The Believers Together Are New Jerusalem

In Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” In 21:9 the angel says, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” and in 21:10 he shows “the holy city, Jerusalem.”

In 2 Corinthians 11 we, the believers, are engaged to Christ. In Ephesians 5, in the context of husbands and wives, we, the church, are being prepared to be presented to Christ. In Revelation 22:17 we are the bride speaking one with the Spirit. All the believers together, the one universal church, are the bride to be the wife of the Lamb.

New JerusalemIn Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14, 31:32, and other verses, God declares that He is the Husband. In Ephesians 5 Christ is the Husband, and in Revelation 21 the redeeming and enthroned Lamb is the Husband.

Since this bride, this wife, is New Jerusalem, we corporately are New Jerusalem!! New Jerusalem is not a place we go to; we are the city! Since we are the city, where does that put Jesus Christ? He too is the city!

In John 14:20 He told us that in resurrection He is in us and we are in Him. Developing this fact, many verses in the epistles speak of “Christ in us” and we “in Christ.” The eternal consummation is that we are New Jerusalem in Christ Jesus. He and we coinhering are the eternal city! New Jerusalem is a married couple!

The portion above answers, “Who is New Jerusalem?” A related answer is in “Where is New Jerusalem?”

Glory: the Lord’s Presence Manifested

In recent reading*, I was touched by the question, What is glory of the Lord? The next sentence of my reading gave this answer, It is the presence of the Lord manifested before the eyes of humanity. The glory will be manifested by New Jerusalem, but it was also manifested to people in the past.

Acts 7:2 says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia.” This appearing motivated Abraham to leave his fatherland and follow the Lord to a new place. Lord, motivate us to follow You daily.

The glory also appeared to Israel, when the tabernacle was completed (Exo. 40:35) and at other times (e.g. Exo. 16:10, Lev. 9:23, Num. 14:10). However, many in Israel were obstinate and the manifested glory was sometimes a rebuke to them. Lord, keep our hearts soft toward You.

New JerusalemLater, the glory of the Lord appeared at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:11). In the New Testament the glory was briefly manifested on the mountain (Mark 9:2-3), to Stephen (Acts 7:55), and to Saul (Acts 26:13-15). And the Lord promised that people “will see the Son of Man becoming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

Since Saul’s time, the glory is hidden but we do have the presence of the Lord. The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). He in us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). In spirit we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

He will come to fulfill the hope of glory and to manifest His glory in us (2 Thes. 1:10), in the coming kingdom, and in New Jerusalem.

* Witness LeeThe All-Inclusive Christ, chap. 9, Living Stream Ministry

Posts will resume, Monday, November 27.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (5)

Suffering in our Christian like is normal but temporary. This suffering brings forth glory in a limited way now (see 2 Thes. 1 below), in a strong way at the Lord’s return, and completely in New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemColossians 1:10 charges us “to walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things.” The following verses touch several aspects of this walk, including “being empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all endurance and long-suffering with joy” (v. 11).

Like verses in recent posts, glory and suffering are coupled here. And again, we are not encouraged to bear the sufferings ourselves. Instead, we should be empowered according to the might of His glory. This empowering is “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” and is able to bring forth joy in suffering.

The sufferings are only now, but he empowering, the life, and the joy are for now and the coming age and New Jerusalem.

Second Thessalonians 1 includes persecutions and afflictions. It concludes with prayer for God’s working in the believers (v. 11) “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (v. 12). Again, trials can bring forth glory. This is not by our own effort but because of God’s operation within us.

The mutual glorification in verse 12 is “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Lord, grace us in every situation that You may be glorified in us and we in You.

The name of the Lord glorified in us includes today. When the Lord returns, “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (v. 10) and we will experience “rest” (v. 7). The glory and rest will then continue into New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe Christian life includes sufferings, but our focus is not on them. Instead, we focus on the unseen, weighty, eternal things including Christ as our hope of glory—the glory of His return and of New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:16-18 says, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.”

Romans 8 is clear that we are children of God growing to be heirs. During this growth we suffer, but not by ourselves. “We suffer with Him.” The result is “we may also be glorified with Him.” May we be filled with the attitude that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory, a glory which concludes with New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:35 asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” Verse 40 answers that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Romans 5 our hope, which is Christ in us, energizes us to pass through sufferings. In Romans 8 love, which is also Christ in us, energizes us. Then Romans 12:12 encourages us to “Rejoice in hope; endure in tribulation; persevere in prayer.” By rejoicing and praying, we contact the Lord, and He supplies us to walk the suffering path to His return, after which we enjoy New Jerusalem.

 

 

Come Forward to the Holy of Holies

New Jerusalem is the eternal holy of holies where we are one with the Triune God, see His face, serve Him, and are enlightened and nourished by Him. New Jerusalem will be wonderful, but don’t wait passively. Hebrews 10:19 tells us that we have “boldness for entering the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus.” This is for today!

New JerusalemVerse 20 continues, “which entrance He initiated for us as a new and living way through the veil, that is, His flesh.” When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple, which separated the holy place and holy of holies, was torn (Mark 15:37-38). This opened the “new and living way” for us to enter the holy of holies.

Therefore, verse 22 exhorts us, “come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Today this real and spiritual holy of holies is in heaven until New Jerusalem “comes down out of heaven from God.” How then can we, who are physically on earth, come forward to and enter this heavenly holy of holies?

The answer is Christ! He is the One who joins earth to heaven. He is both in us and in the heavenly holy of holies. In Christ we have the boldness and we have the full assurance of faith. Let us come forward to the present reality of New Jerusalem as the holy of holies.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The New Testament Temple is Living (5)

New Testament worship is in spirit (John 4:24). It is not dependent on a physical location nor a material building. The New Testament temple is a living temple, from the Lord’s incarnation onward to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn John 2, Jesus is the temple, in 1 and 2 Corinthians and Ephesians we are the temple, and in Revelation 21 the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple. Is this living temple the Triune God or His people? Both!

This corresponds with the Lord’s word in John 14:20. We are in the Triune God and the Triune God is in us. Thus the Triune God is the temple and we also are the temple.

This also corresponds with the epistles: we are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1, 1 Cor. 1:30) and He is in us (Rom. 8:10, Col. 1:27). We are one with Him in life, so we are one with Him to be the living temple and to be New Jerusalem.

In New Testament Greek two words are translated “temple.” In the verses in these “living temple” posts, the Greek word means the inner temple, the holy place and holy of holies, not including the surrounding structures and courtyards. This inner area is only for the priests, and today we are priests. “Jesus Christ…loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

We are priests serving in spirit, in the living temple, fulfilling the Lord’s word in John 4:24. We will be the same in New Jerusalem. Revelation 22:3 says, “His slaves will serve Him.” The word “serve” means to serve as priests. In New Jerusalem God and the Lamb are the living temple and we are the priests serving God and the Lamb.

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (6)

Being perfected and growing to maturity are two closely related aspects of our Christian life. When we become mature and are perfected, we match New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemIn 1 Corinthians 3:1-3  Paul expresses concern about the Corinthians remaining “infants in Christ.” He desired that they grow. Likewise, Hebrews 5:12 expresses concern (sadness?) that the believers were spiritually young children. Then 6:1 urges, “let us be brought on to maturity.” Let us grow until we match New Jerusalem.

Likewise, the desire in Ephesians 4:14-15 is that “we may be no longer little children” but that “we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.” We grow up into Christ. This implies that we grow out of our self, out of our culture, and out of everything natural. We grow out of the old creation to match New Jerusalem in the new creation.

In Colossians 1:27 Christ is in us as our hope of glory, our hope of participating in the glory of New Jerusalem. In 1:28 Paul tells us that his announcing of the indwelling Christ has the goal to “present every man full-grown in Christ.” Sooner or later every believer will be full grown in Christ and will share in New Jerusalem.

This growth is not anything outward. Spiritual growth is not measured by physical years as a Christian, not measured by quantity of activities, not measured by knowledge or eloquence. Rather, as members of the Body of Christ, we “grow with the growth of God” (Col. 2:19).

God, in Himself, is perfect; He does not grow. But in us God needs more room, more flexibility, to grow, to spread, especially in our thinking, our emotions, and our decisions. Lord, increase in these aspects of my being!

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

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.* 

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemOur Christian life is a time for our growth and perfecting in this life so that we may match New Jerusalem.

In Luke 6 the Lord spoke quite a while about the proper living standard of His disciples. In verse 40 He said, “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who has been perfected will be like his teacher.” He is indicating that He expects us to be perfected.

We must be perfected to match the perfection of New Jerusalem, but how? Part of the answer is in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The divine life of our heavenly Father, growing in us, enables us to be perfected.

Similarly, the Lord prayed in John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” He is “the life” and He is in all His believers. This is how we can be “perfected into one” and perfected in any other way. Thank You Lord that You have become our life to work in us and perfect us.

This perfection into one is also the oneness in Ephesians 4:13, the oneness of New Jerusalem. This eternal city has one throne, one street, one river, one light; it is the perfection of oneness, the final answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

Second Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Here it seems that we are doing the perfecting work. However, in ourselves we cannot do it, but “the fear of God” indicates our cooperation with Jesus Christ as the perfecting life in us. This perfecting causes us to match New Jerusalem, the holy city (Rev. 21:2, 10).

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Righteousness Dwells in the New Creation

According to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). The new creation, with new heavens and earth, includes New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-2).

In my recent New Testament reading I was touched by “dwells.” The Greek word (κατοΙκεω) appears over 40 times in the New Testament. It is always used for living people who are at home in a place. Examples:
• He [Joseph] came and settled in a city called Nazareth, Matthew 2:23
• Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, Acts 2:5
• All those dwelling in Asia heard the word of the Lord, Acts 19:10
• By faith he [Abraham] dwelt as a foreigner in the land of promise, Hebrews 11:9

New JerusalemThe same sense of dwelling is used in regard to God: “God…being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24), and “in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).

The Greek word is also applied to the Triune God in us: “Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17) and “the Spirit, whom He has caused to dwell in us” (James 4:5).

In light of the usage of this word everywhere else in the New Testament, to say that righteousness dwells in the new creation means that this righteousness is alive. We do not use dwell with inanimate objects; for example, we never say that a table dwells in our dining room.

Christ is “the Righteous” (1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:1). He is on the throne in New Jerusalem at the center of the new creation. I believe that His presence and the righteousness of His person, radiating out from New Jerusalem, is the righteousness which dwells in the new creation. And this Christ, who is our righteousness today (1 Cor. 1:30) is the righteousness of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Righteousness Dwells

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (3)

God’s spiritual blessings to us in Ephesians 1:3-14 are unto the praise of His glory, both in this age and eternally with New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In whom [the Beloved, v. 6] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” Because all men were constituted sinners, Jesus Christ died, shedding His blood to accomplish redemption. When we respond by faith we receive forgiveness. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). With the shedding of Jesus’ blood, there is forgiveness.

New JerusalemEverything of God’s plan is in Christ. We are blessed “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), chosen “in Him” (v. 4), “in whom” we have redemption (v. 7); we are being headed up “in Christ” (v. 10) “in whom” we were designated as God’s inheritance (v. 11), and “in whom” we were sealed (v. 13). All of these “in” facts are consistent with New Jerusalem in the Triune God.

The redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness we receive, is not according to our need. Rather, it is “according to the riches of His grace.” The measure of redemption and forgiveness is God’s measure, because this step was taken as part of the fulfillment of His eternal plan to bring forth New Jerusalem.

God caused His grace “to abound to us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:8). Everything happens within the scope of God’s wisdom and everything works together toward His goal.

Ephesians 1:9 continues, “Making known to us the mystery of His will.” While God’s grace is abounding to us, He is making known the mystery of His will. This mystery was hidden in prior ages but now God willed to reveal it to us through His word; the riches of this mystery is Christ in us! (Col. 1:25-27).

New Jerusalem is the conclusion of all the spiritual blessings, the essence which are Christ is us and us in Christ.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem—Magnification of Christ (2)

The prior post presented Paul’s individual magnification of Christ (Phil. 1:20) as a miniature of the corporate magnification of Christ in New Jerusalem. The Greek verb translated magnify means to declare to be great, to glorify, to praise, to exalt.

Although magnify is not in Revelation, the magnification of Christ is seen in the glory of the city: “And he [an angel] carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (Rev. 21:10-11a)

New JerusalemBased on Paul’s example, we magnify Christ today by living Him, by believers praying for us, by the bountiful supply of the Spirit, and by His excellency motivating us to count everything else as a loss (Phil. 1:19-21, 3:7-8).

Another magnification is in Luke 1:46-47, “Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior.” First, Mary’s spirit exulted in God; then her soul magnified the Lord. Her praise to God issued from her spirit and was expressed through her soul. Her spirit was filled with joy in God her Savior, and her soul manifested that joy for the magnifying of the Lord.*

Based on Mary’s example, our magnification of Christ is by the joy of the Lord. In our-selves and our situations we often feel we cannot rejoice, but we are in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). In Him we can rejoice now and we will rejoice in New Jerusalem. Philippians 3:1 and 4:4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

Acts  16:25 describes an undesirable situation, a prison: “about midnight Paul and Silas, while praying, sang hymns of praise to God; and the prisoners were listening to them.” Christ in us is able, any place, any time, any situation, for our praising to magnify Him; how much more in New Jerusalem!

* from footnote on Luke 1:47 in NT Recovery Version Online.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Built Into or Living Around New Jerusalem

New JerusalemFour verses mention the peoples (Rev. 21:3), the nations around New Jerusalem. These nations 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). Here is a summary of recent posts about these nations, with links (at ▣) to individual posts.

 These nations are plural and still are “nations” whereas the Lord Jesus has purchased us for God, redeeming us “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

Revelation 21:24-26 is about these nations. Several phrases here match phrases in Isaiah 60, such as “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (60:3).

In contrast to the plurality of the peoples and nations in Revelation 21:3, 24-26, Galatians 3:28 proclaims “you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Another contrast to the multiple peoples/nations in that in the new man, which we have put on, “there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all and in all.” (Col. 3:10-11).

▣1 ▣2 The peoples/nations around New Jerusalem will be God’s peoples, belonging to Him, and restored to the state of human life at creation, before the fall. However, they are not His sons born of His life.

 The nations around New Jerusalem walk by the light of the city (Rev. 21:24). This blessing is not as high as that of the believers in Jesus Christ, who have Jesus Christ within them as their light of life (John 1:4, 8:12).

 God is both the God of people built into New Jerusalem and the God of the peoples around the city. In contrast, only the people constituted into New Jerusalem have been born of God and have God as their Father.

The peoples around New Jerusalem live near God. This is far inferior to the people built into New Jerusalem, who live in God and have God living in them.

▣1 ▣2 In Revelation 22:1-2 there are three provisions: the water of the river of life, the fruits of the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree. The leaves are designated for the outward healing of the nations around New Jerusalem. In contrast, the water and fruit symbolize divine life as the inward supply for the people built into New Jerusalem.

▣1 ▣2 First Corinthians 1:30 declares that it is of God that we are in Christ Jesus. This is unchangeable. But, is our daily living according to our culture and upbringing or is it in Christ Jesus? We need the Lord’s renewing (Col. 3:10) that we may live Him in reality.

 Choose to be in New Jerusalem! John 1:12-13 tells us that those who receive Jesus Christ are born of God. This birth imparts eternal life into us, the life which brings us into New Jerusalem and grows us into this city of life.

Yes, life on the new earth around New Jerusalem will be tremendously better than life on earth now. However, do not settle for this but reach out for the best—born again for being built into New Jerusalem today and living in its fullness eternally.

 

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