New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots (2)

God chose us in eternity past to “be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 1:4) and in eternity future New Jerusalem, the holy city, will be holy and without blemish.

The prior post presents the Lord’s work to make us without blemish. In addition to the verses there, Colossians 1:22 says, “He now has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and without reproach before Him.” His death, for our reconciliation, has the goal of New Jerusalem holy and without blemish.

New JerusalemDespite what He has accomplished, we should not wait passively. Philippians 2 exhorts us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (v. 12). We work by cooperating with God who operates within us (v. 13).

By this cooperation, we will be without murmurings and reasonings (v. 14), “that you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (v. 15). In this shining we present the word of life to worldly people (v. 16).

Our cooperation with God’s operation in us causes us to be without fallen humanity’s blemishes and with divine shining as channels for the word of life, that God’s salvation might reach people in this crooked generation.

Peter, based on our expectation of the new creation with New Jerusalem, exhorts us “be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish” (2 Peter 3:14).

In Revelation 14:1-5 we see overcomers, firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Part of their description is that they “are without blemish.” Surely these overcomers lived according to the exhortations in Philippians 2 and 2 Peter 3. Not only are they without negative blemishes, they are also singing a heavenly song of praise, a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nick Pitsas, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots

New JerusalemEphesians 1:4 tells us that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” This choosing was in eternity, before sin and any kind of corruption. This eternal choosing points to New Jerusalem, which is holy, without blemish, and in love.

Although sin death entered and humanity is extremely blemished, Jesus Christ is working to erase all blemishes. Ephesians 5:25-27 says that He “loved the church and gave Himself up for her” to accomplish redemption; that He is now working to “sanctify her [the church], cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word” so that when He returns “He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.” This is the preparation of New Jerusalem.

By His work on the cross, in us today, and at His return, the church will be holy and without blemish, matching God’s eternal choosing. This holy church, as His bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2), will be without spot, without wrinkle, and without blemish.

Jesus Christ is qualified to do this work because He on the cross “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14). The eternal Spirit applies to us and in us all that He accomplished. And 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we were redeemed “with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.”

Paralleling Ephesians 5, Jude 24 speaks of “Him who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you before His glory without blemish in exultation.” In New Jerusalem we will be with glory and without blemish. To Him be thanksgiving and praise.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemEphesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” The spiritual blessings all lead to God’s glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). Hence, they point towards New Jerusalem, God’s city of glory.

What God gives us are “spiritual blessings” (not physical) and they are “in the heavenlies” (not earthly) and they are “in Christ” (not in the old creation). All these characteristics of God’s blessings—spiritual, heavenly, in Christ—are for His eternal purpose and match characteristics of New Jerusalem. (God also promises to take care of our earthly needs but we should not long for or seek material blessings.)

These blessings are in three portions, each ending with the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). These blessings are “according to the good pleasure of His will” (v. 5) and “according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself” (v. 9) and “according to the counsel of His will” (v. 11). These blessings relate to New Jerusalem because this city is the consummation all that God is doing according to the good pleasure of His will.

Ephesians 1:4 says, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” God’s choosing of us was in eternity and it is for eternity, including the eternal city New Jerusalem. God chose us to be holy before Him. This is for the “holy city” (Rev. 21:2) where we will “see His face” (22:4).

God’s choosing is also in love, for the eternal marriage of Christ and His bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9). How wonderful that this one verse of blessings in Ephesians has so many pointers toward New Jerusalem. Lord Jesus, we love You!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Partake of God’s Holiness for the Holy City

Revelation 21:2, 10 and 22:19 declare that New Jerusalem is the holy city. As the consummation of everything positive in the Bible, New Jerusalem is the ultimate expression of God’s holiness through His people.

Regensdorf-Watt, SchweizA series of posts looked at God’s impartation of His holiness into His chosen people. This series did not touch holy days, holy garments, holy places, etc. and only looked at a minority of the verses about God’s holy people.

Here is a summary and link to each of the posts.
A. God’s basic word is in 1 Peter 1:16, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” Our being holy is a result of the life we received in regeneration (1 Peter 2:9, 1:23).
B. Jesus Christ came to establish the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31. He was “begotten of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20), is “the Holy One” in His human living (John 6:69), in His death and resurrection (Acts 3:14), and in His ascension (Revelation 3:7).
C. It is of God that we “are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
D. God “saved us and called us with a holy calling…” (2 Timothy 1:9) and we “were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
E. Hebrews 10:10 says “we have been sanctified…once for all.” This speaks of a fact accomplished by the Lord and applied to us. Hebrews 10:14 says we “are being sanctified.” This speaks of His gradual working of the fact into all our being and all our living.
F. Ephesians 2:21 says that in Christ we are “growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” This is an ongoing experience by the washing of the water in the word (Ephesians 5:26-27).
G. We pursue sanctification (Hebrews 12:14) and exercise to be holy by contacting the One who is holy. Such contact is in spirit by our prayer, singing, praising, reading, or speaking.
H. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says “…God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” He disciplines us “that we might partake of His holiness.” Don’t be discouraged; God’s choosing and discipline will bring forth our sanctification.
I. As we are pursuing a holy manner of life, we are “expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12). Come Lord Jesus!
J. In Hebrews 2:10 God is leading many sons into glory and in verses 11-12 the Lord (“He who sanctifies”) is singing praises to the Father in our (“we who are being sanctified”) singing.

God’s choosing and calling of us, Jesus Christ the Holy One as our sanctification, and the Spirit’s sanctifying work in us bring us onward to “the coming of the day of God” and New Jerusalem.

Reminder: the English words holy/holiness (from an Anglo-Saxon root) and sanctify/sanctification (from a Latin root) seem very different, but they are translations of closely related NT Greek words.

God Chose Us unto Sanctification

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2). God has given Jesus Christ to us as our holiness objectively. Now He is sanctifying us subjectively, experientially, while we cooperate by pursuing holiness.

Do not get discouraged by looking at your condition. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul declares, “we ought to thank God always concerning you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” God’s choosing includes the sanctification of the Spirit.

Thank God always. Paul had to write some words to the Thessalonians to adjust their Christian living. However, the faults in their condition were subordinate to God’s choosing them unto salvation in sanctification, so Paul could thank God.

Neither be discouraged by the outward environment. Hebrews 12 speaks of the discipline of children by earthly fathers and by our heavenly Father. Verse 10 says, “For they disciplined for a few days as it seemed good to them; but He, for what is profitable that we might partake of His holiness.”

Whatever outward discipline comes to us is in His sovereignty. The goal of the environmental discipline is that “we might partake of His holiness.”  This prepares us to participate in the holiness of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem, as the holy city, is the consummation of all the holiness in the Bible. We will be there. God chose us to be holy, called us with a holy calling, regenerated us and sealed us with the Holy Spirit, put us into Christ who is our sanctification, and is experientially sanctifying us for New Jerusalem. Thank God always.

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

We Have Been and Are Being Sanctified

New Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2), Jesus Christ is the Holy One, and in Him we are God’s saints, God’s holy people. God chose us to be holy, called us with a holy calling, sealed us with the Holy Spirit, and gives us the renewing of the Holy Spirit.

New JerusalemFrom the day we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, we have Him as our holiness and we have the status of saints. However, there is still much that needs to be accomplished in us.

Hebrews 10:10 says “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” This speaks of a fact accomplished by the Lord and applied to us.

Hebrews 10:14 says “by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” This speaks of His gradual application (with our cooperation) of the fact in all our being and to all our living.

Hebrews 2:11 says “both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers.” This does not speak about the accomplished fact but about the ongoing application of the fact. This is based on the accomplished fact and brings us into the reality and experience of the fact.

Spiritual facts, and their imputation to us, are objective. The permeation of these facts through our being and their outworking in our living are experiential, subjective. Objectively we have the holiness of the holy New Jerusalem. Subjectively we are gradually being infused with the holiness of New Jerusalem. God will accomplish His purpose and we will be with Him in the holy city.

The Holy Spirit Renews Us

New Jerusalem is the holy city, Jesus Christ is the Holy One, and in Him we are God’s saints, God’s holy people.

New JerusalemWe are not holy in ourselves nor because of our doing. Rather, God “chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). That was in eternity.

Now, in time, according to the will of God, Jesus died, and by His death “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Based on this once-for-all offering, God “saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9). As a result of this holy calling we “heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation” and believed in Jesus Christ, and we “were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

Furthermore, in Titus 3:5 we read that God, “not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit renews us to match both the holiness and newness of New Jerusalem.

All of these steps of sanctification are of God and according to His purpose, which ultimately is to mingle with His holy people in the holy city, 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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

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