Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod created, formed, and made us for His glory (Isa. 43:7), a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11, 23).

Between the first and last chapters of the Bible, on our journey from creation to glory, we receive the redemption from Christ and experience His life entering and maturing in us. While eternal life is maturing in us, conforming us to the perfection of New Jerusalem, there are often outward sufferings.

We should not be surprised by sufferings. The Lord told us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The sufferings are outward but the peace of the Lord is inward. Sufferings are in the old creation and temporary; peace is in the new creation and is eternal. The name Jerusalem means foundation of peace.

Paul and Barnabas, visiting recently saved Christians, were “establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Inwardly, in spirit, we are already in the kingdom of God (see next paragraph). Outwardly, we will participate in the global manifestation of God’s kingdom in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

John describes himself as “your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). This indicates that we too are partakers in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.

These verses speak about troubles, but if our view is on eternity, on New Jerusalem, we will echo 2 Corinthians 4:17, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory,”

Created for the Glory of New Jerusalem

In Isaiah 43 God speaks of gathering His scattered people, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created, formed, and even made for My glory” (v. 7).

The words create, form, and make all appear in Genesis 1–2 (e.g. 1:1, 26; 2:4, 7-8). The declaration in Isaiah 43:7 shows us that all God’s work from the beginning of creation has a goal—His glory. God created us not merely to live a good human life. God put man in the garden of Eden with the tree of life. This is a picture of God wanting to be life to us.

New JerusalemThis picture in Genesis 2 is before sin, before death, before the curse, before rebellion against God. God being life to us is not a reaction to these negatives. God wants His life to be received by us, to be in us for His glory.

The tree of life is also in New Jerusalem. Christ has become life to all His believers and is our life eternally. This life operates in us to transform us and build us together to be His corporate Body in this age and to be the city of New Jerusalem in eternity.

This is “for God’s glory.” New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God illuminates New Jerusalem (21:23). And, because the city is like clear, transparent glass (21:11, 18, 21), God’s illuminating glory will shine out through the city.

In these verses we see three steps. First, God created, formed, and made us. Second, God in Christ became life to us. Third, the result is God’s glory. These three steps cover the entire Bible, from creation to New Jerusalem.

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The Church; Forerunner of New Jerusalem

#NewJerusalemThe one universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age and is the forerunner of New Jerusalem, which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages. Verses about the nature of the church give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:22-23 speaks of “the church, which is His Body.” Colossians 1:18 speaks about Christ as “the Head of the Body, the church.” The church is not merely a collection of believers, and it is not a bunch of individuals. Much more, these believers are members of His living Body. Thus, Romans 12:5 says, “we who are many are one Body in Christ.” And Ephesians 5:30, “we are members of His Body.”

The Body of Christ is a living composition of all of us who have believed into Him. First Corinthians 12:12-27 presents our human body, composed of many members, as a picture of Christ’s spiritual Body composed of His believers. Just as the physical members are grown together in life from inception, so the members of the Body of Christ are joined in His life from regeneration.

This joining in life is not a recent event; it comes from the resurrection of Christ. He is the Head and we are His Body, made alive and raised together with Him (Eph. 2:5-6).

The Body of Christ is a wonderful living organism. God will not shrink back from this to something less for New Jerusalem. Like the Body, the whole city is one living organism, a single entity by birth in resurrection and growth in the divine, eternal life. New Jerusalem as a living organism is also a living person, the wife of the Lamb Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

A Christian Life of Maturing and Perfecting

Christ in us is the essence, the center, the focus of our Christian life. Yet, although He is mature and perfect in Himself, He needs to grow to maturity and be perfected in us, otherwise we remain “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1). Here are a few verses about our Christian growth and perfection, plus links to posts about this subject and its relation to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48: You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Colossians 1:27b-28: Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we announce…that we may present every man full-grown in Christ.
Colossians 2:19: holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.
Hebrews 6:1: …let us be brought on to maturity

#NewJerusalemNew Jerusalem is Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life
Perfected into One unto New Jerusalem
Full Grown in Christ our Life
Let’s Go On to Maturity for God’s Building

We Mature in Christian Life to Match
New Jerusalem

We Mature in Christian Life to Match
New Jerusalem (2)

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)
We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)
We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

Growing with the Growth of God
New Jerusalem is the Consummation of the Spiritual Growth of God’s People

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (6)

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Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem, a city of divine life, is mature in this life. We have received this life and are growing in it so that we match New Jerusalem. Our growing involves our perfecting, similar to proper human growth requiring many years of education. Here we continue looking at verses about our growth and perfection.

Ephesians 4:11 tells us that the ascended Christ gave gifted members to His Body. Verses 12-14a tell us that these members are, “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ, until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we may be no longer little children.”

