The Two Ends of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemThe New Testament begins with repentance and ends with New Jerusalem. These are the two ends of our Christian life.

The New Testament begins with a call to repent “for the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 3:2), “and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and “for forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3). When we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven and we also receive eternal life. These two steps bring us into the kingdom.

The New Testament ends with New Jerusalem; at the center of this city is the throne of God and the Lamb from which the river of water of life flows. Here the Lamb is a memorial of our forgiveness, the river is the divine life supply, and the throne indicates the kingdom.

Everyone who has been regenerated has had the initial experience of repentance. As we go through our Christian life, we might need more times of repentance. For example, Simon had believed and been baptized (Acts 8:13) but Peter exhorted him to repent. And Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians brought forth repentance among them (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord charges us to repent. This is to return to our best love to Him (2:5), to turn from false teachings and immoral actions (2:16, 22), and to rise out of deadness and lukewarmness (3:3, 19). These needs, or other actions which keep us from the Lord, require our repentance. This is part of our journey from initial repentance to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Gospel: a Promise of Resurrection and Incorruption

“Our Savior Christ Jesus, nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). His resurrection nullifies death and His resurrection life changes our corruption into incorruption, thus preparing us for New Jerusalem.

In Acts 13 Paul spoke of “the gospel of the promise made to the fathers.” This gospel is characterized by resurrection and incorruption. The first step for us, as mentioned in Acts 13, is forgiveness of sins as God’s response to our repentance. This is Luke 24:47, “Repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.”

Based on this forgiveness, we receive God’s eternal life, an incorruptible life, the life of resurrection. This life matches New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection.

When we receive this life, the first action in us is that our deadened spirit is made alive. Then gradually this life spreads in our being to renew our soul—our mind, emotion, and will—making our soul life. Gradually this life is imparted into our mortal body, an impartation which will be completed at the Lord’s return so that “the body of our humiliation” may be “conformed to the body of His glory.”

This life saturating our being makes us people full of life and full of incorruption, swallowing all the death and corruption in our being. Through this development, we get fully conformed to New Jerusalem to become a part of this city “having the glory of God.”


Some phrases about this development of life:
Eph. 2:5 God, “when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ”
Rom. 8:10 “if Christ is in you…the spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Rom. 8:6 “the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
Rom. 8:11 God will “give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”

New Jerusalem: God is our Master

Revelation 22:3 says “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Three posts have looked at all of us as slaves of God. Now consider a few verses showing the Lord Jesus as our Master, the One whom we serve.

New Jerusalem“No one can serve two masters….You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). We serve our Master, God, now and in New Jerusalem. Then, the parable in Matthew 13:24-30 portrays the Lord as the Master, who sowed good seed in his field to bring forth sons of the kingdom of God. What He sows is always good.

In a parable in Matthew 18, the Lord as the Master was moved with compassion and forgave His slave’s debt. This is a picture of the forgiveness of sins that we received. However, later the Master disciplined the slave because he did not forgive his fellow slave. Full forgiveness, from the Lord to us, and from us to one another, is necessary on the path to New Jerusalem.

Second Peter 2:1 speaks of the Master who bought us. This purchase was by the redeeming death of the Lord Jesus. Because He paid the price for us, we can receive the forgiveness of all sins. His redeeming death also cleanses us from all our filthiness. This is illustrated by His cleansing of ten lepers who cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Finally, Colossians 4:1 instructs human masters “grant to your slaves that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Our heavenly Master is just and equal, having no respect of persons. This righteousness, equal treatment, forgiveness, mercy, cleansing, and more characterize the One we will serve as slaves in New Jerusalem.


Bible verses are quoted 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 LSM.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

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!

Photo courtesy of US Forest Service.

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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