We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

#NewJerusalemMany New Testament verses speak about our growth. Growth is needed so that we will mature in the divine life to match New Jerusalem.

First Peter 5:10 says, “But the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” With our cooperation, God Himself will perfect us. All the sufferings we go through are for our perfecting, for our reaching God’s goal, New Jerusalem.

Paul expresses this cooperation as counting all things loss for the excellency of Christ (Phil. 3:7-8), an excellency fully manifested by New Jerusalem. He sought to gain Christ and be found in Him (3:8-9). He was also pressing onward toward the goal, the fullest experience of Christ, which would prepare him for the prize, New Jerusalem (3:13-14).

When we have a goal different from New Jerusalem, our attitude is not like Paul’s and we try to escape the sufferings and we hold on to all things. But Paul was a person fully for God’s eternal purpose. His desire was to live Christ and magnify Christ whether through life or death (Phil. 1:20-21), whether his outward circumstances were bountiful or pitiful (4:11-12).

On the road to New Jerusalem, outward circumstance do not matter. Our attitude should be, “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). The sufferings are “things seen” but New Jerusalem is among “things not seen.”

Lord, turn my view away from the temporal things to Your eternal things.

Created in God’s Image for New Jerusalem

This post begins a look at a hymn about God’s eternal purpose, consummating in New Jerusalem. This hymn was authored by Witness Lee. Here are words and music and a post, Who is Witness Lee?

Verse 1 of the hymn is an overview of God’s purpose and verse 2 speaks about creation.New Jerusalem

In Genesis 1:26 the Triune God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” Man is in God’s image so that man can express God. However, even though man has the image, like a photograph, man still needs the life of God to be God’s living expression.

The created man was set in the garden of Eden with the tree of life (Gen. 2). But man fell into sin and was ejected from the garden (Gen. 3). Through the redemption accomplished by the death of Jesus and the life released in His resurrection, man can now be freed from sin and be born again.

Jesus Christ “the life” (John 14:6) is the reality of the tree of life to become our life. This life is not static, but is a continuous, eternal supply, seen in New Jerusalem as the “river of water of life” (Rev. 22:1) and “the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month” (22:2).

It is by this life that man can express God and thereby cooperate in accomplishing God’s purpose. Examples of the expression of God now are to magnify Christ (Phil. 1:20) and having an excellent manner of life among the unbelievers (1 Peter 2:12).

New Jerusalem, having the glory of God and light like a most precious stone (Rev. 21:11), is the eternal expression of God by means of His life in His redeemed humanity.

God Supplies Strength for God’s Glory

New JerusalemWe continue in verses with “forever and ever” because these point toward New Jerusalem, the “forever and ever” city.

First Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, as speaking oracles of God; if anyone ministers, as ministering out of the strength which God supplies; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might forever and ever.” Here both glory and might are forever and ever. The might links to “the strength which God supplies” and the result is glory.

First Peter 5:11 and Revelation 1:6 also declare, “To Him be the glory and the might forever and ever.” We in ourselves are not qualified to glorify God nor to participate in New Jerusalem. But He supplies us so that He can work in us and through us. This supply is seen also in Philippians 1:19-20:

“For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death.”

The Spirit bountifully supplies us in every kind of situation that we may magnify Christ with God’s boldness (not our own boldness). For this we pray for one another, per Paul’s word “your petition.” The river of water of life (Rev. 22:1) is the eternal bountiful supply, and New Jerusalem is the ultimate magnification of Christ.

Revelation 7:12 is the result of God’s rich and varied supply to us throughout our Christian life. “The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanks and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever.” In New Jerusalem we will eternally praise God in all these ways.

 

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.

New Jerusalem—Magnification of Christ

God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26) so that man could contain and express God*. In the types in Genesis 2, man could receive God as His content by eating of the tree of life. Man fell and was shut out from the tree of life (Gen. 3). Later Jesus Christ came to redeem mankind and thereby reopen the way to Himself as the real tree of life.

New JerusalemNow, by believing in Jesus, man can receive God in Christ as his content. Gradually, God contained in us is expressed through us. This expression will intensify unto New Jerusalem.

The apostle Paul had a strong desire for this expression. He tells us his “earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (Phil 1:20).

In the apostle’s suffering in his body, Christ was magnified, i.e., shown or declared to be great (without limitation), exalted, and extolled. The apostle’s sufferings afforded him opportunity to express Christ in His unlimited greatness.**

For Paul, to magnify Christ was his earnest expectation and to not magnify Christ was to be put to shame. Lord, grant me the same “earnest expectation” You put in Paul.

If Christ can be magnified by one believer, how much richer and larger will His magnification be in New Jerusalem? Lord, fill me with the desire to magnify You now as a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* See footnotes on Gen. 1:26 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version.
** From footnote on Phil 1:20 in NT Recovery Version Online.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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