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.

Glory, Now to New Jerusalem

Our present sufferings bring forth eternal glory. Posts on this connection touched verses in John and Acts, Romans and 2 Corinthians, more in Romans, 2 Corinthians (again) and Philippians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, and again 1 Peter.

New JerusalemRevelation moves from “John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (1:9) to New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11). While we also partake of the tribulation in Jesus and are supplied by the endurance in Jesus, we look away to Jesus and to the glory of God filling New Jerusalem.

First Peter 1:11 speaks of “the sufferings of Christ and the glories after these.” The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and then entered into His glory in His resurrection (Luke 24:26, 46). Also, after “the suffering of death” He was “crowned with glory and honor,” in His exaltation (Heb. 2:9). At His visible return to earth, He “comes in His glory” (Matt. 25:31). He will also be glorious in the kingdom age and in New Jerusalem.

With us, there is some glory now, mostly hidden within us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we “exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). And, “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (2 Thes. 1:12).

One aspect of the Lord’s return is that He “comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). At that time He will “present the church to Himself glorious” (Eph. 5:27). This glorious church will continue to radiate His glory in the time of the kingdom and as His wife, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (7)

New JerusalemSuffering in our Christian life, which is normal but temporary, brings forth glory in stages from now to New Jerusalem. We continue with Peter’s speaking about this.

First Peter 5:10 speaks of “the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” We thank this wonderful God that we have been called into His eternal glory!

This is not only glory in eternity (after time ends) in New Jerusalem. It is also glory which is eternal in nature, of which we partake now. This is a foretaste of New Jerusalem “having the glory of God.”

To partake of this glory involves sufferings. As in verses in recent posts, this suffering is not borne by ourselves. The God of “all grace” (not barely enough grace) is in us. The grace today will surely continue with us into New Jerusalem. Here are some of the many verses about grace with us now:
John 1:16, “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”
Acts 11:23, Barnabas arrived and “saw the grace of God” in the believers in Antioch.
Romans 5:2, “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand”
1 Corinthians 16:23, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”
2 Timothy 4:22, ” The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”
1 Petter 1:2, “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”
Rev. 1:4-5, “Grace to you and peace from Him…and the seven Spirits…and Jesus Christ.”

First Peter 5:10 concludes that God “will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” The result of all this divine work in us is “to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever” (v. 11). Forever points to New Jerusalem, full of glory and might to God.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (6)

New JerusalemThis series of posts presents verses showing that suffering in our Christian life is normal but temporary. This suffering brings forth glory in stages from now to New Jerusalem. This post begins our look at Peter’s view of this process.

In 1 Peter 1 we who are regenerated (v. 3) “are being guarded by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time” (v. 5). This salvation will be the transfiguration of our mortal bodies to free the faithful believers from suffering.

We exult in this last time, the time of the Lord’s visible return “though for a little while at present, if it must be, you have been made sorrowful by various trials” (v. 6). These trials are “so that the proving of your faith…may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 7). Rejoice.

Similarly, 1 Peter 4:13 encourages us “inasmuch as you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice exultingly.” His glory is revealed in a limited way through us now, much more at His coming back, and completely in New Jerusalem.

Then verse 19 reminds us”let those also who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing to a faithful Creator.” Remember that our Creator says we were “created, formed, and even made for My glory”  (Isa. 43:7). May we look to His eternal goal, New Jerusalem, remember His faithfulness, and commit ourselves to Him.

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.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (5)

Suffering in our Christian like is normal but temporary. This suffering brings forth glory in a limited way now (see 2 Thes. 1 below), in a strong way at the Lord’s return, and completely in New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemColossians 1:10 charges us “to walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things.” The following verses touch several aspects of this walk, including “being empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all endurance and long-suffering with joy” (v. 11).

Like verses in recent posts, glory and suffering are coupled here. And again, we are not encouraged to bear the sufferings ourselves. Instead, we should be empowered according to the might of His glory. This empowering is “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” and is able to bring forth joy in suffering.

The sufferings are only now, but he empowering, the life, and the joy are for now and the coming age and New Jerusalem.

Second Thessalonians 1 includes persecutions and afflictions. It concludes with prayer for God’s working in the believers (v. 11) “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (v. 12). Again, trials can bring forth glory. This is not by our own effort but because of God’s operation within us.

The mutual glorification in verse 12 is “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Lord, grace us in every situation that You may be glorified in us and we in You.

The name of the Lord glorified in us includes today. When the Lord returns, “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (v. 10) and we will experience “rest” (v. 7). The glory and rest will then continue into New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (4)

Romans 5, Romans 8, and 2 Corinthians 4 all speak about passing through sufferings to glory.

The first step of this glory an inward beholding, as in 2 Corinthians 3:18. The second step is the Lord’s visible return to earth. “We eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:20-21). The ultimate step of this glory is New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemPaul prayed for the development of the virtues of Christ in the Philippians “to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11). He also told them, “to you it has been graciously granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe into Him but also to suffer on His behalf” (1:29). Again we see sufferings and glory in the Christian life. However, New Jerusalem will be glory without sufferings.

This gracious granting to suffer implies the supply of grace to carry us through the sufferings.

Paul also stated his own desire (and no doubt his desire for us also) “to gain Christ and be found in Him…to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead” (3:8-11).

It is by the power of His resurrection that we are enabled to be in the fellowship of His sufferings. Gaining Christ and being found in Him daily develop the power of His resurrection in us and bring us into the fellowship of His sufferings. This fellowship eventually brings us to the resurrection, the transfiguration, of our mortal body to meet the Lord in glory at His return and to participate in New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection and glory.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

%d bloggers like this: