A City of Life, without Miracles

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is a city of life, a city in resurrection. From the throne at its center flows a river of water of life and beside the river grows the tree of life yielding its fruit every month. This life is the supply for every member of this city.

Miracles are of power, not of life. They are sometimes called works of power in the New Testament. These works might be done by a believer mature in the divine life, or by an immature believer. An example: the Corinthians did not lack in any gift (1 Cor. 1:7) but were babes in Christ (3:1), very immature in divine the life. Also love, which is of life, is contrasted with gifts and power in 1 Corinthians 13.

There are many miracles in the Gospels and Acts, but the Epistles which follow them turn the emphasis to growth in life for the manifestation of virtues of the Christian life. Paul speaks of growth in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Ephesians 4:13-16, Colossians 1:6, 10 and 2:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, and other verses, some of which include full grown. Peter speaks of growth in 1 Peter 2:2 and 2 Peter 3:18. John, in his epistles, speaks much about a life lived in righteousness, truth, and love.

The emphasis on Christ as our life, our growth in this life, and our living out its virtues prepares us for New Jerusalem. The city is full of life and manifests the life that Jesus manifested to us through His incarnation.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Two Aspects of Redemption on Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

In Christ Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, through which we become sons of God. This redemption has been fully accomplished and is eternal. This is the first step on our path to New Jerusalem.

Based on redemption, we become sons of God by His life entering into us. This is the new birth, the regeneration, of our spirit. This life gradually spreads into our soul to renew and transform us*. Now, as Christians, “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).

New JerusalemWe already are sons of God, but we are in the initial stage of sonship. We eagerly await the full sonship, “the redemption of our body.” This is the second step of redemption on our path to New Jerusalem. This will transpire at the Lord’s second coming.

Ephesians 1 tells us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit “who is the pledge/ guarantee of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” God is our inheritance both today and in a fuller way when our body is redeemed.

We need to cooperate to reach this goal. Ephesians 4 cautions us, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Spirit is working in us to transform our soul, to prepare us for the redemption of our body and take us unto New Jerusalem. We hinder this work and grieve the Spirit when we disobey the Spirit and live according to the flesh.

* See verses (and footnotes) in Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 3:18, Eph. 4:23, Titus 3:5.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (6)

New JerusalemRevelation 19:7, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” We need to pursue this readiness because we do not know when He will return.

An evil slave of the Lord says, “my master delays” (Matt. 24:48). Also, 2 Peter 3 says that mockers are saying there is delay but the Lord “is long-suffering toward you, not intending that any perish but that all advance to repentance.” The Lord is waiting in His mercy so that we have time to advance, to get ourselves ready.

We should never say “my Master delays” but instead “count the long-suffering of our Lord to be salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). This is not our initial salvation, but “much more we will be saved in His life” in Romans 5:10. This much more salvation is our growth in His life, our gaining the oil of the Spirit in our vessel, our preparing to be the constituents of His wife who has made herself ready.

Peter exhorts us to “be on your guard lest being carried away by the error of the lawless, you fall from your own steadfastness.” Our steadfastness (our faithfulness, in next post) is for us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This growth is the much more salvation in Romans and has the prepared bride and New Jerusalem as its goal.


Rather than the error of “my Master delays” we can be those
Hastening the Coming of the Day of God (and of New Jerusalem)

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (5)

When the Lamb’s wife, New Jerusalem, is ready, there will be great rejoicing in heaven and the Lord will come to take her. This readiness depends on our cooperation with God’s operation in us.

Aspects of this cooperation in prior posts include: letting the Lord’s living word operate in us, not loving the world, watching in prayer, denying the self to be filled in spirit, and fanning into flame the gift of God which is in us. In addition to these positive actions, we New Jerusalemneed the Lord’s warning, “You also, be ready, because at an hour when you do not expect it, the Son of Man is coming” (Luke 12:40).

The Lord says we must be ready because do not know when He will come. We should never relax. The Lord tells us it is an evil slave who says, “My master delays” (Matt. 24:48). The Lord’s return might seem delayed to us but we need to be saved from such thoughts.

“You have need of endurance in order that, having done the will of God, you may obtain the promise. For in yet a very little while the Coming One will come and will not delay” (Heb. 10:36-37). This is God’s word—the Coming One will not delay.

One aspect of His coming is to take His bride. Let us not delay in getting ready. Lord, be merciful to us that we could always take Your faithfulness and endurance in our getting ready for Your coming and for New Jerusalem.

Photo by Dan Darolti, courtesy of Good Free Photos.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (4)

“Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus Christ] has come, and His wife [New Jerusalem] has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Our getting ready is by cooperating with the Spirit, not by self effort.

New JerusalemSimon Peter is a warning to us. “He [Simon] said to Him [Jesus], Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). His readiness was his decision out of his own zeal, his natural love for the Lord, and his self-confidence, but that night Simon Peter failed completely.

The readiness of the bride comes only from God working in us in response to our cooperation. In contrast to Peter’s zeal before the Lord’s crucifixion, Romans 12 charges us to “be burning in spirit” and 2 Timothy 1 charges us to “fan into flame the gift of God” which is in us.

In contrast to Peter’s natural love, Ephesians concludes with grace to “all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Such love comes from God. First John 4 tells us that “God is love” and that we love “because love is of God.” At that time Peter was confident in himself but later Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God.”

Eve was constituted with a rib taken out of Adam to match him. In the same way, New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife, to match Christ. Her constitution must come from Him, not from anything of the fallen, natural realm.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (3)

New JerusalemIn Matthew 25 the Lord spoke a parable about a wedding feast. When the bridegroom came, those who were ready went in with him to the feast. This parable is a picture of the real wedding feast, with the Lord as our Bridegroom and New Jerusalem as His bride, who has made herself ready.

Those who were ready were filled with the Spirit. Those who were not allowed to enter had little of the Spirit. We should not think that those excluded from the feast were not believers. Look at the ten virgins in Matthew 25; both wise and foolish:
• all are virgins (v.1); unbelievers are not virgins in the Lord’s view;
• all went forth to meet the bridegroom (v. 1); unbelievers don’t do this
• all responded to the cry to go forth (v. 6-7); unbelievers won’t do this
• the foolish had lamps that were lit (v. 8); the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord
(Prov. 20:27), their spirit being “lit” indicates it was enlivened by the Spirit;
• the foolish called the bridegroom Lord (v. 11); unbelievers don’t do this.

The conclusion of the parable is “Watch therefore” (v. 13). Watch, pray, let the Spirit fill us. “Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth” (Col. 3:2). “Do not be drunk with wine [neither physically nor with worldly pursuits], …but be filled in spirit” (Eph. 5:18). We don’t wait passively for New Jerusalem; we pursue now to be filled and ready for the wedding feast!

Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (2)

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” “Let us rejoice and exult, New Jerusalemand let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

In Matthew 24 the Lord spoke to us about being ready. Three keys here are living contact with the Lord’s word, loving God, and watching in prayer. In Matthew 25 He continued with a parable about being ready for a wedding feast, which depicts the real wedding feast with Him, the feast tied to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 25:10: “The bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.” The key to readiness is being filled with the Spirit. signified in this parable by oil in the vessels.

God created man with spirit, soul, and body. Due to the fall of man, man’s spirit was deadened and his soul became the self. In regeneration the Spirit enlivened our spirit. Now there is a need to deny our self by exercising our spirit to take our cross daily so that the Spirit may spread from our spirit to saturate our soul. One aspect is Ephesians 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” a part of our soul.

To be ready, we need to deny our self in its ambitions, pride, pleasures, complaints, and many other things, and instead seek the Lord in His word, in prayer, in rejoicing, in singing, both alone and with other believers. This is our path to readiness on our way to the wedding feast and New Jerusalem.

Hastening the Coming of the Day of God (and of New Jerusalem)

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9-10) and the Lamb is Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He says, “Behold, I come quickly” (22:7) and the Spirit and the bride respond “Come” (22:17). Then the Lord says again, “Yes, I come quickly” and John answers “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (22:20).

