The Light of the World, A City (3)

The light and the city in Matthew 5:14 are linked to New Jerusalem. This verse also speaks of a city “upon a mountain.” This indicates a high position. We always put lights in high rather than low positions, so that light may reach everywhere. Our high position is in Christ. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.”

New JerusalemHebrews 12:18-24 contrasts attributes of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament attributes are earthly but the New Testament attributes (both Heb. 12 and Eph. 2) are heavenly.

The first ‘New’ attribute is that we “have come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The heavenly Jerusalem is firstly associated with a mountain, which also is heavenly in nature. Our being the light of the world is not derived from any earthly position; it is a consequence of being in Christ and living one with Him.

The New Testament does not say that New Jerusalem is a city upon a mountain. Instead, by the time New Jerusalem comes down out of heave, the city and the mountain have become one, and New Jerusalem is itself the mountain. The angel “measured the city with the reed to a length of twelve thousand stadia; the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”

In summary, the light, the city, and the mountain all come out of the divine life in God’s people. The Lord spoke all of Matthew 5, including verse 14, to His disciples, and three times spoke of “our Father” (v. 16, 45, 48). As sons of the heavenly Father we are the light of the world and the city on a mountain. All of this culminates in New Jerusalem.

Photo by R. Robinson, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Light of the World, A City (2)

The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14). “You” (plural) are “the light” (singular). All of us, as His disciples, are a corporate light to the world. Eventually Jesus Christ, the Lamb, shines within New Jerusalem to be light to the universe.

New JerusalemJesus continued, saying, “It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” We, the corporate light, with Him shining within and through us, are the unhidden city. Ultimately we are New Jerusalem, His expression to the universe.

All who have believed into Jesus Christ are today His body (Rom. 12:5). We are all the one new man (Eph. 2:15. We are all God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). We are all the city of Matthew 5. And we will all be the eternal city, New Jerusalem. Matthew 5:14 is a foretaste of New Jerusalem. The body, new man, house, and city are God’s eternal purpose—a living, corporate expression of Himself in a corporate humanity filled with Himself.

In position, we are in this corporate entity, but we need care to keep our living according to it. The Lord told us, “let your light shine before men,” not hiding it under a bushel (Matt. 5:15-16). A bushel is for measuring grain, food. We should not hide our light by being overly occupied with our jobs, anxious to earn a living to take care of our eating (Matt. 6:25, 31).

Since we are “light in the Lord,” Ephesians 5 charges us to “walk as children of light.” In position we are light but we need to walk in the Lord, loving Him, musing on His word, and opening ourselves to Him in prayer. The shining that results from walking in light is a precursor of New Jerusalem as the unhidden city on a mountain.

Photo by Allan Shimada, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (4)

Romans 5, Romans 8, and 2 Corinthians 4 all speak about passing through sufferings to glory.

The first step of this glory an inward beholding, as in 2 Corinthians 3:18. The second step is the Lord’s visible return to earth. “We eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:20-21). The ultimate step of this glory is New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemPaul prayed for the development of the virtues of Christ in the Philippians “to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11). He also told them, “to you it has been graciously granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe into Him but also to suffer on His behalf” (1:29). Again we see sufferings and glory in the Christian life. However, New Jerusalem will be glory without sufferings.

This gracious granting to suffer implies the supply of grace to carry us through the sufferings.

Paul also stated his own desire (and no doubt his desire for us also) “to gain Christ and be found in Him…to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead” (3:8-11).

It is by the power of His resurrection that we are enabled to be in the fellowship of His sufferings. Gaining Christ and being found in Him daily develop the power of His resurrection in us and bring us into the fellowship of His sufferings. This fellowship eventually brings us to the resurrection, the transfiguration, of our mortal body to meet the Lord in glory at His return and to participate in New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection and glory.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (2)

While the eternal life grows in us and perfects us for New Jerusalem, we also have outward sufferings.

Second Corinthians 4:17 tells us that “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” Our afflictions remind us how much we need the Lord. Sufferings remind us that “should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” The afflictions push us to the Lord, and as He spreads within us, the “eternal weight of glory,” a strong characteristic of New Jerusalem, is developing within us.

With this eternal and glorious view, our attitude about sufferings matches 2 Corinthians 4. “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” (v. 18). Lord, turn our eyes and thoughts from what is seen to what is unseen!

New JerusalemRomans 5:2 says that we “boast because of the hope of the glory of God.” This hope is not our determination but is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). This includes the Lord’s visible return as “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and culminates in the glory of New Jerusalem.

Romans 5:3 continues “we also boast in our tribulations.” The basis for this boast is a development through a series of steps involving hope, love, and a “much more” salvation in the Lord’s wonderful life
(v. 3-11). This view matches what is in 2 Corinthians 4.

We cannot endure the sufferings/afflictions/tribulations on our own. But Christ is in us! He endured the cross, despising the shame. He is very real, although presently unseen physically. He is our hope of glory, and He will be our glory in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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,”

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (7)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). At that time we will see Him clearly, face to face without any veil or obscuration.

We should not wait until New Jerusalem to behold His face. We cannot see our Lord physically today, but prior posts have verses about beholding in our current Christian life.
• By believing, we behold the Lord in resurrection (John 12:44-45; 14:19).
• He said that after His resurrection “you will see Me” and rejoice (John 16:16-22).
• Then He prayed that we may be with Him to “behold My glory” (John 17:24).
• Through receiving the gospel, God “shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of
__the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
• By turning our heart to the Lord, we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:16-18).
• Also, putting away encumbrances and sins, we “look away unto Jesus”  (Heb. 12:1-2).

New JerusalemAll these verses are for us today, not waiting until New Jerusalem. These are not unusual  events like Peter, James, and John on the mountaintop (Matt. 17) nor Stephen while being stoned (Acts 7) nor Paul on the way to Damascus (Acts 9). What is in the verses above should be a “we all” (2 Cor. 3:18) experience of beholding His face.

This experience requires denying our self, turning our heart, and putting away every hindrance. We are running a race with endurance. Our reward will be at the Lord’s return.

“We know that if He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him even as He is” (1 John 3:2). This unobscured seeing will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (6)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). In this age, God has shined in our hearts and we turn our hearts to the Lord to behold and reflect His glory.

In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our heart from everything to the Lord to behold Him. This is the same as Hebrews 12:1-2, “let us…put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” Lord, enlighten us to see and put away the encumbrances.

The sins we must put away, by confessing and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), are obviously negative. The encumbrances however may seem positive—our attitudes, goals, preferences, interests, etc. However, we must put these away because they hinder our “looking away unto Jesus.” This is like Matthew 1624-25; we must deny ourself and take up our cross to follow Him.

Many parallels are in these verses: looking away, putting away, turning (2 Cor. 3), denying (Matt. 16). Moses is an example; he considered “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked away to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). He had the Lord’s presence as his reward then and will participate in New Jerusalem as the ultimate reward.  Lord, grant us the same attitude and consideration that Moses had!

By denying and turning, we look to Jesus. This looking, to see His face in spirit today, is our current reward, our foretaste of seeing His face in New Jerusalem. In our looking away to Jesus He, as the Author/Source/Initiator and as the Perfecter/Completer of our faith, will energize us to run the race with endurance to the goal.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (5)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). To prepare us for this, God has already “shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 the Israelites looking at the face of Moses is likened to our looking at the Lord’s face. This is for today, not waiting for New Jerusalem.

During our Christian life we should continually behold the face of Jesus Christ. Whenever our heart turns to the Lord our veils are taken away (v. 16). These veils could be our ideas about what is best, our human goals, our attitudes about people and events, our complaining about outward sufferings, or many other things. When the veils are gone, we contact the Lord who is the Spirit and experience His inner freedom (v. 17).

As a result, “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” (v. 18). Our transformation is by our looking to the Lord, beholding His glory, so that He can infuse us with it. This is our preparation for New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

Our continual (or sadly, intermittent) beholding of the Lord produces continual (or sadly, intermittent) transformation, “from glory to glory.” God’s desire, for which He predestinated us, is that we “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). With this image and with “reflecting the glory of the Lord” we become a corporate expression of Him. which consummates in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (4)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb with no obscuration and will be fully in His glory. But we must not forget that the Lord’s prayer for this is already being answered.

New JerusalemSecond Corinthians 4 speaks about the proclamation of the gospel now. When we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and not ourselves (v. 5), “the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6).

