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.

The Narrow Way unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 7:14: “Narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life.” We have this life today through regeneration. We take the narrow, constricted way now to New Jerusalemthe fuller joy of this life in the mani­­festation of the kingdom and to the fullest joy in New Jerusalem.

The narrowness and the constriction correspond with taking up our cross daily and denying our self, our soul life. The narrow, constricted way does not accommodate self-indulgence, selfishness, selfish ambition, self-love, self-will, seeking gain through base means, seeking our own things (even if good), nor apparently good things like self-chosen lowliness.*

In contrast, a walk on the constricted way is to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteous­ness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Our fleeing is our denying. Righteousness, faith, love, and peace are all Christ Himself supplying us to bear our cross on the constricted way.

Similarly 1 Timothy 6 speaks of things that cannot come through the narrow gate, such as pride, contentiousness, envy, strife, slanders, and love of money. Verse 6:11 then tells us that to be “a man of God” on the constricted way, we need to flee all the selfish things “and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness.” All of these virtues are Christ Himself as our life in resurrection and all will continue on the constricted way unto New Jerusalem.

*All these “self” characteristics are from New Testament verses.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

No Sweat, No Thorns, in New Jerusalem (2)

Thorns and sweat are part of the curse that came from the fall of man in Genesis 3. But, in New Jerusalem “there will no longer be a curse” (Rev. 22:3), so there will be no sweat and no thorns.

Ezekiel 44 speaks about the service of the priest in the coming age. Those who enter the inner court and the holy places must “not gird themselves with anything that causes sweat.” That is, they must not exercise their own effort as natural, fallen men. This is a precursor of New Jerusalem, the eternal holy of holies where we will serve God as priests* without sweat (Rev. 22:3).

New JerusalemThe parable at the beginning of Matthew 13 is about sowing the word of God into hearts of men. Verse 22 tells us that thorns represent “the anxiety of the age and the deceitfulness of riches” which ” utterly choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

In the Bible thorns are negative. Matthew 27:29 tells us that the Roman soldiers “wove a crown of thorns” and placed it on the head of Jesus. They did this to mock Him, but it had greater significance in the eyes of God. It is one of the signs that He bore the curse for us.  Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse on our behalf; because it is written, ‘Cursed is every one hanging on a tree.”’

Because of the redemption of Christ, there is no curse in the new creation and in New Jerusalem. Hence, there will be no sweat and no thorns in the new creation and in New Jerusalem.

*We Serve God as Priests
God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem (1) (2)

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 Shadow of the Living Temple

#NewJerusalemThe previous posts are about the living temple, first Jesus alone (John 2) and then all His believers (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem.

This living temple is the reality. But in the Old Testament, and lingering into New Testament times, there was a material, physical temple, a shadow, a figure, a portrait of the reality.

Hebrews 10:1 says that the law has “a shadow of the good things to come.” The physical tabernacle came with the law in Exodus. But it was only a shadow, indicating that something “good” was to follow.

Hebrews 8:5  says that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” “The good things to come”—in this case the living temple—is heavenly. Hence it is spiritual, not earthly and physicaL We are too accustomed to seeing and living among earthly things, but in God’s eyes only the heavenly, spiritual things are really “good.” This of course includes New Jerusalem, which is heavenly even though it comes down out of heaven from God.

More specifically, Colossians 2:16-17, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.” The “body” which casts the shadow is Christ Himself. All the positive people, things, and activities in the Old Testament are shadows of Christ Himself or Christ enlarged in His Body, composed of all His believers.

In light of Colossians 2, let us turn away from all the shadows, instead (2:19) “holding the Head” Christ, “out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied…grows with the growth of God.” His rich supply causes us to grow in Him and in His Body, growing unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

The Church, Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is both singular, universal and plural, in many cities. The universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age. As such, it is the forerunner of New Jerusalem which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages.

Here we look at verses about the nature of the church, which also give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem. First, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus speaks of “My church.” The church is His. Likewise, New Jerusalem is His. More specifically, it is His bride, His wife. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10).

