleansed us from every sin before we believed. As we are enlightened by walking in the light and if we confess, His blood cleanses us from every sin after we believe. This is the second step of cleansing, purifying us from unrighteous acts in our present living.

A third step toward the purity of New Jerusalem is in the next post.

* The same Greek word as for “pure” earlier in this verse.
** The verb form of the same Greek word in Matthew 5 and Revelation 21; here and in 1 John 1.

Love the Lord to see New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe Bible often uses figurative language, and these symbols, metaphors, parables, and allegories communicate the divine and mystical realities. New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Bible and is described in the Bible’s figurative language.

Revelation has the Lord’s description of New Jerusalem. We must look to Him to show us the deep significance of the figures which He uses. He might show us directly and He might show us through other Christians’ speaking or writing. In our seeking we must heed the Lord’s warning in Matthew 13:15 regarding why many could not comprehend the spiritual significance of His parables.

For the heart of this people has become fat, and with their ears they have heard heavily, and their eyes they have closed, lest they perceive with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and they turn around, and I will heal them.

That the people’s heart “has become fat” means their hearts were calloused, hardened, dull, insensitive. Regarding everything of the Lord, including New Jerusalem, we should never sink to this point.

What went wrong? A scribe asked, “Which is the first commandment of all? Jesus answered, The first is: ‘Hear, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord; and
______you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart
and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.’ ” (Mark 12:28-30)

If we miss this first commandment, nothing will proceed properly. Their hearts were hardened because their hearts were loving something other than the Lord. Lord, keep me loving You every day. Lord, save me from having any love before You. I want to love You to the extent that I can see the reality of New Jerusalem now.

Photo by Keith Weller, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life

New JerusalemGod sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). This “way of the Lord” extends from John unto New Jerusalem. To prepare the way is to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart for the Lord and His kingdom.

After the repentance spoken in Matthew 3 and 4, in Matthew 5:8 the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” And 2 Timothy 2:21-22 urges us to cleanse ourselves and pursue “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

This purity comes in two steps. First is our repentance and faith—God cleanses our hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9). This is once for all time. Second, we need the supply for a pure life day by day, because in ourselves we are not pure. Only the Lord Jesus is pure. First John 3:3 says “He is pure.” Only as He becomes our living can our living be pure.

Matthew 5:48 says, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” As children of the Father, we have the Father’s life, which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). With Him as our life we can be pure (read more).

To the degree that Jesus Christ is our living, to this extent we have daily, experiential purity. Out of this living, as Revelation 19:7-8 declares, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure.”

The fine, bright, and pure linen given on that day is an expression of all the preparation and the living leading to that day and ultimately to New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Manger, courtesy of CSIRO Australiawww.scienceimage.csiro.au.

Pursue with Those Who Call on the Lord   Out of a Pure Heart

New Jerusalem is revealed in Revelation 21–22 as a bride prepared for her Husband. This preparation involves many things including God’s sending of John the Baptist, God coming in the man Jesus, His offering of Himself to death in the body prepared by God, and God preparing us as vessels of mercy. On our side, the preparation includes our repentance and confession of sins, the exercise of our spirit to receive the deep things God prepared for us, and our holding the living word of God in faith.

New JerusalemOur cooperation with God’s preparation is also seen in 2 Timothy 2:21-22, “If therefore anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared unto every good work. But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

In these verses:
• We cleanse ourselves (by opening to the Lord and His word, not by our own effort) from things of dishonor, not passively waiting for the Lord to cleanse us.
• We flee youthful lusts (even if we are not young).
• We pursue spiritual virtues with others who have the same pursuing and who call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:12-13).

Our heart is a key to our preparation. Lord, work in me to purify my heart, and purify the hearts of those with whom I pursue and call. This is a part of our journey to New Jerusalem.

With this preparation, we can be vessels unto honor, prepared unto every good work. These are the good works which God prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). This is much higher than what is “good works” in the human realm. The highest good work is to minister Christ as life to other people for them to receive eternal salvation and for them to be knit together in the Body of Christ consummating in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Lord, Keep My Heart Always True to You

The first step in the New Testament toward New Jerusalem “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2) was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3).

Milford Sound, NZ, USFS photo by Robert Westover, CC 2.0This preparation was to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart, to seek and love the Lord.

Matthew records many words of the Lord Jesus regarding our hearts.
We should be pure in heart (v. 5:8), seeking only God and His glory, a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem
Our treasure should be in the heavens so that our heart may be there also (v. 6:21)
The Lord Jesus is meek and lowly in heart (v. 11:29) and we can take Him as our lowliness and meekness
We should never let our heart get fat (calloused, dull, hard) but rather eagerly receive all the Lord’s words that they may grow in our hearts (v. 13:3-23)
We should not live a life according to traditions but always keep our heart close to the Lord (v. 15:1-9), loving Him and seeking Him
We apply the Lord’s forgiveness to forgive our brothers from our heart (v. 18:35)
We feed our fellows slaves with spiritual food, rather than being drunk with worldly people and saying in our heart that our Master delays (v. 24:45-51)
Above all, we love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. (v. 22:37)

The Lord says to the church in Ephesus, “I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). The more we love the Lord, the more we take Him as our life supply, symbolized by the tree of life (v. 2:7), which is a prominent characteristic of New Jerusalem (v. 22:2).

Here is a song, “Lord, keep my heart always true to You.” Lord, draw us to love You wholly and purely that we may be supplied by You as our tree of life to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

U.S. Forest Service photo by Robert Westover, Creative Commons 2.0.

%d bloggers like this: