The Unsearchable Riches of Christ as the Gospel, Now and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemPaul: “I became a minister [of the gospel] according to the gift of the grace of God which was given to me according to the operation of His power. To me…was this grace given to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:7-8).

In God’s view the gospel is much more than a response to our need. The gospel is to bring us from our fallen condition back to God, to regenerate us with His life, to fully renew us through the course of our Christian life, and to build us together with other believers. This accomplishes God’s eternal purpose, ultimately bringing forth New Jerusalem.

For all these steps we surely need God’s mercy and compassion but we also need much more. We need the riches of Christ. God’s intention is to strengthen us into our inner man, our regenerated spirit, so that Christ may make His home in our heart. Then we are rooted and grounded in His love and can lay hold of these unsearchable riches. Eventually we are filled unto all the fullness of God and the outcome is glory to God. This is the gospel presented in Ephesians 3.

When we are filled with God, His glory shines out. This is His intention. He is working to fill us day by day with these unsearchable riches. Eventually we all will be filled and New Jerusalem will radiate the glory of God eternally.

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ and New Jerusalem

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 2–3

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Their marriage is in love. Ephesians 1 presents God’s love in the context of His purpose and all that He accomplished.

In contrast, chapter 2 begins with us being dead in our offenses and sins (2:1*). Nevertheless, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ” (2:4-5). God loved us before creation (1:4), and now, although we are in a fallen creation, He still loves us.

Because of this love, God was merciful to forgive us and to make us alive with Christ, to raise us up with Christ, and to seat us in the heavenlies with Christ (2:5-6). This is our salvation by God’s mercy and grace based on His love.

Now we are in position to experience the love of God. Paul prays that we be strengthened into our inner man so “that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith”
(3:16-17). By His making home in us, we are rooted and grounded in His love. This empowers us to apprehend the vast riches of Christ (3:17-18) and “to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (3:19).

In experiencing this love we are “filled unto all the fullness of God” that there may be glory to God in the church (3:19-21). This experiential love, filling, and glory all increase unto New Jerusalem.

*Verse numbers are in Ephesians.
Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Flow of Living Water is the Triune God

The flow of “rivers of living water” in John 7:38 is “the Spirit” in 7:39. This same Spirit flows out of the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem. This flow of living water is the flow of the Triune God to His people.

New JerusalemThis flow of the Triune God is also in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Grace, love, and fellowship are not static in heaven; they are the Triune God flowing out to “be with us all.”

The flow of the Triune God may also be seen in Ephesians 3:14-17. “I bow my knees unto the Father…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.”

The outcome of this flow is that 1) we are rooted and grounded in love, to be 2) full of strength to corporately lay hold on the unlimited riches of Christ, so that 3) we are filled to the fullness of God, resulting in 4) glory to God in the church now and in New Jerusalem forever (Eph. 3:17-21).

A short song (with music) combines 2 Corinthians 13:14 with Revelation 22:1:
__The love of God and the grace of Christ
__And fellowship of the Holy Spirit
__Be with you, be with you all,
__Be with you all, be with you all.

__From the throne of our God and the Lamb
__Flows a river of water of life,
__Bright as crystal, reaching man.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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

New Earth is Coming; What to Do Now?

New JerusalemGod created the earth for His purpose, and allowed Satan and man to corrupt it. God’s purpose in creation is to manifest His unlimited riches and immeasurable wisdom (Eph. 3:8-11). Despite the opposition, God will accomplish this through the church now (3:10) and through New Jerusalem on the new earth eternally.

Although the earth and mankind has been severely damaged, Acts 3:21 tells us that there will be a “restoration of all things” at the Lord’s second coming, at the beginning of the next age. After that, Revelation 21:1 tells us, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.”

Since the earth will be restored then replaced, what should our attitude be today toward the earth? First, remember that God “created all things…according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:9, 11). We are on earth to live, and let Christ live through us, for God’s purpose.

God will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18). We should never be among them. We should have a proper, upright human living, as spoken of many times in the gospels and epistles. Thus, we should not damage the earth. On the other hand, we should not be so environmentally conscious and active that we are like those who “worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).

“For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21)—this is the balance in our Christian living. While we are living towards New Jerusalem, we are here living for God’s purpose now, conscious that “the earth is the Lord’s” (1 Cor. 10:26). Christ our life is the governing principle while we are living on earth for the building up of the Body of Christ as the living expression of God, the precursor of New Jerusalem.

 

God Created the Earth for His Purpose

New Jerusalem

 

“God, created all things…according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:9-11) The ultimate outcome of creation is the new creation with New Jerusalem as the center.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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 (2)

God created all things, in order that now His multifarious wisdom might be made known through the church (Eph. 3:9-11) and in eternity through New Jerusalem. This is God’s eternal purpose.