New JerusalemThese verses speak about growing from little children to a full-grown man. This growth is a normal part of our Christian life. New Jerusalem will not be full of spiritual children but is composed of full-grown believers.

This growth also takes us from children (plural) to a full-grown man (singular). This is the building together of the Body of Christ as the precursor of New Jerusalem. In ourselves we are individuals, but in Christ we become the one new man. This is part of our Christian perfecting.

These verses also speak about our being perfected for our participation in the work of the ministry which causes the building up of the Body of Christ. We all have a share in the building up of His Body, which is the building up of New Jerusalem. Lord, cause me to be perfected for this!

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem is Heavenly on Earth

New Jerusalem is heavenly in nature but in position it is on earth. John saw New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2, 10). The phrase “out of heaven,” twice in Revelation 21, means it is no longer in heaven.

Matthew has multiple verses speaking of the “heavenly Father.” New Jerusalem is heavenly because the Father, the source of life, is heavenly. Through regeneration we received this heavenly life so that we can grow up to be the heavenly members of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemBelieving in Jesus Christ for our new birth is our response to the “heavenly calling” which has come to us and of which we are now partakers (Heb. 3:1) . We are called to Jesus Christ, to God the Father, and to the heavenly city Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that due to God’s rich mercy He made us alive with Christ. Then verse 6, “and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” We were made alive with the divine life, the heavenly life, then seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Physically we are on earth but spiritually we are in a heavenly position

First Corinthians 15:49 declares, “even as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” We have the earthly image because, as human beings, we have an earthly life. Now we have been reborn of a heavenly Father, and are being transformed into His image.

This transformation is presented in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” As we behold the Lord, His glory is infused into us to develop this glorious, heavenly image in us. This matches New Jerusalem, which “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Photo courtesy of Heather Martin.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (5)

New JerusalemFirst John 1:2: “And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” This life was first manifested through the incarnation and human living of the Lord Jesus. It will be fully manifested by New Jerusalem.

This eternal life brings us fellowship with God and with one another (v. 3, 7). This fellowship is for this time and will continue ever richer into eternity in New Jerusalem.

To announce this life to one another is a matter of joy now (v. 4). This life will also fill New Jerusalem with joy. Furthermore, in this life we have God, who is light (v. 5). This light is within us now and will characterize New Jerusalem as a city with God in the Lamb as its light (Rev. 21:11, 23).

In New Jerusalem there will be no sin, so there will be no further need of confessing sins (v. 9). But, the Lamb will be in the city (Rev. 21:22-23, 22:1, 3) as a reminder that He is the One who “took away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

Verse 8 speaks about the truth (reality). This truth is Jesus Christ Himself (John 14:6) both now and in New Jerusalem.

Verse 9 tells us that God is faithful and righteous to forgive the sins we confess. In New Jerusalem there will be no more sinning so no more confessing of sins, but God will still be faithful and righteous, and we will still “openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). And we will “see His face” (Rev. 22:4).

All of these blessings in 1 John 1 characterize Christian life today and in New Jerusalem. It is a city of eternal life, eternal fellowship, eternal joy, eternal light, eternal truth (reality), and the eternal presence of the faithful and righteous God.

Photo courtesy of Heather Martin.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (4)

“He who believes into the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). When we believe into Jesus Christ, we immediately receive eternal life. This life grows in us and brings us to New Jerusalem, the city of eternal life.

New JerusalemWe have already received this life, yet this life will accomplish much more in us during our Christian life. This is Romans 5:10, “If we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.”

Our reconciliation was accomplished by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross. By His resurrection the divine life was released and by believing we have received it. Now this life is saving us from our sins, our negative attitudes, the world, our fleshly living, and many other things. This is a “much more” salvation!

This salvation brings us ut of everything that is not in New Jerusalem and fills us with all the riches that will be displayed in New Jerusalem.

Romans 5:17 continues, “much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” We received eternal life once for all. Now we receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness with the result that we will reign in life, ultimately reigning in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:5).

Romans 5:21 declares “In order that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus Christ is all-inclusive; He is our Lord, our grace, our righteousness, our life. Whenever we turn our heart to Him (2 Cor. 3:16) He brings us onward toward reigning in life in New Jerusalem.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (3)

“He who has the Son has the life” (1 John 5:12). By believing, we received eternal life (John 3:15-16) and we have this life today. This is the life of the eternal city New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWe let this life abide, be active, move freely, in us (1 John 2:24-25). As this life abides, it grows, it increases in us.

A key contributor to this growth is the word of God. We long for the milk of the word to grow unto salvation (1 Peter 2:2-3). This is “the word of the truth of the gospel” which we heard (Col. 1:5) and which is now growing in us (1:6).

Although we have this life, we still need to cooperate, to turn from other attractions and “lay hold on the eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12). Instead of so much time with worldly pleasures or recreations, we should “lay hold on that which is really life” (6:19). This life is eternal and prepares us for New Jerusalem; all other things delay our preparation.

Galatians 6 also speaks this way. We must not be deceived; if we sow to the flesh we reap corruption, but if we sow unto the Spirit we will reap eternal life. Do not lose heart; we will reap (Gal. 6:7-9). The ultimate stage of our reaping is our participation in New Jerusalem.

Jude 21 also encourages us to be faithful, to cooperate with this life. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” We have received this life already, we “have the life” (1 John 5:12) yet there is a greater degree of life, a fuller experience of this life ahead of us. This we faithfully await, looking away unto the Lord’s second coming and then unto New Jerusalem.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (2)

New JerusalemJesus Christ is our eternal life. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). New Jerusalem is an eternal city, so it is intimately tied with this eternal life.

We receive this life, which is Christ Himself, by believing. Our believing is our response to God’s appointing (Acts 13:48). To be appointed to eternal life also means to be appointed to New Jerusalem.

Titus 1:2 and 3:7 speak of “the hope of eternal life.” On one hand, the eternal life we have already received gives us hope for the future, including hope for New Jerusalem.

On the other hand, we have hope for our future that we will have a greater portion of and greater participation in eternal life. At the time of our salvation we received eternal life. When the Lord returns we will “inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:30)—not a different life but an enriched portion of the same life we initially received, and New Jerusalem will be the richest portion of eternal life.

In John 10:28 the Lord said, “I give to them eternal life, and they shall by no means perish forever, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” This is strong security, both for having eternal life and participating in eternal New Jerusalem. But the Lord also said in John 12:28, “He who loves his soul-life loses it; and he who hates his soul-life in this world shall keep it unto eternal life.”

Our future inheritance of greater eternal life depends on our hating/denying/losing our soul life, our self. The Lord tells us to deny the soul live so that we may live Him as our eternal life. Eventually we will all make this transition from the fallen natural life to the divine, eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem

In Christ we have eternal life. New Jerusalem is an eternal city, so it is intimately tied with eternal life. This post begins a look at that which is eternal throughout the New Testament, and the relationship to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemJohn 3:15, 16, 36 (and many more verses) give the first step – whoever believes into the Son of God has eternal life. Thus, whoever believes also will be part of New Jerusalem, the city of life. This life is the Son, Jesus Christ, as we see in John 11:25 and 14:6; hence, He who has the Son has the eternal life (1 John 5:11-12).

The Lord also tells us, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54). To eat His flesh is to receive by faith all that He did in giving His body for us; and to drink His blood is to receive by faith all that He accomplished in shedding His blood for us*. This eating and drinking will continue into New Jerusalem where we will eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink the water of the river of life.

This eating and drinking is not physical but is spiritual, by faith. Many were bothered by the Lord’s word about eating Him (John 6:60) because they only knew the natural realm. But He said (v. 63), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Then Peter confessed (v. 68), “You have words of eternal life.” Lord, keep us eating Your words of life.

When we are in spirit and receive the Lord’s words as spirit and life, we are nourished and have a foretaste of the tree of life in New Jerusalem.

* From footnote 2 on John 6:54 in the Online Recovery Version New Testament, © LSM.

Jesus Christ, Living Forever and Ever

New JerusalemRecent posts are glory to God and the Lamb forever and ever and God and the Lamb reigning forever and ever. Now, verses about God and the Lamb living forever and ever. Of course, New Jerusalem is the consummation of “forever and ever.”

Revelation 1:17b-18: “I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The Lord Jesus is the living One. He entered into death and came forth in resurrection. His living forever and ever is in resurrection. Likewise His reigning forever and ever is in resurrection.

His living and reigning in resurrection are characteristics of New Jerusalem. It is a city in resurrection. Not only our Lord, but also we are in resurrection. Our natural life has been crucified and buried with Him so that we walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). In this age we are learning to partake of this spiritual reality; in New Jerusalem we will be fully in newness of life, that is, in resurrection.

Revelation 4:9-10: “when the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits upon the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall before Him who sits upon the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever…” We too should give glory to Him and worship Him who sits on the throne and lives forever and ever.

Revelation 10:6 and 15:7 also speak about “Him who lives forever and ever.” His eternal living is our eternal life supply in New Jerusalem—the river of life which flows from the throne and the tree of life it conveys to us. His eternal living in resurrection is for us not only in New Jerusalem but also for today.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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