A Christian Life of Maturing and Perfecting

Christ in us is the essence, the center, the focus of our Christian life. Yet, although He is mature and perfect in Himself, He needs to grow to maturity and be perfected in us, otherwise we remain “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1). Here are a few verses about our Christian growth and perfection, plus links to posts about this subject and its relation to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48: You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Colossians 1:27b-28: Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we announce…that we may present every man full-grown in Christ.
Colossians 2:19: holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.
Hebrews 6:1: …let us be brought on to maturity

#NewJerusalemNew Jerusalem is Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life
Perfected into One unto New Jerusalem
Full Grown in Christ our Life
Let’s Go On to Maturity for God’s Building

We Mature in Christian Life to Match
New Jerusalem

We Mature in Christian Life to Match
New Jerusalem (2)

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)
We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)
We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

Growing with the Growth of God
New Jerusalem is the Consummation of the Spiritual Growth of God’s People

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (6)

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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!

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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 (5)

We are growing and being perfected in our Christian life. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem. This is not merely human maturity and human perfection; rather, it is Christ growing in us, Christ formed in us (Gal. 4:19), Christ making home in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). Christ in us becomes our maturity and perfection.

In 1 John 2:5 His word is for our perfection: “whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected.” In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” On one hand we need the word for our perfecting in love. On the other hand we need love to keep the word. Growth in Christian life is often bidirectional like this, not a matter of a sequence of steps. Lord, keep me loving You and Your word.

#NewJerusalemGod’s love is perfect, but there is a need for it to be perfected in us. This perfection saves us from all other loves, as in 1 John 2:15. And this perfection prepares us for New Jerusalem.

In 1 John 4:12 we love one another because God’s love is in us. While we are loving, God abides in us. The result is that God’s love is perfected in us. This shows that the perfection is not our human doing but is our cooperation with God working in us. “His love is perfected in us!

Then in verses 16-17 God is love in us. We open ourselves to this love, and then we and God have a mutual abiding and His love is perfected in us. Again, it is God in Christ perfecting us by being formed in us. Our cooperation with God’s perfecting work in us is the preparation of New Jerusalem.

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Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemOur Christian life is a time for our growth and perfecting in this life so that we may match New Jerusalem.

In Luke 6 the Lord spoke quite a while about the proper living standard of His disciples. In verse 40 He said, “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who has been perfected will be like his teacher.” He is indicating that He expects us to be perfected.

We must be perfected to match the perfection of New Jerusalem, but how? Part of the answer is in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The divine life of our heavenly Father, growing in us, enables us to be perfected.

Similarly, the Lord prayed in John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” He is “the life” and He is in all His believers. This is how we can be “perfected into one” and perfected in any other way. Thank You Lord that You have become our life to work in us and perfect us.

This perfection into one is also the oneness in Ephesians 4:13, the oneness of New Jerusalem. This eternal city has one throne, one street, one river, one light; it is the perfection of oneness, the final answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

Second Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Here it seems that we are doing the perfecting work. However, in ourselves we cannot do it, but “the fear of God” indicates our cooperation with Jesus Christ as the perfecting life in us. This perfecting causes us to match New Jerusalem, the holy city (Rev. 21:2, 10).

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We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

In the New Testament are many verses about our growth and maturity. This is needed so that we will match New Jerusalem’s perfection.

#NewJerusalemColossians 1:28 speaks about becoming “full-grown in Christ.” In the next verse Paul tells us that for this full growth “I labor, struggling according to His oper-ation which operates in me in power.”

Struggle indicates a considerable effort. This shows both the importance of our maturity (to match New Jerusalem) and the non-trivial effort to reach maturity.

This struggle is not only for the apostles. Colossians 4:12 tells us “Epaphras, who is one of you [a Colossian], a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

Epaphras copied Paul’s example, and struggled for the maturity of his fellows believers.  Lord, grant us the willingness to struggle as Epaphras did. To struggle for maturity in this way is to struggle for New Jerusalem, which is the goal of the will of God, the goal of the bible, the goal of all the revelations in the Bible.

