Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod created, formed, and made us for His glory (Isa. 43:7), a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11, 23).

Between the first and last chapters of the Bible, on our journey from creation to glory, we receive the redemption from Christ and experience His life entering and maturing in us. While eternal life is maturing in us, conforming us to the perfection of New Jerusalem, there are often outward sufferings.

We should not be surprised by sufferings. The Lord told us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The sufferings are outward but the peace of the Lord is inward. Sufferings are in the old creation and temporary; peace is in the new creation and is eternal. The name Jerusalem means foundation of peace.

Paul and Barnabas, visiting recently saved Christians, were “establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Inwardly, in spirit, we are already in the kingdom of God (see next paragraph). Outwardly, we will participate in the global manifestation of God’s kingdom in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

John describes himself as “your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). This indicates that we too are partakers in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.

These verses speak about troubles, but if our view is on eternity, on New Jerusalem, we will echo 2 Corinthians 4:17, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory,”

Created for the Glory of New Jerusalem

In Isaiah 43 God speaks of gathering His scattered people, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created, formed, and even made for My glory” (v. 7).

The words create, form, and make all appear in Genesis 1–2 (e.g. 1:1, 26; 2:4, 7-8). The declaration in Isaiah 43:7 shows us that all God’s work from the beginning of creation has a goal—His glory. God created us not merely to live a good human life. God put man in the garden of Eden with the tree of life. This is a picture of God wanting to be life to us.

New JerusalemThis picture in Genesis 2 is before sin, before death, before the curse, before rebellion against God. God being life to us is not a reaction to these negatives. God wants His life to be received by us, to be in us for His glory.

The tree of life is also in New Jerusalem. Christ has become life to all His believers and is our life eternally. This life operates in us to transform us and build us together to be His corporate Body in this age and to be the city of New Jerusalem in eternity.

This is “for God’s glory.” New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God illuminates New Jerusalem (21:23). And, because the city is like clear, transparent glass (21:11, 18, 21), God’s illuminating glory will shine out through the city.

In these verses we see three steps. First, God created, formed, and made us. Second, God in Christ became life to us. Third, the result is God’s glory. These three steps cover the entire Bible, from creation to New Jerusalem.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (5)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). To prepare us for this, God has already “shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 the Israelites looking at the face of Moses is likened to our looking at the Lord’s face. This is for today, not waiting for New Jerusalem.

During our Christian life we should continually behold the face of Jesus Christ. Whenever our heart turns to the Lord our veils are taken away (v. 16). These veils could be our ideas about what is best, our human goals, our attitudes about people and events, our complaining about outward sufferings, or many other things. When the veils are gone, we contact the Lord who is the Spirit and experience His inner freedom (v. 17).

As a result, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit” (v. 18). Our transformation is by our looking to the Lord, beholding His glory, so that He can infuse us with it. This is our preparation for New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

Our continual (or sadly, intermittent) beholding of the Lord produces continual (or sadly, intermittent) transformation, “from glory to glory.” God’s desire, for which He predestinated us, is that we “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). With this image and with “reflecting the glory of the Lord” we become a corporate expression of Him. which consummates in New Jerusalem.

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Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (4)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb with no obscuration and will be fully in His glory. But we must not forget that the Lord’s prayer for this is already being answered.

New JerusalemSecond Corinthians 4 speaks about the proclamation of the gospel now. When we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and not ourselves (v. 5), “the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6).

God has already shined into the heart of everyone who believes. This shining brings us the knowledge, the spiritual realization, of the glory of God. And this glory is in the face of Jesus Christ. This is an experience of New Jerusalem today.

We in ourselves are merely earthen vessels, but we have this excellent treasure in us (v. 7). Inwardly we have the treasure and outwardly our Christian life may have troubles (v. 8-12).

Our outer man is decaying (v. 16), but despite the troubles, this treasure is renewing our inner man (v. 16) to match the newness of New Jerusalem. With the heavenly view (v. 18), we can declare with Paul, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory” (v. 17). This eternal weight of glory is our participation in New Jerusalem.

To continue seeing the glory in the face of Jesus Christ and to cooperate with the renewing process through which we are passing, we exercise our spirit of faith to speak (v. 13). This speaking is based on our bold confidence in the resurrecting God (v. 14), whose work in us culminates in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: Living Temple and Eternal Holy of Holies

The Old Testament temple was physical and earthly. The New Testament temple is living and heavenly. It is the incarnated Jesus and the resurrected Jesus in His believers. Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” Verse 2 says that our Lord, the real High Priest, is a Minister “of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”

Here are a posts which compare the shadow and the true, and use the shadow to show characteristics of the true, including New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Each summary begins with a link to that post and ends with one key verse reference.

