Betrothed to Christ as a Pure Virgin for New Jerusalem

Two thousand years ago John saw “New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” John had been carried away in spirit to have this eternal view, unlimited by time*. In our human life in time, we need to cooperate with the Spirit for the preparation of the bride by the growth, perfecting, and renewing in Ephesians and Colossians.

Another aspect of the preparation of the bride is in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with a jealousy of God; for I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” For this, Paul urges us to stay with “the simplicity and the purity toward Christ” (v. 3). We hold to the Jesus we received, the Spirit who regenerated us, and the gospel presented to us in the Bible (v. 4).

New JerusalemMatthew 5 also speaks of the pure in heart. To be pure in heart is to be single in purpose, to have the single goal of accomplishing God’s will for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). Ultimately the goal and the glory are New Jerusalem.

Our pure heart is also in 2 Timothy 2:22, “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” A pure heart is a single heart without mixture, a heart that seeks only the Lord and takes the Lord as the unique goal.

Lord, draw us daily to Yourself as our unique goal to purify us unto New Jerusalem.


Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* More on seeing New Jerusalem in spirit:
See New Jerusalem with a Spirit of Faith
In Spirit to See and Enter New Jerusalem

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (3)

New JerusalemIn Matthew 25 the Lord spoke a parable about a wedding feast. When the bridegroom came, those who were ready went in with him to the feast. This parable is a picture of the real wedding feast, with the Lord as our Bridegroom and New Jerusalem as His bride, who has made herself ready.

Those who were ready were filled with the Spirit. Those who were not allowed to enter had little of the Spirit. We should not think that those excluded from the feast were not believers. Look at the ten virgins in Matthew 25; both wise and foolish:
• all are virgins (v.1); unbelievers are not virgins in the Lord’s view;
• all went forth to meet the bridegroom (v. 1); unbelievers don’t do this
• all responded to the cry to go forth (v. 6-7); unbelievers won’t do this
• the foolish had lamps that were lit (v. 8); the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord
(Prov. 20:27), their spirit being “lit” indicates it was enlivened by the Spirit;
• the foolish called the bridegroom Lord (v. 11); unbelievers don’t do this.

The conclusion of the parable is “Watch therefore” (v. 13). Watch, pray, let the Spirit fill us. “Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth” (Col. 3:2). “Do not be drunk with wine [neither physically nor with worldly pursuits], …but be filled in spirit” (Eph. 5:18). We don’t wait passively for New Jerusalem; we pursue now to be filled and ready for the wedding feast!

Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

The Narrow Way unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 7:14: “Narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life.” We have this life today through regeneration. We take the narrow, constricted way now to New Jerusalemthe fuller joy of this life in the mani­­festation of the kingdom and to the fullest joy in New Jerusalem.

The narrowness and the constriction correspond with taking up our cross daily and denying our self, our soul life. The narrow, constricted way does not accommodate self-indulgence, selfishness, selfish ambition, self-love, self-will, seeking gain through base means, seeking our own things (even if good), nor apparently good things like self-chosen lowliness.*

In contrast, a walk on the constricted way is to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteous­ness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Our fleeing is our denying. Righteousness, faith, love, and peace are all Christ Himself supplying us to bear our cross on the constricted way.

Similarly 1 Timothy 6 speaks of things that cannot come through the narrow gate, such as pride, contentiousness, envy, strife, slanders, and love of money. Verse 6:11 then tells us that to be “a man of God” on the constricted way, we need to flee all the selfish things “and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness.” All of these virtues are Christ Himself as our life in resurrection and all will continue on the constricted way unto New Jerusalem.

*All these “self” characteristics are from New Testament verses.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (8)

New JerusalemThe Lord Jesus denied himself, living the Father’s life on earth and finally going through death and entering into resurrection.

We follow Him on this path to New Jerusalem by denying ourself to apply His death to all our natural life so that His eternal life can flourish in us.

To deny the self requires constant exercise. Even toward the end of Paul’s Christian life, he was exercised to gain and know more of Christ and to be conformed to His death. The enabler for this lifelong exercise is “the power of His resurrection.”

 With Christ, the sufferings and death came first, followed by the resurrection; with us, the power of His resurrection comes first, followed by the participation in His sufferings and conformity to His death. We first receive the power of His resurrection; then by this power we are enabled to participate in His sufferings and live a crucified life in conformity to His death.*

Lord Jesus, keep me daily in the power of Your resurrection so that I may be conformed to Your death.

The conformity to the death of Christ (Phil. 3:10) is followed by the longing for the participation in the resurrection at the Lord’s return (3:11). This will bring our entire being—spirit, soul, and body—into resurrection to participate in the kingdom age and onward to New Jerusalem. To reach this goal requires our cooperation, our pursuing (3:12-14).

Part of footnote 3 on Phil. 3:10 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

A Personal Testimony (2018)

I wrote my first Personal Testimony post in May 2014, a month after my wife died. I wrote a second Personal Testimony a year later. Now it is four years since her death and I have the feeling to write again.

I continue to love the Lord Jesus, read His word, have frequent fellowship with believers, teach in a Bible school, and participate in the Lord’s work. And I keep writing this blog about New Jerusalem.

The New Testament views death as sleep, from which the Lord will awaken us.* “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Resurrection is our hope for all who are or will be asleep in the Lord.

But I am not passively waiting for that resurrection. Paul, in the last years of his Christian life, said that he had not yet attained to the goal, but he pursued (Phil. 3:12-14). I am surely further from the goal than he was, so I pursue, “forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before.”

To forget the things behind is not to despise all that the Lord has done with us. Rather, it is to clear the path so that He can do more and become fresh and richer to us. Every day or every week we should realize more of Him as everything to us. Lord, bring me onward with Yourself! This is our goal today, and our ultimate goal is New Jerusalem.

Here is a song based on Philippians 3 about pursuing Christ.

* For example, Matthew 9:23-25, 27:50-53; John 11:11-13; Acts 7:60; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15

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.

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