God has already shined into the heart of everyone who believes. This shining brings us the knowledge, the spiritual realization, of the glory of God. And this glory is in the face of Jesus Christ. This is an experience of New Jerusalem today.

We in ourselves are merely earthen vessels, but we have this excellent treasure in us (v. 7). Inwardly we have the treasure and outwardly our Christian life may have troubles (v. 8-12).

Our outer man is decaying (v. 16), but despite the troubles, this treasure is renewing our inner man (v. 16) to match the newness of New Jerusalem. With the heavenly view (v. 18), we can declare with Paul, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory” (v. 17). This eternal weight of glory is our participation in New Jerusalem.

To continue seeing the glory in the face of Jesus Christ and to cooperate with the renewing process through which we are passing, we exercise our spirit of faith to speak (v. 13). This speaking is based on our bold confidence in the resurrecting God (v. 14), whose work in us culminates in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (5)

The Old Testament holy of holies and New Jerusalem are the only cubes in the Bible.This shows that the old holy of holies depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Prior posts touched the materials and contents of the holy of holies and their relation to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemExodus 25:21-22 is about the ark, the expiation cover (propitiation place in Heb. 9), and the cherubim. God told Moses, “there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you.”

The Lord meets and speaks with us today in the holy of holies. In a personal way, this is our human spirit, where the Lord dwells—”the Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22). In a corporate way, this is the Body of Christ in its reality today and New Jerusalem in the future.

The corporate aspect of God meeting and speaking with us climaxes in New Jerusalem, matching the promise that God’s slaves, who serve Him as priests “will see His face” (Rev. 22:3-4).

Today the Lord’s speaking to us is irregular because our spiritual condition is erratic. But, in New Jerusalem there will be no sin, no death, no flesh, no self life, no distractions. We will continually and eternally have the experience of the Lord’s meeting us and speaking with us face to face in glory.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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

In the New Testament are many verses about our growth and maturity. This is needed so that we will match New Jerusalem’s perfection.

#NewJerusalemColossians 1:28 speaks about becoming “full-grown in Christ.” In the next verse Paul tells us that for this full growth “I labor, struggling according to His oper-ation which operates in me in power.”

Struggle indicates a considerable effort. This shows both the importance of our maturity (to match New Jerusalem) and the non-trivial effort to reach maturity.

This struggle is not only for the apostles. Colossians 4:12 tells us “Epaphras, who is one of you [a Colossian], a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

Epaphras copied Paul’s example, and struggled for the maturity of his fellows believers.  Lord, grant us the willingness to struggle as Epaphras did. To struggle for maturity in this way is to struggle for New Jerusalem, which is the goal of the will of God, the goal of the bible, the goal of all the revelations in the Bible.

This struggle for maturity is not in our own effort. Instead, like the praying of Epaphras, the struggle is by our cooperation with God so that He can move through us. Our confidence is in God “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun in you a good work will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). God began a good work in us by regeneration in response to our believing. God will complete the work to bring us to maturity and to New Jerusalem at a speed dependent on our cooperation.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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

The testimony of Jesus is the centrality of Revelation (19:10). Here are more characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ related to our progress to New Jerusalem (Rev. 2). Some of these characteristics are also in Revelation 1:13-20.

New JerusalemWe see the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of the seven lampstands (1:12-13), the seven churches (1:20) and caring for them in Revelation 2–3. His care is not limited to this age, because the lampstands today are the forerunner of the eternal lampstand, New Jerusalem.

Revelation 2:1 repeats the fact that the Lord is “He who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.” His walking and speaking care for the churches. As our High Priest, His care brings us to Himself and ministers Himself to us. His goal is to be glorified in us when He returns (2 Thes. 1:10) and in New Jerusalem.

Our response to His care should be the best love for Him (2:4) so that our love governs our working for Him (2:2).

In 2:8 the Lord describes Himself as “the First and the Last, who became dead and lived again.” Nothing in our lives starts without Him and nothing ends apart from Him. Therefore, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because it matters to Him concerning you” (1 Peter 5:7). Lord, fulfill in us Your word in 2:10, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

In 2:12 He is the One “who has the sharp two-edged sword.” This sword is His living and operative word which is sharper than any physical sword and which can divide all the mixture in our being (Heb. 4:12). By the dividing, He can wash away all our blemishes to present us to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:26-27), causing us to match New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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