New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (4)

The Old Testament temple is a picture of the reality of the New Testament temple. The Old Testament holy of holies also depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. In that holy of holies was the ark with its contents “and above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place” (Heb. 9:4-5).

New JerusalemPropitiation is the base for the glory. New Jerusalem has both the Lamb as the New Testament propitiatory sacrifice and the glory of God illuminating the city (Rev. 21:23).

Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus Christ, through His redemption, is the way to be freed from sins and to come up to the level of God’s glory. Both solutions are seen in the propitiation cover with the cherubim of glory. New Jerusalem will declare both eternally.

The propitiation place is in the holy of holies. Therefore, this experience of redemption is deeper (more inward) than that of the trespass offering at the altar in the outer court of the temple. Although we might not understand the difference, we should seek to advance in our Christian life. The trespass offering and the propitiation place both take care of our sins, but only the latter is intimately tied to God’s glory.

Do not be satisfied to remain in the outer court. New Jerusalem is the holy of holies; there will be no more outer court. Don’t wait; advance now. Lord, I want to have a deeper experience of Your forgiveness. Bring me to the propitiation place so that Your glory may come forth.

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New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (3)

#NewJerusalemIn the New Testament we no longer have a physical temple. Rather, the living temple is both Jesus (John 2) and His believers (2 Cor. 6:16). But, the Bible’s description of the old, physical temple depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The prior two posts are about the ark and its contents, described in Hebrews 9:4. Then 9:5 says, “And above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place.” The lid of the ark, with the propitiatory blood on it, frees us from the condemnation of falling short of the requirements of the law in the ark.

Today we certainly need forgiveness and cleansing of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. Before our initial repentance we were dead spiritually and were sinners condemned by God’s righteous requirement. We repented and believed, thus “though dead in your offenses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our offenses” (Col. 2:13).

That action took care of all offenses before our regeneration. Afterwards, 1 John 1:9 applies, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thank Him!

In New Jerusalem there is no sin nature and we will never do sinful deeds. Nevertheless, in New Jerusalem God and the redeeming Lamb are on the throne (Rev. 22:3) and they are the temple (Rev. 21:22). This is a memorial of what is portrayed by the blood on the lid of the ark in the old holy of holies.

Hebrews 9:14 declares that “the blood of Christ…[will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” In New Jerusalem the Lamb is present as an eternal memorial, and in New Jerusalem we will “serve the living God” (Rev. 22:3).

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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.

 

God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem (2)

Revelation 22:3b says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Looking at our service now gives us insight into how we will serve in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe foundation of our serving is what Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection. He “released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

Hebrews 9:14 also links the blood of Jesus and our serving, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Part of Revelation 7:14-15 is “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple.” The washing of our robes, our conduct, is by receiving the forgiveness of sins accomplished by Jesus Christ.

This washing of sins has two stages. One is by our repenting at the initial time of our salvation. The other is throughout our Christian life by our confessing of sins for His cleansing (1 John 1:9). The first brings us before the throne and the second keeps us before the throne so  that we may serve God—both now and in New Jerusalem.

In Romans 1:9 Paul says, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit…” In Philippians 3:3 we “…serve by the Spirit of God…” Serving as priests must be in the Spirit with our human spirit. Without this mingled spirit, whatever we do is not serving God as a priest.

In John 4:24 Jesus says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” There is no serving God in worship without the mingled spirit.

Our serving now, and in New Jerusalem, is based on redemption and in spirit.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 19 Brings Us to New Jerusalem (3)

Revelation 19 has much to say about Jesus Christ Himself and His accomplishments to end this age, bring in the next age, and open the door for New Jerusalem to come down out of heaven.

In verse 19:14, “The armies which are in heaven followed Him on white horses, dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” The white and clean garments indicate that these believers are approved by the Lord. These garments are not merely gifts to them. Rather, the garments manifest the believers inward condition and daily living.

This clean living includes the cleansing of our sins, and also the transformation of our inner being. The first is the forgiveness by Christ’s redemption (Eph. 1:7). The second is accomplished by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) and also the purifying of our souls by our obedience (1 Peter 1:22).

New JerusalemThe garments qualify us 1) to attend the marriage dinner of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9), 2) to be part of His victorious army, and 3) to participate in New Jerusalem.

Forgiveness of sins is a necessary step in becoming part of New Jerusalem, but it is not the only step. We also need the renewing of our inner being to match the newness of New Jerusalem. This is the renewing of our mind by the Spirit in our spirit (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:23).

Those who are wearing white garments are on white horses. These match the white horse on which the Lord sits (v. 11). By the Spirit’s renewing, we are being renewed according to the Lord’s image (Col. 3:10), thus matching Him in many ways. We thereby become His expression now as the new man (Col. 3:10-11) and eternally as 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.

Unsearchable Riches in New Jerusalem

The riches of God’s glory are for us from now unto New Jerusalem. The New Testament also presents other aspects of God’s riches, for today and for New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem Romans 2:4 speaks of “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” which leads us to repentance. Via repentance we receive Christ as our eternal life, which puts us on the way to New Jerusalem.

Second Corinthians 8:9, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor in order that you, because of His poverty, might become rich.” He had to become poor, lowly, to live a live of suffering culminating with His death on the cross. Through His death and resurrection we are rich in Him.

In Him “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Forgiveness is one of the riches we receive through His poverty and is according to the riches of His grace.

Another contributor to our repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life is “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ…” (Eph. 2:4-5). We are not qualified, but God is rich in mercy, for us to receive now and to display in New Jerusalem.

All these aspects of God’s riches are so “That He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). God’s riches in kindness, mercy, and grace are so that He can work Himself into us and be expressed through us in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

To make us aware of all this, grace was given to announce “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8). God is not only rich but surpassingly and unsearchably rich. These riches require the entirety of New Jerusalem and of eternity for their display.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

 

Faith & Grace Bring Us to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem Romans 4:16: “the inheritance is out of faith that it might be according to grace.” We inherit a foretaste in this age, much more in the kingdom age, and the utmost in New Jerusalem. This verse shows that faith and grace are keys to our inheriting.

Romans 4 makes much use of the example of Abraham. Hebrews 11 also includes him in the discourse on faith. By faith Abraham “eagerly waited for the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (v. 10). This clearly points to New Jerusalem, the city which has foundations (Rev. 21:19).

Are we eagerly waiting for New Jerusalem? Or is our eagerness toward a human achievement, a human honor, greater income, a nicer home, or a special vacation? Lord, have mercy on us; align our eagerness with that of the faith people of Hebrews 11.

Romans 3:23-24 say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Because we were sinners, we were separated from glory and couldn’t inherit anything of God, including New Jerusalem, the city full of the glory of God. But by grace we have been justified by the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus through His death, which qualifies us to inherit.

Romans 3 and 4 strongly declare that works, human effort according to the law, is not the way to inherit from God. God’s way is by faith and by grace. Faith and grace carry us to New Jerusalem.

Neither faith nor grace originate with us. Peter says that God has allotted faith to us (2 Peter 1:1). Paul says the grace of God was given to us (1 Cor. 1:4). God’s eternal plan, expressed in His creation (Gen. 1:26), is to have a corporate man to express Him. For this, God wants us to be part of New Jerusalem, and to make this possible He has provided faith and grace. Thank Him!

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Acts 26:18 and New Jerusalem

In Acts 26 Paul recounts his calling by the Lord in Acts 9. The LorNew Jerusalemd told Paul He was sending him to the nations (v. 17), “To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (v. 18).

Every point of this commission has a fulfillment in New Jerusalem. The first point is “to open their eyes.” In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4).

The second point is “to turn them from darkness to light.” In New Jerusalem there will be no darkness. “Night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them” (Rev. 22:5). Not only no darkness; even more there is no natural light from the sun nor man-made light from a lamp. The light of the city is Christ, the light of life (John 8:12).

The third point is a turn “from the authority of Satan to God.” In Revelation 20 Satan, the devil, is cast into the lake of fire forever (v. 10). And in New Jerusalem there is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1, 3).

The fourth point is “sanctified by faith.” By faith we become immediately holy in position and gradually holy in our nature to match “the holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2).

The fifth point, the first result, is “forgiveness of sins.” All sin and sins will have been put away by the time New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. As a testimony, God and the redeeming Lamb are the temple (which is the whole of New Jerusalem), the Lamb is the lamp, and they are on the throne (Rev. 21:22, 23, 22:1).

The sixth point, the second result, is “an inheritance.” to be continued

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Purified by the Lord for New Jerusalem

In a recent Bible reading I was touched by a parallel between Matthew 5:8 and New Jerusalem. In Matthew the Lord says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Revelation 21:18 says, “the city was pure gold, like clear* glass” and 22:4a says, “they will see His face.”

New JerusalemMatthew has a wonderful promise and New Jerusalem completes the fulfillment. However, in ourselves we are not pure, so what should we do? We let the Lord purify us!

Hebrews 1:3 says that the Son, “having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” By His death He accomplished purification and the success of this purification is testified by His resurrection and ascension.

Acts 15:9 says that the Lord cleanses/ purifies** our hearts by faith. When we believe into the Lord Jesus Christ, we become a new creation; our old things are cleansed away. That is the first step of cleansing; a change in position. This is a first step unto the purity of New Jerusalem.

First John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin,” and 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The blood He shed in His death has cleansed us from every sin before we believed. As we are enlightened by walking in the light and if we confess, His blood cleanses us from every sin after we believe. This is the second step of cleansing, purifying us from unrighteous acts in our present living.

A third step toward the purity of New Jerusalem is in the next post.

* The same Greek word as for “pure” earlier in this verse.
** The verb form of the same Greek word in Matthew 5 and Revelation 21; here and in 1 John 1.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (3)

God’s spiritual blessings to us in Ephesians 1:3-14 are unto the praise of His glory, both in this age and eternally with New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In whom [the Beloved, v. 6] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” Because all men were constituted sinners, Jesus Christ died, shedding His blood to accomplish redemption. When we respond by faith we receive forgiveness. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). With the shedding of Jesus’ blood, there is forgiveness.

New JerusalemEverything of God’s plan is in Christ. We are blessed “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), chosen “in Him” (v. 4), “in whom” we have redemption (v. 7); we are being headed up “in Christ” (v. 10) “in whom” we were designated as God’s inheritance (v. 11), and “in whom” we were sealed (v. 13). All of these “in” facts are consistent with New Jerusalem in the Triune God.

The redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness we receive, is not according to our need. Rather, it is “according to the riches of His grace.” The measure of redemption and forgiveness is God’s measure, because this step was taken as part of the fulfillment of His eternal plan to bring forth New Jerusalem.

God caused His grace “to abound to us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:8). Everything happens within the scope of God’s wisdom and everything works together toward His goal.

Ephesians 1:9 continues, “Making known to us the mystery of His will.” While God’s grace is abounding to us, He is making known the mystery of His will. This mystery was hidden in prior ages but now God willed to reveal it to us through His word; the riches of this mystery is Christ in us! (Col. 1:25-27).

New Jerusalem is the conclusion of all the spiritual blessings, the essence which are Christ is us and us in Christ.

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Pursue Peace and Oneness

New Jerusalem is a city of peace and a city of oneness. Besides Colossians 3:15 and Ephesians 2:14-15, here are other verses which couple peace and oneness in our current Christian life and point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRomans 14:19 urges us to “pursue the things of peace and the things for building up one another.” We cannot find “oneness” here, but building up is certainly in oneness.

Romans 14 reminds us not to judge or despise any brother in outward Christian practice, “for God has received him” and “we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14). Today this is an exercise for us but in New Jerusalem all outward behavior will be past and we will eternally enjoy God’s receiving and Christ’s Lordship.

Ephesians 4:3 entreats us to be “diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” Our oneness is spiritual; it is “of the Spirit” just as New Jerusalem is spiritual. The uniting bond of peace is the practical safeguard of this oneness.

Whether we have a deep inner peace or not testifies whether we are keeping the oneness. The question is settled not by whether I think I am right or another Christian is (in my view) wrong, nor by whether I am happy with a situation or not; the peace of Christ is the determinant.

In Colossians 3, “forgiving one another, if anyone should have a complaint against anyone; even as the Lord forgave you, so also should you forgive” (v. 13) is a key to “let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts” (v. 15). Complaints do not guide us to peace but forgiveness does. Thank the Lord that He has forgiven us and is ready to forgive any sin we confess.

Lord Jesus, supply us daily to live in Your peace and to be full of forgiveness. This will be our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem

For more on the sense of peace,see chapter 11 in Basic Lessons on Life.

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. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

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

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