Receive the Word with Faith to Get Ready

In Matthew 24 and 25 the Lord Jesus urged us to be ready for His coming. This readiness for Him as the Bridegroom is related to preparation of New Jerusalem as His bride.

The preparation is carried out not by our own zeal or energy but by our cooperation with Him. Hebrews 3:7 to 4:13 speaks about the failure of the children of Israel to pass through the wilderness and enter the good land. Their journey is like our journey as virgins going forth to meet the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). Thus we can learn from their failure.

New JerusalemHebrews 4:12 says, “the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The condition of our heart is important in our being ready for the Lord.

Hebrews 4:2 says of those who died in the wilderness, “the word heard did not profit them, not being mixed together with faith in those who heard.” When we receive the word of the Lord with faith and say amen to it, then it will be living and operative in us.

The living and operative word profits us when it nourishes our spirit, divides our spirit from our soul, and operates in our heart. The gradual nourishing, dividing, and operating get us ready for the Lord’s return and for New Jerusalem.

A song:
__Jesus is coming, now He’s on His way—
____Amen the Word of God!
__Would you be ready if He comes today—
____Amen the Word of God!
__His Word prepares us, to Jesus bears us—
____Amen the Word of God!

The word of God is living and operative!

Those Who Are Ready Will Enter

In Matthew 25:1-13 the Lord Jesus speaks about virgins going forth to meet a bridegroom. In the whole universe He is the real Bridegroom and all His believers are individually virgins and corporately His bride, New Jerusalem.

Our going forth is our cooperation with God’s preparation of New Jerusalem as the bride (Revelation 21:2). Matthew 25:10 says, “those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.” The virgins who were ready “took oil in their vessels with their lamps” so that their lamps were shining with a good supply of oil rather than “going out” (v. 8).

New JerusalemOil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 25:9 indicates that a price must be paid to be filled with the Spirit. In Matthew 16:24-25 the Lord said that to follow Him we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and lose our soul life. This is the price to gain extra oil in our vessels so that we shine brightly.

We can pray, Lord, I desire to follow You. Grace me to deny myself.

An example of paying a price is in Philippians 3:7-8. Paul tells us, “What things were gains to me, these I have counted as loss on account of Christ. But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ.”

We can pray, Lord, I want to be ready to go in. Manifest Your excellency to me and show me what I need to count loss so that I may gain more of You today. Lord, I want to get ready for You and for New Jerusalem.

Related post: We Have Oil in our Vessels, We are Burning

We Come Forward to Heavenly Jerusalem

Colossians 3:1 calls us to “seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” We should not wait for New Jerusalem in the future, but long for and seek the “Jerusalem above,” which is the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).

New JerusalemWe correspond to this heavenly* city because we are a heavenly* people:
We have a heavenly Father (Matthew 6:26, 32). We are born of Him and have His heavenly life.
Our God and Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 1:3); these blessings are not physical but include God’s selection and predestination, the Lord’s redemption and abounding grace, and the Spirit as our seal and guarantee (1:4-5, 7-8, 13-14).
We have been transferred from Adam, the earthly man, to Christ the heavenly man to have the heavenly nature and to bear the heavenly image (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
We have been resurrected and seated in a spiritual position “in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
We are “partakers of a heavenly calling” and “have tasted of the heavenly gift” (Hebrews 3:1, 6:4).

May we follow the examples of the people of faith before us to “long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13-16). And, let us “come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22). May New Jerusalem be in our consciousness and seeking every day!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* Heavenly means having a heavenly source, nature, character, and atmosphere. It is not a matter of physical location, whether in the heavens or on earth. The heavenly Jerusalem will still be heavenly in nature, character, and atmosphere after it “comes down out of heaven” (Rev. 21:2).

Eternal Bethel, Eternal Mount Zion

Stefan at A God-man in Christ wrote five posts on New Jerusalem last week (Jan. 7-11). This is the second of my two posts with brief excerpts from his.

