Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 3

This is the next verse of a song about Christ’s love for the church as His wife. This love extends to New Jerusalem, His eternal wife.

New JerusalemIt begins with mercy and love. Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of our fallen condition but 2:4 declares the contrast, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” Through mercy and love, God made us alive together with Christ and raised us up together with Him.

Ephesians 2:7 tells us that God’s desire is that “He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The ability to produce this display out of our fallen condition manifests God’s unsurpassed wisdom and is through His grace, both mentioned in the verse and the song.

Certainly we can sense the love of God and must thank Him for this love, yet we are limited. We should expect, as in the song, that the fulness of this love is only comprehended by God.

This verse of the song ends with Christ laying down His life as a fragrant offering. The Lord spoke of this in John 10:11, “the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” And Ephesians 5:25 tells us, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

The fragrance at the end is clearly typified by the fragrance of the offerings in Leviticus and implied by the Father’s word “This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight” (Matt. 3:17).

Death & Resurrection unto New Jerusalem

The Lord Jesus asks us to deny ourself, take up our cross daily, and lose our soul life. This is our path to New Jerusalem but it seems quite negative. But remember, the Lord’s death is followed by resurrection. The Lord’s death applied in us is followed by His resurrection applied in us.

New Jerusalem is a city of resurrection, not a city of our natural life. Our natural life must be denied so that resurrection life can spring forth.

New JerusalemDeath and resurrection was the life of the Lord Jesus and today it is our life. Second Corinthians 4 speaks of this. Verse 10: “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

Verse 11: “We who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

When the Lord returns, we will experience the redemption of our mortal body. Until then we bear, not an ordinary death, but “the putting to death of Jesus” that the resurrection life may be manifested. This manifestation will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

Verse 12 says that death operates in us. This is our experience of the cross. Verses 13-14 say we have a spirit of faith, “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.” This coming experience of resurrection brings us into the manifestation of the kingdom and then to New Jerusalem.

Photo by David Goodrich, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Great is the Mystery: God in Christ in Us

New JerusalemThe mystery proclaimed by the apostles includes New Jerusalem. Colossians 2:2 tells us that the mystery of God is Christ. The mystery of God is God embodied in Christ to become a God-man who lived among men, died to redeem all men, and rose to impart eternal life into His believers.

However, the mystery of God is not only Christ Himself, but also Christ in us, as in Colossians 1:27, “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This Christ is our hope of glory, the glory that will be fully manifested in New Jerusalem.

God made this mystery known to Paul (Eph. 3:3) because God’s good pleasure is that we all see and enter into this mystery (Eph. 1:9). Therefore, Paul’s ministry was “to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is, which throughout the ages has been hidden in God” (Eph. 3:9).

First Timothy 3:15 says, “great is the mystery of godliness.” This is God incarnated in Christ. It is also Christ entering into us to be our life, to be manifested through us now and much more in eternity.

Ephesians 3:4 and Colossians 4:3 speak of the mystery of Christ. And Ephesians 5, presenting husband and wife as a portrait of Christ and the church, says, “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church” (v. 32).

The mystery of God is Christ, God manifested in flesh. It is also Christ in us, people who were merely flesh until we believed into Him and received His eternal life. This life produces the mystery of Christ, all His believers as members of His one Body. So, God in Christ in the believers to form His mystical Body is the great mystery. Eventually His Body consummates in New Jerusalem.

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The Pillar of the Truth, unto New Jerusalem

Many verses show that God’s New Testament building is spiritual and not physical. New Jerusalem, as the consummation of this building, is also spiritual.

First Kings 7:15-22 describes the two physical pillars of the temple. In the New Testament there is a turn from physical to spiritual. Galatians 2:9 tells us that James and Cephas and John “were reputed to be pillars.” The church, the house of the living God, requires living persons to be its pillars.

New JerusalemIn 1 Timothy 3:15 the church of the living God is “the pillar and base of the truth.” This truth is God, Christ, all that Christ has accomplished through incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, all that Christ is for us, and all that He will do in us.

The church uploads this truth now (and New Jerusalem will do so in the future) by the living God living in all the members so that God may be manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16).

In Philippians 1:20-21 Paul says, “with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. For to me to live is Christ.” Paul’s magnifying is part of the church’s upholding, and takes place by Christ being his life.

Our need is for Christ, who is in us as life, to become our living – Christ in our driving, shopping, working, speaking, reading, sports, using the internet, and in everything else. Such a living of Christ in us is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

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The Mystery of God and of Christ

New Jerusalem

Revelation 10:7 tells us the good news that when the seventh trumpet sounds, “the mystery of God is finished.” The prior post briefly mentions multiple aspects of this mystery, which together ultimately bring forth New Jerusalem.