New JerusalemZechariah 12:1 gives more insight into God’s intention in creation: “Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” Here the heavens are for the earth and the focus of earth is man with a human spirit. Man has a spirit to receive God, who is Spirit.

Zechariah tells us that man with a spirit is the key for God to accomplish the purpose presented in Ephesians 3. It is in our human spirit that we are born of God to have His life and be one with Him, without which we cannot be His expression.
• “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6b)
• “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17)
• “the Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22)

With this base, when we walk according to spirit, as described in Romans 8 and Galatians 5, the Lord can express Himself through our living. At the same time, the Lord spreads within un to renew our entire being, and thereby enhance His expression through us.

One example is Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). First her spirit exulted with joy, then her soul expressed that joy. Another example is Paul who spoke of the bountiful supply of the Spirit so that “with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (Phil. 1:20).

These are individual examples, but God’s goal as expressed in Ephesians 3 is to be magnified in the church today to prepare the way for a richer expression in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth

Recent posts touched the change from the created earth at the beginning of the Bible to the new earth at the end of the Bible. The change is necessary because of Satan’s rebellion and man’s fall. But what was God’s original goal in creating the earth? Here is an answer from Ephesians 3, but remember that the Bible eventually shows New Jerusalem as the goal, the completion of everything God does.

New JerusalemEphesians 3:9-11 speak of God’s eternal purpose, a mystery that was hidden throughout the past ages in God, “who created all things, in order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church.” This is the mystery of creation.

God created everything for manifesting His multifarious/multi-faceted/ manifold/all-various/infinite* wisdom now through the church. This is something of God’s eternal purpose accomplished in time. God’s desire is such a display now! And this display is through His people knit together in Christ, the church. Surely this display will continue into New Jerusalem.

Since God had this purpose from eternity, why are there so many problems in the world? It is because God does not force His will on us. He is loving and merciful, but we have a choice. Satan’s deceptions and man’s free will are the source of the problems and degradations in the world.

God did not choose to have problems, but He has allowed them. More problems give more opportunity for His wisdom to be manifested in overcoming them. The proper church today shows, and eventually New Jerusalem will fully show, that God’s wisdom is greater than all the evils and failures in humanity.

* Various translations in Ephesians 3:10, thanks to Bible Hub.
More about God manifested through the church per Ephesians 3.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (2)

Genesis 1:1 records the creation of the earth and Revelation 21:1 records the coming of the new earth. Between these two milestones are many downward turns from Satan’s and man’s rejection of God, but God is not defeated. He will gain the new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem to fulfill His desire.

Psalm 8 begins and ends, “O Jehovah our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth.” Humanly we don’t yet see this. However,New Jerusalem the psalmist, inspired by the Spirit, looked forward to the outcome of all that Christ would accomplish. Verses 4-6 of the Psalm are quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8 in regard to Jesus Christ.

“We do not yet see all things subjected to Him, but we see Jesus.” Although we do not yet see all things subjected to God, we do see the incarnated, crucified, and resurrected Jesus (Heb. 2:8-10). He is now one with all His believers, His brothers, and is sanctifying us inwardly to match Him (v. 11).

He is also singing praise to God our Father in the church (v. 12). The path to new earth and New Jerusalem is not only through incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, but is also through the church.

The path in Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 corresponds with Ephesians 3:8-11: God created all things so that, according to His eternal purpose, through grace the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known to the heavenly rulers. This requires that Christ make home in our hearts through faith, resulting in further growth in us (3:16-19). This is His heading up of the church, which is the first step of heading up all things in the heavens and on earth in Christ (1:10).

By heading us up, God will gain glory in the church (3:20-21). The further heading up of all things will bring us to the new earth and New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pexels.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 (2)

From incarnation, in Jesus Christ “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). From resurrection and ascension the church, His Body, is “the fullness of the One who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). Eventually New Jerusalem will display the fullness of the Godhead.

The Body of Christ is the fullness now. Nevertheless, we need to experience much of God’s operating to enter into this reality. Paul prayed for this in Ephesians 3. He said, “I bow my knees unto the Father,” (v. 14) for us to be brought through four stages of experience.
New Jerusalem• “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man” (v. 16)
• “that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith” (v. 17a)
• “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be full of strength to apprehend with all the saints what the breadth and length and height and depth are and to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (v. 17b-19a)
• “that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” (v. 19b)

The outcome of this filling is in verses 20-21, “to Him who is able to do superabundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power which operates in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever. Amen.”

There is no question about glory in New Jerusalem eternally. But, for glory in the church now, we need to echo Paul’s prayer, Father, strengthen me into my inner man today. Strengthen us that we may be filled for glory to You in the church now. God is able! To him be the glory.

%d bloggers like this: