Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

While we are growing in our Christian life we are also being perfected. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemOur perfection includes transformation. Romans 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.”

The result of transformation is that we corporately show forth the will of God. This will is good, in God’s sight, as is New Jerusalem. However, there may be outward events which help our transformation, which are not “good” according to our understanding.

In the same way, Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Again, this is God’s view of “good” and it applies to those who love God, those who are foreknown and predestinated by Him in eternity past to go through a process in order to be glorified (8:29-30). This glory ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Our transformation, the renewing of our mind, includes a change in our concept of “good.” God’s view of “good” is that we be transformed, conformed to the image of His Son (8:29), and glorified for New Jerusalem. This is far beyond a good job, a good, car, a good vacation, good food, etc.

Paul was pursuing God’s “good” (Phil. 3:12-14). Hence, in physical things he was content to abound or to be abased (Phil. 4:11-12).

The will of God in Romans 12 is well pleasing to Him, and to us when we are one with Him. God has predestinated us from eternity for His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5). And His good pleasure consummates in eternity with New Jerusalem. The will of God, including New Jerusalem, is perfect since God is perfect.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem Comes from Divine Riches and is Without Human Poverty

The Lord Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, read from Isaiah about Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to announce the gospel to the poor…” (Luke 4:18). The poverty in this verse can certainly be understood physically but should also be viewed spiritually.

The Lord Jesus came to announce Himself to people who are poor spiritually, whether rich or poor humanly. What does this have to do with New Jerusalem? Simple. God’s riches bring us out of spiritual poverty all the way to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Ephesians 3:8 the unsearchable riches of Christ are the gospel announced by Paul. The goal of the gospel is not to save people from poverty but to impart these unsearchable riches into people. As a byproduct people are saved from spiritual poverty.

In Romans 2:4 “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” lead us to repentance. This is the beginning of our journey—to repent, turn to God, and receive Jesus Christ. Here three aspects of God’s riches lead us to repent and to enter the path to New Jerusalem. This repentance is one aspect of the rich gospel.

Ephesians 1:7 tells us that in Christ Jesus “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” We certainly need forgiveness, but the measure of God’s action is not our need but His riches. This forgiveness is another aspect of the rich gospel.

Romans 9:23 tells us God will “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.” We need mercy to bring us out of our poor condition, but God does not emphasize that poor condition. His mercy is shown, not because we are pitiful, but to gain us as vessels to display the riches of His glory. Eventually New Jerusalem will be a great corporate vessel displaying His riches.

 

New Jerusalem, the Fullness of God

Colossians 1:19 declares that in Christ “all the fullness was pleased to dwell.” This fullness is the expression of all the riches of God.* Colossians 2:9 says “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” By incarnation, all the fullness of the Godhead is in the God-man Jesus Christ.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:22-23 go further, saying that the church, the Body of Christ is “the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” Not only Christ Himself, but now in resurrection also the Body composed of all His believers, is the fullness. The corporate Body will become the corporate New Jerusalem, so New Jerusalem will be the fullness of God.

The Body is the fullness because “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Ephesians 1 is a prayer for revelation that we might see all that God has operated in Christ unto the church. This is somewhat objective. Receiving grace upon grace is definitely subjective. This grace constitutes the church as the fullness in reality, preparing us for New Jerusalem.

We receive grace and we minister grace to one another, that we may be “good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). For this ministry the members of the Body specially gifted by the Head (Eph. 4:11) labor to perfect all of us “unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ” (4:12). This building of the Body is also the preparation of the bride (in Eph. 5), which becomes New Jerusalem.

Our ministry (Eph. 4:12) results in all arriving at the practical oneness, “at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The goal of our Christian growth is the fullness of Christ, His Body now and New Jerusalem in the future.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

* See this footnote on Col. 1:19 in the Online Recovery Version NT.

New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots (2)

God chose us in eternity past to “be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 1:4) and in eternity future New Jerusalem, the holy city, will be holy and without blemish.

The prior post presents the Lord’s work to make us without blemish. In addition to the verses there, Colossians 1:22 says, “He now has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and without reproach before Him.” His death, for our reconciliation, has the goal of New Jerusalem holy and without blemish.

New JerusalemDespite what He has accomplished, we should not wait passively. Philippians 2 exhorts us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (v. 12). We work by cooperating with God who operates within us (v. 13).

By this cooperation, we will be without murmurings and reasonings (v. 14), “that you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (v. 15). In this shining we present the word of life to worldly people (v. 16).

Our cooperation with God’s operation in us causes us to be without fallen humanity’s blemishes and with divine shining as channels for the word of life, that God’s salvation might reach people in this crooked generation.

Peter, based on our expectation of the new creation with New Jerusalem, exhorts us “be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish” (2 Peter 3:14).

In Revelation 14:1-5 we see overcomers, firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Part of their description is that they “are without blemish.” Surely these overcomers lived according to the exhortations in Philippians 2 and 2 Peter 3. Not only are they without negative blemishes, they are also singing a heavenly song of praise, a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nick Pitsas, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots

New JerusalemEphesians 1:4 tells us that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” This choosing was in eternity, before sin and any kind of corruption. This eternal choosing points to New Jerusalem, which is holy, without blemish, and in love.

Although sin death entered and humanity is extremely blemished, Jesus Christ is working to erase all blemishes. Ephesians 5:25-27 says that He “loved the church and gave Himself up for her” to accomplish redemption; that He is now working to “sanctify her [the church], cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word” so that when He returns “He might 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 is the preparation of New Jerusalem.

By His work on the cross, in us today, and at His return, the church will be holy and without blemish, matching God’s eternal choosing. This holy church, as His bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2), will be without spot, without wrinkle, and without blemish.

Jesus Christ is qualified to do this work because He on the cross “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14). The eternal Spirit applies to us and in us all that He accomplished. And 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we were redeemed “with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.”

Paralleling Ephesians 5, Jude 24 speaks of “Him who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you before His glory without blemish in exultation.” In New Jerusalem we will be with glory and without blemish. To Him be thanksgiving and praise.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

On the Throne in New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:3 says concerning New Jerusalem:

New Jerusalem

The verse tells us that God and the Lamb will be on the throne. God on the throne is obvious but for the Lamb, Jesus, the God-man, it is helpful to consider additional verses.

Matthew 28:18 “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus, the Lamb, was given all authority in resurrection.
Acts 2:36, in resurrection, “God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you have crucified.” Acts 10:36, “Jesus Christ (this One is Lord of all)”

Ephesians 1:19-23 “the might of His [God, the Father of glory] strength, which He caused to operate in Christ in raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and lordship and every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body”

This portion tells us that God raised Christ from the dead, exalted Him to the heavens, enthroned Him far above all, subjected all things under Him, and gave Him as Head over all. All these steps are to His Body now and to New Jerusalem in eternity.

The Lamb Jesus Christ will be on the throne in New Jerusalem but we should not wait passively. Hebrews 4:16 exhorts us to “come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace.”

How can we come to the throne of God and the Lamb, Christ, in heaven while we still live on earth? The secret is our spirit, referred to in v. 12. The very Christ who is sitting on the throne in heaven (Rom. 8:34) is also now in us (Rom. 8:10), that is, in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), where the habitation of God is (Eph. 2:22).*

Let us come forward to the throne now on our way to New Jerusalem.

From footnote 1 on Hebrews 4:16 in NT Recovery Version Online.

 

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

New JerusalemThe book of Revelation is centered on the testimony of Jesus (19:10). Throughout Revelation we see the Christ, the One anointed to carry out for God’s plan on earth. This plan culminates with the new creation and New Jerusalem. In this post we look at our Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 12.

This chapter begins with the woman, the man-child, and the dragon. Then 12:7-9 present the war in heaven and the casting down of the devil. Verse 10 has a loud proclamation, “Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ.” Here, as in 11:15, the eternal stage of the kingdom is New Jerusalem with God’s reign over the whole universe.

The proclamation in verse 10 also declares that our accuser (the devil) has been cast down.

The authority of Jesus Christ is declared many times in Revelation, including 1:5, 11:15, 12:10, 15:3, 17:14, and 19:16. This is from His death, resurrection, and ascension, as declared by Peter in Acts 2:36, “God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you have crucified” and as written in Ephesians 1:22 that God “subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body.”

In Acts 2 our response to His exaltation is to repent, believe, and be baptized. This begins our progress toward New Jerusalem. In Ephesians our response to God’s actions is to grow in life and participate in the building up of His Body in love (Eph. 4:15-16).

Jesus Christ is “Head over all things to the church” because the church is the focus of God’s operation in this age. The church, the Body of Christ, is the forerunner of New Jerusalem as the eternal mingling of God and man.

Photo courtesy of www.goodfreephotos.com.

Appreciation of the Ministry of Witness Lee

I am very appreciative of the ministry of Witness Lee. I heard him speak many times in the last thirty years of his life and have read many of the books composed from his spoken messages. Here is a short biography of Witness Lee and here is another short biography.

His Life-Study of the Bible helped me to see Christ and our experience of Christ as life portrayed in many parts of the Bible which formerly were only stories to me. He also helped me to see the lines of life and building from Genesis to Revelation. Here are Witness Lee’s books and some audio recordings. Here is additional online access to Witness Lee’s writings.

I have written about life and building often on this New Jerusalem blog. On one hand I have referenced some of Witness Lee’s writings, quoted from a few books and from his notes in the Recovery Version of the Bible, and presented some of Witness Lee’s hymns.

Here are a few notes about New Jerusalem in the Recovery Version:
John 3:30, the increase is the bride in v. 29 pointing to Christ’s bride, New Jerusalem.
Ephesians 1:18, our hope includes the enjoyment of Christ in the New Jerusalem
James 1:18, the implanted word of life will perfect us unto New Jerusalem
Revelation 21:2, New Jerusalem is a living composition of all God’s redeemed people.

On the other hand what I have written in this New Jerusalem blog in the past five years has been based on the Bible. In a sense I am not dependent on the ministry of Witness Lee because his ministry has opened the Bible to me. Now I present to you in this blog what I see in the Bible related to New Jerusalem.

Tom, who blogs at Holding to Truth, presents his appreciation of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Christian Research Institute, which is not affiliated with him, affirms Witness Lee’s fundamental Biblical position.

My conclusion: there is much in the Bible which directly or indirectly involves New Jerusalem. I thank the Lord for opening my eyes, mainly by what He released through Witness Lee, to what is in His word.

Addendum
__After writing what is above, I was reminded of a web site having both An Open Letter from the Local Churches and Living Stream Ministry concerning the Teachings of Witness Lee and testimonies from more than a dozen respected Christian leaders. Another similar web site is The Truth of the Gospel. These web sites are in both English and German. I am glad to recommend both.
__Nach die Schreibung oben, ich wurde erinnert über eine Internetseite, die Ein offener Brief von den örtlichen Gemeinden und Living Stream Ministry in Bezug auf die Lehren von Witness Lee und Zeugnisse von mehr als Dutzend angesehenen Christlichen Leiter hat. Eine andere ähnliche Internetseite ist Die Wahrheit des Evangeliums. Diese Internetseiten sind auf Deutsch und auf Englisch. Ich bin froh, beide zu empfehlen.

Addendum 2
__A third website is The Local Churches, Die Ortsgemeinden, only in German. The site begins, Die örtlichen Gemeinden sind Teil eines weltumspannenden Netzwerks von Gemeinden, die gemäß den Prinzipien des Neuen Testaments gegründet wurden. Diese Prinzipien sind im Dienst von Watchman Nee und Witness Lee ausgelegt worden, einem Dienst, der die Gläubigen auf Christus und Christus allein als den Erlöser, das Leben und das Haupt der Gemeinde verweist (Eph. 5:25; Kol. 3:4; 1:18). Diese empfehle ich auch.

God’s Purpose Surpasses Our Need

This is the second post with verses that say according to God’s will/purpose/pleasure… which far exceed our will/purpose/pleasure. Because everything of God is consummated at the end of the Bible, all these phrases point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:9: “Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself.” God’s will is according to His good pleasure, not for the common pleasures sought by humans. When we are one with Him, we partake of His pleasure and He becomes our satisfaction. In New Jerusalem we will fully participate in and fully be satisfied by God’s good pleasure.

Ephesians 1:11: “In whom [Christ] also we were designated as an inheritance, having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” In Ephesians 1:7 we were predestinated according to the good pleasure of His will in this verse according to the counsel of His will. God’s will, pleasure, and counsel far exceed ours. Thank Him for bringing us to Himself!

Ephesians 1:19: “And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength.” Ephesians 1:15 begins a prayer that the Father of glory would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may see many things of His economy. This portion of the prayer covers his power, might, and strength, which are surpassing. They are so excellent, so high, because God’s goal, New Jerusalem, is so excellent.

Ephesians 3:7: “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God which was given to me according to the operation of His power.” Paul was a minister not according to His own ability and learning but according to the operation of God’s power. This divine enabling is required to minister the outstanding and excellent things of God.

