Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 4

Here is the last verse of a song about Christ’s love for His wife, initially the church and eternally New Jerusalem. This part of the song begins with resurrection. Both the church and New Jerusalem are in resurrection because they exist solely in and with the resurrection life of Christ.

New Jerusalem“She beholds her Bridegroom…” This is like Hebrews 12:1-2, let us “run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” He is both the Initiator and the Completer. We are not capable of becoming the glorious church and city, but He will complete this process in us. Thank Him.

“His glory floods her heart.” This is happening today. In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our hearts to the Lord and “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).

His open appearing in glory will be at His second coming: “they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). But His spiritual appearing is available to us now as we turn our hearts and look away to Him.

Eventually His bride will be raptured and then come down out of heaven, “the bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:9-11).

 

The Gospel Points toward New Jerusalem

The New Testament is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. The New Testament begins with John’s proclamation of the gospel and ends with New Jerusalem. These two end points are connected. Many aspects of this gospel correspond to or point toward characteristics of New Jerusalem. Here is a key point from, and a link to, each of the recent posts on the gospel.

New Jerusalem

In 1 Timothy 1 we read of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” This is the good news that God is being glorified in Christ Jesus and through all His believers built together to become New Jerusalem.

God called us through the gospel “unto the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 2:14). Ultimately this glory radiates from our Lord through New Jerusalem.

“The gospel of peace” (Acts 10:36) points to New Jerusalem because Jerusalem means The Foundation of Peace.

“The gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23) is for the inward reality of His kingdom now, the manifestation in the next age, and the eternal kingdom of New Jerusalem.

Paul was “announcing Jesus and the resurrection as the gospel” (Acts 17:18). We have been regenerated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ “unto an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled and unfading.” This wonderful inheritance includes everything related to New Jerusalem.

The hope of the gospel” is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:23, 27). This too points to the glory of New Jerusalem.

The gospel of the grace of God and the word of His grace, build us up and give us the inheritance among all who have been sanctified. This inheritance is ultimately New Jerusalem, the holy city for which we have been sanctified.

Our Savior Christ Jesus, nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). New Jerusalem is a city of life and of incorruption.

We receive resurrection life and incorruption through the promise of the gospel.

The gospel is “of Jesus,” “of Jesus Christ,” and “of Christ.” He is the center of the gospel and He will be the center of New Jerusalem. He is the same yesterday, today, and eternally (Heb. 13:8).

The unsearchable riches of Christ are the gospel in Ephesians 3. God’s intention is that these riches fill us and be expressed through us.

Photo by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, courtesy of NASA and ESA.

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ as the Gospel, Now and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemPaul: “I became a minister [of the gospel] according to the gift of the grace of God which was given to me according to the operation of His power. To me…was this grace given to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:7-8).

In God’s view the gospel is much more than a response to our need. The gospel is to bring us from our fallen condition back to God, to regenerate us with His life, to fully renew us through the course of our Christian life, and to build us together with other believers. This accomplishes God’s eternal purpose, ultimately bringing forth New Jerusalem.

For all these steps we surely need God’s mercy and compassion but we also need much more. We need the riches of Christ. God’s intention is to strengthen us into our inner man, our regenerated spirit, so that Christ may make His home in our heart. Then we are rooted and grounded in His love and can lay hold of these unsearchable riches. Eventually we are filled unto all the fullness of God and the outcome is glory to God. This is the gospel presented in Ephesians 3.

When we are filled with God, His glory shines out. This is His intention. He is working to fill us day by day with these unsearchable riches. Eventually we all will be filled and New Jerusalem will radiate the glory of God eternally.

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ and New Jerusalem

The Hope of the Gospel and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemMany aspects of the gospel correspond with characteristics of New Jerusalem. Colossians 1:23 speaks of “the hope of the gospel.” Our hope is not a thing or a success or a position. Ephesians 2:12 says that when we were “apart from Christ” we had no hope. In contrast to this, Christ Himself and all that He will accomplish in us is our hope.

Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ in us is our hope of glory. He was glorified through death and resurrection. Through this He also become our Redeemer and our Life. Now we are being transformed to glory. When we see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27) our mortal body will be conformed to the body of His glory.

The glory which is our hope is not merely an external glory into which we will enter. Rather, it is Christ in us growing/spreading in our being to glorify us with Himself. At His return this hope will be fulfilled.

When Christ comes again, “He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). He will be in glory and will be glorified in the believers at that time, and in the manifestation of His kingdom, and eternally in New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

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 LSM.

The Gospel of the Kingdom and New Jerusalem

The gospel is of glory and of peace; both link New Jerusalem to the gospel. The gospel is also “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23). This is another link between the gospel and the eternal kingdom of God which is the new creation with God’s throne at its center, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Matthew 24:14 the Lord Jesus says, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” 

The gospel to every nation is based on the Lord’s accomplishment on the cross, as declared in the song of praise to Him in Revelation 5:9, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.”

Through death the Lord purchased some from every nation and made us all priests to God. Now the gospel goes out to every nation to proclaim this accomplishment. This gospel brings us into the priesthood now (1 Peter 2:5, 9) and in New Jerusalem.

The priesthood purchased out of every nation is also a kingdom. Like the priesthood, the kingdom is both now and eternally in New Jerusalem. This is the eternal goal of the gospel of the kingdom.

Additional verses about the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel to the nations include Mark 13:10, Luke 4:43, 16:16, Acts 8:12, and Gal. 3:8.

The Gospel of Glory and New Jerusalem (2)

The gospel and New Jerusalem are linked. The consummation of “the gospel of the glory of Christ” is New Jerusalem. 

New JerusalemGod chose us “unto salvation” (2 Thes. 2:13) and He also called us through the gospel “unto the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14). Our salvation includes forgiveness of sins, justification, and reconciliation to God, but it also includes much more. It includes all that Jesus Christ is and everything that is in New Jerusalem.

God called us through the gospel to receive Jesus Christ as our life and to have Him as our life develop His glory within us (2 Thes. 1:10). When the Lord returns, He will come in glory. At the same time, the development of glory within us will be completed. He “will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21). Thus, we will all be glorious to match New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

The gospel is also “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11).

The gospel with which the apostle Paul was entrusted is the effulgence of the glory of the blessed God. By dispensing God’s life and nature in Christ into God’s chosen people, this gospel shines forth God’s glory, in which God is blessed among His people.*

New Jerusalem will shine with the glory of God to bless God and to manifest God as the blessing to the entire new creation.

* Part of footnote 1 on 1 Tim. 1:11 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

The Gospel of Glory and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemDuring my Bible reading I came to the phrase “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11). Since New Jerusalem has the glory of God, this phrase tells us that the gospel points toward or includes New Jerusalem. 

Soon afterwards I came to “peace as the gospel” (Eph. 2:17). Because Jerusalem means foundation of peace, this is another phrase linking the gospel and New Jerusalem. These two verses initiated this series of posts.

Gospel and glory are together in three verses (see the next post also). In 2 Corinthians 4 the essence of the gospel is Christ Jesus Himself (v. 5). God desires to shine into our hearts “to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6). This is “the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (v. 4).

Apart from Christ Jesus, we cannot participate in the glory of God. But in response to the gospel, we believed and He shined into us. Now “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (v. 7). We are merely earthen but He is the excellent treasure in us. 

Whenever we turn our hearts to Him and behold Him within, we reflect His glory, He grows and spreads within us, and we are transformed “from glory to glory” (v. 3:16, 18). The corporate consummation of this development and expression of glory is New Jerusalem. This is the goal of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (6)

Continuing from Matthew 10 and 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9 also have the Lord’s words about denying the self, taking up the cross, and losing the soul life. Luke 9 adds one word not in Matthew and Mark: daily. “He said to them all, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (v. 23). Verses 24 and 25 are about losing the soul life for the Lord’s sake.

New JerusalemVerse 26 continues, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of this one will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Lord, save me from any shame about You and Your words.

In Matthew 16, Mark 8, and Luke 9 the portion about denying the self is immediately followed by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, which He describes as “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” This coming, in glory, foreshadows the coming age which leads to New Jerusalem.

The path to New Jerusalem includes the cross now, the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age, and then New Jerusalem itself. To be on this path, we must apply the cross of Christ to our soul life. The cross is available to us through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). Thus, it is by the Spirit, not by natural effort, that we go through the cross toward New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Kingdom and Glory

In Matthew 6:13 the Lord instructed us to praise our Father, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” (Forever points to eternity with New Jerusalem.) In Matthew 16:28 to 17:2 we have a preview of this kingdom and glory together. First Thessalonians 2:12 tells us that God “calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

New JerusalemBoth the kingdom and the glory are God’s but He has called us to participate in them. The first half of 1 Thessalonians 2:12, exhorting us to walk worthy of God, indicates that our participation is present and experiential. This present partici-pation is our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The guidance and energizing for this walk is 1) the conduct of the apostle among the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 2:1-10) and 2) his exhorting, consoling, and testifying (v. 11), plus 3) their receiving his word “not as the word of men but  even as it truly is, the word of God, which also operates in you who believe” (v. 13).

