Sonship for New Jerusalem (2)

God has chosen and predestinated us unto sonship according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:4-5). Then verse 6 says that this is “to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He graced us in the Beloved.” God’s choosing, predestinating, good pleasure, His will, His grace, and the praise of His glory all climax in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemGod’s choosing and predestinating are eternal, but man fell into sin and death and was under the condemnation of the law. We could not do anything but “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law, that He might redeem those under law that we might receive the sonship” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Through the death of Jesus Christ we were redeemed and through His resurrection we were regenerated (1 Peter 1:3) and “receive the sonship.” Redemption is needed for fallen humanity but life brings forth the praise of His glory now and in New Jerusalem.

For this sonship, Romans 8:15 tells us that we “have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba, Father!” This is the divine Spirit who gives birth to our human spirit and then dwells in our human spirit. In this spirit we have the reality of sonship. To cry “Abba, Father” releases the spirit deep within us to testify that we are children of God, born of God (v. 16).

From regeneration we are children of God. Now we are growing in this life to be mature sons to be fully prepared for New Jerusalem.

 

Sonship for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemFour verses in the New Testament include the word “sonship” in reference to New Testament believers and one verse in reference to Israel. The goal of this sonship is New Jerusalem.

The Greek word in these five verses is sometimes translated “adoption.” However, the overall revelation of the NT is that our relationship with God is one of birth and life. John 3:3-8 speaks firmly of our new birth. First Peter 1:23 speaks of our regeneration and four verses later we are “newborn babes.”

A great number of verses speak of our receiving and having eternal life. This life is not a position (as an adopted child) but much more it is Christ Himself, who is “the life” living in us. Some verses about this are Romans 6:23 and 8:10, Philippians 1:20-21, Colossians 3:3-4, and 1 John 5:11-12, “God gave to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life.”

New Jerusalem is a city of eternal life; the divine, eternal life we received is bringing us to this wonderful city.

Our sonship is eternal. Ephesians 1:4-5 tell us that God chose us in Christ “predestinat-ing us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” God’s choosing and predestinating are eternal, matching the eternal nature of New Jerusalem.

Likewise, God’s good pleasure culminates with New Jerusalem. The sonship to which God predestinated us is “to Himself,” the essence and center of this marvelous city.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Characteristics Now and in New Jerusalem

Ephesians 4:12-24 contains many positives: perfecting, building, oneness, full-grown, fullness, truth, love, reality, righteousness, holiness. These characteristics do not refer to the natural realm or from natural effort.

New JerusalemThey all come from being in Christ, learning Christ, hearing Christ, and growing up into Him as the Head of the Body. Because these all are Christ and our experience of Him, they are also characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:12-24 also contains many negatives: sleight, craftiness, error, vanity, darkness, ignorance, hard-ness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, greediness, corruption, deceit.

These all result from mankind being alienated from the life of God. None of these will be in New Jerusalem nor anywhere in the new creation, except in the lake of fire.

In our daily living, the key for us as believers to get away from the negatives and into the positives is verse 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The Spirit has regenerated our spirit—this is John 3:6, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Now we are one spirit with the Lord—this is 1 Corinthians 6:17.

These two steps—regeneration and renewing—are also seen in Titus 3:5, “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” This renewing is not a change from bad behavior to good behavior. Rather, it is a change from living in the old humanity, the fallen humanity that is apart from God to living Christ and letting Him become the reality of our human virtues. This is a living that corresponds to New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is Eternal (3)

New Jerusalem is 
eternal
, based on the eternal redemption obtained, and eternal life released to us, by Jesus Christ.

Second Thessalonians 2:16: God our Father “loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope in grace.” The love, comfort, and grace are for us now, and in the kingdom age, and eternally in New Jerusalem. Thank Him for His wonderful care for us.

Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” The eternal Spirit brings to us the conscience-purifying effect of Christ’s blood shed on the cross. And through this eternal Spirit we have the eternal life, the resurrection life, the life that characterizes the kingdom of God and New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemSecond Peter 1:11 speaks about our “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” We are already in the spiritual reality of the kingdom, as seen in Romans 14:17, “the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This spiritual reality is ours now because of our new birth by the Spirit (John 3:5).

Nevertheless, there is a fuller stage of the kingdom to come. By partaking of the divine nature (1 Peter 1:4) the divine virtues develop in us and give us the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom and carry us onward to New Jerusalem.

All of these eternal things are “according to the eternal purpose which He [God] made in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). God’s purpose is eternal and consummates in eternal New Jerusalem.

God’s purpose is far higher than our sinful condition, far higher than overcoming evils on earth. His purpose takes care of these negatives but much more brings forth New Jerusalem with the glory of God radiating through all God’s people.

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.

No Beasts in or near New Jerusalem

Revelation 13 says much about two beasts. Chapter 14 has a heavenly warning about the beasts, 15 shows those who were victorious over the beasts, 16 has judgement on them, 17 introduces another beast and presents much beastly activity, and 19 has their terminations in the lake of fire.

New JerusalemThese beasts are all opposed to New Jerusalem because they oppose the accomplishing of God’s purpose on earth. This purpose is first revealed in Genesis 1:26 where the Triune God created man in His image and let man have dominion over the earth.

