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.

The Hope of the Gospel and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemMany aspects of the gospel correspond with characteristics of New Jerusalem. Colossians 1:23 speaks of “the hope of the gospel.” Our hope is not a thing or a success or a position. Ephesians 2:12 says that when we were “apart from Christ” we had no hope. In contrast to this, Christ Himself and all that He will accomplish in us is our hope.

Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ in us is our hope of glory. He was glorified through death and resurrection. Through this He also become our Redeemer and our Life. Now we are being transformed to glory. When we see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27) our mortal body will be conformed to the body of His glory.

The glory which is our hope is not merely an external glory into which we will enter. Rather, it is Christ in us growing/spreading in our being to glorify us with Himself. At His return this hope will be fulfilled.

When Christ comes again, “He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). He will be in glory and will be glorified in the believers at that time, and in the manifestation of His kingdom, and eternally in New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

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 LSM.

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (3)

God created the earth for His purpose. Through all His operation in time, God will gain the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity. But, God did not create the world and there will be no world in eternity!

In the Bible, we find both “earth” and “world.” We might use these two words interchangeably, but in the Bible they are different. A primary Biblical meaning of “world” is an evil system arranged systematically by Satan. All the things on the earth, especially those related to mankind have been systematized by Satan into his kingdom of darkness to occupy people and frustrate them from accomplishing the purpose of God.*

New JerusalemBecause the world is negative, it needs to be judged. Jesus, looking forward to His crucifixion, said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Therefore, we can boast in “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” and by His cross we have been separated from the world. But before believing and receiving Christ Jesus and all He accomplished, we “once walked according to the age of this world” and were people “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:2, 12).

But now, in Christ, we have God and we have hope, even the hope of glory, the hope of participating in New Jerusalem. Through His death and resurrection we have been transferred from the world to God’s purpose for the earth with New Jerusalem as the goal.

* Part of footnote 2 on John 12:31 in the Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry. More about the Biblical meanings of “world.”
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

Glory: the Lord’s Presence Manifested

In recent reading*, I was touched by the question, What is glory of the Lord? The next sentence of my reading gave this answer, It is the presence of the Lord manifested before the eyes of humanity. The glory will be manifested by New Jerusalem, but it was also manifested to people in the past.

Acts 7:2 says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia.” This appearing motivated Abraham to leave his fatherland and follow the Lord to a new place. Lord, motivate us to follow You daily.

The glory also appeared to Israel, when the tabernacle was completed (Exo. 40:35) and at other times (e.g. Exo. 16:10, Lev. 9:23, Num. 14:10). However, many in Israel were obstinate and the manifested glory was sometimes a rebuke to them. Lord, keep our hearts soft toward You.

New JerusalemLater, the glory of the Lord appeared at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:11). In the New Testament the glory was briefly manifested on the mountain (Mark 9:2-3), to Stephen (Acts 7:55), and to Saul (Acts 26:13-15). And the Lord promised that people “will see the Son of Man becoming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

Since Saul’s time, the glory is hidden but we do have the presence of the Lord. The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). He in us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). In spirit we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

He will come to fulfill the hope of glory and to manifest His glory in us (2 Thes. 1:10), in the coming kingdom, and in New Jerusalem.

* Witness LeeThe All-Inclusive Christ, chap. 9, Living Stream Ministry

Posts will resume, Monday, November 27.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe Christian life includes sufferings, but our focus is not on them. Instead, we focus on the unseen, weighty, eternal things including Christ as our hope of glory—the glory of His return and of New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:16-18 says, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.”

Romans 8 is clear that we are children of God growing to be heirs. During this growth we suffer, but not by ourselves. “We suffer with Him.” The result is “we may also be glorified with Him.” May we be filled with the attitude that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory, a glory which concludes with New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:35 asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” Verse 40 answers that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Romans 5 our hope, which is Christ in us, energizes us to pass through sufferings. In Romans 8 love, which is also Christ in us, energizes us. Then Romans 12:12 encourages us to “Rejoice in hope; endure in tribulation; persevere in prayer.” By rejoicing and praying, we contact the Lord, and He supplies us to walk the suffering path to His return, after which we enjoy New Jerusalem.

 

 

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (2)

While the eternal life grows in us and perfects us for New Jerusalem, we also have outward sufferings.

Second Corinthians 4:17 tells us that “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” Our afflictions remind us how much we need the Lord. Sufferings remind us that “should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” The afflictions push us to the Lord, and as He spreads within us, the “eternal weight of glory,” a strong characteristic of New Jerusalem, is developing within us.

With this eternal and glorious view, our attitude about sufferings matches 2 Corinthians 4. “We do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (v. 18). Lord, turn our eyes and thoughts from what is seen to what is unseen!

New JerusalemRomans 5:2 says that we “boast because of the hope of the glory of God.” This hope is not our determination but is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). This includes the Lord’s visible return as “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and culminates in the glory of New Jerusalem.

Romans 5:3 continues “we also boast in our tribulations.” The basis for this boast is a development through a series of steps involving hope, love, and a “much more” salvation in the Lord’s wonderful life
(v. 3-11). This view matches what is in 2 Corinthians 4.

We cannot endure the sufferings/afflictions/tribulations on our own. But Christ is in us! He endured the cross, despising the shame. He is very real, although presently unseen physically. He is our hope of glory, and He will be our glory in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

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.

Great is the Mystery: God in Christ in Us

New JerusalemThe mystery proclaimed by the apostles includes New Jerusalem. Colossians 2:2 tells us that the mystery of God is Christ. The mystery of God is God embodied in Christ to become a God-man who lived among men, died to redeem all men, and rose to impart eternal life into His believers.

