Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemOur Christian life is a time for our growth and perfecting in this life so that we may match New Jerusalem.

In Luke 6 the Lord spoke quite a while about the proper living standard of His disciples. In verse 40 He said, “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who has been perfected will be like his teacher.” He is indicating that He expects us to be perfected.

We must be perfected to match the perfection of New Jerusalem, but how? Part of the answer is in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The divine life of our heavenly Father, growing in us, enables us to be perfected.

Similarly, the Lord prayed in John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” He is “the life” and He is in all His believers. This is how we can be “perfected into one” and perfected in any other way. Thank You Lord that You have become our life to work in us and perfect us.

This perfection into one is also the oneness in Ephesians 4:13, the oneness of New Jerusalem. This eternal city has one throne, one street, one river, one light; it is the perfection of oneness, the final answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

Second Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Here it seems that we are doing the perfecting work. However, in ourselves we cannot do it, but “the fear of God” indicates our cooperation with Jesus Christ as the perfecting life in us. This perfecting causes us to match New Jerusalem, the holy city (Rev. 21:2, 10).

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is Heavenly on Earth (2)

Hebrews 11:16 tells us that the Old Testament people of faith, living on the physical earth, “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.” We likewise live in an earthly environment but should have the same longing for a heavenly one.

#NewJerusalemGod’s response to our longing is that He has prepared a heavenly city. This is “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). Although it is a heavenly city, John saw it “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2, 10). New Jerusalem is a heavenly city on earth.

The first half of Hebrews 8 tells us that the Old Testament tabernacle was a shadow of the heavenly things (v. 5). Both this chapter and the following one speak of the Holy of Holies. Verse 9:8 says that “the way of the Holy of Holies has not yet been manifested while the first tabernacle still has its standing.”

That “first tabernacle” stood during the first, the old, covenant. Now that Jesus Christ has come, died, and risen, the new covenant has been established and the way to the holy of holies is open. This New Testament holy of holies is the heavenly one, the New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the heavenly holy of holies because it is a cube, like the smaller holy of holies in the tabernacle and the temple. Revelation 21:16 declares that New Jerusalem is a cube, saying, “the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”

The way to this heavenly holy of holies is open! Jesus Christ has opened the way for us! We cannot see the way physically but we can come forward in faith. Hebrews 10:22: “Let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith;” our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots (2)

God chose us in eternity past to “be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 1:4) and in eternity future New Jerusalem, the holy city, will be holy and without blemish.

The prior post presents the Lord’s work to make us without blemish. In addition to the verses there, Colossians 1:22 says, “He now has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and without reproach before Him.” His death, for our reconciliation, has the goal of New Jerusalem holy and without blemish.

New JerusalemDespite what He has accomplished, we should not wait passively. Philippians 2 exhorts us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (v. 12). We work by cooperating with God who operates within us (v. 13).

By this cooperation, we will be without murmurings and reasonings (v. 14), “that you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (v. 15). In this shining we present the word of life to worldly people (v. 16).

Our cooperation with God’s operation in us causes us to be without fallen humanity’s blemishes and with divine shining as channels for the word of life, that God’s salvation might reach people in this crooked generation.

Peter, based on our expectation of the new creation with New Jerusalem, exhorts us “be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish” (2 Peter 3:14).

In Revelation 14:1-5 we see overcomers, firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Part of their description is that they “are without blemish.” Surely these overcomers lived according to the exhortations in Philippians 2 and 2 Peter 3. Not only are they without negative blemishes, they are also singing a heavenly song of praise, a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nick Pitsas, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (2)

New Jerusalem is the living city of the living God. This city is composed of the living God Himself and all His redeemed, enlivened, and glorified people.

In Revelation 20:9 New Jerusalem is named “the beloved city.”

Psalm 46:4 tells us that “There is a river whose streams gladden the city of God.” This is the river of water of life, which flows out of the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemPsalm 48 gives us a broader preview of New Jerusalem. It begins, “Great is Jehovah, and much to be praised in the city of our God.” We should praise God now and certainly will praise Him in New Jerusalem.

Verse 2 declares, “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” New Jerusalem, the city of the great King, is elevated, beautiful, and provides joy to the whole earth.

In verse 8 the psalmist writes, “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of Jehovah of hosts, in the city of our God. God will establish her forever.” O Lord, we want to see more and hear more about the city of our God.

Psalm 87:3 tells us “Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.” Because New Jerusalem is a city of glory, glorious things should be, and are, spoken about her. This verse in Psalm 87 is the basis for a hymn.

New Jerusalem is eternal. Current cities are not eternal. Hence Hebrews 13:14 testifies, “we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.” May we seek our God and His eternal city every day, declaring that our current outward city is not our permanent home!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   19-20 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

Revelation 19 concludes with the victory of the Lamb and the army with Him (v. 19-21). The beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire and their followers are killed by the sharp sword out of the mouth of Him who is the Word of God. The same Word both nourishes us and slays God’s enemies. How marvelous.

New JerusalemRevelation 20 begins with the devil, Satan, being cast into and locked in the abyss (v. 1-3). Thus the whole earth is cleaned up by Jesus Christ, the One on the white horse, He who is Faithful and True, the Word of God, the King of Kings. Praise Him!

With this cleansing the millennial kingdom comes to the whole earth and New Jerusalem follows.

Revelation 20:6 declares, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

The characteristics of the millennium in this verse have many parallels with New Jerusalem. “Blessed and holy”—The Triune God is Our Blessing in Revelation 22:3-5, and we will all be holy to match the holy nature of that city.

The partakers of the blessing are in resurrection here, and New Jerusalem is A City in Resurrection. Death has no power here and there will be Neither Sin nor Death in New Jerusalem. Here the partakers are priests and reign with God and Christ. In New Jerusalem we will continue as Priests and Kings in God’s Plan.

All of these blessings come from God through Jesus Christ. Praise Him!

The blessings in Revelation 20 are for a thousand years and the richer blessings in New Jerusalem are for eternity.

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.

No Lie, No Falsehood, in New Jerusalem

The devil has no part in New Jerusalem nor in the entire new creation because he has been cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

The devil is the father of lies, the source of lies is his nature, and in him is only falsehood, no reality (John 8:44). This is a total contrast to Jesus Christ who is the reality (John 14:6), the expression of God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

New JerusalemThe truth has come to us in word of the truth of the gospel (Eph. 1:13, Col. 1:5). By our receiving this word of truth, the Spirit as the anointing entered into us.

Now the Spirit of reality is living in us, anointing us with the reality. This anointing “is true and is not a lie, and even as it has taught you, abide in Him” (1 John 2:27). When we abide in the Lord, we abide in the reality, the truth; here there is no lie, no falsehood. This is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 14:1-5, 144,000 are on the heavenly mount Zion with the Lamb. Verse 5: “And in their mouth no lie was found; they are without blemish.” “No lie” indicates nothing of the devil is with them.

Furthermore, they are without blemish. They have been washed by the Lord with the water in His living word (Eph. 5:26-27). This washing not only eliminates blemishes, all of which originated with the devil. The washing also imparts the Lord’s holiness so that we “would be holy and without blemish.”

The holiness matches the holy city, New Jerusalem. The city is not merely without lies, falsehoods, and blemishes. Much more, New Jerusalem is saturated with God’s holiness and glory to express God.

Here is a summary of all posts about what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Not Outside of New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:15 says, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and makes a lie.” Outside means outside the city, New Jerusalem, in verse 14.

Where is this outside location? Revelation 21:8 tells us, “The cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters and all the false, their part will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

New JerusalemAll of these negatives are outside because New Jerusalem is holy (Rev. 21:2), pure (21:18, 21), bright and clean (19:8). We might think that we are clean, but we are not clean up to the standard of New Jerusalem.

Only God is holy, pure, bright, and clean. Thank Him that He has come to us in Christ Jesus. Now we can repent and receive Christ. Furthermore, every day we can confess our sins and He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We are also clean by letting the Lord’s word come to us (John 15:3), pure by His working within us (Phil. 1:6, 10) and by obedience to the truth and brotherly love (1 Peter 1:22), and bright by taking our Lord Jesus as the bright One (Rev. 22:16).