God’s purpose is also revealed in Zechariah 12:1 which speaks of God “who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” The heavens contain the earth and earth is a dwelling place for man, who has a human spirit to contact God who is Spirit (John 4:24).

By contacting God, man receives the life of God, portrayed by the tree of life in Genesis 2. As a result of this contact, man’s spirit is born of God’s Spirit. This birth with God’s life enables man to express God and to rule the earth for God.

Genesis 1–2 is the beginning of God’s purpose; Revelation 21–22 is the consummation. In this consummation, man is beholding God constantly (Rev. 22:4). Man is continually supplied with God’s life by the river of life with the tree of life (22:1-2). God in this corporate man is fully expressed through New Jerusalem which radiates the glory of God (21:11). God and the Lamb on the throne (22:1) reign and man reigns with them (22:5).

Praise God that New Jerusalem is the eternal fulfillment of God’s purpose and that the opposing beasts are gone.

This post is in my list of what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Spirit and a Serpent for New Jerusalem

It is well-known that John 3 is a chapter on new birth and eternal life. In verse 3 Jesus speaks about being born again (or born anew), in verse 5 about being born of water and the Spirit, and in verse 6 He tells us, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” When we are born anew, our deadened human spirit is born of, made alive by, the divine Spirit. Being born again begins our walk on the golden street of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWhen we believe into Jesus Christ, not only is our human spirit made alive, but also we receive eternal life. This is John 3:15-16. This is a new beginning with a new life. The consummation, the maturity, of this life is New Jerusalem.

But how can a serpent be related to New Jerusalem? Numbers 21:4-9 has the base for our answer. The people of Israel sinned in complaining against God and serpents bit them. Moses prayed and God told him what to do. “Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the pole; and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

The Lord Jesus applied this to Himself. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Because of sin, all humans have the evil nature, the poison, of the serpent Satan within. The Lord Jesus was lifted up on the cross as the reality of the bronze serpent to free us from this serpentine nature.

We need both of these for our participation in New Jerusalem—the Lord Jesus lifted up to cast out the old serpent (John 12:31) and save us from that nature, plus the Spirit entering into us with eternal life. We receive, rejoice, and go on to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the mingling of the Triune God and His chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and matured people. Around New Jerusalem on the new earth are the peoples (Rev. 21:3), the nations (Rev. 21:24).

* The [nations] will be judged by Christ at the throne of His glory when He comes back to earth….The justified ones, the “sheep,” will be blessed and will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:31-46). Unlike the New Testament believers, the “sheep” will not be saved and regenerated; they will only be restored to the original state of man as he was created by God….After the millennial kingdom, a part of these nations, deceived by the devil, will rebel against the Lord and will be consumed by fire from heaven (20:7-9). The rest will be transferred to the new earth to be the nations, which will live around the New Jerusalem and walk by its light….They, as created but unregenerated men, will be maintained to live forever in their created state through the healing of the leaves of the tree of life (22:2). Even for them there will be no more death (v. 4). Under the shining of the New Jerusalem with the divine glory, neither will they be in darkness.

The peoples are restored but not regenerated. They belong to God but they are not His sons born of His life. Hence they cannot participate in the oneness of New Jerusalem.

First Corinthians 2:6-13 speaks of the things which God prepared “before the ages” for those who love Him, those who are born of the Spirit. The timing of this preparation is different from the blessing “prepared for you [the sheep] from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). This shows another distinction between those who are constituents of New Jerusalem and those who are around New Jerusalem.

Thank the Lord that the door is open today to receive Him as life to become part of New Jerusalem!

Note 1 on Rev. 21:24 in The Holy Bible, Rec. Version published and © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

More Seeing and Entering New Jerusalem

We should all desire to be “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). The seeing requires us to be “in spirit” and to have completed a spiritual journey (described in prior posts) to a high mountain.

According to John 3:3 and 3:5, when we see, we enter. Both depend on our new birth. The extent of our seeing and entering New Jerusalem matches the extent to which we let the new birth operate in us. This is like a human—birth brings the baby into humanity but the baby requires many years of development to fully see and enter into human life.

John 3:5: Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

New JerusalemIn John 3:5 being born anew has two aspects: water and Spirit. Being born of water is the termination of our old life. How much will we cooperate with the Spirit to apply this termination to our old habits, our old amusements, our old attitudes, and our old goals? This is the denial of our self spoken by the Lord in the gospels (e.g. Matt. 16:24) by cooperating with the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

Being born of the Spirit is the enlivening of our human spirit and the joining of the Spirit with our spirit. How much will we live and walk according to this spirit? This is not separate from the first aspect of being born anew. In Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live”—the first aspect, “but it is Christ who lives in me”—the second aspect. The more Christ lives in us the more we see and enter New Jerusalem.

Christ living in us is a matter of faith. Galatians 2:20 continues to say “I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God.” Lord, fill me with Yourself as my faith so that You may live through me. Lord, bring me more into New Jerusalem.

Born Anew to See and Enter New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIsrael journeyed to Mt. Sinai where Moses saw and presented to them the heavenly pattern of the tabernacle. We are on a Christian journey to see New Jerusalem.

After the vision of the tabernacle, Israel offered themselves for it, built it, and journeyed with it. Likewise, we see New Jerusalem, we offer ourselves to the Lord for New Jerusalem, we participate in building the Body of Christ as the forerunner of New Jerusalem, and we continue our Christian life in God’s New Testament building.

The past dozen or so posts have been about seeing New Jerusalem. After we see, how do we enter into the present reality of New Jerusalem? The Lord Jesus gave us the answer in John 3:3, 5. “Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you,

Unless one is born anew,
__he cannot see the kingdom of God. (v. 3)
Unless one is born of water and the Spirit,
__he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (v. 5)

To be born again, or born anew, is to be born of water and of the Spirit in our human spirit (v. 6). The result of this spiritual birth is both the seeing and the entering into the kingdom of God. To the extent that we see, we enter.

Our seeing of spiritual things is not once for all. Rather, our seeing gradually increases with our loving the Lord and giving ourselves to Him. It increases as we seek and pursue the Lord and respond to Him. It increases through our contact with the Lord in the Bible, through time with other Christians, through prayer, and through gospel preaching.

Since our seeing of New Jerusalem is not once for all, our entering into it is not once for all but gradually. Lord, I am willing and available to You; bring me more into the vision of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Created and Saturated for New Jerusalem

God’s eternal purpose was hidden in Him before time. It expresses His desire and points to New Jerusalem in eternity future. As presented in the first half of the song we are reviewing, God wants to dispense Himself into people to build them together in Himself for His glory and praise.

God created all the plants, fish, birds, and animals according to their own kind (Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24, 25). In contrast, God did not create man according to man’s kind; rather, God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26) because God created man especially for fulfilling His purpose, .

The man created for God’s purpose has a human spirit as the center of His being. Zechariah 12:1 says, “Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” Here the spirit of man is ranked with the heavens and the earth.

New Jerusalem4_As the center, as the kernel,
____Of God’s plan our spirit is;
__Calling on the name of Jesus
____Makes our spirit one with His.
__From the center to circumference
____God would saturate each part;
__Feeling, mind, and will renewing,
____Making home in all our heart.

The first action God takes in us to fulfill His plan is to enliven our human spirit. This is to be born again, to be regenerated. John 3:6b says, “that which is born of the [divine] Spirit is [our human] spirit.” This regeneration is our first experiential step towards New Jerusalem.

The result of being born again is 1 Corinthians 6:17, “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” From our spirit, God desires to spread to our mind, emotion, and will; for example, Ephesians 4:23 speaks of “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

This renewing by the Spirit (Titus 3:5) in our spirit makes us divinely new to match New Jerusalem, the consummation of all the newness in the Bible.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

We Are Built up into a Holy Priesthood

Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that the redemption of Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests, a kingdom which will consummate in New Jerusalem. This is our position, our status. First Peter 2:4-5 speaks of our reality, our experience:

Coming to Him…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

New JerusalemBy redemption we have the position of the priesthood but we still need to come to the Lord regularly for the process of “being built up into a holy priesthood.” By this building process we grow into the reality of functioning as the priesthood.

An illustration of these two steps is a young man who joins the army. When he takes an oath he gains a position in the army. Yet he still needs much training to become a member of the army in reality and to learn how to participate in the life of the army.

Some steps in 1 Peter which precede or support our “being built up into a holy priesthood.”
• We received the Lord’s redemption (1:18-19);
• We were regenerated by the living and abiding word of God (1:23);
• As newborn babes we drink the milk of the word that we may grow (2:2);
• We obey the Lord so that He may fill us with brotherly love (1:22);
• We put away negative things of the old creation (2:1);
• We come to the Lord together with others (2:4-5).

Lord, grant us more experiences of these steps so that we can be built together into Your priesthood. Lord, build us toward New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

God Has Prepared the City, But …

We are in a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem. Hebrews 11 speaks about people of faith. Regarding Abraham and his descendants it says, “they 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” (v. 16).

New JerusalemThis verse says that God has already prepared the city of New Jerusalem. This is the city which has foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God (v. 10).

But … why don’t we see the city? It is because we are stuck in time. God (and what God does) is eternal, outside the limitations and sequential order of time.

But … why don’t we see the city? It is also because we are partially stuck in the old creation. One part of our being—our human spirit—has been born of the Spirit (John 3:6). This is wonderful. Thank the Lord for this!

Another part—our mind—is being transformed by renewing (Romans 12:2) indicating that our mind is old, separated from the newness of God. And Philippians 3:21 speaks of a third part of our being as “the body of our humiliation” because sin dwells in it (Romans 7:14-18).

What should we do? One answer is in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18. These verses say that whenever our heart turns to the Lord the veil—anything of time and the old creation which separates us from the Lord—is taken away. Then the Lord, the Spirit transforms us.

This transformation is “from glory to glory” taking us toward the ultimate glory of New Jerusalem.

Read more about the three parts of man, their condition, and God’s salvation or watch a 5 min video.

Earth rise from Apollo 11 in lunar orbit, photo courtesy of NASA.

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