According to God’s Purpose, Grace, Mercy

New JerusalemThis post has more verses with the pattern according to God’s…everything. God’s ways and His acts are marvelous and culminate in New Jerusalem.

Colossians 1:29: “For which also I labor, struggling according to His operation which operates in me in power.” Paul labored much, but not by his own effort. His labor was according to the Lord’s operation in him. This is the Lord Jesus, carrying out, through faithful believers, His declaration in Matthew 16, “I will build My church.”

2 Timothy 1:9: “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages.” God’s calling of us, like so many other steps He takes, is according to His own purpose. This calling is also according to His grace, His coming to us to be experienced by us.

Titus 3:5: “Not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:3 describes us as “…once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving as slaves various lusts and pleasures…” As such we were not qualified for God’s purpose and had no share in New Jerusalem. But when the kindness and love of God appeared (Titus 3:4), He saved us according to His mercy.

Hebrews 2:4: “…distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His will.” Likewise, we were not qualified to receive the Holy Spirit, but, based on His mercy, God gave the Spirit according to His will. In ourselves we are not suitable for New Jerusalem because of God’s mercy the Spirit will constitute us for this city.

Thanks be to our God and Father for His rich provision.

Christ as the Riches in Christian Life

God’s unsearchable riches will be displayed through New Jerusalem. These riches are not only for New Jerusalem; they are for us to experience in our Christian life now.

New JerusalemGod’s rich mercy and kindness brought salvation to us. And the Holy Spirit has been “poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). By this Spirit in us we have a daily renewing.

As the Spirit imparts the riches of Christ into us, our hearts are “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” (Col. 2:2). Like prior verses, here we see that there is no separating the riches from the Person of Christ.

We can also “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). This dwelling helps, and is helped by, “singing with grace in your hearts to God.” Even in New Jerusalem, Christ, the living Word, will be dwelling in us. I believe that in New Jerusalem we will still be singing with grace to God. Besides singing now, it is also good to pray and praise with the word.

Furthermore, we can call on the name of the Lord. Whether almost silently or very loudly, we can call O Lord Jesus. “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).

All these Christian practices keep us holding our Head, Christ, and growing up into Him. This bring us to the building up of the Body of Christ by the rich supply out from Him (Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19). This present, living building up is for New Jerusalem, God’s eternal building.

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 outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

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Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (7)

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God the Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” Verses 4 to 14 describe these blessings. Because they all result in the praise of God’s glory, and because God’s glory is manifested in New Jerusalem, these blessings point toward and prepare the way for New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit “is the pledge of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” The pledge is the guarantee, keeping us for God “unto the redemption.” The redemption here is not the forgiveness of sins in verse 7 but is the redemption of our mortal body, as in Romans 8:23.

Philippians 3:21 says that our Lord Jesus Christ “will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory.” Here also the blessings in Ephesians 1 (in this case the redemption of the acquired possession) conclude with glory, thus corresponding with New Jerusalem.

The blessings in Ephesians 1 are in three sections, the doings of the three of the Triune God. The first, verses 4 to 6, is of God the Father, and concludes

to the praise of the glory of His grace

The second section, verses 7 to 12, begins with the Son’s redemption and concludes

to the praise of His glory

The third section, verses 13 to 14, is about the Spirit’s work in us and concludes

to the praise of His glory

These spiritual blessings of the Triune God go from eternity before creation, through the present age, to eternity of the new creation with New Jerusalem, the city

having the glory of God

Praise our wonderful God, “who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

New Jerusalem

Prior posts focused on Ephesians 1:3-41:5-61:7-9a1:9b-101:11-12, and 1:13-14a.

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God’s Mercy Points toward New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work. His plan in eternity past and His doings through the ages all conclude with this wonderful city shining with His glory.

New JerusalemBecause all men are in sin, there is a big chasm between us and God. Despite this separation, God’s mercy reaches us. Mercy brings us to a place where we can receive what we are not qualified for and what we do not deserve.

Mercy reaches us not only because of God’s love but also because God’s eternal intention is to involve man in the accomplishing of His plan. This intention was first stated at the creation of man in Genesis 1:26-28. This post is the first in a short look at mercy as an element of the pathway to New Jerusalem.

The coming of John the Baptist opened the New Testament. When it was time for him to be born, “her [his mother’s] neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had magnified His mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her” (Luke 1:58).

John’s father Zachariah, full of the Holy Spirit, said about John “you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the merciful compassions of our God, in which the rising sun will visit us from on high” (Luke 1:76-78).

Zachariah’s words show us that both John’s preparing of the way of the Lord and the coming of the Lord Jesus (the rising sun) are “because of the merciful compassions of our God.” Thank God for this merciful beginning on the New Testament road to New Jerusalem.

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

God Chose Us unto Sanctification

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2). God has given Jesus Christ to us as our holiness objectively. Now He is sanctifying us subjectively, experientially, while we cooperate by pursuing holiness.

Do not get discouraged by looking at your condition. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul declares, “we ought to thank God always concerning you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” God’s choosing includes the sanctification of the Spirit.

Thank God always. Paul had to write some words to the Thessalonians to adjust their Christian living. However, the faults in their condition were subordinate to God’s choosing them unto salvation in sanctification, so Paul could thank God.

Neither be discouraged by the outward environment. Hebrews 12 speaks of the discipline of children by earthly fathers and by our heavenly Father. Verse 10 says, “For they disciplined for a few days as it seemed good to them; but He, for what is profitable that we might partake of His holiness.”

Whatever outward discipline comes to us is in His sovereignty. The goal of the environmental discipline is that “we might partake of His holiness.”  This prepares us to participate in the holiness of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem, as the holy city, is the consummation of all the holiness in the Bible. We will be there. God chose us to be holy, called us with a holy calling, regenerated us and sealed us with the Holy Spirit, put us into Christ who is our sanctification, and is experientially sanctifying us for New Jerusalem. Thank God always.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Jesus Christ is Our Sanctification

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2, 10) and Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God. When we receive Him, His holiness becomes ours, which enables us to participate in the holy city.

First Peter 1:2 says that we were “Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in the sanctification* of the Spirit unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” This is the Triune God’s operation. The Father chose us in eternity past. The Spirit sanctified* us, separating us from all else to bring us to Jesus Christ in order that we could obey Him and receive forgiveness of sins based on His blood shed in death.

As a result of our response to the Spirit’s sanctification, 1 Corinthians 1:30 declares that of God we “are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” It is of God, not of ourselves, that we are in Christ Jesus. And, since we are in Him, He is our sanctification, our holiness. He is the source, we are not. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 1:31 says, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.”

Because our sanctification of from Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ, we are saints. We are saints in Him, not in our natural being. Romans (1:6-7) was written to those in Rome called by Jesus Christ, the called saints. Ephesians (1:1) was addressed to the saints in Ephesus and Philippians (1:1) to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.

Our holy position in Christ and our status as saints (sanctified people) in Him are because God’s operation put us on the path to the holy city New Jerusalem. Our position and status today match New Jerusalem!

* Although the English words holy/holiness (from Anglo-Saxon) and sanctify/sanctification (from Latin) seem very different, they are translations of closely related New Testament Greek words.

Jesus Christ, the Holy One, Makes Us Holy

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2, 10) and it is the consummation of all the holiness in the Bible.

God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt to be His holy nation. However, they did not remain with God in their hearts. Jeremiah 2:3 says, “Israel was holiness to Jehovah” and the whole chapter speaks of their failures. God’s answer was to promise a new covenant in Jeremiah 31.

The new covenant was prepared by the coming of Jesus Christ. He was “begotten of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20) and was holy in His birth (Luke 1:35). He is “the Holy One” in His human living (John 6:69), in His death and resurrection (Acts 3:14), and in His ascension (Revelation 3:7). He is also God’s “holy Servant” (Acts 4:27).

In Psalm 16:10 David foretold that God would not allow His Holy One to see corruption. Peter applied this word to Jesus in Acts 2:27 and Paul applied this word to Jesus in Acts 13:35. Both spoke this concerning the resurrection of Jesus, that He was not left in the tomb. Both before and after death and resurrection Jesus is “the Holy One.”

In Jesus, the holy God came into humanity. This is a big step toward New Jerusalem. In resurrection He can become our life so that we may partake of His holiness. This prepares us to participate in the holy city Jerusalem.

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