This struggle for maturity is not in our own effort. Instead, like the praying of Epaphras, the struggle is by our cooperation with God so that He can move through us. Our confidence is in God “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun in you a good work will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). God began a good work in us by regeneration in response to our believing. God will complete the work to bring us to maturity and to New Jerusalem at a speed dependent on our cooperation.

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We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description. Earlier in the New Testament there are many verses about our perfection/completion/maturity so that we will match New Jerusalem.

As believers in Christ, we have eternal life. Isn’t this enough? Yes, this life is sufficient for everything. But, this life must grow in us. We cannot remain infants (1 Cor. 3:1). Every kind of life in God’s creation has growth; they are here to portray the normality of our spiritual growth. We grow so that the maturity of New Jerusalem may shine forth.

In 2 Corinthians 13:9 Paul said, “this also we pray for, your perfecting.” To grow and be perfected in the divine life is normal but does not happen in passivity. Our growth requires our cooperation and our prayer for one another.

Two verses later Paul says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice, be perfected, be comforted, think the same thing, be at peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Here are some helps for our growth and perfecting. First, rejoice in the Lord. Second, open needs to Him that He may be comfort and peace (Phil 4:6-7) to us. Third, ask Him to tune us into the same mind, into His thinking (1 Cor. 1:10).

The importance of our growth is seen in Colossians 1. In verse 27 Paul announces Christ in us as our hope of glory, our hope for the glory of New Jerusalem. In verse 28 he says that this announcing includes “admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man full-grown in Christ.” He was not satisfied to present saved sinners; his longing was to present full-grown believers, believers who match the perfection of New Jerusalem.

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

In the New Testament there are several dozen verses which include Greek words translated complete/completion, perfect/perfection, or mature/maturity/full grown. These words all point toward New Jerusalem because every believer will mature in their Christian life to participate in this wonderful/complete/perfect city.

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description.
See: Numbers in the Bible
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

This post begins a look at some verses containing these words, including their relationship to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48 is a good beginning, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our Christian perfection comes not from ourselves but from the Father’s life within us. His life is perfect and when it matures in us, we will be perfect.

Our Christian life begins with our new birth, as in John 3:5-6 and 1 Peter 1:23. A birth is the beginning. Now we need to grow for a considerable period of time. The beginning of this growth is by the milk of God’s word, just as newborn babies drink milk to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But New Jerusalem is not a city of babies; it is mature and complete.

We should heed the words in Hebrews: “everyone who partakes of milk is inexperienced in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant; but solid food is for the full-grown” (5:13-14). This requires spiritual exercise (5:14). So, “let us be brought on to maturity” (6:1). Lord, I am willing; bring me and my Christian companions on to maturity. Give us solid food so that we can grow!

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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.

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* See this footnote on Col. 1:19 in the Online Recovery Version NT.

New Jerusalem: Fullness of the Triune God

Colossians 2:9 proclaims that “in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Bodily refers to the man Jesus Christ with a human body. Fullness is not only the riches of the Godhead but the expression of these riches.*

New JerusalemThe riches of God are in Christ (1 2 3 4) and so is the expression, the fullness of these riches. Jesus Christ is on the throne in New Jerusalem, so the riches and fullness in Him fill New Jerusalem.

John 1:16 declares that “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” We have received not merely grace but grace upon grace that we may become one with Him in expressing the Triune God, starting now and advancing to New Jerusalem.

This corporate expression is presented in Ephesians 1:22-23, which says the church “is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” Through the enjoyment of Christ’s riches [Eph. 3:8], we become His fullness to express Him.**

Ephesians 3 presents an ascending path to this fullness. In answer to prayer, God strengthens us (v. 16), Christ makes His home in us (v. 17), we get rooted and grounded in love (v. 17), we apprehend Christ’s vastness (v. 18), we know His love (v. 19), and we are filled unto all the fullness of God (v. 19). The conclusion is glory to God forever (v. 21), which clearly points to New Jerusalem.

