New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm

New JerusalemJohn saw New Jerusalem when an angel showed it to him and carried him away “in spirit onto a great and high mountain” (Rev. 21:9-10). The angel’s showing, in spirit, and on a high mountain, indicate that seeing New Jerusalem is not based on human capability, is not in the natural realm, and is not on an ordinary level.

New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the consummation of His work of redeeming, sanctifying, and glorifying all His believers (Eph. 5:25-27). Thus, we should not think of New Jerusalem as a physical city. To think about the Lord’s words in the physical realm is to repeat a recurring error. Here are examples of this error from John’s gospel.

• In 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were in the natural realm, thinking He spoke about the physical temple. But, He spoke about His body in resurrection.
• In 3:3-6 Jesus spoke about being born anew, being born of the Spirit. Nicodemus misunderstood, thinking about natural birth.
• In 4:10-14 Jesus spoke about living water but the Samaritan woman only could conceive of physical water.
• In 4:32-34 the Lord spoke about being nourished by doing the Father’s will but the disciples only thought about physical food.
• In 6:38, 42 the Lord spoke about coming out of heaven but the Jews could not get beyond their knowledge of His human family.

These examples (and more in the next post) show the futility of depending on our own knowledge and comprehension with divine things. To see and understand New Jerusalem we need to be out of our natural understanding. We need to ask the Lord to carry us away,to keep us in spirit, and to bring us the high mountain so that we may receive a revelation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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.

Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 21

Revelation 21 presents the new creation with New Jerusalem as its outstanding feature. In verse 2 John tells us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Jesus Christ is the real Husband in the universe and New Jerusalem is the wife. This likeness is in Ephesians 5:23, “a husband is head of the wife as also Christ is Head of the church.” Jesus described Himself as the real Bridegroom in parables in Matthew 9:14-17 and 25:1-13. And John the Baptist referred to Him s the Bridegroom in John 3:29.

New JerusalemOn one hand, we are responsible to prepare ourselves for the wedding day. An example is our need to have much oil in our lamps, signifying the Spirit filling our being, as in Matthew 25. On the other hand, Jesus Christ prepares us first by His redemption and now by His life in us. Both are presented in Ephesians 5:25-27.

Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death will be no more, nor will there be sorrow or crying or pain anymore; for the former things have passed away.” The wiping of tears, and the absence of sorrow, crying, and pain correspond to the Lamb’s care in Revelation 7.

Death will be no more because of “our Savior Christ Jesus, who nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

In 21:5 He is sitting on the throne and He tells us, “Behold, I make all things new. And He said, Write, for these words are faithful and true.” His making all new is seen in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

The words He speaks are faithful and true because He Himself is Faithful and True (Rev. 3:14, 19:11). These few verses show that so many characteristics of Jesus Christ today match what He is in New Jerusalem, and are our path from today unto New Jerusalem.

No Lie, No Falsehood, in New Jerusalem

The devil has no part in New Jerusalem nor in the entire new creation because he has been cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

The devil is the father of lies, the source of lies is his nature, and in him is only falsehood, no reality (John 8:44). This is a total contrast to Jesus Christ who is the reality (John 14:6), the expression of God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

New JerusalemThe truth has come to us in word of the truth of the gospel (Eph. 1:13, Col. 1:5). By our receiving this word of truth, the Spirit as the anointing entered into us.

Now the Spirit of reality is living in us, anointing us with the reality. This anointing “is true and is not a lie, and even as it has taught you, abide in Him” (1 John 2:27). When we abide in the Lord, we abide in the reality, the truth; here there is no lie, no falsehood. This is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 14:1-5, 144,000 are on the heavenly mount Zion with the Lamb. Verse 5: “And in their mouth no lie was found; they are without blemish.” “No lie” indicates nothing of the devil is with them.

Furthermore, they are without blemish. They have been washed by the Lord with the water in His living word (Eph. 5:26-27). This washing not only eliminates blemishes, all of which originated with the devil. The washing also imparts the Lord’s holiness so that we “would be holy and without blemish.”

The holiness matches the holy city, New Jerusalem. The city is not merely without lies, falsehoods, and blemishes. Much more, New Jerusalem is saturated with God’s holiness and glory to express God.

Here is a summary of all posts about what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Great is the Mystery: God in Christ in Us

New JerusalemThe mystery proclaimed by the apostles includes New Jerusalem. Colossians 2:2 tells us that the mystery of God is Christ. The mystery of God is God embodied in Christ to become a God-man who lived among men, died to redeem all men, and rose to impart eternal life into His believers.

However, the mystery of God is not only Christ Himself, but also Christ in us, as in Colossians 1:27, “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This Christ is our hope of glory, the glory that will be fully manifested in New Jerusalem.

God made this mystery known to Paul (Eph. 3:3) because God’s good pleasure is that we all see and enter into this mystery (Eph. 1:9). Therefore, Paul’s ministry was “to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is, which throughout the ages has been hidden in God” (Eph. 3:9).

First Timothy 3:15 says, “great is the mystery of godliness.” This is God incarnated in Christ. It is also Christ entering into us to be our life, to be manifested through us now and much more in eternity.

Ephesians 3:4 and Colossians 4:3 speak of the mystery of Christ. And Ephesians 5, presenting husband and wife as a portrait of Christ and the church, says, “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church” (v. 32).

The mystery of God is Christ, God manifested in flesh. It is also Christ in us, people who were merely flesh until we believed into Him and received His eternal life. This life produces the mystery of Christ, all His believers as members of His one Body. So, God in Christ in the believers to form His mystical Body is the great mystery. Eventually His Body consummates in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Purified for New Jerusalem by Cooperating with the Lord (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is pure: “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18), “the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (21:21). New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (21:9); “it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean/pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

For us to match the purity of New Jerusalem, first the Lord cleanses/ purifies our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). Second, He cleanses us from unrighteousness as we are enlightened and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Third, He purifies us as we cooperate with His moving in us both to depart from unrighteousness and to let Him live through us as righteousness.

Ephesians 5:26 is also in the third step of this cleansing/purifying. The Lord sanctifies the church, “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” Here word is the Greek rhema, which means the instant word, the particular word or speaking enlivened to us as we read or remember the printed words of the Bible.

The Lord is cleansing the church but we need to cooperate. The exhortation in James 4:8 hits responsibility on our side, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-souled!” Double-souled is double-minded, having the heart divided between two parties — God and the world.*

These rhema words to us “are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). They might be as simple as “no” to separate us from something of the world. When we respond to these words, the life in us has a way to flow. This is “the washing of the water in the word.” By this washing we experience a little more of the purity of New Jerusalem.

*From the footnote on James 4:8 in NT Recovery Version Online.
For the verses cited in this post, clean and pure both come from the same Greek noun and cleanses and purifies both come from the related Greek verb.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service. 

Receive Mercy and Find Grace on the Journey to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemAs believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have eternal life and we are on the path to New Jerusalem.

Although we have eternal life, we still also have the soulish life (which the Lord asks us to deny) and our corrupted flesh. These cause us trouble in our Christian life and are the subject of multiple New Testament warnings, such as the end of Galatians 5 and the first half of Ephesians 5.

We should not fight the negative things on our own because then we will fall into the trap described in Romans 7—“the evil which I do not will, this I practice.” Instead, let us heed Hebrews 4:16:

Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace  that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.

We may (and can) come forward with boldness because of the blood shed by the Lord on the cross (Hebrews 10:19-22). When we come forward first we “receive mercy.” This indicates both our lack of qualification and God’s great compassions.

We receive mercy, then with a little more seeking we “find grace.” This mercy and grace are “for timely help”—it might be when we are frustrated or angry or confused or lonely or ______ (insert your own description here).

Because of the Lord’s mercy and because of the blood of the Lamb, the throne is to us the throne of grace and not the throne of judgement. Out of this throne flows mercy and grace. The same throne will be in New Jerusalem with a merciful and gracious flow of the river of water of life.

More about the throne of grace.

Grace be with Those Who Love Jesus Christ

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the bride of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:2). Love is the critical factor for the bride to be prepared so that we may rejoice with all our Lord’s lovers that “the marriage of the Lamb has come” (Revelation 19:7).

Ephesians 5:2 encourages us to “walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” To walk in love is to have our daily life governed by and filled with love from the Lord to us and reflected from us to Him. Lord, fill us with Your love!

Ephesians 6:24 says “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Regarding this verse:

The enjoyment of the Lord as grace is with those who love Him. In this book [Ephesians] the phrase in love, which is rich in feeling, is used repeatedly (1:4; 3:17; 4:2, 15-16; 5:2). Later, the church in Ephesus was rebuked by the Lord because she had lost her first love toward Him (Rev. 2:4)….The church, which is the Body of Christ, is also the bride of Christ, Christ’s wife. With the Body, the emphasis is on taking Christ as life; with the wife, the emphasis is on loving Christ. Therefore, this book emphasizes and also concludes with our love toward the Lord.*

Here is another verse of the song introduced in the prior post:
___Lord, keep my love burning brightly for You,
___A love never dwindling always hot for You,
___A love, shining brighter all the way for You,
___A love, so fresh like the day I first touched You

Lord Jesus, keep my love for You fresh, burning, and shining every day from here to New Jerusalem.

* Part of note 2 on Ephesians 6:24 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by LSM.

Sing and Praise in Sanctification unto Glory

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem, the holy and glorious city, is the ultimate expression of God’s holiness through His people. In Hebrews 2:10 God is leading many sons into glory, which glory will be fully seen in New Jerusalem.

The path to glory in Hebrews 2 (as also in Ephesians 5:26-27) includes our sanctification. Continuing from Hebrews 2:10, in verse 11 Jesus Christ is “He who sanctifies” and we are “those who are being sanctified.” This practical, experiential sanctification process is on our path to New Jerusalem.

The prior post presented prayer with thanksgiving for our cooperation with His sanctifying. We also should meet with other Christians because the word in Hebrews 2:11 about sanctifying continues directly into verse 12 about singing in church meetings: “Both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the church I will sing hymns of praise to You.’”

This is the firstborn Son’s praising of the Father within the Father’s many sons in the church meetings. When we, the many sons of God, meet as the church and praise the Father, the firstborn Son praises the Father in our praising. It is not that He praises the Father apart from us and alone; rather, He praises within us and with us through our praising. In our singing He sings hymns of praise to the Father. If then we do not sing, how can He sing? The more we sing to the Father, the more we enjoy His presence, His moving, His anointing, and His life-imparting within us. Thus we will grow in Him and be brought into His glorification above all.*

Let us praise the Father on our path through sanctification unto the glory of New Jerusalem.

* Note 3 on Hebrews 2:12 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.

 

Pursue Sanctification to See the Lord

New Jerusalem is the holy city. God has given Jesus Christ to us as our holiness objectively. Throughout our Christian life we are experiencing the Lord’s washing in the water of His word that we may be holy subjectively. Through this process we will match the holy city in reality.

New JerusalemOn one hand the Holy Spirit is renewing us (Titus 3:5) and the water in the living word is washing us (Ephesians 5:26-27). This is the operation of the Triune God to sanctify us wholly that our “spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

On the other hand we need to cooperate. Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to “pursue peace with all men and sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord.” To partake of His holiness is to experience it, which is beyond having it imputed to us objectively. This requires our pursuing.

Second Corinthians 7:1 says “let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Cleanse ourselves points to our cooperation to gain the living reality of holiness. This cleansing is not by us independently but by our confessing and accepting the forgiveness in Christ and by seeking to be renewed away from repetitions of defilement.

Cooperation is also seen in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But according to the Holy One who called you, you yourselves also be holy in all your manner of life; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy because I am holy.’” We exercise to be holy by contacting the One who is holy. Such contact is in spirit by our prayer, singing, praising, reading, or speaking.

The result of cooperation is that sanctification is gradually worked into us to bring us to the holiness of New Jerusalem.

Washed by the Water in the Word to be Holy

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city. Jesus Christ has accomplished and God has given Him to us as our holiness objectively. Thus, in position, in status, we match the holy city. Throughout our Christian life we gradually enter the subjective experience of this holiness.

First Corinthians 3:17 says, “the temple of God is holy, and such are you.” This is an objective fact. God put the Corinthian believers into Christ and made Christ their sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:29-30). Because of God’s action, Paul could say that the Corinthians were the holy temple of God.

However, consider their condition as described in 1 Corinthians: divisions, fornication, lawsuits, denying resurrection, etc. They were sorely lacking in experience of the fact that God had given them. They were fleshy and infants in Christ (v. 3:1).

Ephesians 2:21 says that in Christ “all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” “Being fitted together” and “growing” indicate a subjective, on-going experience. This experience will bring us into the reality of the “holy temple in the Lord” a temple which has the same constitution as the holy city.

To match New Jerusalem, we need the daily renewing of the Holy Spirit, the renewing which began from our regeneration (Titus 3:5). Ephesians 5:25 says that Christ gave Himself for the church. Verses 26-27 tell us that He is working to “sanctify* her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious…holy and without blemish.”

Lord, grant us the daily renewing and the washing of the water in Your word. Infuse us with Yourself that we may be holy and without blemish to match New Jerusalem.

* Reminder from a prior post: although the English words holy/holiness (from Anglo-Saxon) and sanctify/sanctification (from Latin) seem very different, they are translations of closely related New Testament Greek words.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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