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 Gospel of Jesus Christ and New Jerusalem

The gospel brings us to God’s redemption that we may receive His eternal life and partake of His salvation throughout our Christian life. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

“The gospel of Jesus,” “the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and “the gospel of Christ” are mentioned in about 30 New Testament verses. Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel and He will be the center of New Jerusalem. He is the same yesterday, today, and eternally (Heb. 13:8).

The first name and the last name (Rev. 22:21) in the New Testament is Jesus, proving that Jesus Christ is the subject and content of the New Testament.*

New JerusalemOn the cross Christ created one new man, composed of all the people He redeemed and reconciled to God, thus making peace (Eph. 2:14-16). In this one new man, the stepping stone to New Jerusalem, He is all and in all, and in Him our racial, social, cultural, and national distinctions have been eliminated (Col. 3:11). 

Now our need is to “be renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Eph. 4:23). By this renewing, which is day by day, not once for all, we practically put off the old man—our old ways of thinking and living—and put on the new man so that Christ is expressed. 

This renewing prepares us for New Jerusalem which is fully new in Christ and fully expresses Him. This is the goal of the gospel and the goal of Christ’s human living, death, resurrection, and ascension.

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

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 4

Ephesians presents the eternal love of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and His wife, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). Ephesians 1 and 2 focus on God’s love to us. Chapter 3 begins to set forth our experience of this love.

New JerusalemChapter 4 begins with an exhortation to walk worthily of God’s calling (4:1*). The first step in this walk is “with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love” (4:2). This is not our own love. Instead, as stated in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” This love maintains us in the oneness (4:3).

To no longer be tossed about as children (4:14) we need to grow into Christ in everything by holding Him, the reality, in love (4:15). As we grow into Him, a rich supply flows out from Him for “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love” (4:16).

The building up of the body of Christ, in love and by the rich supply flowing out from the Head, is part of the preparation of the bride of Christ. Both the body and the bride are living compositions of all His believers. By the rich supply we are not only “joined together” but even more “knit together” (4:16).

In New Jerusalem we will be “no longer little children,” nor “tossed about,” but fully knit together, grown to maturity, and built up in love.

*Verse numbers without a book name are in Ephesians.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Putting Off, Putting On, for New Jerusalem

We follow the Lord Jesus on the path to New Jerusalem by applying His death as we deny ourself, so that all our natural life is terminated. This opens the door for the divine life, the eternal life, the life we received in regeneration, the life of New Jerusalem, to spread in us and to be magnified in our living (Phil. 1:20-21).

New JerusalemThe exchange of the natural and divine living is presented in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man…and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality.”

Galatians 2:20 also shows this putting off and putting on: “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith…” This living one with Christ in me is the life of the new man and of New Jerusalem.

“It is no longer I who live” is because “I am crucified with Christ” and by the Spirit I am applying this every day. This is putting off the old living. This is to deny self and bear the cross daily. “Christ lives in me” to impart the resurrection power for this denying.

“I now live in faith.” This is putting on the new man who ultimately becomes New Jerusalem.

A Rich Supply, Now and New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:1: “He showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.” We continue with verses about the rich/bountiful supply flowing to us today just as the water of life will flow to us in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 4:15-16 exhorts us to hold to truth (which is Christ) in love that we may grow up into Him in everything. These verses then tell us a rich supply flows out from Him for the building of His Body in love. This love is not our love but is His love in us (1 John 4).

The rich supply out from Christ the Head results in the building up of His Body for His purpose. Paralleling Genesis 2, this shows us Christ’s corporate Body comes out from Him and is unto Him.

Colossians 2:19 is a companion verse to Ephesians 4. Here, by holding the Head (Christ, the truth) His Body “being richly supplied and knit together” by what He supplies through His members, “grows with the growth of God.” God in Himself is perfect and does not grow, but the rich supply of the Spirit results in the increase/growth of God in us, which is very necessary. The maturity of this growth brings us to New Jerusalem.

Peter tells us that our ministering should be “out of the strength which God supplies; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Again, the supply comes out from God and the glory returns to Him.

Peter also tells us that by applying all that he presents in 2 Peter 1:3-10, “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly and bountifully supplied to you” (1:11). The spiritual reality of the eternal kingdom is here today, as in Romans 14:17. New Jerusalem is the eternal manifestation of this kingdom, the eternal product of this rich, bountiful supply.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Living Water Flows to, in New Jerusalem (5)

The “river of water of life” flowing from the throne in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1) is the eternal continuation of the living water the Lord Jesus promised in John’s gospel and of the bountiful supply of the Spirit in Philippians 1.

The river of living water is also the rich supply which comes to us from Jesus Christ.
Col. 2:19: “the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied…grows”
Eph. 4:15b-16: “the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply…the growth of the Body…”

New JerusalemThe rich supply from the Head, Christ, to His whole Body, is the gushing fountain in John 4 and the river in Revelation 22. We receive this rich supply by holding Christ as our Head and by growing up into Him in all things. This growth is to be headed up by Him in all details of our lives, so that Christ, not our natural preferences and desires, is in charge.

The rich supply results from our holding Christ. It also comes through the joints, gifted members given by the Head for the growth, the building up of His Body. The rich supply is not for our individual Christian progress; rather, it is for the knitting together of us as members of His Body.

This rich supply is God Himself flowing to us. Remember that “rivers of living water” in John 7:38 are “the Spirit” in 7:39. This is the flow in New Jerusalem; the Spirit flows out from the throne of God and the Lamb. By this flow “all the Body, being richly supplied…grows with the growth of God” (Col. 2:19).

God in Himself is perfect but He does need to grow, to increase, to spread in us. This is for Christ’s Body today and for New Jerusalem eternally.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (6)

Being perfected and growing to maturity are two closely related aspects of our Christian life. When we become mature and are perfected, we match New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemIn 1 Corinthians 3:1-3  Paul expresses concern about the Corinthians remaining “infants in Christ.” He desired that they grow. Likewise, Hebrews 5:12 expresses concern (sadness?) that the believers were spiritually young children. Then 6:1 urges, “let us be brought on to maturity.” Let us grow until we match New Jerusalem.

Likewise, the desire in Ephesians 4:14-15 is that “we may be no longer little children” but that “we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.” We grow up into Christ. This implies that we grow out of our self, out of our culture, and out of everything natural. We grow out of the old creation to match New Jerusalem in the new creation.

In Colossians 1:27 Christ is in us as our hope of glory, our hope of participating in the glory of New Jerusalem. In 1:28 Paul tells us that his announcing of the indwelling Christ has the goal to “present every man full-grown in Christ.” Sooner or later every believer will be full grown in Christ and will share in New Jerusalem.

This growth is not anything outward. Spiritual growth is not measured by physical years as a Christian, not measured by quantity of activities, not measured by knowledge or eloquence. Rather, as members of the Body of Christ, we “grow with the growth of God” (Col. 2:19).

God, in Himself, is perfect; He does not grow. But in us God needs more room, more flexibility, to grow, to spread, especially in our thinking, our emotions, and our decisions. Lord, increase in these aspects of my being!

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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.* 

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem, a city of divine life, is mature in this life. We have received this life and are growing in it so that we match New Jerusalem. Our growing involves our perfecting, similar to proper human growth requiring many years of education. Here we continue looking at verses about our growth and perfection.

Ephesians 4:11 tells us that the ascended Christ gave gifted members to His Body. Verses 12-14a tell us that these members are, “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ, until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we may be no longer little children.”

New JerusalemThese verses speak about growing from little children to a full-grown man. This growth is a normal part of our Christian life. New Jerusalem will not be full of spiritual children but is composed of full-grown believers.

This growth also takes us from children (plural) to a full-grown man (singular). This is the building together of the Body of Christ as the precursor of New Jerusalem. In ourselves we are individuals, but in Christ we become the one new man. This is part of our Christian perfecting.

These verses also speak about our being perfected for our participation in the work of the ministry which causes the building up of the Body of Christ. We all have a share in the building up of His Body, which is the building up of New Jerusalem. Lord, cause me to be perfected for this!

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

No Devil In or Near New Jerusalem

The devil is not in New Jerusalem and has no way to bother us in New Jerusalem nor to bother the nations around New Jerusalem.

First John 3:8 tells us “the devil has sinned from the beginning.” The devil is the source of sin which brought in death. John 8:44 tells us that the devil is a murderer from the beginning and that he is the father, the source, of lies.  The nature of the devil is a lie because truth is not in him. This is the exact opposite of New Jerusalem in which Christ is the life and reality and where there is no lie.

New JerusalemJesus has overcome the devil. In John 14:30 He told us that the ruler of this world (the devil) “has nothing in Me.” Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children have shared in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil.”

It seems to us today that the devil is still active. The reason is that the judgment accomplished on the cross has not fully been carried out. Therefore, Ephesians 4:25-27 warns us to put away lies and anger so that we give no place to the devil. We wage this battle continually by applying the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2) to overcome the law of sin in our flesh (Rom. 7:20).

In Revelation 12:9 the devil is cast down and in 20:2 he is bound for a thousand years, and in 20:10 he is cast into the lake of fire. This is the final step of the judgment accomplished on the cross. As a result, the devil will never bother New Jerusalem nor the entire new creation.

And, since the devil is Satan, New Jerusalem has Neither Sin nor Satan.
Here is a summary of all posts about what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA and JPL.

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.

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