Besides our prayer according to the pattern in Ephesians 3, chapter 4 sets forth our practice. The ascended Christ gave gifted members (v. 8-11); we cooperate by receiving their ministry to be perfected (v. 12) so that we all can share in the work of the ministry for building up (v. 12) until we all arrive “at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Ephesians 4 is for now, so don’t passively wait until New Jerusalem.

* from footnote 1, Colossians 2:9NT Recovery Version Online; more from Col. 1:19
** from footnote 2, Ephesians 1:23.
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God’s Goal is New Jerusalem

Revelation 20:10: “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:14: “death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21:4: “death will be no more, nor sorrow or crying or pain anymore.”

New JerusalemAs human beings, we might be very happy and satisfied with these conditions. However, God is not satisfied. Why? Because these remove what is contrary to God’s purpose but these actions do not fulfill God’s purpose nor reach His goal.

God’s goal is to bring forth, by His life in human beings, a corporate expression of Himself. God’s goal is achieved with New Jerusalem “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God is the expression of God; this is the primary characteristic of New Jerusalem.

The expression of God is accomplished by God’s life maturing in us. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross removed all the barriers between us and God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ imparted Him as life into us (1 Peter 1:3).

The effects of the death and resurrection of Christ are seen in Romans 5:10, “if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life.” Reconciliation with God is a result of the death of Christ, and salvation in life is a result of the resurrection of Christ.

The “much more” salvation is the spreading, the increase, of Christ as life in us. The increase of life generates the increase of expression. A small green plant might be unidentifiable, but when the plant grows to full size and brings forth blossoms or fruit, then this expression surely will identify the plant. Likewise, when Christ grows in us to maturity, God will be expressed in full by all of us built together to be New Jerusalem.

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.

New Jerusalem has the Fullness of Christ

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is God’s consummation of everything positive in the Bible. Recently the Lord caused Ephesians 4:13 to rise up in me and I realized that its goals correspond with New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:11 says that the ascended Christ gave gifted members to His Body. In verse 12 these gifted members are “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ.” We all need perfecting so that we all participate in the ministry.

The proper ministry results in “the building up of the Body of Christ.” The consummation of this building up is New Jerusalem. Ephesians 4:13 gives us the goals of the building work,

“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.”

At present we are still in the process of arriving at these goals. In contrast, New Jerusalem is the full expression of verse 13. New Jerusalem is in oneness, it is full-grown, and it has the full stature of Christ.

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Love God to Partake of What He Prepared

Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God gained us as vessels to contain and display the riches of His glory. He also created us as His masterpiece in Christ Jesus to walk in the good works He had prepared beforehand. These steps are part of the preparation of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

New JerusalemGod has completed another preparation. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

These things are spiritual, not material. Rather, 1 Corinthians 2:6-14 shows that these things have the following three characteristics which relate them to New Jerusalem.

✽ These God-prepared things are of God’s wisdom, in a mystery, predestined for glory (v. 2:7). Both God’s wisdom and glory will be manifested through New Jerusalem.

✽ These God-prepared things are of the Spirit, revealed through the Spirit, known by the Spirit we received, and discerned spiritually (v. 10-12, 14). Like all of God’s New Testament building work, New Jerusalem is a spiritual city with the Spirit Himself flowing as the river of water of life to supply the city.

✽ These God-prepared things are spoken in words taught by the Spirit to full-grown spiritual men (v. 13, 6). New Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb, Christ and in Revelation 22:17 the Spirit and the bride speak together. Also, God’s New Testament building work is a matter of growth in life (Ephesians 2:21, 4:16); in New Jerusalem as the consummation of the New Testament all the believers are full grown.

These things are God-prepared “for those who love Him.” As the bride, New Jerusalem surely loves the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

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