New Jerusalem is the eternal Bethel, God's Dream

The New Jerusalem is the Eternal Bethel, the Fulfillment of God’s Dream

Did you know that God has a dream? He dreams of being fully joined and mingled with man as one entity to become the New Jerusalem, a built-up city, as the consummation of His economy (Rev. 21:2).

Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:10-22 was a dream of God’s goal, a dream of the house of God. What God desires is not just to have a people who worship Him and obey Him – He desires to have a house, a home, with man and in man, and this home is the church today (1 Tim. 3:15) consummating in the New Jerusalem as the eternal dwelling place of God and His redeemed elect (Rev. 21:3, 22).

The entire Bible expounds and explains what God does to fulfill His dream. God is homeless until He obtains a home in man, and He has no resting place until He gains the church as a built-up Body for Christ, consummating in the New Jerusalem.

Christ came as the heavenly ladder (see John 1:51) to bring God into man and man into God and to join man and God as one. Christ is now the vertical way for people to contact God and for God to visit people and be mingled with man.

What about us? What is our dream? We may have a dream related to the physical and human things, or something related to our career, family, future, etc.

Or, are we looking forward to see God’s dream being fulfilled (see Heb. 11-12)? We have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly New Jerusalem! We are all being cheered to go on and fulfill God’s dream by all the angelic hosts in the heavens, and our dream is to become the New Jerusalem!

Being Produced as Overcomers, the Eternal Mount Zion as the New Jerusalem Today

God’s pleasure, His desire, and His habitation is not only in Jerusalem but more specifically in Zion, the place of His habitation. Zion as the elevated part and the beauty of Jerusalem typifies the overcomers in the church age, who are the God-men perfected and matured (see Rev. 14:1).

The Lord desires to gain some who are overcomers, those who are for the building up of Christ’s Body to consummate the New Jerusalem (Rom. 12:4-5; Eph. 4:16; Rev. 3:12).

How we need to be perfected in our function and matured in our growth in life so that we may be the overcomers in the church today! Let’s come forward to Mount Zion, to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the overcoming Christ today that we may grow in life and be perfected (Heb. 12:2).

We don’t want to be “super-spiritual Christians” who are “above others”; rather, we want to be normal believers who grow in life in a normal way and accomplish the ministry of the church on behalf of the church and one with the Lord.

The overcomers in the church today as Zion are the New Jerusalem in miniature and as a foretaste – Zion is the New Jerusalem and when the New Jerusalem comes, Zion will disappear because the entire New Jerusalem will become Zion!

We all need to pray,

Lord, I want to endeavor to be an overcomer for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ to consummate the New Jerusalem! Lord, as much as it depends on me, I want to give You my best cooperation to be produced as an overcomer as Zion in Jerusalem, for You to gain the New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Lord, Keep Us Pursuing Toward the Goal

Revelation is a prophecy composed of visions given to John. Revelation 1:2 tells us that John “testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, even all that he saw.” Almost 50 times in Revelation John says, “I saw” including, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem” (v. 21.2). With God’s eternal view, New Jerusalem is here and all who have believed into Jesus Christ can declare, I am in New Jerusalem.

Although Revelation emphasizes the eternal view, the New Testament epistles mainly take a temporal view of what God in Christ Jesus is accomplishing in us during our Christian life. Example verses are in the prior post. Other examples that touch ongoing Christian progress are:
• 2 Corinthians 4:16 says our inner man is being renewed day by day
• Galatians 4:19 speaks of labor until Christ is formed in us.
• 1 Peter 2:5 says we are being built as a spiritual house.

Since New Jerusalem, the consummation of the Bible, is complete in God’s sight, why is the progressive aspect of the Christian life emphasized so much in the epistles? PERHAPS the answer is that, if the completion of our Christian life was emphasized throughout the New Testament, we would not be motivated to cooperate with the indwelling Lord. PERHAPS, to counter our ever-present danger of relaxing, the New Testament emphasizes cooperation for reaching the goal. In any case, since we are encouraged to pursue toward the goal, to come forward, and to supply diligence, let us pray that our living be this way.

Lord, daily attract us to Yourself that we may pursue toward the goal to which You have called us. Lord, keep us coming forward to You and diligently following You.

The Faithful Are in New Jerusalem Now

In Revelation 21:2a John said, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” This verse was part of my prior post “I Saw New Jerusalem” and the title of this post is a response I received to that post. Since receiving this response, I have been considering it. In my blogging, several times I said that we are in the foretaste of New Jerusalem. Here are links to some posts with those words: .

In “I Saw New Jerusalem” I mentioned the eternal view and the temporal view. In God’s view, New Jerusalem is an accomplished fact which was shown to John. Hence, John said “I saw.” In our human time-constrained view, New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven in the future. With the eternal view we must declare, I am in New Jerusalem now. With the temporal view we say that we have a spiritual foretaste of New Jerusalem. Should we discard the temporal view and hold only the eternal view? No, because the New Testament uses both views.

Samples of the eternal view:
• Romans 8:30 says we have been glorified.
• Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s masterpiece.
Samples of the temporal view, showing development in our Christian life:
• 1 Corinthians 1:18 says we are being saved.
• Hebrews 2:11 says we are being sanctified.
Samples of the temporal view, showing a future conclusion of our Christian life:
• Romans 8:23 says we are eagerly awaiting the redemption of our body.
• 1 John 3:2 says that when He is manifested, we will be like Him.

Because the New Testament uses both views, we too should use them. Based on Revelation, we can declare that we are in New Jerusalem now. Based on verses in the epistles, we also should say that we are cooperating with Christ’s growth in us unto the full reality of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Toby Shelton.

We Seek the City to Come (5)

Hebrews 13:12-15 say, “Jesus…suffered outside the gate. Let us therefore go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come. Through Him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, the fruit of lips confessing His name.” The sacrifice of praise is related to our seeking the city to come, New Jerusalem.

Glory to God the Father

This sacrifice of praise comes through lips confessing the name of Jesus. Our first confession that Jesus is Lord is for our receiving of eternal salvation (Romans 10:9; 1 John 4:15). However, we should not stop there. Our on-going confessing of Jesus as Lord is a continual sacrifice of praise to God. The early Christians practicing this and we should too. Stephen called on the Lord Jesus as he was being stoned (Acts 7:59), most likely reflecting his practice throughout his Christian life, and when Saul was persecuting Christians, they were specifically identified as those who called on the name of Jesus (Acts 9:14, 21).

Hebrews 13:15 couples our sacrifice of praise with our confessing of the name of Jesus. Each of these actions strengthens the other. The more we praise God for who and what He is, the more we love Him embodied in Jesus and are encouraged to confess Jesus as the Lord and our Lord. And, the more we declare that Jesus is Lord, the more we sense that He is worthy of our praise.

The result of God exalting the crucified Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11) is that “every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” May we be those who take the lead in this confession for glory to God the Father every day.

Jesus Christ is Lord !

We Seek the City to Come (4)

Going forth unto JesusHebrews 13:13-14 encourages us, “Let us therefore go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.” In these verses “Him” is Jesus, who suffered outside the gate (v. 12) and the city is New Jerusalem.

In preparing the prior post, I was noticed that “seek” is an active verb. We are not waiting passively for New Jerusalem but rather seeking it actively. The same verb is used in Hebrews 11:14 for the people of faith seeking a better country. New Testament reference books offer some synonyms for “seek” and indicate other verses where the Greek verb is used, but they do not illuminate our seeking action.

While considering in what way we seek New Jerusalem, I was impressed to consider the context. In verse 13 we “go forth unto Him.” Our seeking of New Jerusalem is firstly our going forth unto Jesus by prayer, especially by praying with His word. For example, with verse 12 we can thank the Lord for suffering outside the gate, then thank Him that His suffering was for our sanctification. We can also ask Him to give us more daily appreciation of redemption. With verse 13 we can thank Him that the way is open for us to go to Him and also ask Him to draw us daily into this going forth. Even when we don’t understand everything in a verse, we can still use its words in our thanksgiving and asking (Philippians 4:6). Here and here are more about this.

