We Serve as Priests, Now + New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe description of life in New Jerusalem includes, “And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him” as priests (Rev. 22:3). Several NT verses speak of our serving as priests also in the present age.

We might feel unqualified to serve, but God in Christ has done everything needed to qualify us. He “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6). He did this by dying to redeem us and resurrecting to enliven us.

Hebrews 9:14 proclaims, “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?” This is the redeeming aspect. We apply this in our Christian life by confessing our sins (1 John 1:9).

In Hebrews 12 Jesus is “the Author (Originator) and Perfecter (Completer) of our faith.” This is the life aspect. We serve God as redeemed people by His divine life and supplied by His grace. We need to repent of our unqualified feeling. Then we put away every encumbrance and look away [from ourselves] to Jesus (12:1-2)!

As we look away from self to Jesus, we are kept in the grace of God (12:15). We have already “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (12:22). Outwardly things may be in disarray but “receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly with piety and fear” (12:28). This is our foretaste of serving God as priests in New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Grace to Us is the Conclusion of the Bible

New JerusalemThe Bible concludes, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”

Grace is Jesus Christ Himself for us to love, value, appreciate, and enjoy. Grace came to mankind when God incarnated in Jesus. “Grace and reality came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) This grace is much more than God doing us a favor.

This grace can be manifested through our enjoyment of Christ. By grace we are justified freely, we reign in life, we are gifted to participate in the functioning of His Body, we labor for the Lord, we give monetary gifts, we bear sufferings, we will display God’s surpassing riches of His grace, we sing to God, we receive eternal comfort and good hope, we are supplied with faith and love, and our hearts are confirmed.*

Revelation concludes, as many epistles open and conclude, with this wish of grace to all of us. Saints does not mean a few special people; it refers to all who believe into Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2). This concluding blessing sums up the Lord’s desire to be our center and our enjoyment so that He could enliven us for the preparation of His bride and the coming of New Jerusalem.


*Verses for this paragraph: Acts 11:23, Rom. 3:24, 5:17, 8:3, 1 Cor. 15:10, 2 Cor. 8:1-7, 12:7-9,
Eph. 2:7, Col. 3:16, 2 Thes. 2:16, 1 Tim. 1:14, Heb. 13:9.

The Riches of God’s Grace in New Jerusalem

Ephesians 2:5-6 says that God made us alive together with Christ, raised us up together with Him, and seated us in the heavenlies in Him, so that (v. 7) “He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

In verse 7 ages is plural, so it refers to both the coming age and eternity. Thus, verse 7 tells us something about New Jerusalem. This verse says God will display. New Jerusalem will be a display of the unlimited riches of God.

New JerusalemVerse 7 also uses the word surpassing. It does not tell us what will be surpassed but the whole of Ephesians presents an unlimited Triune God. What He will display will surpass everything we have seen or imagined.

Then the word riches. It is plural. God is not merely rich in grace; His grace has multiple aspects of richness. How many aspects we cannot guess. Even now we can receive “grace upon grace” (John 1:16)—grace in multiple layers.

The surpassing riches are of His grace. This grace comes to us in Christ Jesus and is Christ Jesus Himself (John 1:14, 17). This grace comes in kindness. We do not deserve the surpassing riches of His grace, but because God loves us and is merciful to us, this grace abounds to us. Thank Him for His great mercy!

This surpassingly rich grace comes to us in Christ Jesus. He is the realm for all God’s blessings to us. All the surpassing riches of New Jerusalem will be in Him and displayed through Him.

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.

“And…And” Points to New Jerusalem

Many verses in Revelation 19—20 begin “And” linking praises, judgments, the marriage of the Lamb, His victories, and the kingdom with “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem” at the start of chapter 21.

New JerusalemThe way to see New Jerusalem is in 21:10: “And he [an angel] carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem.” And couples this with the angels having the last plagues (v. 9), indicating that the plagues are a base for brining in New Jerusalem.

The description of the city in 21:11-23 has multiple ands because the city is one whole entity. Verses 21:24-26 each begin And, showing that the nations around New Jerusalem are coupled to it although not integral parts of it.

But Revelation 21 is not complete; 22 begins ” And he showed me a river of water of life…” Then 22:2: “And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life…” The description of the city in 21:11-23 is not complete without the life supply flowing from the throne brining us the tree of life with its fruits. The outcome of this life supply is described in 22:3-5, each of which begins “And.”

