The Gospel of Resurrection and New Jerusalem

The gospel of glory, of peace, and of the kingdom are all linked to New Jerusalem. So also is “announcing Jesus and the resurrection as the gospel” in Acts 17:18.

The resurrection of Jesus is a historic event recorded in the gospels and proclaimed in Acts. It is also a present reality for us to experience.  

New JerusalemThe incarnation, human living, and death of the man Jesus are all vital steps for our redemption and reconciliation. Based on this, God “has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

Today we partake of the Lord’s death and His resurrection to walk in the “newness of life” in Romans 6:4. This life is Christ Himself who is “the resurrection” and who is “our life.” This life grows in us unto maturity to bring us into and fully matched to New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is a city of glory, a city in resurrection. In Luke 24 the Lord spoke interchangeably about resurrection and glorification. The measuring of the wall of the city in Revelation 21 also shows that it is in resurrection. And the multiple aspects of the glories of the Lord in 1 Peter 1 match characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Therefore, Paul’s “announcing Jesus and the resurrection as the gospel” is both for our present believing (Acts 17:34) and to point us toward New Jerusalem. 

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (2)

Our path through the cross to New Jerusalem includes 1) the accomplishments of the Lord Jesus in His death on the cross, 2) their objective application to us through believing and baptism, and 3) our subjective experiences by denying our self, taking up our cross, and losing our soul life, our fallen natural life. The degree to which we lose our soul life is the degree to which the Lord’s eternal life can grow in us.

New JerusalemThe Lord’s word about denying our self in Luke 9 is “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” This is not once-for-all; it is continual, throughout our Christian life until we die or until the Lord returns.

In Luke 14 the Lord gives us another unique word—we need to hate our soul life. He makes this equivalent to carrying our own cross and says that without this hating and carrying, we cannot be His disciple.

If we are not His disciples, we should not expect to be in New Jerusalem. However, He is merciful, and He will eventually discipline us to be worthy of New Jerusalem.

This is the narrow way of the cross to New Jerusalem.

Photo by R. L. Lake, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe have, objectively, all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now this must become our constitution by Christ increasing in us and our self decreasing.

This decrease is through our denying our self to apply, in spirit, the death of Christ to our natural being. Our denying ourself is part of our journey through the cross to New Jerusalem.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, our natural life, are in five different chapters. In Matthew 10:38 He said, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The next sentence has denying the soul life. If we do not take our cross / deny our soul life, we are not worthy of Him. How then could we be worthy to participate in New Jerusalem?

In Matthew 16 the Lord spoke again about denying the self, taking the cross, and losing the soul life. This is in the context of His building the church, his Body, which He is building by flowing out through His members, as revealed in Ephesians 4:15-16. His Body, composed of Him mingled with His believers as the members of His Body, is the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (4)

The Lord Jesus, by His death on the cross, terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released divine life, and created one new man. The Spirit makes this real to us.

Objectively, all that Christ accomplished has become real to us. We acknowledge and accept these things (even though full comprehension comes only with Christian growth) when we believe into Him and are baptized. An example is Romans 6:3, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Physically we were baptized in water but at the same time the Spirit of reality brought us into the fact of Christ’s death.

New JerusalemObjectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. An illustration: a positional move from one nation to another is quick, but to fully absorb and live according to the language, food, and culture takes years.

We are in Christ and are new objectively. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17). Now we are growing to absorb and live out the reality of His redemption, life, and the corporate new man. Thus we gradually reach “to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21)—Christ lives in me and expresses His virtues out through my living.

Christ expressed in our living is the precursor of New Jerusalem. This city is not physical, it is a living composition of God in Christ in all His people. He lives in us and He lives out through us to be expressed through us; this is New Jerusalem.

 

The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb (4)

Revelation 19:7, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 21:2, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

In the parable in Matthew 25, ten virgins all “took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” When he came, five who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast. Five foolish virgins were shut out. However, the Lord promised that He will never cast us out and that no one can take us out of His hand. As a result, these foolish believers will be in New Jerusalem but after a period of discipline.

New JerusalemThe paths of these two groups of virgins seem to match the verses in Revelation written above. Remember that these two verses are not at identical times but are separated by many events later in chapter 19 and through all of chapter 20.

Those who were ready and went into the wedding feast (Matt. 25:10) are those who “made herself ready” (19:7) and thereby receive the blessing (Rev. 19:9). Entrance to the wedding feast is not based on individual Christian perfection but on corporate experience of Christ, resulting in our building together.

The virgins who came later and were not let into the feast (Matt. 25:11-12), who are then perfected through discipline (as in Heb. 12:5-11) become part of the prepared bride in Revelation 21:2. They miss the wedding feast but are part of New Jerusalem for eternity.

Based on the Lord’s firm promises, I expect all believers to be constituents of New Jerusalem, whether partaking of the wedding feast or not.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Brotherly Love for New Jerusalem

First Corinthians 2:9b speaks of “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” These “things” are not physical. Rather, they are “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (2:9a). These mysterious things planned by God consummate in New Jerusalem.

My prior post is The Mystery of God Revealed in Spirit to Those Who Love God. Less than two weeks ago I attended a Christian gathering focusing on our experience of Christ as seen in Revelation 1–3 and 21–22. This gathering presented a strong tie between loving the Lord and God’s ultimate mystery, New Jerusalem. Here is a highlight.

New JerusalemIn the seven epistles in Revelation 2–3, the first step of degradation was losing the first/best love to the Lord (2:4). This love is seen positively in the sixth epistle, to Philadelphia (3:7-13), a name which means “brotherly love.” This is the atmosphere the Lord desires—that we love Him supremely and, in our love for Him, love all our brothers.

In this atmosphere of love we find the preparation of New Jerusalem. This is shown by the only mention of New Jerusalem in Revelation 2–3. The Lord promises the overcomers, “I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” Such writing indicates that the overcomers in Philadelphia belong to, are one with, and are possessed by God, New Jerusalem, and the Lord.

The atmosphere of love matches the Lord’s word in Matthew 22:34-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” However, we should not try to fulfill this command in ourselves; instead, we apply 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”

New Jerusalem comes forth in this atmosphere of love seen in Philadelphia; this is the best love becoming the bridal love for our Lord.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Good News of the Riches of Christ

The apostle Paul received grace “to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8). These riches are for us to experience and express today and to be displayed by New Jerusalem.

The New Testament is filled with the gospel, the good news, of these riches. For example, in Matthew 9 Jesus Christ is our Physician, He is merciful to us, He is our Bridegroom, He is new wine for us, He raises us out of death, He heals our blindness and dumbness, He shepherds us, and He is the Lord of the harvest.

Another example: twenty riches of Christ in 1 Corinthians. Since the riches of Christ are “unsearchable,” for eternity in New Jerusalem we will explore and appreciate them.

This good news is conveyed by the chorus of a hymn by Witness Lee (words music):
New Jerusalem__O the riches, O the riches,
____Christ my Savior has for me!
____(or, Christ my Savior is to me!)
__How unsearchable their measure,
____Yet my full reality!

This thanksgiving and praise is our song now and will be our song in New Jerusalem. Regarding now, may the last verse of the hymn be our longing:
__May I know these boundless riches,
____Christ experience in full;
__And with others may I share them
____In their content bountiful.

As an application of this longing, consider Ephesians 2:4-6—God’s rich mercy and great love for us, and His enlivening, raising up, and seating us with Christ. May we experience each of these and share our appreciation with others. These are so that (2:7) God “might display in the ages to come (including New Jerusalem) the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

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