We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

#NewJerusalemWe received the Christian life, the divine life, the life of New Jerusalem, at our regeneration. Now we pursue growth in this life that we may reach God’s goal for us. On one hand, God will bring us to this goal. On the other hand, there is need of our pursuing and our laboring in prayer (prior 3 posts).

Hebrews 13:20-21 is on the side that God will do what is needed. “Now the God of peace, He who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of an eternal covenant, perfect you in every good work for the doing of His will, doing in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to Him be the glory forever and ever.”

His doing in us is based on the Lord’s blood shed in His redeeming death. The goal of His doing is eternal glory to Him through New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:1-2 is on the side that we need to cooperate. “Let us…put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…” We follow the example of the Old Testament people of faith, described in Hebrews 11, to put away all hindrances and run the race before us.

Are we able to do this? Not in ourselves! But we “look away unto Jesus!” He attracts us and empowers us to overcome all the distractions and run toward Him with New Jerusalem as the ultimate goal. While we are looking to Him, He perfects our faith, just as He has already authored (initiated) it. Praise Him! Lord, keep me looking away to You!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

#NewJerusalemMany New Testament verses speak about our growth. Growth is needed so that we will mature in the divine life to match New Jerusalem.

First Peter 5:10 says, “But 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.” With our cooperation, God Himself will perfect us. All the sufferings we go through are for our perfecting, for our reaching God’s goal, New Jerusalem.

Paul expresses this cooperation as counting all things loss for the excellency of Christ (Phil. 3:7-8), an excellency fully manifested by New Jerusalem. He sought to gain Christ and be found in Him (3:8-9). He was also pressing onward toward the goal, the fullest experience of Christ, which would prepare him for the prize, New Jerusalem (3:13-14).

When we have a goal different from New Jerusalem, our attitude is not like Paul’s and we try to escape the sufferings and we hold on to all things. But Paul was a person fully for God’s eternal purpose. His desire was to live Christ and magnify Christ whether through life or death (Phil. 1:20-21), whether his outward circumstances were bountiful or pitiful (4:11-12).

On the road to New Jerusalem, outward circumstance do not matter. Our attitude should be, “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” (2 Cor. 4:18). The sufferings are “things seen” but New Jerusalem is among “things not seen.”

Lord, turn my view away from the temporal things to Your eternal things.

Praises in the Book of Revelation (4)

New JerusalemThe final praise I found in Revelation is verse 19:7: “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.” This points directly to New Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb.

In Revelation 21:9-11 the angel showed John the holy city, New Jerusalem, as the bride, the wife of the Lamb, having the glory of God. The bride making herself ready in 19:7 is her seeking and allowing Christ to saturate her so that she expresses Him as the glory of God.

On one hand, this seeking is our responsibility because 19:7 says that we, the wife, made ourself ready. On the other hand, we cannot do anything in ourselves. Our seeking is for the Father to strengthen us through His Spirit so that Christ may make home in our hearts (Eph. 3:14-17). It is also a pursuing of Christ so that He may live in us and be formed in us (Gal. 2:20, 4:19).

We present ourselves, seek, and pursue Christ that we may get ready with Him as our content and expression to match Him and be His wife, New Jerusalem.

Here are more posts about the rejoicing, exulting, glory, and the wife made ready in Revelation 19:7 and the related preparation of the bride in 21:2.
New Jerusalem is Prepared by Our Cooperation with Christ Dwelling in Us
Applying the Lord’s Rich Supply for the Preparation of the Bride
New Jerusalem Prepared as a Bride
Let Us Rejoice & Give the Glory to the Lamb
Rejoice, the Marriage of the Lamb Has Come
Rejoice, Exult for the Marriage of the Lamb
We, the Bride, Make Ourselves Ready
Love the Lord Jesus, Rejoice and Exult
New Jerusalem is Prepared as a Bride
New Jerusalem Prepared, Adorned

Purified for New Jerusalem by Cooperating with the Lord

The Lord Jesus early in the New Testament said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). The New Testament concludes with New Jerusalem, “the city was pure gold” (Rev. 21:18) and in it we “will  see His face” (22:4).

New JerusalemIn ourselves we are not pure* in heart; we need the Lord’s cleansing*! And we can receive His cleansing! He cleansed our hearts in response to our faith and He cleanses us from unrighteousness when we confess our sins. These are two steps toward the purity of New Jerusalem.

We also need an experiential purification of our being. This requires our cooperation with the Lord.

First John 3:3 says, “everyone who has this hope [His second coming, v. 3:2] set on Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” Here to purify ourselves is to abide in Christ by the teaching of the anointing (v. 2:27) and to live Him as our righteousness (v. 2:29).

Our cooperation with the Lord in purifying ourselves is also seen in 2 Timothy 2. “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness” (v. 19b). “If therefore anyone cleanses himself from these [vessels of dishonor, v. 20], he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared unto every good work” (v. 21). “Flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (v. 22).

We can turn from the unrighteous things, respond to the inner anointing, and pursue Christian virtures by calling on the Lord with companions. Thus the Lord will purify us, gradually making our inward nature and condition match the pure gold of New Jerusalem.

*For the verses cited in this post, clean and pure both come from the same New Testament Greek noun and cleanses and purifies both come from the related Greek verb.

Pursue Peace and Oneness

New Jerusalem is a city of peace and a city of oneness. Besides Colossians 3:15 and Ephesians 2:14-15, here are other verses which couple peace and oneness in our current Christian life and point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRomans 14:19 urges us to “pursue the things of peace and the things for building up one another.” We cannot find “oneness” here, but building up is certainly in oneness.

Romans 14 reminds us not to judge or despise any brother in outward Christian practice, “for God has received him” and “we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14). Today this is an exercise for us but in New Jerusalem all outward behavior will be past and we will eternally enjoy God’s receiving and Christ’s Lordship.

Ephesians 4:3 entreats us to be “diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” Our oneness is spiritual; it is “of the Spirit” just as New Jerusalem is spiritual. The uniting bond of peace is the practical safeguard of this oneness.

Whether we have a deep inner peace or not testifies whether we are keeping the oneness. The question is settled not by whether I think I am right or another Christian is (in my view) wrong, nor by whether I am happy with a situation or not; the peace of Christ is the determinant.

In Colossians 3, “forgiving one another, if anyone should have a complaint against anyone; even as the Lord forgave you, so also should you forgive” (v. 13) is a key to “let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts” (v. 15). Complaints do not guide us to peace but forgiveness does. Thank the Lord that He has forgiven us and is ready to forgive any sin we confess.

Lord Jesus, supply us daily to live in Your peace and to be full of forgiveness. This will be our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem

For more on the sense of peace,see chapter 11 in Basic Lessons on Life.

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. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

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

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.

Pursue Now, unto New Jerusalem

New JerusalemA recent post encourages us to
Pursue the Incorruptible New Jerusalem
I am convinced that we should do this, although this phrase is not explicitly in the Bible.

While praying on the phone with a brother, he touched 2 Timothy 2:22, which is about pursuing. That motivated me to look at New Testament verses on pursuing and how the objectives pursed relate to New Jerusalem. Here are the verses which touched me.

Romans 14:19 exhorts us to “pursue the things of peace and the things for building up one another.” First Peter 3:11 also urges us to pursue peace. Pursuing peace is certainly related to New Jerusalem because the name Jerusalem means “foundation of peace” (one two). Building up is a central feature of the New Testament (e.g. 1 Cor 3:6-12, Eph. 2:19-22, 4:15-16, 1 Peter 2:4-5) and New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s NT building.

First Corinthians 14:1 charges us to “pursue love, and desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Love is not mentioned in the description of New Jerusalem but the God who is love is on the throne at the center of the city. How does prophesying relate? He who prophesies builds up (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12).

In Philippians 3:12, 14 Paul tells us that he was pursuing toward the goal. He was such an advanced Christian by that time, yet he still pursued because there is always more of the unlimited Christ to be gained. His goal was to gain Christ, be found in Christ, know Christ experientially, to attain to the out-resurrection, and to lay hold of Christ (3:9-12). New Jerusalem will be the fulness of all these aspirations.

Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to “pursue peace with all men and sanctification.” Peace is as in Romans 14:19.  The ultimate stage of *sanctification is the “holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2, 10).

Lord, draw us to pursue You every day as our peace, our love, our building up, our sanctification, our goal all the way to New Jerusalem.

* The Greek words translated sanctification and holy are very similar. The apparent difference in English is that one word comes from a Latin root and the other from an Anglo-Saxon root.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Endeavoring to Experience New Jerusalem

In July of this year I presented portions about New Jerusalem from the Fall 2012 issue of Affirmation & Critique. That issue focused on New Jerusalem. The Spring 2013 issue focused on the One New Man (Eph. 2:15, Col. 3:9-11). One article in the spring issue is The Consummation of the New Man: The New Jerusalem by David Yoon. This begins,

The progressive accomplishment of the divine economy in God’s move among humanity is revealed in four significant expressions used in Paul’s Epistles: the first man [created], the old man [fallen], the second man [Jesus Christ], and the new man [His Body] (1 Cor. 15:47; Eph. 4:22, 24).

The majority of this article looks in detail and with many Bible verses at “The Correspondence between the Characteristics of the New Man and the Features of the New Jerusalem.”

New JerusalemBoth the new man and the New Jerusalem are a composition of God’s sons, the product of God’s grace unto His glory, the expression of God’s glory, the expression of God’s righteousness and holiness, the means of God’s administration, a composition of the Jewish and Gentile believers, a corporate entity characterized by peace and oneness, and the masterpiece of God. If we see the correlation between the new man and the New Jerusalem, our stance toward the New Jerusalem will not be passive—one of merely waiting to go someday to a physical city. Instead, by the grace of God we will adopt an active attitude, endeavoring to experience the spiritual realities of the new man throughout our Christian life.

Such an attitude and pursuit on our part matches the closing of Peter’s second epistle. Here, speaking of the change from the old creation to the new (3:10-13), he says, “what kind of persons ought you to be in holy manner of life and godliness, expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God.” Hence, we should live a holy life by living Christ as our holiness to hasten the judgment day of God. This day will bring in the new creation of which the center is New Jerusalem.

* Affirmation & Critique is a Christian Journal published twice a year, © by Living Stream Ministry. 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. Fall 2012 Spring 2013

We Pursue toward the Goal to Gain Christ

New JerusalemGod has already prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16). This is New Jerusalem. At present we can have a spiritual foretaste of New Jerusalem but we do not have a full realization of it.

The foretaste combined with the lack of full realization should motivate us to rise up and pursue. “We are not of those who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39). Rather, as Paul said, “I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

What then should we pursue? Jesus Christ!!  Paul’s pursuing in Philippians 3:12 is defined in prior verses: “that I may gain Christ” (v. 8) and “to know Him” (v. 10).

We have Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and our Life. Yet we still should pursue to have increasing realization and experience of Him. A song based on Philippians 3:10-14 begins,

__Press on, press on toward the goal—
____The all-inclusive Christ.
__To gain the prize of God’s high call,
____Press on, press on to Christ!

May the words of this song be our attitude, our aspiration. The fuller our realization of Jesus Christ, the more we will taste the reality of New Jerusalem. Let us be encouraged by the Lord’s word in Philippians and by its expression in this song.

__Press on, press on, this one thing do,
____Forget the things behind;
__Press onward to the Christ before,
____Press onward with this mind!

Let us pursue, let us press on, to the fullest gaining and knowing of Jesus Christ. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

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.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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

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