God in Christ becomes our holiness to constitute us part of the holy city, New Jerusalem. Our Lord Jesus establishes our hearts “blameless in holiness” (1 Thes. 3:13) and our Father disciplines us “that we might partake of His holiness” (Heb. 12;10). And Christ is sanctifying the church, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word so that the church will be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:26-27).

We praise and thank our Lord Jesus Christ that He is the One who qualifies us to be in New Jerusalem, the holy, pure, bright, and clean city.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Bible: a Journey from Garden of Eden to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem

The whole Bible is a journey from God’s creation and the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1–2) to God’s consumma-tion centered on New Jerusalem (Revelation 21–22).

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem

Psalms with a Shadow of New Jerusalem

In the Psalms there are five crucial words: law, Christ, house, city, earth. With our New Testament view, we know that Christ has replaced the law (Rom. 7:4, 10:4, Gal. 2:16). Christ is presented by many verses in Psalms which are quoted and applied to Him in the New Testament.

Christ comes into us at regeneration and grows within us. This growth yields God’s house, God’s dwelling place, the church—portrayed by the temple in the Psalms. Further strengthening of Christ in us brings forth God’s kingdom—depicted by the city of Jerusalem in the Psalms. Eventually through the kingdom, God in Christ rules over the whole earth.

New Jerusalem

The four words Christ, house, city, earth were the focus of a conference published in the book Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms. During the conference a theme song (words and music) was written; the first lines of each stanza are: 
__
We from the law to Christ have turned
___Christ brings us to God’s house to dwell
____The house enlarged the city is
_____From Zion Christ will take the earth
______Christ—house—the city—earth, we see;
______Thus God’s great plan fulfilled will be.
Complete stanzas of the song will appear in coming posts.

In a recent reading of Psalms and the Life-Study of Psalms, I saw many verses comparable to or shadows of characteristics of New Jerusalem. In this series of posts I present some verses from Psalms with few comments about their correspondence to New Jerusalem.

In brief, God in Christ is on the throne (Rev. 22:1) as the center of New Jerusalem. God and the Lamb are the temple (Rev. 21:22), equivalent to the house in Psalms. New Jerusalem is a city (Rev. 21:2), the heavenly counterpart on earth of the earthly Jerusalem in Psalms. From New Jerusalem God in Christ rules over the entire new earth.

 

I Saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem

The Fall 2012 issue of Affirmation & Critique* focuses on New Jerusalem. Beginning with this post, I will present an excerpt from each article in this publication. What I present is only a brief nugget, not a summary of the article; the whole can be read online.

The title of the first article includes John’s words from Revelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” “I Saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem”—the Vision of the New Jerusalem as a Corporate God-man (by Ron Kangas).

Just as Christ the Redeemer is not literally a lamb with seven physical eyes (5:6), the New Jerusalem is not a literal city but a sign of the glorious fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose, according to the desire of His heart, to have a corporate expression of Himself in Christ as the firstborn Son and the believers in Christ as the many sons.

New JerusalemJohn the Baptist “saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). This is a reference to the Old Testament sacrifices. Those physical lambs served as a figure, a portrait, of Jesus Christ as the real Lamb of God.

John the apostle saw “a Lamb standing as having just been slain.” Here, as in John 1, the Lamb is not a literal animal, but a symbol of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this Lamb has “seven eyes” which are not literal but “are the seven Spirits of God” (Revelation 5:6).

Spiritual symbolism permeates Revelation. New Jerusalem is a symbol. New Jerusalem is not a physical city because it is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9-10). The Lamb is God, who put on humanity. The Lamb’s wife is humanity who has received divine life. May the Lord give us such a revelation of New Jerusalem.

* Affirmation & Critique is a Christian Journal published twice a year and available online. It presents Bible truths in a scholarly manner, with references to and citations from a variety of publications by authors over the entire Christian era. Affirmation & Critique exhibits much appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ and our life with Him. The Fall 2012 issue (Vol. XVII, No. 2) focuses on New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

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.

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