Holy and Without Blemish in Love

New JerusalemEphesians 5:27 tells us that Christ will “present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.” This church is His well-prepared bride, the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Christ cares for the church, “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” This corresponds with Revelation 21:2, “New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” His washing prepares the bride.

Also, we cooperate with Him. For example, holding to Him in love that His rich supply may flow out. This corresponds with Revelation 19:7, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Our cooperation prepares the bride.

The result of both sides of this preparation, is the bride “holy and without blemish.” This matches Ephesians 1:4, God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” Three phrases stand out:
holywithout blemishin love.

The church becoming New Jerusalem, “the holy city,” as the bride of Christ must be fully holy to match the Bridegroom. The bride must also be without blemish to match the unblemished Bridegroom. Being completely holy and without blemish fulfills Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Christians are the Father’s children, having the Father’s divine life and divine nature. Hence, they can be perfect as their Father is….The kingdom of the heavens is the highest demand, and the divine life of the Father is the highest supply to meet that demand.*

Love is the key for our perfecting, as part of “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9). To love God means to set our entire being absolutely on Him, that is, to let our entire being be occupied by Him and lost in Him, so that He becomes everything to us and we are one with Him practically in our daily life.º

Lord, keep us loving You every day from now to New Jerusalem!

* Part of the footnote on. Matt. 5:48       º Part of the footnote 3 on 1 Cor. 2:9
Both are in the
Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.

Creation, New Creation, New Jerusalem

The Bible progresses from God’s creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1 to the new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. Here is a summary of recent posts on this progression, with a link to and a key verse from each post. All of these point toward New Jerusalem, the goal of God’s creation and His work.

New Jerusalem

“God, who created all things, in order that now…the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:9-11)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.“ (Gen. 1:1)
God created because He has an eternal purpose.

“O Jehovah our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth.” (Psa. 8:1)
We do not yet see this outwardly, but we do see Jesus and His accomplishments.
Hebrews 2 quotes Psalm 8 and then speaks of God leading many sons into glory, which ultimately is New Jerusalem; then we will see God’s name excellent in all the earth.

“The earth is Jehovah’s, and its fullness…” (Psa. 24:1)
God is never defeated on the path from creation to New Jerusalem.

“Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.” (Matt. 6:10)
God has a purpose and we cooperate by praying for it on earth.

“Until heaven and earth pass away…” (Matt. 5:18).
The first heaven and earth will pass away and the new heaven and earth will come.

“What kind of persons ought you to be in holy manner of life and godliness.” (2 Pet. 3:11)
God’s divine power supplies us to live a life for the new creation.

“According to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Pet. 3:13)
The Lord told us “My words shall by no means pass away.” Our stand is His word.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
We are being renewed inwardly (Titus 3:5) to prepare us fully for New Jerusalem.

“A new creation is what matters.” (Gal. 6:15)
Our spirit is life and our heart loves the Lord and His word; this is what matters.

Creation’s goal: “the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known.” (Eph. 3:9-10)
God’s desire is to display His wisdom through His people knit together in Christ.
This display brings forth glory to God now in the church and forever in New Jerusalem.

God created “the heavens,…the earth, and…the spirit of man within him.” (Zech. 12:1)
In our human spirit that we are born of God to have His life for His expression.

“The judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31)
God created the earth for His purpose; Satan formed the world system to capture man.

“They all may be one…that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” (John 17:21)
By the Lord’s life in us, we “shine as luminaries in the world.” (Phil. 2:15)

“Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4)
God’s living word energizes us to live to Him and escape the corruption in the world.

“If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
As we love the Lord, He and the Father make their abode in us. (John 14:23)
This abode is for today and eternity. New Jerusalem is God’s eternal abode in His people.

God “created all things…according to the eternal purpose which He made.” (Eph. 3:9, 11)
We are living for God‘s purpose now, conscious that “the earth is the Lord’s.”

“We are expecting new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Pet. 3:13).
The Lord overcame the world and now He is the Overcomer in us. He is our life.

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” (Rev. 21:1)
Through the death of Christ, things on earth and in heaven were reconciled to God.
This is a step in preparing for the new creation with New Jerusalem as its center.

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth…and the sea is no more.” (Rev. 21:1)
The sea speaks of God’s judgments, which are completed in Revelation 20.

I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” (Rev. 21:1-2a)

Earlier posts about the new creation.
New Creation: Curiosity versus Life
New Jerusalem is the Center of New Heaven and New Earth
The Word of the Lord Abides to Eternity
New Creation
New Heaven and New Earth

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (6)

God created the earth and man for His purpose. Man was deceived by Satan and captured by the world, but God in Christ saved us. The world was judged and will be totally eliminated and God will gain a new earth with New Jerusalem for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.

New JerusalemIn Christ we are not of the world, but the world remains around us and attracts the fallen portion of our being. We need to cooperate with the regenerated part of our being to overcome the world.

Like James, John warns us about the world, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him; because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

John also encourages us, “And the world is passing away, and its lust, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (v. 17). Our secret to overcoming the world is to love the Father to let Him energize us to do His will. Then we “abide forever,” being in New Jerusalem.

First John 2:17 is similar to the Lord’s word in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” Again, our love is the key. Then the Father and Son can be active within us and their presence will save us from the attractions of the world.

Father, I love You! Lord Jesus, I love You! Strengthen Your abode within me now and unto New Jerusalem!

Bible verses are quoted 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 LSM.

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (5)

God created the earth and placed man on it for His purpose. However, man fell and was captured by Satan’s system, the world. This problem has become an opportunity for God to demonstrate His unlimited wisdom (Eph. 3:8-11). This demonstration involves many actions, including Jesus Christ dying to redeem us, save us from the world, and give us eternal life. The goal of all of these actions is New Jerusalem, the consummation of everything positive in the Bible.

Today we have eternal life in us so that we may cooperate with God to manifest His wisdom through the church on the way to New Jerusalem. Yet, although we are not “of the world” the world still tries to attract us. James warns us, “Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever determines to be a friend of the world is constituted an enemy of God” (4:4).

New JerusalemThat is serious, but we should not try to avoid the world by our own effort! Peter tells us that God “has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world by lust” (2 P. 1:4).

It is by the rich supply in God’s word that we escape the attraction of the world. We need our physical Bibles but must also realize that “the word of God is living and operative” (Heb. 4:12). In coming to the Bible, we open to the Lord so that He may be life to us and operate in us as we read and muse on the written word*. This saves us from the attraction of the world.

To be saved from the world is for God’s purpose but the real purpose is that we partake of the divine nature to have it expressed through us on the earth in the church and on the new earth in New Jerusalem.

* For more, click on Pray-Reading the Word.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (4)

New JerusalemGod created the earth for His purpose, but Satan arranged the world to take mankind away from God. God judged the world and its ruler in the death of Christ. Through His death and resurrection we have been transferred from the world to God’s purpose for the earth with New Jerusalem as the goal.

“World” refers not only to Satan’s system but also to the fallen human race, as in John 3:16, “God so loved the world…” God loves the human race, and sent His Son to die to release us from Satan’s usurpation and to accomplish our redemption. As a result of redemption, we receive eternal life by believing into Jesus Christ.

In John 17 we are in the world but not of the world, and the Lord asked the Father to keep us “out of the hands of the evil one.” Further, He prayed for our being “perfected into one” that the people of the world may know God and believe. This exhibition is to the people in the world, but does not have its source or content from the world. The source and content are Christ in us, and this exhibition is a precursor to a much greater exhibition in New Jerusalem.

We have ben saved from the world and have received eternal life,and now we cooperate with this life. An example of cooperation is in 1 Corinthians 7:31: we live in the world but do not abuse it (not engrossed in, attached to, dependent on things of the world*).  Thus, we “shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15), an answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

The world has been judged and is passing away. By the time the new earth appears there will be no world, but our shining will continue forever with New Jerusalem.

Various translations in 1 Cor. 7:31, thanks to Bible Hub.

New Creation, Now and New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:1 speaks about “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.” Recent posts looked at the path from the created earth to this new earth. This new earth, the site of New Jerusalem, combined with the new heaven, is a new creation.

We eagerly await to this new creation but should realize that it is already present spiritually. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This new creation is the result of the death and resurrection of Christ (5:14-15). We do not make ourselves new, but by faith God has put us into Christ. In Him we partake of the accomplishments of His death and resurrection.

New JerusalemIn Christ, our old man has been crucified (Rom. 6:6) and our spirit has been regenerated in resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). This makes us a new creation inwardly, even though we still need much renewing throughout our Christian life, as presented in Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:23, and Titus 3:5.

The new creation in the center of our being and our daily renewing are a foretaste of the full new creation with New Jerusalem. First the Lord wants to make us new in every way. Then He will carry out His promise “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

On one hand, we expect the new creation and New Jerusalem revealed in Revelation 21 to be a very big change. On the other hand, we need to realize that the new creation and New Jerusalem is already present in a limited way in everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. We can pray, Lord, thank You for the renewing of the Holy Spirit in me; grant me more cooperation!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (4)

God’s path from the creation of earth to new earth and New Jerusalem is through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then through His work in the church and with the church’s cooperation. An example of our cooperation is the prayer in Matthew 6, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.”

New JerusalemWhen man was deceived and corrupted in Genesis 3, the entire creation was corrupted. Even the heavenly things need purifying (Heb. 9:23). But “the creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20).

The “glory of the children of God” will first be when the Lord comes “to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and ultimately in New Jerusalem. Thus the ultimate freeing of creation will be the new creation.

This freeing of the corrupted creation has its base in the work of Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God was pleased “through Him [Christ] to reconcile all things to Himself.” Here “all things” includes not only humans but also all creatures. After His reconciling death,

God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9-11

This universal confessing will began from the Lord’s visible return to earth and will continue in the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe path from the creation of earth to new earth and New Jerusalem has many ups and downs, but God is never defeated. God’s path is through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ then through His work in the church.

Psalm 2 foretells the resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Christ. This also shows God’s path to His rule over all the nations on the way to eternal peace on the new earth.

Psalm 24 begins, “The earth is Jehovah’s, and its fullness, the habitable land and those who dwell in it.” The earth is Jehovah’s today, whether man realizes this or not. Yet, for the full manifestation of His reign, there is the need of those who will seek His face (v. 6), those who will care for God and His purpose above earthly, human things. This matches the Lord’s call in Matthew 6 to seek first (above all) the kingdom of God.

Seeking God and His purpose correspond with our call in Matthew 6:10 to pray, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.” God wants to exercise dominion over the whole earth. He could do this immediately by His direct authority, but has chosen not to. Rather, He intends to operate through His people, which is why we need to pray.

The answer to our seeking and our prayer is the repeated declaration in the second half of Psalm 24, “The King of glory will come in.” This was echoed by the Lord Jesus in His words to the disciples about seeing “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This coming will usher in the kingdom age leading to the new earth with 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 courtesy of pexels.com.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

We are growing and being perfected in our Christian life. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem. This is not merely human maturity and human perfection; rather, it is Christ growing in us, Christ formed in us (Gal. 4:19), Christ making home in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). Christ in us becomes our maturity and perfection.

In 1 John 2:5 His word is for our perfection: “whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected.” In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” On one hand we need the word for our perfecting in love. On the other hand we need love to keep the word. Growth in Christian life is often bidirectional like this, not a matter of a sequence of steps. Lord, keep me loving You and Your word.

#NewJerusalemGod’s love is perfect, but there is a need for it to be perfected in us. This perfection saves us from all other loves, as in 1 John 2:15. And this perfection prepares us for New Jerusalem.

In 1 John 4:12 we love one another because God’s love is in us. While we are loving, God abides in us. The result is that God’s love is perfected in us. This shows that the perfection is not our human doing but is our cooperation with God working in us. “His love is perfected in us!

Then in verses 16-17 God is love in us. We open ourselves to this love, and then we and God have a mutual abiding and His love is perfected in us. Again, it is God in Christ perfecting us by being formed in us. Our cooperation with God’s perfecting work in us is the preparation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemOur Christian life is a time for our growth and perfecting in this life so that we may match New Jerusalem.

In Luke 6 the Lord spoke quite a while about the proper living standard of His disciples. In verse 40 He said, “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who has been perfected will be like his teacher.” He is indicating that He expects us to be perfected.

We must be perfected to match the perfection of New Jerusalem, but how? Part of the answer is in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The divine life of our heavenly Father, growing in us, enables us to be perfected.

Similarly, the Lord prayed in John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” He is “the life” and He is in all His believers. This is how we can be “perfected into one” and perfected in any other way. Thank You Lord that You have become our life to work in us and perfect us.

This perfection into one is also the oneness in Ephesians 4:13, the oneness of New Jerusalem. This eternal city has one throne, one street, one river, one light; it is the perfection of oneness, the final answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

Second Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Here it seems that we are doing the perfecting work. However, in ourselves we cannot do it, but “the fear of God” indicates our cooperation with Jesus Christ as the perfecting life in us. This perfecting causes us to match New Jerusalem, the holy city (Rev. 21:2, 10).

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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

#NewJerusalemWe received the Christian life, the divine life, the life of New Jerusalem, at our regeneration. Now we pursue growth in this life that we may reach God’s goal for us. On one hand, God will bring us to this goal. On the other hand, there is need of our pursuing and our laboring in prayer (prior 3 posts).

Hebrews 13:20-21 is on the side that God will do what is needed. “Now the God of peace, He who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of an eternal covenant, perfect you in every good work for the doing of His will, doing in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to Him be the glory forever and ever.”

His doing in us is based on the Lord’s blood shed in His redeeming death. The goal of His doing is eternal glory to Him through New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:1-2 is on the side that we need to cooperate. “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…” We follow the example of the Old Testament people of faith, described in Hebrews 11, to put away all hindrances and run the race before us.

Are we able to do this? Not in ourselves! But we “look away unto Jesus!” He attracts us and empowers us to overcome all the distractions and run toward Him with New Jerusalem as the ultimate goal. While we are looking to Him, He perfects our faith, just as He has already authored (initiated) it. Praise Him! Lord, keep me looking away to You!

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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.

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