Father, give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation to see more of Your will, Your good pleasure, Your purpose, and Your power. Show us how all of these constitute us with You into New Jerusalem.

God’s Purpose: Much Higher than Our Need

New JerusalemIn recent months I have been touched by various phrases like according to God’s will or according to His riches. What God does is not according to man’s need but much higher—according to His purpose. Man’s need is solved by God’s salvation but God’s salvation is for His goal, which much greater than satisfying our need.

Because of this realization I gathered verses which include something like according to His… This is the first of a few posts in which I present these verses in their order in the Bible. These verses are on this New Jerusalem blog because God’s will, God’s riches, and God’s grace all point toward New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We are not called by God because we need to be saved from sin and death; rather we are called according to His purpose. For His purpose He saves us from sin and death as a preparatory step so that we can grow in Him and be built together in His life to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:5: “Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Before creation, before any sin and death, God foreknew us and predestinated us to be His sons, to have His eternal life. We have this life so that God can bring forth His good pleasure in us. This good pleasure, including New Jerusalem, is according to His will.

Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” Even redemption is not according to our need but according to the riches of His grace. God will display the surpassing riches of this grace in the ages to come (Eph. 2:7), including New Jerusalem in eternity.

Glory to God, Now and New Jerusalem

In my Bible reading, I came to Jude. Verses 24-25 say, “But to Him who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you before His glory without blemish in exultation, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, might, and authority before all time and now and unto all eternity. Amen.”

New JerusalemThe phrase “before His glory” reminded me of New Jerusalem, which radiates the glory of God, and the throne in New Jerusalem which is the source of the radiant glory. Of course, “before His glory” is also when the Lord returns visibly (Matt. 25:31) and in His kingdom.

God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord brings us to the glory “without blemish.” For us to be in the glory and to be glorious, we must be without blemish.

Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose us “to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” God is faithful to accomplish what He has said! Ephesians 5:25-27 tell us that Jesus Christ gave Himself for the church (in death), that He is washing the church in the water in His word (now), and that (at His return) He will “present the church to Himself glorious…without blemish.” This is His operating to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

We cannot be glorious nor be without blemish by our own effort, but we can cooperate with His operation. Philippians 2:12-15 speak of our “working out our own salvation” by cooperating with “God who operates in us” that we may be “children of God without blemish” shining in the world. The shining is a precursor to the glory of New Jerusalem.

Peter also speaks of our cooperation. He says that since we are expecting new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13), including New Jerusalem, we should “be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish” (3:14).

We thank our God and Savior for choosing us, dying for us, washing us, operating in us, and guarding us. May He now keep us cooperating daily. To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory!

Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

Acts 26:18 and New Jerusalem (2)

Acts 26:18 records six aspects of the heavenly commission from the Lord Jesus to Paul. The last is that we receive an inheritance. As with all five prior aspects, the consumma-tion of the inheritance is with New Jerusalem.

This inheritance comes to us in three stages—in this age, in the age that begins with the Lord’s second coming, and in eternity in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe New Testament primarily speaks of the inheritance in the kingdom age and in eternity. Nevertheless, Ephesians 1:14 says that the Spirit “is the pledge of our inheritance.” This pledge is a guarantee. It is also a sample, giving us a present taste of the coming inheritance. The Spirit Himself, as our realization of the Triune God, is the sample, indicating that the Triune God is the fullness of our inheritance.

Also, Galatians 3:14 speaks of our receiving the blessing of Abraham, which is the promised Spirit. The promise is of God (v. 16), it is also God’s covenant (v. 17), and it is our inheritance (v. 18). This is the Spirit flowing as the river of life in New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 21:7 the Lord tells us, “he who overcomes will inherit these things.” This is in the context of the Lord describing Himself and describing New Jerusalem. Hence, the Lord Jesus Christ as the reality of everything in New Jerusalem and as the embodiment of the Triune God is our inheritance.

An overall definition:* This inheritance is the Triune God Himself with all He has, all He has done, and all He will do for His redeemed people. The Triune God is embodied in the all-inclusive Christ (Col. 2:9), who is the portion allotted to the saints as their inheritance (Col. 1:12).

Ultimately this inheritance is the Triune God in New Jerusalem allotted to us.

* From footnote 6 on Acts 26:18 in NT Recovery Version Online.
Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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