Glorified with Christ for New Jerusalem (2)

First Corinthians 2:8 says that Jesus Christ, who was crucified, is “the Lord of glory.” He first revealed this glory on the mountain near Caesarea Philippi and will ultimately be glorious in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemColossians 3:4 declares, “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.” This is a promise. Colossians 3:1-3 show us how to reach this climax.

First, in 3:1 we “seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” These things “above” are the unseen, eternal things in Second Corinthians 4. We also set our mind on these things (3:2), including “the Jerusalem above” in Galatians 4:26.

In contrast, we do not set our mind “on the things which are on the earth” (3:2). This is parallel to Romans 8:6, “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” Flesh corresponds with things on the earth and spirit corresponds with things above.

How do we carry this out? Colossians 3:3 reminds us, “you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Our death with Christ and Christ as our life are facts. The experience of these facts is in spirit*.

Our death with Christ saves us from earthly things. Christ as our life supplies us to seek the eternal things above. Living in the spirit is the path to being manifested with Christ in glory and being prepared for New Jerusalem. Lord, grant me more living in spirit to experience You more.

* See Key to Experiencing Christ–the Human Spirit, The.

Come Forward to Grace for New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem

We are in a series of excerpts from an issue of Affirmation & Critique* about New Jerusalem. The prior post is on New Jerusalem as a sign of the consummation of the operation of grace as allegorized in Galatians and Hebrews.

Here is a short supplement to the prior post from the concluding word of that issue of Affirmation & Critique:

Both Galatians and Hebrews are focused on bringing believers back to God’s operation of grace so that they can be built up into God’s corporate expression, which is allegorized as the Jerusalem above in Galatians [4:26] and the heavenly Jerusalem in Hebrews [12:22]. Galatians, Hebrews, and Revelation point to an allegorized city of grace—the Jerusalem above, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the New Jerusalem [Rev. 21:2, 9-11]. Each of these books concludes with the most fitting interpretation of this allegory: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen” (Gal. 6:18), “Grace be with you all. Amen” (Heb. 13:25), and “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen” (Rev. 22:21).

From God’s side, Jesus Christ as grace is with us. From our side, we need to cooperate, as in these verses in Hebrews:
• “Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.” (4:16)
• “Looking carefully lest anyone fall away from the grace of God.” (12:15a)
• “…let us have [or, hold fast to] grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly with piety and fear.” (12:28)

Lord, grant me to find and hold grace today and never to fall away from it. Lord, grace me all the way to 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.

We Have Come to the City of the Living God

New JerusalemThe metaphor in Galatians 4:21-31 tells us that Hagar, Abraham’s maidservant, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, correspond to the Jerusalem on earth and the Jerusalem above; furthermore these represent two covenants, one of law and one of grace.

Hebrews 12:22 says, “You have come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem...” The heavenly Jerusalem here is the Jerusalem above in Galatians 4; both are New Jerusalem.

To come to the new covenant is to come to the New Jerusalem. Without Galatians 4 as a background, it would be very difficult to understand this. Galatians 4 reveals that the mother of the believers, who is the Jerusalem above, the New Jerusalem, is the new covenant of grace symbolized by Sarah. To keep the new covenant is to remain in the New Jerusalem. This indicates that we are not going to the New Jerusalem but that we are in the New Jerusalem already. The tense of the verb in Hebrews 12:22 is the perfect tense, “have come,” not the future tense. We know that we have come to the New Jerusalem because the New Jerusalem is the new covenant. Because we have received the new covenant, we have entered into the New Jerusalem. The receiving of the new covenant is the entering into the New Jerusalem.*

To come to the new covenant is to come to and receive what God gives us in Christ Jesus. This covenant was enacted by Jesus’ death on the cross (Luke 22:20) and Jesus Himself is the surety of this covenant (Hebrews 7:22). To receive the forgiveness of sins and to receive Jesus as our Lord and life is to receive the new covenant; this is also to receive New Jerusalem. To minister the Spirit who gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6) is to minister this better covenant; this is also to minister New Jerusalem.

*An excerpt from Witness Lee, The Conclusion of the New Testament message 255, © by LSM.

Thanks to Jordan Nguyen for the beautiful flowers.

 

New Jerusalem in a Divine Metaphor

Galatians 4:21-31 presents a metaphor in which Hagar, Abraham’s maidservant, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, correspond to the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem. Let’s look at characteristics of the heavenly Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, in this metaphor.

Free: Sarah is the free woman and “the Jerusalem above is free.” Here is real freedom:
• John 8:36 “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.”
• 2 Corinthians 3:17 “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
• Galatians 5:1 “for freedom Christ has set us free.”
• Romans 8:21 “the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
We experience real freedom when we are one with the Triune God. This freedom is “the freedom of the glory” ultimately seen in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemPromise: God promised Isaac (Genesis 17:16-19, 18:10, 14) and Isaac was born as a result of God’s promise. Isaac’s birth was not a result of Abraham and Sarah’s human capabilities for both had become “dead” with respect to having a child (Romans 4:19). New Jerusalem is produced the same way—not by human effort but by God’s operation in humans who are willing to open to Him.

Above: New Jerusalem is not earthly but heavenly. This wonderful city has a heavenly nature because its source and constitution are God.

Mother: The Jerusalem above is allegorically linked to Sarah and to the new covenant. “The Jerusalem above is our mother” indicates that the new covenant is our mother. Our new birth came from and rests upon and in the new covenant established by Jesus Christ.

Spirit: As the human components of New Jerusalem, we are born of the Spirit in our spirit (John 3:6), transformed by the Spirit in our soul (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18), and will be transfigured by the Spirit saturating our body (Romans 8:11, Philippians 3:21).

All of these five characteristics are of the Triune God. None have their source in us. Praise Him that we have such a marvelous gift both now and in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Creation Awaits the Freedom of the Glory

New JerusalemColossians 3:1-2 says we were raised together with Christ and exhorts us to “Seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth.”

Responding to this,
We seek the things above including the Jerusalem above, New Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26).
We live a heavenly life on earth, taking care of earthly needs while minding the things above and having our treasure & our heart in heaven (Matthew 6:20-21).
We realize the answer to the needs of our society is our Lord’s visible return with “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21).

The needs of our society cannot be met by human effort because of the spiritual warfare seen in Ephesians 2:1-3 and 6:10-12. Furthermore, because of sin and death, “creation was made subject to vanity” (Romans 8:20).

However, “the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God” and “the creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19, 21). This is the glory in Colossians 3:4, “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.”

Christ our life is our energy to mind the things above and not mind the things on earth. He is also the glory developing in us. When He is manifested visibly and gloriously (e.g. Matthew 24:30), then He will also be manifested in glory through us. Ultimately the entire New Jerusalem will display this glory (Revelation 21:10-11).

Let us seek Christ as our daily life for the revelation of His glory, for the restoration of all things, and for the advance to the new creation and New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

We Desire and Pursue New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe are seeking the Jerusalem above, longing after the heavenly country with the God-prepared city (Hebrews 11:16), and coming forward to the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). We are not passively waiting for a future New Jerusalem; the living God in us is our present connection to the city.

Our seeking, longing, and coming matches Colossians 3:1-3: “Seek the things which are above….Set your mind on the things which are above….” Because we died with Christ and we now have a heavenly life with Christ in God, Colossians 3 also exhorts us not to set our mind on things which are on the earth.

Believers can take care of their life on earth while having their heart in heaven. But what about the many social needs around us? Whether to get involved or not is between you and the Lord. If He is leading you, your social actions will correspond to Him, including keeping your treasure and heart in heaven (Matthew 6:20-21) and having your mind not on the things which are on the earth (Colossians 3:2).

The real solution to every social problem around us is our Lord’s visible return with “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Some aspects of this restoration are in Isaiah 11:1-10. The Lord’s restoration will be much better than any social action we can accomplish.

The “restoration of all things” will be wonderful, but that is not God’s goal. After the restoration there will still be some judgements to be accomplished in Revelation 20, then there will be new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem as the center in Revelation 21. May we desire and pursue the new creation and New Jerusalem to the extent that this governs our living every day.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

Seek the Heavenly Treasure, New Jerusalem

Colossians 3:1-3 says we were raised together with Christ and therefore exhorts us to:

Seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

treasure New JerusalemOur seeking and setting our mind on what is above include the Jerusalem above, the heavenly Jerusalem, New Jerusalem. Because we died with Christ and we now have a heavenly life with Christ in God, Colossians also exhorts us not to set our mind on things which are on the earth.

Not setting our mind on things on the earth does not mean that we retreat to the desert to live as hermits. In Matthew 24:40-41 the Lord raptures a man working in a field and a woman grinding at a mill. These are believers taking care of necessities of their daily living. However, their mind is not set on their daily living but on the heavenly things of the Lord.

These believers are described in the second half of Matthew 6. They are people whose treasure is not on earth but in heaven causing their heart to be in heaven also (v. 19-21). They love and serve God rather than mammon (v. 24). They are not anxious about food or clothing (v. 25-31). They are seeking the kingdom and righteousness* of their heavenly Father (v. 33).

The heart of such believers is free from anxiety because of prayer and thanksgiving in fellowship with God (Philippians 4:6). By coming to God and pouring out love to Him, they are freed from earthly things, freed to seek and to treasure the Jerusalem which is heavenly and above, New Jerusalem. Lord, cause me to be this kind of believer.

* New Jerusalem is the ultimate manifestation of the kingdom of God and it is the center of the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

We Come Forward to Heavenly Jerusalem

Colossians 3:1 calls us to “seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” We should not wait for New Jerusalem in the future, but long for and seek the “Jerusalem above,” which is the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).

New JerusalemWe correspond to this heavenly* city because we are a heavenly* people:
We have a heavenly Father (Matthew 6:26, 32). We are born of Him and have His heavenly life.
Our God and Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 1:3); these blessings are not physical but include God’s selection and predestination, the Lord’s redemption and abounding grace, and the Spirit as our seal and guarantee (1:4-5, 7-8, 13-14).
We have been transferred from Adam, the earthly man, to Christ the heavenly man to have the heavenly nature and to bear the heavenly image (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
We have been resurrected and seated in a spiritual position “in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
We are “partakers of a heavenly calling” and “have tasted of the heavenly gift” (Hebrews 3:1, 6:4).

May we follow the examples of the people of faith before us to “long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13-16). And, let us “come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22). May New Jerusalem be in our consciousness and seeking every day!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* Heavenly means having a heavenly source, nature, character, and atmosphere. It is not a matter of physical location, whether in the heavens or on earth. The heavenly Jerusalem will still be heavenly in nature, character, and atmosphere after it “comes down out of heaven” (Rev. 21:2).

Seek New Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Above

Everyone who believes into Jesus Christ is united with Him in His death and resurrection. Colossians 2:20-23 speaks of our union with Him in His death. Colossians 3:1-3 speaks of our union with Him in His resurrection, saying

If therefore you were raised together with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

New JerusalemBeing raised with Christ, we should “seek the things which are above.” What are these things? Looking at the Greek word translated above, the primary thing to seek is New Jerusalem. Galatians 4:26 declares, “the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother.”

The “Jerusalem above,” which is the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), will be coming down out of heaven (Revelation 21:2). However, we should not wait until then; we should seek it now. Seek New Jerusalem!

Our seeking is in the eternal life, not in the natural realm. New Jerusalem is a city of life. Further, Galatians 4:26 says this city “is our mother” indicating a life relationship. Galatians 4:29 goes on the speak of New Jerusalem as composed of those born according to the Spirit, a further statement of our life relationship with the city.

How can we seek the Jerusalem above? Colossians 3 says to set our mind on things above, including New Jerusalem. These verses also tell us not to set our mind on things on the earth. Attention to earthly affairs and issues turns us away from the heavenly things. Which are more important to you? to God?

Let us stay “hidden with Christ in God” and seek what is above, what is heavenly in nature, what is eternal. Let us seek 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 by Willis Peterson, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Eternal Bethel, Eternal Mount Zion

Stefan at A God-man in Christ wrote five posts on New Jerusalem last week (Jan. 7-11). This is the second of my two posts with brief excerpts from his.

New Jerusalem is the eternal Bethel, God's Dream

The New Jerusalem is the Eternal Bethel, the Fulfillment of God’s Dream

Did you know that God has a dream? He dreams of being fully joined and mingled with man as one entity to become the New Jerusalem, a built-up city, as the consummation of His economy (Rev. 21:2).

Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:10-22 was a dream of God’s goal, a dream of the house of God. What God desires is not just to have a people who worship Him and obey Him – He desires to have a house, a home, with man and in man, and this home is the church today (1 Tim. 3:15) consummating in the New Jerusalem as the eternal dwelling place of God and His redeemed elect (Rev. 21:3, 22).

The entire Bible expounds and explains what God does to fulfill His dream. God is homeless until He obtains a home in man, and He has no resting place until He gains the church as a built-up Body for Christ, consummating in the New Jerusalem.

Christ came as the heavenly ladder (see John 1:51) to bring God into man and man into God and to join man and God as one. Christ is now the vertical way for people to contact God and for God to visit people and be mingled with man.

What about us? What is our dream? We may have a dream related to the physical and human things, or something related to our career, family, future, etc.

Or, are we looking forward to see God’s dream being fulfilled (see Heb. 11-12)? We have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly New Jerusalem! We are all being cheered to go on and fulfill God’s dream by all the angelic hosts in the heavens, and our dream is to become the New Jerusalem!

Being Produced as Overcomers, the Eternal Mount Zion as the New Jerusalem Today

God’s pleasure, His desire, and His habitation is not only in Jerusalem but more specifically in Zion, the place of His habitation. Zion as the elevated part and the beauty of Jerusalem typifies the overcomers in the church age, who are the God-men perfected and matured (see Rev. 14:1).

The Lord desires to gain some who are overcomers, those who are for the building up of Christ’s Body to consummate the New Jerusalem (Rom. 12:4-5; Eph. 4:16; Rev. 3:12).

How we need to be perfected in our function and matured in our growth in life so that we may be the overcomers in the church today! Let’s come forward to Mount Zion, to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the overcoming Christ today that we may grow in life and be perfected (Heb. 12:2).

We don’t want to be “super-spiritual Christians” who are “above others”; rather, we want to be normal believers who grow in life in a normal way and accomplish the ministry of the church on behalf of the church and one with the Lord.

The overcomers in the church today as Zion are the New Jerusalem in miniature and as a foretaste – Zion is the New Jerusalem and when the New Jerusalem comes, Zion will disappear because the entire New Jerusalem will become Zion!

We all need to pray,

Lord, I want to endeavor to be an overcomer for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ to consummate the New Jerusalem! Lord, as much as it depends on me, I want to give You my best cooperation to be produced as an overcomer as Zion in Jerusalem, for You to gain the New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Jerusalem Above is Our Mother

Galatians 4:21 to 31 is about Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was born according to the flesh but Isaac was born through God’s promise (verse 23). This part of Galatians is not merely historical for Paul says in verse 24 that these things are allegorical. In verse 25 he explains that Hagar symbolizes Mt. Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the physical Jerusalem. In verse 26 he does not continue with the side of the allegory  for Sarah but rather says, “But the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother.” The Jerusalem above is not physical and not earthly. It is the heavenly Jerusalem in Hebrews 12:22.

The heavenly Jerusalem, the Jerusalem above, is the mother of all the New Testament believers. This Jerusalem is alive! This Jerusalem has brought forth many children! This Jerusalem is one with the Spirit of whom we are born in our human spirit (John 3:6). This Jerusalem is spiritual, not physical. This Jerusalem exists now, throughout the entire New Testament age, since she is the mother of all the New Testament believers. The issue of this heavenly Jerusalem above will be eternal New Jerusalem.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and copyrighted 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 copyrighted by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA.

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