This mystery “has been hidden from the ages and from the generations but now has been manifested to His saints [those sanctified by faith in Christ—Acts 26:18]” (Col. 1:26). There are two main aspects of this mystery:

The mystery of God, Christ (Col. 2:2)
The mystery of Christ, His Body (Eph. 3:4-6)

“The mystery of God in Col. 2:2 is Christ; the mystery of Christ here [Eph. 3:4] is the church. God is a mystery, and Christ, as the embodiment of God to express Him, is the mystery of God. Christ also is a mystery, and the church, as the Body of Christ to express Him, is the mystery of Christ. This mystery is God’s economy, which is to dispense Christ, as the embodiment of God, into God’s chosen people in order to produce a Body to be the increase of God’s embodiment in Christ, that God may have a corporate expression.”*

No one has ever seen God, but His only begotten Son has declared Him (John 1:18). This is Christ, the mystery of God, expressing God. The unsearchable riches of Christ are announced as the gospel in order that the wisdom of God might be made known through the church (Eph. 3:8-10). This is the church, the mystery of Christ, expressing Christ.

Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15). This great mystery is God manifest in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ manifest in all His believers, His organic Body. Ultimately the mystery will be finished but this manifestation will continue in New Jerusalem.

* Note 1 on Eph. 3:4 in The NT Recovery Version Online, © 1997-2012 by LSM.

New Jerusalem: Christ’s Growth in Us (2)

New Jerusalem is the enlargement of the house of the living God. This enlargement is God’s growth, His increase, in us (Col. 2:19). This growth is seen in Ephesians 3:14-19.

New JerusalemEphesians 3:16-17 are a prayer for our Father to strengthen us so that Christ may make His home in our hearts. This home-making is in the realm of faith. Likewise, everything related to New Jerusalem is in the realm of faith, in the spiritual realm.

Ephesians 3:17-19 continues. As a result of Christ’s home-making, we “being rooted and grounded in love, may be full of strength to apprehend with all the saints what the breadth and length and height and depth are and to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.”

The strength in verse 18 is not our human strength; it comes out of Christ making home in us. This strength is Christ living in us. This enables us to apprehend together the vastness of Christ, a vastness which will be manifested to the fullest in New Jerusalem. Then we can know the excellent love of Christ.

The conclusion of Ephesians 3:16-19 is that all the believers together are “filled unto all the fullness of God.” This is a foretaste of New Jerusalem. God desires to fill His corporate people with all that He is in Christ, so that all He is may be manifested through His people. Ultimately New Jerusalem will be our corporate manifestation of all that God is.

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New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (3)

New JerusalemIn 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is the living house of the living God. Then we read “great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (v. 16*). This describes a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The first manifestation of God in the flesh was in the incarnation of Jesus. “The Word was God….the Word became flesh….No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1, 14, 18).

Today the living church as the dwelling place of the living God is “God manifest in the flesh.” We, the members of the church, the Body of Christ, are outwardly men of flesh but God dwells in us. Today our proper Christian living results in God manifested in the flesh. This is a mystery of godliness.

This living mystery, the manifestation of God in the flesh, continues until “taken up in glory.” This will be our glorification (Rom. 8:17, 30). This glory will be strengthened and expanded to be the glory of New Jerusalem.

In eternity there will be no more flesh for we will have been fully conformed to Christ and glorified with Him. Therefore we should not say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in the flesh but we could say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in those who were flesh or that New Jerusalem is God manifested in redeemed, regenerated, and glorified humanity.

* Originally the New Testament had no chapter and no verse separations. The text continued from one sentence to the next with no break. Thus there is a strong connection between the house of the living God and the mystery of godliness. Look at 1 Timothy 3 in a fourth century Bible.

Photo by Dave Herr, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

New Jerusalem: God Manifested in Humanity

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is a living city and the consummation of all the spiritual blessings we have in the New Testament.

In 1 Timothy 3:15-16 Paul says, “I write that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth. And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh…”

The house of God today is a living house, the church of the living God. This house will grow to the city of God, New Jerusalem.

The sentences above from 1 Timothy are joined by And.* And ties the house of God to the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh. The New Testament begins with this manifestation, as seen in the early part of John 1 and in 1 John 1:1-3. This manifestation continues with the church as the house of the living God.

The New Testament manifestation of God consummates in New Jerusalem. The city has the glory of God; the glory has been wrought into the city. It is the ultimate manifestation of God.

We cannot say that the city is “God manifested in the flesh” for our fallen, sinful flesh will have been eliminated by our transfiguration at the Lord’s return (Philippians 3:21). However, we can say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in humanity. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17, 30) when He returns, thereby allowing New Jerusalem to fully manifest God’s glory. Praise Him!

* Although And often does not appear in English Bibles, it is clearly in all Greek texts from which our English New Testaments are translated.

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