New Jerusalem

The Lord told the Jews that if they destroyed the temple (of His body), He would raise it up in resurrection. This shows that the New Testament temple is living, not physical. (John 2:19-22)

In resurrection, the Spirit is dwelling in every believer. This makes us “the temple of God.” (1 Cor. 3:16)

The overcomers, who hold fast to the Lord’s word, will be pillars in the living temple. (Rev. 3:11-12).

John tells us, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Rev. 21:22)

Jesus Christ “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” As priests, we are qualified to serve in the temple and will serve eternally in New Jerusalem. (Rev. 1:5-6).

God is not only our living temple but also our dwelling place now and in New Jerusalem. (Psalm 90:1)

We have been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. We serve God day and night in His temple, which is God Himself. (Rev. 7:14-15).

Colossians 2, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body [the reality which casts the shadow] is of Christ.” (Heb. 8:5)

The Old Testament things are shadows because “grace and reality came through Jesus Christ,” in His incarnation. (John 1:17)

The shadows in the Bible illuminate us concerning the reality. The Old Testament holy of holies had the ark of the covenant with its contents, all pictures of the reality. (Hebrews 9:4)

The ark contains manna in a golden pot, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant. All portray something about New Jerusalem. (Hebrews 9:4).

The lid of the ark is the propitiation place, testifying of the forgiveness and cleansing of sins. (Heb. 9:5, 14)

The cherubim of glory are above the propitiation place, symbolizing New Jerusalem which has the glory of God. (Heb. 9:5)

Above the propitiation place and between the cherubim is where God meets with us and speaks with us. (Exo. 25:21-22)

In New Jerusalem we have been brought into the holy of holies to have full fellowship with the Triune God, there is no more need of the outer court nor the holy place. (Rev. 22:1-5)

We come forward with boldness, with full assurance of faith, to the holy of holies, to New Jerusalem. (Heb. 10:19-22)

To come forward to the holy of holies is also to come to the throne of grace. (Heb. 4:16)

To come forward to the holy of holies is to enter through the veil, which was torn when the Lord was crucified (Heb. 9:3, 10:19-20). Here is a hymn about entering through the veil:
Enter the Veil and Go Without the Camp
Taste Heaven’s Sweetness
Enter the Veil, Come Forward to the Throne

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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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Exodus, Ezekiel, Revelation

There are similarities in the presentation of God’s move on earth in the books of Exodus, Ezekiel, and Revelation.

Exodus 2 has some human history of Moses. Exodus 3 begins to unveil God’s revelation and speaking to Moses and God’s instruction for him to speak to Israel, God’s people. Through the book of Exodus, although Israel often was not faithful, God accomplished what he had promised. The second half of Exodus is primarily the revelation of the plan for the tabernacle, the work of preparing it, and its completion. The conclusion of Exodus is ” the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle” (40:34).

#NewJerusalemEzekiel 1 begins with one man, Ezekiel. It quickly progresses to God’s revelation and speaking to him (Ezek. 1), and then God’s instruction for him to speak to Israel (Ezek. 2–3). Thereafter is a long section with God’s judgment on Israel (again showing their unfaithfulness) and the nations.

Beginning in Ezekiel 33 God comes to recover His people inwardly, giving them a new heart and a new spirit and putting His Spirit within them (36:26-27) and accomplishing other things for His purpose. Then, from chapter 40, God reveals His house and the river of living water in the good land. In this revelation, the glory of God fills His house (43:4, 44:4).

Revelation begins with God’s revelation and speaking to John, and then God’s instruction for him to write to the churches (1:11, 19). Revelation 2–3 speak about the churches, both their strong points and their unfaithfulness. Following this are many judgments. Finally, it unveils God’s building, the city New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11).

The parallels in these three books are simple even though the details have spiritual depth. God speaks to one man, tells him to speak to God’s people, judges both God’s people and the nations, and ultimately gains a building He fills with glory. Thus we can see that Exodus and Ezekiel show us in typology the path from God’s revelation to New Jerusalem.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 exhorts us “be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This good, well pleasing, and perfect will is ultimately to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Romans 12:1 shows us that a base for our transformation is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”

This consecration comes out of the foregoing chapters of Romans—realizing that we, as fallen, natural men, cannot please God but need His life in us to enable us to be people for His purpose.

We cannot transform ourselves. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord; He is the source! Ephesians 4:23 says we should “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” Our transformation is by renewing and our renewing is accomplished by the Spirit in our spirit.

The first verse of a hymn (music) by Witness Lee speaks of God’s intention, His will, and our consequent need for transformation (see graphic in this post). The fourth verse of the hymn, based on 2 Corinthians 3:18, presents something of God’s goal.
__By the power of His Spirit
____In His pattern He transforms;
__From His glory to His glory
____To His image He conforms.
New Jerusalem, radiating the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), is the fulfillment of God’s will.

The chorus is a good prayer for each of us.
__Lord, transform us to Thine image
____In emotion, mind, and will;
__Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
____All our being wholly fill.