Because the word of God, transmitted to us by the Spirit through the Bible, is living, we need to let it dwell, live, spread, and operate in us. Lord, cause Your word to live and operate in me! This operation gradually develops the character and walk of New Jerusalem in us.

Unlike the early Thessalonians, we do not have the pattern of the apostle Paul. However, we are among Christians, and the Lord is not limited by the absence of Paul. We should ask the Lord to show us one or a few whom we can consider and let their Christian walk be a pattern to us.

Lord, besides Your operating word, show me how to have a worthy walk on my way to New Jerusalem.

The Bright Lamb-Lamp of New Jerusalem

In Matthew 16:28 the Lord said that some disciples would see “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” A week later three saw Him transfigured. This is the kingdom of God with the glory of God. Ultimately, the kingdom and glory is New Jerusalem. John tells us that he saw the city has the throne of the kingdom at its center and has the glory of God (Rev. 22:1, 21:10-11).

The seeing of the kingdom in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 gives us a preview of New Jerusalem. These chapters speak not about outward power but about the appearance of the Lord.
“He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light.” (Matt. 17:2)
“He was transfigured before them, and His garments became sparkling, exceedingly white.” (Mark 9:3)
“And as He prayed, the appearance of His face became different, and His garment dazzling white.” (Luke 9:29)

New JerusalemAlthough Jesus knew beforehand that this transfiguration would happen, Luke records that He prayed. We need to pray to release what God wants for His kingdom on earth, as in Matthew 6:9-10.

His prayer and transfiguration indicate that the change in His appearance was from within, not from outside. The Greek word translated transfiguration is also transformation in 2 Corinthians 3:18. There the word clearly indicates a change by the Spirit operating within us to bring us onward in glory.

The brightness of the Lord Jesus on the mountain is a preview of His brightness as the Lamb-lamp in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). This is the glory of God radiating through Him, a glory brighter than the sun, so that New Jerusalem “has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Morning Star Rises and the Day Dawns unto the Full Day of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:23 tells us, “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.” Because the glory of God illuminates New Jerusalem, “there will be no night there” (v. 25).

God is light and God’s intention is to bring us into light. When we are in New Jerusalem we are fully and constantly in the divine light. This journey to the light of New Jerusalem is touched multiple times in the Bible.

Zachariah, father of John the Baptist, prophesied concerning the coming of Jesus, “the rising sun will visit us from on high.” God is light and He emphasizes the sunrise with its move toward full day; sunset is not in His desire. Some sunrise examples:
Isaiah 60:2, “the darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but Jehovah will rise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”
Malachi 4:2,”unto you who fear My name will the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.”
Proverbs 4:18, ” the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”

When Jesus began His ministry, He came to Capernaum (Matt. 4:13-16). This fulfilled a prophecy in Isaiah 9, which says “The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and to those sitting in the region and shadow of death, to them light has risen.” And at the end, He said, “I Jesus…am…the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16).

John 1 tells us that “the life is the light of men.” Life and light go together and heal us from blindness, sin, and death. This healing, and all the rising light is ultimately for the glory of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Samantha Cristoforetti, courtesy of NASA and ESA.

Glory: the Lord’s Presence Manifested

In recent reading*, I was touched by the question, What is glory of the Lord? The next sentence of my reading gave this answer, It is the presence of the Lord manifested before the eyes of humanity. The glory will be manifested by New Jerusalem, but it was also manifested to people in the past.

Acts 7:2 says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia.” This appearing motivated Abraham to leave his fatherland and follow the Lord to a new place. Lord, motivate us to follow You daily.

The glory also appeared to Israel, when the tabernacle was completed (Exo. 40:35) and at other times (e.g. Exo. 16:10, Lev. 9:23, Num. 14:10). However, many in Israel were obstinate and the manifested glory was sometimes a rebuke to them. Lord, keep our hearts soft toward You.

New JerusalemLater, the glory of the Lord appeared at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:11). In the New Testament the glory was briefly manifested on the mountain (Mark 9:2-3), to Stephen (Acts 7:55), and to Saul (Acts 26:13-15). And the Lord promised that people “will see the Son of Man becoming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

Since Saul’s time, the glory is hidden but we do have the presence of the Lord. The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). He in us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). In spirit we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

He will come to fulfill the hope of glory and to manifest His glory in us (2 Thes. 1:10), in the coming kingdom, and in New Jerusalem.

* Witness LeeThe All-Inclusive Christ, chap. 9, Living Stream Ministry

Posts will resume, Monday, November 27.

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