However, the mystery of God is not only Christ Himself, but also Christ in us, as in Colossians 1:27, “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This Christ is our hope of glory, the glory that will be fully manifested in New Jerusalem.

God made this mystery known to Paul (Eph. 3:3) because God’s good pleasure is that we all see and enter into this mystery (Eph. 1:9). Therefore, Paul’s ministry was “to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is, which throughout the ages has been hidden in God” (Eph. 3:9).

First Timothy 3:15 says, “great is the mystery of godliness.” This is God incarnated in Christ. It is also Christ entering into us to be our life, to be manifested through us now and much more in eternity.

Ephesians 3:4 and Colossians 4:3 speak of the mystery of Christ. And Ephesians 5, presenting husband and wife as a portrait of Christ and the church, says, “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church” (v. 32).

The mystery of God is Christ, God manifested in flesh. It is also Christ in us, people who were merely flesh until we believed into Him and received His eternal life. This life produces the mystery of Christ, all His believers as members of His one Body. So, God in Christ in the believers to form His mystical Body is the great mystery. Eventually His Body consummates in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the mutual indwelling of the Triune God and His people. Around New Jerusalem on the new earth are the peoples (Rev. 21:3), the nations (Rev. 21:24). Two posts have presented differences between the people who are New Jerusalem and the peoples who are around New Jerusalem ( ).

The most striking distinction is the oneness of all who are in Christ and the plurality of the peoples, the nations.

The nations around New Jerusalem walk by the light of the city (Rev. 21:24). This is a blessing but it is not as high as that of the believers in Jesus Christ, who are the constituents of New Jerusalem and have Jesus Christ within as their light of life (John 1:4, 8:12).

The nations and their kings will bring their glory into New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24, 26). This glory is no doubt very positive since everything on the new earth is wonderful. However, this glory is not as rich nor as outstanding as the glory of Christ in His people. This glory came as “the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4), through which we obtained “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 2:14), which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), and will be consummated when “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10).

Christ as glory in us becomes the glory of New Jerusalem. This glory shines through and out of the city. Because of this shining “the nations will walk by its [New Jerusalem’s] light” (Rev. 21:24).

New Jerusalem: the Glory to be Revealed

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Bible. It is the high point of everything God has done through the ages, especially what the Spirit has wrought within redeemed humanity. This is why we need to be in spirit and on a high mountain to see New Jerusalem.

When John saw New Jerusalem, he was both in spirit and also carried away onto a great and high mountain [Rev. 21:9-10]….New JerusalemWe need to be uplifted to a high mountain that we may see God’s dwelling place for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. In order for John to see the churches, it was sufficient to be on the island of Patmos [Rev. 1:9-12]. But the New Jerusalem is vastly higher than the churches, and in order to see it, John had to be carried to a high mountain. The New Jerusalem is a mountain city, and we must be on a mountain in order to see it. We need to be in the spirit and to get to a high mountain. This is the way to see the vision of the New Jerusalem.*

New Jerusalem is God’s eternal goal. It is also the eternal goal of every one of God’s people. Would you like to know where you are going? In spirit and on a high mountain, we can see the goal.

Remember Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.” And 1 Peter 4:13, “inasmuch as you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice exultingly.”

The present sufferings seem large when we focus on them. But we should look at the coming glory of New Jerusalem and rejoice!

*from Life-Study of Revelation by Witness Lee, © LSM, online reading (chap. 59, sec. 2)

The Merciful and Faithful High Priest  Brings Us Forward to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work and the eternal outcome of His mercy toward us.

God’s New Testament mercy began with the sending of John the Baptist, followed by the appearing of Jesus Christ. He became “a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17)

New JerusalemHebrews 2:5-18 speaks first of the prophecy in Psalm 8 and then about the fulfillment in His becoming such a High Priest. In this fulfillment He destroyed the devil and released us from death. God also subjected all things under His feet. We do not yet see this subjection but we do see Jesus, who was crucified and passed through death, crowned with glory and honor.

Furthermore, Hebrews 2 tells us that as our High Priest, He imparted Himself as life into us to make us individually His brothers and corporately His church. He also sings hymns of praise in our midst to the Father, who is leading many sons into glory. It is very likely that such singing will continue into the next age and into New Jerusalem.

This passage about our High Priest also tells us that God is “leading many sons into glory.” The merciful care for us opened the door for God’s leading us into glory, which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Boast, Rejoice, in Hope of the Glory of God

We had four posts on Christ in us as our hope of glory and on New Jerusalem, the city of glory, as the consummation of our hope. Colossians 1:27 and Revelation 21:10, 11 declare:

Christ in you, the hope of glory

the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God

As a conclusion to the prior posts (one, two, three, four), here are more verses about hope that stood out to me; some were in prior posts, some not. Appreciate:

New Jerusalem God is the God of hope (Romans 15:13)
Christ Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1)
we were regenerated unto a living hope (1 Peter 1:3)
the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:5)
hope is laid up for us in the heavens (Colossians 1:5)
the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:23)
the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
God loves us and gave us good hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
a blessed hope (Titus 2:13)
the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7)

Reading these verses, saying amen to them, and thanking God for them brings us into Romans 15:4, “through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

We can also apply Romans 5:2 and 12:12—we “boast because of the hope of the glory of God” and we “rejoice in hope.” Don’t boast or rejoice in your accomplishments or circumstances; they will change. Rather, boast and rejoice that the glory of the unchanging God will be manifested in us and in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Frank Balthis, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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