The hymn is © 2001 by Living Stream Ministry, used by permission.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

New Jerusalem is Eternal (3)

New Jerusalem is 
eternal
, based on the eternal redemption obtained, and eternal life released to us, by Jesus Christ.

Second Thessalonians 2:16: God our Father “loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope in grace.” The love, comfort, and grace are for us now, and in the kingdom age, and eternally in New Jerusalem. Thank Him for His wonderful care for us.

Hebrews 9:14 says, “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?” The eternal Spirit brings to us the conscience-purifying effect of Christ’s blood shed on the cross. And through this eternal Spirit we have the eternal life, the resurrection life, the life that characterizes the kingdom of God and New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemSecond Peter 1:11 speaks about our “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” We are already in the spiritual reality of the kingdom, as seen in Romans 14:17, “the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This spiritual reality is ours now because of our new birth by the Spirit (John 3:5).

Nevertheless, there is a fuller stage of the kingdom to come. By partaking of the divine nature (1 Peter 1:4) the divine virtues develop in us and give us the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom and carry us onward to New Jerusalem.

All of these eternal things are “according to the eternal purpose which He [God] made in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). God’s purpose is eternal and consummates in eternal New Jerusalem.

God’s purpose is far higher than our sinful condition, far higher than overcoming evils on earth. His purpose takes care of these negatives but much more brings forth New Jerusalem with the glory of God radiating through all God’s people.

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 is Eternal (2)

New Jerusalem is 
eternal
, based on the eternal redemption obtained by Jesus Christ. The city is part of God’s eternal 
covenant bringing us eternal salvation and an eternal 
inheritance.

New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). This is an eternal glory because God is eternal. “The God of all grace has called you into His eternal glory” (1 Peter 5:10). We are not worthy, but because of God’s mercy and the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, we have been called into the glory of New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemSecond Timothy 2:10 also speaks of our obtaining “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Although we have not physically seen this glory, we have been called into it and have obtained by faith. And by faith we hold to this salvation with glory.

Do not be shaken by troubles now. Second Corinthians 4:17 says, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” We have been called into eternal glory, and through afflictions the Lord constitutes this glory into us. As a result we correspond to New Jerusalem.

The afflictions are also mentioned in 1 Peter 5:10. After the phrase quoted above, it says,”after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” Our cooperation is to look away by faith to what is eternal: “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Through the Bible and the eternal Spirit, we can be strengthened with the view of the eternal glory of New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Sonntag, courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem is Eternal

#NewJerusalemWe had recent posts on Eternal Life and New Jerusalem. Now we look at other eternal matters in the New Testament and how they relate to New Jerusalem.

First, God is eternal. And God is on the throne in New Jerusalem. He is the eternal center and the eternal nature of the city. The eternal God is incorruptible (1 Tim. 1:17), making New Jerusalem incorruptible.

God is also “the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow cast by turning” (James 1:17). Because He is eternal, He has no variations. And He is the light of New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:23, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

The Lord Jesus died on the cross and “through His own blood, centered once for all into the Holy of Holies, obtaining an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). This eternal redemption is for now and for New Jerusalem, where it is eternally displayed by the Lamb on the throne (Rev. 22:1).

After His death, God raised our Lord Jesus “in the blood of an eternal covenant” (Heb. 13:20). This eternal covenant/agreement/contract includes New Jerusalem, the eternal city. Based on His eternal redemption and covenant, the Lord is now “the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). The salvation we received includes our eternal participation in New Jerusalem.

Also, through His death and resurrection, the way is open that we “might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). This is not an earthly nor a physical inheritance but “incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, kept in the heavens for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Ultimately this heavenly, eternal inheritance, New Jerusalem, will “come down out of heaven” (Rev. 21:10).

New Jerusalem is Heavenly on Earth

New Jerusalem is heavenly in nature but in position it is on earth. John saw New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2, 10). The phrase “out of heaven,” twice in Revelation 21, means it is no longer in heaven.

Matthew has multiple verses speaking of the “heavenly Father.” New Jerusalem is heavenly because the Father, the source of life, is heavenly. Through regeneration we received this heavenly life so that we can grow up to be the heavenly members of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemBelieving in Jesus Christ for our new birth is our response to the “heavenly calling” which has come to us and of which we are now partakers (Heb. 3:1) . We are called to Jesus Christ, to God the Father, and to the heavenly city Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that due to God’s rich mercy He made us alive with Christ. Then verse 6, “and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” We were made alive with the divine life, the heavenly life, then seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Physically we are on earth but spiritually we are in a heavenly position

First Corinthians 15:49 declares, “even as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” We have the earthly image because, as human beings, we have an earthly life. Now we have been reborn of a heavenly Father, and are being transformed into His image.

This transformation is presented in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” As we behold the Lord, His glory is infused into us to develop this glorious, heavenly image in us. This matches New Jerusalem, which “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Photo courtesy of Heather Martin.

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