New JerusalemWe need to pray, Lord, come. Furthermore, Peter tells us how to speed up the Lord’s coming— “what kind of persons ought you to be in holy manner of life and godliness, expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12).

Peter urges us to live a holy life and a life of godliness. A holy life comes from the sanctification of the Spirit separating us unto God both in position and inwardly. Godliness—”a life that lives Christ and expresses God in Christ*” comes from experiencing Christ as our life day by day. In this holy life and godliness we are expecting the Lord’s coming and the day of God.

By this life, we also hasten the coming. The Lord is eager to come and we pray Come, Lord Jesus. But, He will not come until “His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

We must get ready but cannot get ready by ourselves. We get ready by opening to and cooperating with the Spirit’s work in us. We need the Spirit’s regenerating (John 3:6), renewing (Tit. 3:5), sanctification (2 Thes. 2:13), transformation (2 Cor. 3:18) and more. All of this is for preparing the bride, the wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem.

* Part of footnote 3 on 1 Tim. 6:3 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

The Course of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemOur Christian life begins with repentance and consummates with New Jerusalem. Although every Christian has had an initial experience of repentance, during the progress of our Christian life we might need further times of repentance.

It is sad that the New Testament has many examples of people who refuse to repent. The Lord rebuked multiple cities for this failure (e.g. Matt. 11:20-24), and large numbers in Revelation refused to repent (9:20-21) even when they knew they were under the judgment of God (16:8-11).

May we never be like those people. Lord, keep our heart soft to You every day. If we realize that we still have sin and sins, as we see in 1 John 1,and recognize that we are not sufficient in ourselves to serve the Lord, we will welcome His mercy. We are vessels of mercy, and God desires to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.”

Besides welcoming His mercy, we also confess our sins, exercising to be void of offense. This is our cooperation with His mercy. When we cooperate by confessing, we have boldness to come forward to His throne of grace, where we receive more mercy and find grace to meet every need (Heb. 4:16).

Thank God for His mercy to us that we may be vessels to contain and express His riches. This is for His glory. “To Him be the glory in the church” now (Eph. 3:21). And to Him be the glory in New Jerusalem for eternity.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Two Ends of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemThe New Testament begins with repentance and ends with New Jerusalem. These are the two ends of our Christian life.

The New Testament begins with a call to repent “for the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 3:2), “and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and “for forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3). When we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven and we also receive eternal life. These two steps bring us into the kingdom.

The New Testament ends with New Jerusalem; at the center of this city is the throne of God and the Lamb from which the river of water of life flows. Here the Lamb is a memorial of our forgiveness, the river is the divine life supply, and the throne indicates the kingdom.

Everyone who has been regenerated has had the initial experience of repentance. As we go through our Christian life, we might need more times of repentance. For example, Simon had believed and been baptized (Acts 8:13) but Peter exhorted him to repent. And Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians brought forth repentance among them (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord charges us to repent. This is to return to our best love to Him (2:5), to turn from false teachings and immoral actions (2:16, 22), and to rise out of deadness and lukewarmness (3:3, 19). These needs, or other actions which keep us from the Lord, require our repentance. This is part of our journey from initial repentance to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Christ Magnified, Now and New Jerusalem

“Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, you love” (1 Peter 1:8). He is unsearchable, unlimited. However, He needs us to magnify Him to people in the physical realm. This magnification is to make Him visible in our living, to live Him in a way that declares His greatness. Surely New Jerusalem will do this, but the Lord desires magnification through us in this age.

New JerusalemMary was the first New Testament person to magnify God. She said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). The people in the house of Cornelius, after receiving the Holy Spirit, “magnified God” (Acts 10:46). Later, in Ephesus, “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17).

Paul said that his earnest expectation was “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). He could magnify Christ in every situation because, as the next verse says, “For to me to live is Christ.” Christ lived in Paul and was magnified through Paul.

May such living and magnifying become our experience also! Contributors to this seen in Philippians are praying for one another to be bountifully supplied with the Spirit (1:19), counting all things loss because of the excellency of Christ (3:7-8), rejoicing in the Lord (4:4), and letting our requests be made known with thanksgiving so that we have no anxiety (4:6). This is our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

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