After the description of life in New Jerusalem we read, “And he [the angel] said to me, These words are faithful and true…” (v. 6). Then the Lord speaks “And behold, I come quickly.” (v. 7). The Lord’s second coming is not separate from New Jerusalem but rather is tied to it.

A few more verses begin with And, then Revelation concludes, ” The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem Comes from Divine Riches and is Without Human Poverty (2)

God’s goal is not to solve problems related to human poverty. His goal is to display His unsearchable divine riches in New Jerusalem. As a side effect, these riches overcome our poverty.

Colossians 2:2 tells us that believers “hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the full knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ.” God’s desire is not a minimal nor even an adequate understanding to compensate for our shortage; His desire is a rich, full understanding, especially to know Christ as the embodiment of all that God is.

New JerusalemThis knitting together in love and unto all the riches is for the Body of Christ (Col. 2:19) as a forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:7 declares that the result of God’s work with us is “that He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” In the future, including New Jerusalem, God will not display how much He saved us from. His goal in saving us is to display the riches of His grace.

Colossians 1:27 declares that “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Again, God’s will is not so low as to merely end poverty. His will is to make know His glory, even the riches of His glory.

This glory is God in Christ. Now Christ is in us, so the glory is in us. This glory is not yet manifested but it is our present hope, which will be fulfilled in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

See also No Money in New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem, the Fullness of God

Colossians 1:19 declares that in Christ “all the fullness was pleased to dwell.” This fullness is the expression of all the riches of God.* Colossians 2:9 says “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” By incarnation, all the fullness of the Godhead is in the God-man Jesus Christ.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:22-23 go further, saying that the church, the Body of Christ is “the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” Not only Christ Himself, but now in resurrection also the Body composed of all His believers, is the fullness. The corporate Body will become the corporate New Jerusalem, so New Jerusalem will be the fullness of God.

The Body is the fullness because “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Ephesians 1 is a prayer for revelation that we might see all that God has operated in Christ unto the church. This is somewhat objective. Receiving grace upon grace is definitely subjective. This grace constitutes the church as the fullness in reality, preparing us for New Jerusalem.

We receive grace and we minister grace to one another, that we may be “good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). For this ministry the members of the Body specially gifted by the Head (Eph. 4:11) labor to perfect all of us “unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ” (4:12). This building of the Body is also the preparation of the bride (in Eph. 5), which becomes New Jerusalem.

Our ministry (Eph. 4:12) results in all arriving at the practical oneness, “at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The goal of our Christian growth is the fullness of Christ, His Body now and New Jerusalem in the future.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

* See this footnote on Col. 1:19 in the Online Recovery Version NT.

To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever (2)

The phrase “Glory to our God and Father forever and ever,” found in many New Testament books, points to the eternal New Jerusalem which has the glory of God. The prior post looked at Paul’s epistles and Revelation 1.

New JerusalemFirst Peter twice ascribes both glory and might to God. In both portions Peter links present grace with eternal glory.

First Peter 4:10-11: “Each one, as he has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves as good stewards of the varied grace of God….that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.”

Here Peter reminds us that every believer has been gifted. Each gift is a manifestation of the Spirit who regenerated us and is now operating within us. Based on this inner moving, we should minister the Spirit to one another for the building up of the Body of Christ. The Body, as the forerunner of New Jerusalem, is New Jerusalem’s precursor in glorifying God.

First Peter 5:10-11: “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. To Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.

Here Peter tells us that the God of all grace has called us into His eternal glory; that is, He has called us into New Jerusalem. Now He is gracing us in our sufferings to perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground us that His glory may be displayed through us.

To the God of all grace be the glory and the might now and in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Ephesians 4:16 also speaks about the functioning of every believer for building up.

God’s Purpose Surpasses Our Need

This is the second post with verses that say according to God’s will/purpose/pleasure… which far exceed our will/purpose/pleasure. Because everything of God is consummated at the end of the Bible, all these phrases point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:9: “Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself.” God’s will is according to His good pleasure, not for the common pleasures sought by humans. When we are one with Him, we partake of His pleasure and He becomes our satisfaction. In New Jerusalem we will fully participate in and fully be satisfied by God’s good pleasure.

Ephesians 1:11: “In whom [Christ] also we were designated as an inheritance, having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” In Ephesians 1:7 we were predestinated according to the good pleasure of His will in this verse according to the counsel of His will. God’s will, pleasure, and counsel far exceed ours. Thank Him for bringing us to Himself!

Ephesians 1:19: “And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength.” Ephesians 1:15 begins a prayer that the Father of glory would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may see many things of His economy. This portion of the prayer covers his power, might, and strength, which are surpassing. They are so excellent, so high, because God’s goal, New Jerusalem, is so excellent.