New JerusalemIn Acts 20:28 (and 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Tim. 3:5, and other verses) is “the church of God.” The church, and New Jerusalem, are certainly of God as the source and of God as the element, the content (like “a table of wood” is made of wood).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” And, in Hebrews 12:22 is “the city of the living God.” Both the church, the house, and New Jerusalem, the city, have the living God as their source and their element. Both the church and New Jerusalem are alive with the life of God.

The church is not a physical structure. Rather, the church, and New Jerusalem, are “the household of God” (many translations of 1 Tim. 3:15), the people of God. God is the element of New Jerusalem and we, His people, are the living components containing this living element. God is living and both the church and New Jerusalem are living organisms.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ and New Jerusalem

Ephesians 3:8 speaks of “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Eternally these riches will fill New Jerusalem. Below are the titles of the main posts on this topic, with a link to the post. Here are additional posts on the riches and fullness of the Triune God.

#NewJerusalem

Seek the Riches of Christ

Seek the Riches of Christ

God Strengthens Us, According to the Riches of His Glory, unto New Jerusalem

The Good News of the Riches of Christ

Christ as the Riches in Christian Life

Unsearchable Riches in New Jerusalem

The Mystery of the Riches of God’s Glory

Riches of God’s Glory, Now, New Jerusalem

O the Depth of the Riches & Wisdom of God!

Unsearchable, Immeasurable, Exhaustless

The Riches of God’s Glory, New Jerusalem

The Rich Supply for Our Building Up

The Unsearchable, Exhaustless Life Supply

Applying the Lord’s Rich Supply for the Preparation of the Bride (4)

Applying the Lord’s Rich Supply for the Preparation of the Bride (3)

Applying the Lord’s Rich Supply for the Preparation of the Bride (2)

Applying the Lord’s Rich Supply for the Preparation of the Bride (1)

Seek the Riches of Christ

New JerusalemThe riches of God‘s kindness, forbear-ance, long-suffering, assurance, grace, and glory are to us today and will fill and radiate from New Jerusalem. This “good news” is “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8).

We can all learn as Paul did (Phil. 4:12), “I know also how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to lack.” Whether we abound or are abased in human terms, the riches of Christ are available.

Similarly to Paul, the Lord Jesus tells the believers in Smyrna (Rev. 2:9), “I know your tribulation and poverty (but you are rich).” They were humanly poor but divinely rich. In such circumstances, may we be “rich in faith” (James 2:5). This faith substantiates and carries us toward the presently unseen New Jerusalem.

These riches will abound in New Jerusalem, but don’t wait. Consider two paths to being rich in Christ. One is Ephesians 3:14-19. Paul prayed that the Father grant us, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened that Christ may make home in our hearts. (This strengthening is much higher than if it were according to our lack.) Father, grant me the strengthening I need for Your Son to make home in me!

A second path is in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” His words are spirit and life (John 6:63), so His words can live in us. Lord, cause Your word to live richly in me!

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and untraceable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33 – sing it) Praise Him now; praise Him in New Jerusalem!

Photo by Randy Roberts, courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

 

Seek the Riches of Christ

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s work through all the ages. For New Jerusalem God manifests “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” (Rom. 2:4), “the riches of His glory” (multiple verses), “forgiveness according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7), “the surpassing riches of His grace” (Eph. 2:7), “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8), and “the riches of the full assurance” (Col. 2:2).

New JerusalemAll of these riches continue into New Jerusalem and we should seek them, regardless of whether we are rich or poor humanly. Moses was this kind of seeker, considering “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26).

Monetary riches are deceitful (Mark 4:19) and hinder our entrance into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-24), which ultimately is New Jerusalem. These physical riches are a root of evil (1 Tim. 6:10), full of uncertainty (1 Tim. 6:17), and can bring in many problems (James 5:1-3).

By grace, the churches in Macedonia were a strong contrast in their liberal giving to needy believers. “That in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2).

Hebrews 13:5 exhorts us, “Let your way of life be without the love of money.” If we love human riches we will seek them and our heart will be on them (Matt. 6:19-21). But, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ we will seek Him and our heart will be set on heavenly matters.

May the Lord be merciful to us all. Whether we have human riches or scarcity, let us be those who seek the riches of Christ, who seek to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8), who seek the present reality of 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo by Randy Roberts, courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

New Jerusalem Comes from Divine Riches and is Without Human Poverty (2)

God’s goal is not to solve problems related to human poverty. His goal is to display His unsearchable divine riches in New Jerusalem. As a side effect, these riches overcome our poverty.

Colossians 2:2 tells us that believers “hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the full knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ.” God’s desire is not a minimal nor even an adequate understanding to compensate for our shortage; His desire is a rich, full understanding, especially to know Christ as the embodiment of all that God is.

New JerusalemThis knitting together in love and unto all the riches is for the Body of Christ (Col. 2:19) as a forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:7 declares that the result of God’s work with us is “that He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” In the future, including New Jerusalem, God will not display how much He saved us from. His goal in saving us is to display the riches of His grace.

Colossians 1:27 declares that “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Again, God’s will is not so low as to merely end poverty. His will is to make know His glory, even the riches of His glory.

This glory is God in Christ. Now Christ is in us, so the glory is in us. This glory is not yet manifested but it is our present hope, which will be fulfilled in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

See also No Money in New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the Universal Golden Lampstand, the Ultimate Consummation of the Lampstands

Here is a third post about New Jerusalem from Stefan’s blog, agodman.com. It begins, The New Jerusalem, the holy city, is the universal golden lampstand, the ultimate consummation of the lampstands in the Scriptures.

rev-1-20-the-mystery-of-the-seven-stars-which-you-saw-upon-my-right-hand-and-the-seven-golden-lampstands1

Excerpts from Stefan’s post: Throughout the Bible there’s the mentioning of the lampstand. First, in the tabernacle in the wilderness with Moses, there was a golden lampstand in the Holy Place; this lampstand signifies Christ Himself as the embodiment and shining out of God (Exo. 25:31-37).

When Christ came in incarnation, He was a lampstand: He embodied God, expressed God, made God visible, did everything by the Spirit of God, and shined out God. In His resurrection, Christ has been enlarged to become the church as the Body of Christ; now all the genuine local churches are the many golden lampstands as the reproduction of Christ and the reprint of the Spirit. [See Rev. 1:20 in the graphic above.]

In the New Testament we also see the lampstands – the Son of Man is walking among the seven golden lampstands in Rev. 1:12-20; these lampstands signify the churches, the local churches.

Read all of New Jerusalem is the Universal Golden Lampstand, the Ultimate Consummation of the Lampstands  with graphics, references, and hymns.

Stefan’s other two posts in this cluster are New Jerusalem is a Corporate God-man, the Consummation of the High Peak of Revelation and The New Jerusalem is the Real and Consummate Shulammite, a Corporate Shulammite.

ps: A God-man is a man in whom God in Christ dwells. In John 14:20 the Lord Jesus told us that after His resurrection we “will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Our being in Christ and Christ being in us is the reality of a God-man, but we are NOT part of the Godhead.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 12 Brings Us to New Jerusalem (2)

New Jerusalem

Revelation 19:10 tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of the prophecy” and Revelation 22:7-19 clearly show that “the prophecy” is the book of Revelation. Everything positive in Revelation, from the golden lampstands in chapter 1 to New Jerusalem in chapters 21–22 is the testimony of Jesus.

Continuing in Revelation 12, verse 11 says that we overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb, the blood shed in His redemptive death.

We also overcome because of the word of our testimony, our declaration of all that He has accomplished whether in incarnation, human living, death, resurrection, or ascension, especially His conquering of the devil, sin, and death. Our overcoming is not in nor by ourselves but by Jesus Christ.

Verse 11 also says that the overcoming believers “loved not their soul-life even unto death.” This is the carrying out of the Lord’s word in Matthew 16:24 to deny ourselves and follow Him. However, we cannot deny ourself by ourself ! We need Him! In John 10:11 He told us that He is the good Shepherd who laid down His soul-life for the sheep.

In Revelation 3:21 our Lord tells us, “I overcame.” We need Him as the Overcomer in us. By living one with Him, we apply the blood, testify, and deny ourself. Ultimately our testimony in New Jerusalem will be that the wonderful Jesus Christ overcame in us everything that is in the lake of fire.

There will be a break in this series; it will resume after three other posts about New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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