In verse 15 the context for our seeking New Jerusalem is that through Jesus we “offer up a sacrifice of praise continually to God.” Regardless of our situation, God is always worthy of our praise. For example, we can praise Him for any and all of His attributes: God is eternal, loving, righteous, holy, merciful, wise, patient, and so much more. Praise Him!

We Seek the City to Come (3)

Let us therefore go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.” (Hebrews 13:13-14) The city to come is New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 13:13 speaks of going forth outside the camp and bearing the Lord’s reproach. Verse 14 begins “For.” This indicates that it explains why we go outside the camp and why we are willing to bear the Lord’s reproach. The reason is that we have no remaining city, no permanent attachment, here. We are not rooted in any city in this age but our seeking, our attention, our desire, is New Jerusalem. We have a physical address in this world but the address in our heart is Golden Street, New Jerusalem.

Having no remaining city here and seeking New Jerusalem to come are not separate; they are two sides of one coin. It does not matter whether we live in a shack or a large house, in a big city or small town. Our heart is the key. What do we love? Matthew 22:37 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Hebrews 13:5 is the other side of the coin: “Let your way of life be without the love of money.” We may own a house and take care of it, but our love is the Lord and not the house.

Lord, attract us to love You above everything else. Direct our hearts every day into the love of God (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

We Seek the City to Come (2)

We seek the coming city, New Jerusalem, as in Hebrews 13:12-14: “Therefore also Jesus, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us therefore go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.”

The prior post spoke about “going forth unto Him outside the camp.” Our going forth involves “bearing His reproach.” Although a good number of people in the gospels followed and loved the Lord, others reproached Him, disapproving and insulting what He said and did.

If reproach comes to us for “going forth unto Him” we should rejoice. The Lord told us, “Blessed are you when they reproach and persecute you, and while speaking lies, say every evil thing against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11). As a forerunner of New Testament believers, Moses forsook Egypt and his upbringing in the house of Pharaoh, no doubt being misunderstood and ill spoken about, but this was actually “Considering the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked away to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

If reproach comes to us for “going forth unto Him,” we should bear it and consider it as great riches. However, we cannot do this in ourselves but in oneness with Him. Our bearing is by praying to Him rather than reacting to another person. We cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us, and He is the meek One who does not react. Therefore, we do not react because we have His meekness (2 Corinthians 10:1). Our considering of the riches may be by prayer but perhaps is better by praising. Our Lord is worthy! We praise Him while, like Moses, looking away to the reward. This reward includes the Lord’s presence in this age, something more in the kingdom age, and New Jerusalem as the ultimate reward.

We Seek the City to Come (1)

In Hebrews 11 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were seeking “the city which has foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.” In Hebrews 13:14 we are seeking the city to come. By such seeking, we are walking “in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Romans 4:12). He was, and we are, seeking New Jerusalem. The way to seek the coming city, New Jerusalem, is illuminated in Hebrews 13:12-14:

Therefore also Jesus, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us therefore go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.

The basis for our seeking is that Jesus died for us and resurrected. Our response is first to “go forth unto Him.” Our going forth began when we first repented, prayed, and asked Him to forgive us and enliven us. Now we should go forth to Him every day, especially beginning our day with Him. Here are simple ways we can go forth to Him every morning in prayer.

Second, we go forth to Him “outside the camp.” The camp mentioned here is where the children of Israel lived. Hence our camp is where we live, where we spend our time. It could be home, school or work, being connected to the internet, or something else. We should have a time with the Lord, preferably early in our day, outside all our human involvements. Lord, attract me to such a time with You every day. Draw me outside my camp to look away from everything to You.

Sing about looking away from everything to Jesus (based on Hebrews 12:1-2 )

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