Ephesians 3:7: “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God which was given to me according to the operation of His power.” Paul was a minister not according to His own ability and learning but according to the operation of God’s power. This divine enabling is required to minister the outstanding and excellent things of God.

Father, give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation to see more of Your will, Your good pleasure, Your purpose, and Your power. Show us how all of these constitute us with You into New Jerusalem.

Faith & Grace Bring Us to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem Romans 4:16: “the inheritance is out of faith that it might be according to grace.” We inherit a foretaste in this age, much more in the kingdom age, and the utmost in New Jerusalem. This verse shows that faith and grace are keys to our inheriting.

Romans 4 makes much use of the example of Abraham. Hebrews 11 also includes him in the discourse on faith. By faith Abraham “eagerly waited for the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (v. 10). This clearly points to New Jerusalem, the city which has foundations (Rev. 21:19).

Are we eagerly waiting for New Jerusalem? Or is our eagerness toward a human achievement, a human honor, greater income, a nicer home, or a special vacation? Lord, have mercy on us; align our eagerness with that of the faith people of Hebrews 11.

Romans 3:23-24 say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Because we were sinners, we were separated from glory and couldn’t inherit anything of God, including New Jerusalem, the city full of the glory of God. But by grace we have been justified by the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus through His death, which qualifies us to inherit.

Romans 3 and 4 strongly declare that works, human effort according to the law, is not the way to inherit from God. God’s way is by faith and by grace. Faith and grace carry us to New Jerusalem.

Neither faith nor grace originate with us. Peter says that God has allotted faith to us (2 Peter 1:1). Paul says the grace of God was given to us (1 Cor. 1:4). God’s eternal plan, expressed in His creation (Gen. 1:26), is to have a corporate man to express Him. For this, God wants us to be part of New Jerusalem, and to make this possible He has provided faith and grace. Thank Him!

Photo courtesy of US Forest Service.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (2)

Ephesians 1:3-14 presents our God and Father’s spiritual blessings to us. These blessings all point toward His glory which ultimately is manifested in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:5 speaks of, “Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” God predestinated us in eternity past according to His eternal purpose for His eternal consummation.

Our predestination is “unto sonship”—we become sons of God with His eternal life (John 6:47) and His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This life brings us partici-pation in the city of life, New Jerusalem, a composition of all God’s sons. This is the good pleasure of God’s will.

Ephesians 1:6 tells us that God’s blessings in verses 4 and 5 are, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He graced us in the Beloved.” We benefit from all these blessings, but their goal is praise to God.

The praise is not directly to God but praise to the glory of His grace. Glory is God expressed. God’s desire is to express Himself through man. Thus He created man in His image (Gen. 1:26) so that man could be His vessel to contain Him for His expression. God’s desire is to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23).

Grace is God in Christ enjoyed by man. The result of this enjoyment is visible. Barnabas came from Jerusalem to Antioch and “saw the grace of God” (Acts 11:23). What he saw is being multiplied in many believers in many cities to produce the ultimate expression of God’s grace in New Jerusalem. Grace, God enjoyed by all His people, is expressed in New Jerusalem’s glory (Rev. 21:11), resulting in eternal praise to the glory of His grace.

New Jerusalem Prepared, Adorned

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

What is the adorning of New Jerusalem? Let us ask the Bible, putting aside any natural ideas. The first use of adorn in the New Testament is Matthew 23:29, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build up the graves of the prophets and adorn the tombs of the righteous.” Any outward adornment without inner reality is hypocrisy; surely this is not New Jerusalem.

Next, Luke 21:5 says that “the temple…was adorned with beautiful stones and consecrated offerings.” In the following verse the Lord says this will be torn down; clearly this outward adorning was not precious to God.

Thirdly, 1 Timothy 2:9 instructs “that women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Again, adorning (both in this age and for New Jerusalem) is not something outward but rather inward virtues. First Peter 3:3 is the same.

Titus 2:9-10 exhorts “slaves to be subject to their own masters in all things, to be well pleasing, not contradicting, not pilfering, but showing all good faithfulness that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior God in all things.” This teaching, which is with grace (v. 11), should soak into our inner being to become our pleasantness and faithfulness and wash us from arguments and greed. This is an adorning for which the Lord looks. First Peter 3:5 is comparable.

These verses tell us that the adorning of New Jerusalem is inward, not outward. The next post will look more specifically at what constitutes the adorning of New Jerusalem.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

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