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.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 exhorts us “be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This good, well pleasing, and perfect will is ultimately to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Romans 12:1 shows us that a base for our transformation is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”

This consecration comes out of the foregoing chapters of Romans—realizing that we, as fallen, natural men, cannot please God but need His life in us to enable us to be people for His purpose.

We cannot transform ourselves. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord; He is the source! Ephesians 4:23 says we should “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” Our transformation is by renewing and our renewing is accomplished by the Spirit in our spirit.

The first verse of a hymn (music) by Witness Lee speaks of God’s intention, His will, and our consequent need for transformation (see graphic in this post). The fourth verse of the hymn, based on 2 Corinthians 3:18, presents something of God’s goal.
__By the power of His Spirit
____In His pattern He transforms;
__From His glory to His glory
____To His image He conforms.
New Jerusalem, radiating the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), is the fulfillment of God’s will.

The chorus is a good prayer for each of us.
__Lord, transform us to Thine image
____In emotion, mind, and will;
__Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
____All our being wholly fill.

The hymn is © 2001 by Living Stream Ministry, used by permission.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The Promise: New Creation, New Jerusalem

This post concludes our look at New Testament verses with the words according to God’s... These eternal characteristics of God bring forth New Jerusalem and constitute us into it.

New Jerusalem1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Regeneration is our first step into New Jerusalem. There is nothing we can do to qualify ourselves for regeneration; Jesus Christ has done it all and according to God’s great mercy we can receive what He has accomplished.

2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” The new creation, with New Jerusalem as its center, is not our uncertain human hope; it is according to God’s promise. New Jerusalem will be full of “eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the times of the ages” (Titus 1:2). God’s promises are from eternity to eternity. Thank Him!

In the verses in this and four prior posts (1 2 3 4) we see God’s eternal plan carried out according to His great mercy, good pleasure, will, purpose, counsel, promise, riches of glory, riches of grace, and the operation of the might of His strength.

All of these divine characteristics are eternal. They are manifested in His actions in eternity past (e.g. predestinating in Eph. 1:5), now (e.g. making known to us the mystery of His will in Eph. 1:9), and at His second coming (e.g. conforming our body of humiliation to His body of glory in Phil. 3:21).

These characteristics and the actions carried out through them have eternal results in New Jerusalem, where we will forever enjoy the riches of His grace and proclaim the riches of His glory.

New Jerusalem: God Mingled with Man

A hymn on God’s eternal purpose proceeds from creation in Genesis 1–2 to New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. Verse 3 of the hymn is about our Christian life today and verse 4 goes on to New Jerusalem. Here they are:New Jerusalem

Verse 3 begins with the rich flowing of God’s life. This flow is portrayed by the river in Genesis 2; the reality is the Spirit as rivers of living water in John 7; and the consum-mation is the Spirit as the river from the throne in New Jerusalem in Revelation 22.

This flow of eternal life transforms us into precious stones and conforms us to Christ for God’s building today and for New Jerusalem.

Verse 4 of the hymn speaks of God mingling with man, making His home in us, and becoming our content so that we can share His glory and express Him. Here is one New Testament verse touching each of these points.
“My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19)
“That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17a)
“You may be filled unto all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19b)
“If indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:17b)
“With all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body” (Phil 1:20b)

It is by Christ as life in us that we become God’s expression, both in this age and in New Jerusalem. God created man to express Him in life. He is not looking for a static expression like a work of art. We are living stones to be the house, the temple, of the living God (2 Cor. 6:16) to serve Him by His life. The Christ we live becomes the Christ we express, today in some limited degree and in New Jerusalem in full.

To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever

The conclusion of Romans is “Now to Him…to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (16:25-27) This anticipates New Jerusalem, a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

In its conclusion this book [Romans] …gives glory to the wise God. This unveils that all the matters discussed in this book, such as how God selects us, how He saves us from sin and death, how He redeems us and justifies us, how He makes us, sinners who were dead through and through, His divine sons, how He transfers us out of Adam into Christ, how He sanctifies and transforms us in Christ, how He makes us the members of Christ for the constituting of the Body of Christ, and how He causes us to be the local churches appearing in different localities as the expressions of the Body of Christ on the earth in this age — all these matters are planned, managed, and accomplished by God’s wisdom, in order that He, the unlimitedly rich Triune God, may be glorified, that is, that His incomparable glory may be completely and fully expressed through us.*

New JerusalemRomans 3:23 says that sin separated us from the glory of God. Nevertheless, God has worked in Christ to incorporate us with His glory.

This work, described in the excerpt above, includes redemption, regeneration, transfer from Adam to Christ, sanctification, transformation, conformation, and participation in the Body of Christ. These all conclude with glory to God in Romans 16:25-27, pointing to the glory of New Jerusalem.

This work is God “leading many sons into glory” (Heb. 2:10). However, glory is not only a realm into which we enter. Second Corinthians 3:18 says we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” and 2 Thessalonians 1:10 says our Lord Jesus Christ “comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” God’s operation in us today is bringing forth New Jerusalem’s glory.

*From the footnote on Romans 16:27 in NT Recovery Version Online.

Photo courtesy of NASA and JPL-Caltech.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (3)

New JerusalemIn 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is the living house of the living God. Then we read “great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (v. 16*). This describes a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The first manifestation of God in the flesh was in the incarnation of Jesus. “The Word was God….the Word became flesh….No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1, 14, 18).

Today the living church as the dwelling place of the living God is “God manifest in the flesh.” We, the members of the church, the Body of Christ, are outwardly men of flesh but God dwells in us. Today our proper Christian living results in God manifested in the flesh. This is a mystery of godliness.

This living mystery, the manifestation of God in the flesh, continues until “taken up in glory.” This will be our glorification (Rom. 8:17, 30). This glory will be strengthened and expanded to be the glory of New Jerusalem.

In eternity there will be no more flesh for we will have been fully conformed to Christ and glorified with Him. Therefore we should not say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in the flesh but we could say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in those who were flesh or that New Jerusalem is God manifested in redeemed, regenerated, and glorified humanity.

* Originally the New Testament had no chapter and no verse separations. The text continued from one sentence to the next with no break. Thus there is a strong connection between the house of the living God and the mystery of godliness. Look at 1 Timothy 3 in a fourth century Bible.

Photo by Dave Herr, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

Our Destiny is New Jerusalem

As a believer in Jesus Christ, what is your future? The important answer is not college, career, family, social action, etc. If, according to 2 Corinthians 4:18, we regard the unseen, eternal things, our future is New Jerusalem, as presented in this excerpt from A&C:*

New JerusalemEphesians 1:5 says that we were predestinated unto sonship, which is for the New Jerusalem. Ephesians 1:11 says that we were predestinated according to His purpose, which is to have the New Jerusalem. Romans 8:29 says that we have been predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s firstborn Son. This is to have the many sons for the New Jerusalem. All this was determined in eternity past.

In time we have been regenerated, and eventually, we will be sanctified, renewed, transformed, conformed, and glorified to become the New Jerusalem. Concerning this, there can be no doubt, for the apostle John saw the New Jerusalem existing as a reality in the sight of God.

Regeneration, our new birth, was quick. Our position, our status is now securely in Christ. But, what about our condition? After our regeneration, we continue in a process of sanctification (Heb. 10:14), renewing (Titus 3:5), transformation (2 Cor. 3:18), and conformation (Rom. 8:29). All these aspects of the Lord’s operation within us bring us toward New Jerusalem.

The final step of this process is glorification (Rom. 8:17) by which our mortal body, the body of our humiliation, may “be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). This will bring forth New Jerusalem as the composition of all the glorified believers with the glorifying God. This is what John saw and reported to us in Revelation 21–22.

* Affirmation & Critique (A&C) is a Christian Journal published twice a year, © Living Stream Ministry. A&C presents Bible truths in a scholarly manner, with references to and citations from a variety of publications by authors over the entire Christian era. A&C exhibits much appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ and our life with Him. This group of my posts has short extracts from the article The New Jerusalem—the Consummation of the Divine Economy according to the High Peak of the Divine Revelation by Ron Kangas in the Fall 2010 issue.

%d bloggers like this: