New Jerusalem, City of the Living God

New JerusalemRevelation 21–22 presents a vision of the holy city, New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven to the new earth. Let’s look at descriptions of this holy city in other books of the Bible.

Hebrews 12:22 speaks of “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The living God desires a living city composed of all His redeemed and regenerated people.

When we are made alive with the divine life in regeneration, we become “sons of the living God” (Rom. 9:26) to be “the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:6) and “the house of God, the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). These consummate in New Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

Revelation 21:23 says of New Jerusalem, “the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” This combination of city and light reminds me of Matthew 5:14-16. Verse 14 says, “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” Although New Jerusalem is not said to be “upon a mountain,” it will be very prominent in the new creation, in no way hidden.

 Today the kingdom people, with Christ shining within us, are the light to the fallen world. In eternity we, built into the city with Christ continuing to shine within us, will enlighten the new creation.

Hebrews 12 presents the city of the living God. Hebrews 11 also speaks about New Jerusalem: “the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (v. 10) and “He [God] has prepared a city for them [the people of faith]” (v. 16).

Here are some prior posts about the God-prepared city in Hebrews 11.
We Enter New Jerusalem by Faith
Enter into What God Has Prepared
God Has Prepared the City, But …
God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Pursue now, unto New Jerusalem (2)

Our present New Testament pursuing includes peace, love, sanctification, and building up (verses in prior post). All of these point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAdditionally, 2 Timothy 2:22 entreats us to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Our pursuing of righteousness is our pursuing of Christ because God has made Him righteousness to us (1 Cor. 1:30).

“We are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Not only New Jerusalem, but also the entire new universe will be characterized by righteousness. Furthermore, Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.” Ultimately the throne is in New Jerusalem from which the living water flows for eternity (Rev. 22:1).

We also pursue faith. This faith is our conviction of things not seen, including New Jerusalem, the city with foundations toward which Abraham looked (Heb. 11:1, 10, 16). We pursue peace too, which comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (start of Rom., 1&2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil) and is called “the peace of Christ” in Colossians 3:15. Additionally we pursue love, the love which is of God (Rom. 5:5) and is God Himself (1 John 4:16).

All our pursuing (and our fleeing also) is “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” To call on the Lord is to cry out to Him. This is an audible calling, as in Acts 7:59, and 9:14, 21. Here is much more on the Biblical history of calling on the name of the Lord. Given this long history, it is likely that even in New Jerusalem we will call on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Lord, bring me into the practice of 2 Timothy 2:22. Give me calling companions with whom I can call on You and pursue You as my righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

More: Discovering the Indwelling Christ as the Spirit by Calling on Him at Holding to Truth.

Forget What is Behind, Seek New Jerusalem

New JerusalemJesus Christ died to redeem and purchase for God “men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:5-9). In His death He created “in Himself one new man” (Eph. 2:15). And, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free” (1 Cor. 12:13).

The Body of Christ is the new man and will consummate in New Jerusalem. Here there are no national distinctions, no racial differences, no social classes, but

Christ is all and in all.”

The new man is the reality of the longing of Old Testament people of faith. Hebrews 11:14-16 says of them, “they seek after a country of their own. And if indeed they continued to remember that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return; but as it is, they long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

Because of their absoluteness, Hebrews 11 continues “Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” This city is New Jerusalem, where we will be with all of them. In our Christian life, may we enter fully into the absolute seeking of this “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1).

Lord save us from any remembrance of the country (or race or social status or language) from which we came out. Lord save us from any opportunity to return, and keep us always seeking the better country. Lord, every day give us a longing for New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.


The Bible charges us to obey the government (1 Peter 2:13-14). Therefore we should obey distinctions which the government makes (e.g. citizen, non-citizen) but we should not bring these into our Christian life and our Christian fellowship.

 

New Jerusalem, a Revelation in Spirit

Recent posts present steps in our Christian journey to get to the high mountain to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). How long will this journey take? The Bible does not say.

New JerusalemThe length of the journey depends both on the Lord’s mercy and on our cooperation along the way. Do not be discouraged by failures. In the Old Testament picture Israel had complaints and resistance along the way. Nevertheless, God brought them to the mountain because that was His intention to fulfill His purpose.

When Israel began walking after eating the passover lamb (a picture of Christ— 1 Cor. 5:7) they had no idea how long it would take to get to the mountain. Likewise, we have no idea when we will be “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). We are journeying like Abraham, who “being called, obeyed to go out…not knowing where he was going” nor when he would arrive (Heb. 11:8).

God had promised to bring Israel to the mountain (Exo. 3:12) and He did it. Since there is also a New Testament mountain, surely there is also a New Testament promise.

The key to seeing New Jerusalem is our human spirit. The Holy Spirit is involved in the vision in oneness with our spirit. We are one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), and the Spirit witnesses with our human spirit (Rom. 8:16). If we are in the flesh, the Holy Spirit remains in us but cannot live or work in us. May we let the Spirit dwell in us, live in us, be active in us. There is no other way to see New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

We Enter New Jerusalem by Faith

New JerusalemGod has prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16), who are people of faith (the subject of Hebrews 11). This city is New Jerusalem. And, by faith we  “have come forward to…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).

God has prepared New Jerusalem. We do not see the city with our eyes but “faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

This faith does not come from our determination. This faith does not come from convincing ourselves. Faith comes from God:

Acts 14:27  “God opened a door of faith.”
Romans 10:17  “Faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
2 Peter 1:1  “Simon Peter…to those who have been allotted faith equally precious as ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

We have faith because God has allotted it to us. In 2 Peter 1:1 many English translations say that we have received/obtained like precious faith. It does not originate in us; God allotted faith to us and we received it from God.

Other verses speak of our faith and indicate that we do need to exercise faith. True! But we must remember that “our faith” does not originate with us.

By this faith we give attention to the unseen, eternal things. By faith come forward to and substantiate New Jerusalem.

Enter into What God Has Prepared

God has prepared New Jerusalem for all the people of faith (Hebrews 11:16). Spiritually, we have come forward to this heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22). However, God must do a work in us before we can fully enter into this marvelous city.

New JerusalemGod’s work in us, after our initial salvation, includes growing (1 Corin-thians 3:6), renewing (Ephesians 4:23), sanctifying (Hebrews 2:11), transforming (2 Corinthians 3:18), and building (Ephesians 2:21-22).

God desires to work in us and we need to cooperate with Him. By cooperating, we enter into what He has prepared, including New Jerusalem.

Acts 14:22 tells us that “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” God arranges whichever tribulations are necessary. His intention is not our suffering but our entering.

Likewise, 1 Peter 1:3-9 tells us that we have been regenerated unto a living hope, unto an inheritance kept in the heavens and unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. These verses also say that we might be sorrowful under trials but that these are for the proving of our faith.

And, Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we will receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Similarly, 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” Verse 18 then encourages us not to focus on the temporary, visible things but on the eternal, invisible things.

Let us go on by faith, not dragged down by the environment, keeping our spiritual eyes on the eternal glory of New Jerusalem.

Forgetting, Stretching, Pursuing

New JerusalemGod has already prepared a city for His people—“He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). This is New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:22 says further that we “have come forward to…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Our coming forward is by faith.

God has prepared and we have come forward. So why don’t we see New Jerusalem? Why aren’t we fully conscious of it? Prior posts (one two) responded to this question.

Although God has prepared the city, it has not been manifested. This absence should motivate us to pursue, to come forward, not to relax, not to be passive. This is Paul’s attitude in Philippians 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal…”

Paul received much revelation and grace from the Lord. Yet, he did not boast in that. Nor did he count that as sufficient. Rather, he pursued. The Lord is ever new, ever fresh, ever unfolding His riches. We need not fear dropping the past because there will always be something more of Him before us.

May the attitude and desire expressed in Philippians 3 be infused into us! May we all be saved from passivity. Let us pursue more of the Lord daily. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo by Willem van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia

God Has Prepared the City, But …

We are in a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem. Hebrews 11 speaks about people of faith. Regarding Abraham and his descendants it says, “they long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (v. 16).

New JerusalemThis verse says that God has already prepared the city of New Jerusalem. This is the city which has foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God (v. 10).

But … why don’t we see the city? It is because we are stuck in time. God (and what God does) is eternal, outside the limitations and sequential order of time.

But … why don’t we see the city? It is also because we are partially stuck in the old creation. One part of our being—our human spirit—has been born of the Spirit (John 3:6). This is wonderful. Thank the Lord for this!

Another part—our mind—is being transformed by renewing (Romans 12:2) indicating that our mind is old, separated from the newness of God. And Philippians 3:21 speaks of a third part of our being as “the body of our humiliation” because sin dwells in it (Romans 7:14-18).

What should we do? One answer is in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18. These verses say that whenever our heart turns to the Lord the veil—anything of time and the old creation which separates us from the Lord—is taken away. Then the Lord, the Spirit transforms us.

This transformation is “from glory to glory” taking us toward the ultimate glory of New Jerusalem.

Read more about the three parts of man, their condition, and God’s salvation or watch a 5 min video.

Earth rise from Apollo 11 in lunar orbit, photo courtesy of NASA.

God Operates and We Cooperate (2)

New JerusalemThe Bible affirms that God prepared the city of New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16). This city is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:2). The Bible also affirms that the bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:7).

We, the bride, get ready by cooperating with God’s operation. An example of this cooperation is in 1 Corinthians 3. In verses 6-7 Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. So then neither is he who plants anything nor he who waters, but God who causes the growth.”

On one hand neither Paul nor Apollos is anything. On the other hand, they need to plant and water so that God can give the growth. In verse 9 Paul says, “we are God’s fellow workers.” This is cooperation with God’s operation to give growth. The same principle applies to the preparation of the bride, New Jerusalem.

Here is a good post about being saved in the midst of the daily necessities and troubles in our environment: the Supply for Your Daily Salvation. By this supply we cooperate with God and thus participate in the preparation of the bride, New Jerusalem.

Photo by Scott Bauer, courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

God Operates and We Cooperate

New JerusalemThe city New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (Revelation 21:2, 9-10). The Bible affirms both that God prepared the city (Hebrews 11:16) and that the bride made herself ready (Revelation 19:7).

God has prepared! Thank Him! Now we must get ourselves ready. However, in ourselves, we cannot get ourselves ready. We get ready by cooperating with God’s operation in us.

Here are two examples of God’s operation and our cooperation:
• Philippians 2:12-13 exhorts us “even as you have always obeyed…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.” Because God is operating in us, we can work out our salvation by obeying His operation in us. (read more)
• Romans 10:12-13 promises, “the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him; for ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” There is no doubt that the Lord is rich in Himself, but these riches are imparted only to those who will call upon His name. (read more)

We are those engaged to Christ, to become New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, and we should maintain our simplicity and purity toward Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). This simplicity is well expressed in a song which begins
__Simply loving everyday;
____Loving through a stormy way,
__Even when my faith is small,
____Loving Jesus, that is all.

May we be those who love the Lord Jesus Christ every day from now until New Jerusalem appears.

We, the Bride, Make Ourselves Ready

New JerusalemHebrews 11, speaking of Abraham and his faithful descendants says in verse 16, “they long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

This prepared city is New Jerusalem, which John saw “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). And Revelation 19:7 announces “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

God prepared the city New Jerusalem, the city is the bride, the bride made herself ready. Does God do the preparation or do we get ourselves ready? Both!

This is an example of “seemingly opposing truths” in the Word of God. Consider*:
• Due to the infinite wisdom and unsearchable richness of God, we must accept from Him what, to us mortals, may seem contradictory.
• Which are we to believe of the two statements? Both! The same God who spoke one spoke the other also. It is enough that the Word of God distinctly affirms both.
• Both are to be received whether we can reconcile them or no. Their claim on our reception is not that we can unite them, but that God has testified both.

God does the preparation and we cooperate with Him to get ready. There is no problem with God’s side of the preparation but we need His mercy for diligence with our side. Lord, we give ourselves to get ready as Your bride, New Jerusalem. Lord, be merciful to us and grant us grace to carry out our responsibility.

Related posts: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!   The Twofoldness of Divine Truth

*These quotes are from the booklet “The Twofoldness of Divine Truth,” by Robert Govett, a Christian who lived in England 1813 to 1901. My copy is undated, from Christian Publications Inc., Harrisburg PA.

Photo by Willen van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia, www.scienceimage.csiro.au.

God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing (2)

New JerusalemHebrews 11:16, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says God “has prepared a city for them.” If God has already prepared the city, why don’t we have any realization of it?

The answer has two parts. One is that God’s view is eternal (prior post), outside of our temporal limitations. The other is that we are gradually growing into what He has done. New Jerusalem has not yet been manifested, but we can grow into some realization of it now.

In regeneration we received the divine life and became children of God. Now we need to grow. As we grow we realize and experience more of what God has prepared and provided for us. Here are some paths for our growth:

• First Peter 2:2 tells us to “long for/desire the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation.” Longing/desiring indicate we should not be passive.
• Hebrews 5 and 1 Corinthians 3 also couple milk and solid food with spiritual growth.
• Colossians 1:5-10 speaks of the word of the truth of the gospel which causes us to know the grace of God in truth. This, coupled with prayer that we “may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”, results in our walking worthily, bearing fruit, and growing.

The main lesson here is that we have to come, with prayer, to the Bible for nourishment, not merely for knowledge. We should pray for increased spiritual hunger and increased spiritual thirst. Pray this chorus:
__Feed me, Lord Jesus, give me to drink,
____Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst;
__Flood me with joy, be the strength of my life,
____Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst.
Even better, pray all the words of this hymn (words, music).

Our spiritual eating and drinking will bring forth spiritual growth including an increased realization and appreciation of New Jerusalem.

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