God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (6)

God created the earth and man for His purpose. Man was deceived by Satan and captured by the world, but God in Christ saved us. The world was judged and will be totally eliminated and God will gain a new earth with New Jerusalem for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.

New JerusalemIn Christ we are not of the world, but the world remains around us and attracts the fallen portion of our being. We need to cooperate with the regenerated part of our being to overcome the world.

Like James, John warns us about the world, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him; because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

John also encourages us, “And the world is passing away, and its lust, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (v. 17). Our secret to overcoming the world is to love the Father to let Him energize us to do His will. Then we “abide forever,” being in New Jerusalem.

First John 2:17 is similar to the Lord’s word in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” Again, our love is the key. Then the Father and Son can be active within us and their presence will save us from the attractions of the world.

Father, I love You! Lord Jesus, I love You! Strengthen Your abode within me now and unto New Jerusalem!

Bible verses are quoted 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.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (2)

In eternity, in New Jerusalem, we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). Before that time the Lord has promised, that in resurrection, we will behold Him and we will live (John 14:19).

New JerusalemOur present beholding is spiritual. We behold the Lord in spirit because the Spirit of reality is in us. In contrast, the unbelievers cannot behold Him because this Spirit is not in them (John 14:17).

Shortly before His death, looking forward to His resurrection, the Lord said, “A little while and you no longer behold Me, and again a little while and you will see Me” (John 16:16). While He was in the tomb, the disciples dd not behold Him, but after three days they saw Him again.

Their seeing of the Lord in resurrection was physical and spiritual. However, their physical seeing was intermittent and short-lived. But their, and our, spiritual seeing is permanent, continuing into New Jerusalem.

The disciples were confused about the Lord’s word, so He explained. He told them “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (John 16:22). This inward joy is a proof that we are seeing the Lord spiritually. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not physically recognize the Lord, but they testified “Was not our heart burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32)

Certainly in New Jerusalem there will be a greater, clearer beholding of the Lord, along with greater joy. The Lord has promised that no one takes this joy away from us, but we need to pray, Lord, keep me in resurrection beholding You, that I may experience this joy.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Now and New Jerusalem: Behold His Face

New JerusalemRevelation 22:3-4 says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him; and they will see His face.”

Seeing the face of God and the Lamb will be an eternal blessing, and a foretaste is available now for those who seek Him. First Corinthians 13:12: “now we see in a mirror obscurely, but at that time face to face.” After the Lord’s visible return to earth, in the kingdom age and in eternity, we will see God’s face clearly.

Today we see “obscurely.” Yet, we will look at many verses about seeing the Lord’s face now, a preview of Revelation 22:4’s word about New Jerusalem.

“Jesus cried out and said, He who believes into Me does not believe into Me, but into Him who sent Me; and he who beholds Me beholds Him who sent Me.” (John 12:44-45) In this word, beholding the Lord follows believing into Him.

In John 14:19 He said, “Yet a little while and the world beholds Me no longer, but you behold Me; because I live, you also shall live.” This beholding is in the realm of resurrection. It is a result of the Lord’s death and resurrection, and by our believing, that we enter this realm, we live (with His eternal life), and we behold the Lord.

Beholding the Lord in resurrection is much more than physically seeing the Lord during His time on earth. The same will be true in New Jerusalem, even though we expect also to see Him physically from the time of His second coming.

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.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: Dwell and Serve in God

New JerusalemThe New Testament has a living temple— God Himself and all His people. Eventually this temple will be New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament times, before our redemption and regeneration, this living temple was portrayed by a physical temple.

Revelation 7:14-15 says, “These are those who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits upon the throne will tabernacle over them.”

Revelation 7 is a view of life in the coming age and eternity. In this picture God’s redeemed people “serve Him day and night in His temple.” yet Revelation 21:22 tells us that John “saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

We who will serve in the temple will serve in God, the living temple. And we will dwell in Him. And be “before the throne” in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3), supplied to serve by the flow from this throne (22:1-2).

This is New Jerusalem: we dwell in God, God dwells in us, God supplies us, and we serve God in God! Very much like the Lord’s word in John 14:20-23—we are in Him, He is in us, we love Him, the Father loves us, and He and the Father make a dwelling with us. When we love Him we are surely willing to serve, and we serve Him while dwelling in Him, in the living temple.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The New Testament Temple is Living (5)

New Testament worship is in spirit (John 4:24). It is not dependent on a physical location nor a material building. The New Testament temple is a living temple, from the Lord’s incarnation onward to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn John 2, Jesus is the temple, in 1 and 2 Corinthians and Ephesians we are the temple, and in Revelation 21 the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple. Is this living temple the Triune God or His people? Both!

This corresponds with the Lord’s word in John 14:20. We are in the Triune God and the Triune God is in us. Thus the Triune God is the temple and we also are the temple.

This also corresponds with the epistles: we are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1, 1 Cor. 1:30) and He is in us (Rom. 8:10, Col. 1:27). We are one with Him in life, so we are one with Him to be the living temple and to be New Jerusalem.

In New Testament Greek two words are translated “temple.” In the verses in these “living temple” posts, the Greek word means the inner temple, the holy place and holy of holies, not including the surrounding structures and courtyards. This inner area is only for the priests, and today we are priests. “Jesus Christ…loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

We are priests serving in spirit, in the living temple, fulfilling the Lord’s word in John 4:24. We will be the same in New Jerusalem. Revelation 22:3 says, “His slaves will serve Him.” The word “serve” means to serve as priests. In New Jerusalem God and the Lamb are the living temple and we are the priests serving God and the Lamb.

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

The Church: Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is the household of the living God and the Body of Christ. Both of these aspects of the church present to us the reality of New Jerusalem. The city is God’s eternal home in His millions of people, and these people are built together in His life just as the Body of Christ is one living entity.

Continuing to look at the nature of the church as a forerunner of New Jerusalem, we read, “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:1, 2 Thes. 1:1). The church is “the church of God” (multiple verses) and the church is also “of human beings.” However, these humans are not natural, in Adam, but regenerated, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonians, and all believers, are in God and the Lord by God’s action. “Of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:29-30). This is what the Lord promised earlier, in John 14. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (v. 20). “That day” is the day in which He became our life in resurrection (v. 19).

John 14:20 presents a coinherence: we are in God by being in Christ and God in Christ is in us. The church is both “of God” (as in Acts 20:28) and “of the believers” (as in 1 Thes. 1:1). Likewise New Jerusalem is composed of the Triune God in all His people and all His people in the Triune God.

New Jerusalem, like the church, is much higher, much more mysterious, much more marvelous than a physical city; it is a composition of the Triune God and His people living in oneness.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (5)

Revelation 21:3 declares, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [New Jerusalem] is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” This is wonderful. However, while the peoples around New Jerusalem have God as their God, they do not have Him as their Father. They do not have the divine life which incorporates people into New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRegarding these peoples, Revelation 21:3 promises, “God Himself will be with them.” We could say, God will be their neighbor and they will be God’s neighbors. This is wonderful, but it is far short of the condition of the people built into New Jerusalem.

Unlike the peoples (plural) as neighbors around New Jerusalem, the people (singular) in New Jerusalem live in God and God lives in them. The source of this mutual indwelling is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In John 14:20, speaking about resurrection, He assures us, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

Besides this verse in John, many verses in the epistles speak of Christ in us; examples are “Christ is in you” (Rom. 8:10) and “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27); also look at this Bibles for America post.

Christ is in us and we are in Christ; examples are “of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30) and “You are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Being in Christ and having Christ in us is the essence of New Jerusalem, a blessing much higher than being around New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (4)

New Jerusalem is composed the Triune God and the people who are one with God, who have God in Christ as their life and everything. Other peoples, the nations, live around New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3, 24-26).

Revelation 21:3 has the declaration, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” This is a wonderful verse, but it also highlights a difference between the people constituted into New Jerusalem and the peoples living around it.

The difference is “God.” God is both the God of people built into New Jerusalem and the God of the peoples around the city. In contrast, God is the Father of those in New Jerusalem but not the Father of those around it.

New JerusalemIn the Lord’s resurrection, we were regenerated (1 Peter 1:3) and received the divine life. Thus our God became our Father. This is why on the day of resurrection (John 20:17) the Lord could say, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”

Jesus, speaking about resurrection, also said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him” (John 14:23). And, “because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6).

Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. Also, the second verse of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians speak of “our Father.” God is our Father and His divine and eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem, is our life. By and in this life we are part of, rather than around New Jerusalem.

 

 

New Jerusalem: God’s House Becomes a City

“The house of God is the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15), a house which will be enlarged to be the city of the living God, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe common New Testament Greek word for house, oikos (οικος), is in 1 Timothy 3:15. This word can mean both the dwelling place and the dwellers. Both uses are in Acts 11:13-14. Cornelius “saw the angel standing in his house and saying, Send men to Joppa and send for Simon, who is surnamed Peter, who will speak words to you by which you shall be saved, you and all your house.”

Both uses are also in Acts 16:15, “when she [Lydia] was baptized, as well as her household, she entreated us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide.” Other verses where oikos clearly means the people, the dwellers:
• Acts 18:8, “Crispus…believed in the Lord with his whole household
• 1 Corinthians 1:16, “And I did baptize the household of Stephanas”
• Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah…prepared an ark for the salvation of his house
• 1 Peter 2:5, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house

The convergence of house and household, dwelling and dwellers, is the New Testament reality. We, God’s household, the members of His family, are also His house, His dwelling place. He lives in us and we live in Him (John 14:20). This is true both now and in New Jerusalem.

As 1 Peter 2:5 says, there is a spiritual building work in progress now. The consummation of this building will be New Jerusalem. Today we, God’s New Testament people, are His house, His household, His dwelling place. In eternity New Jerusalem, including all God’s people, will be His city, His household, His dwelling place.

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New Jerusalem is the Consummation of All the New Testament Blessings

New Jerusalem

At a recent college students’ conference in Texas the general topic was The Overview of God’s Economy. The last message was
___The New Jerusalem as the Ultimate Consummation of God’s Purpose.
In the conference, we saw that the New Jerusalem is NOT a physical, material city.
• Revelation 1:1, “The revelation of Jesus Christ….He made it known by signs.”
Revelation has many signs—the lampstands, the Lamb, the Lion of Judah, the universal woman, the dragon, etc. The New Jerusalem is a sign. This wonderful city IS:

1. The consummation of the Divine Romance in the Bible*
• Isa. 54:5a, “For your Maker is your husband; Jehovah of hosts is His name.”
• Rev. 21:2,  “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
According to the entire Bible, God the creator is male and His chosen, redeemed, transformed, glorified people are female, and there is a divine romance between them. At the end of the Revelation, God is the husband and His people are the wife to match God.

2. The consummation of God’s Building (Tabernacle and Temple)
• 1 Cor 3:16a, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God?”
• Rev 21:22, “And I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
Revelation tells us that the New Jerusalem is the tabernacle of God (21:3) and the temple of God (21:22). In the eternity future, our habitation is God Himself. To God the city is the tabernacle and to us it is the temple.

3. The consummation of Mutual Abiding of God and His Redeemed
• John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.”
• John 17:21, “That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
We will not live in a mansion; we will live in God and God will live in us. This mutual abiding is the New Jerusalem. The eternal God becomes our eternal habitation.

4. The consummation of Believers’ Transformation and Glorification
• 2 Cor. 3:18, “We all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.”
• Rev 21:10b-11, “The holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.”
All believers were created as clay, yet in the New Jerusalem all believers are regenerated and transformed into precious stone and glorified for God’s eternal expression in His eternal building.

5. The consummation of God as the Life Supply to us
• Rev 22:1-2a “And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street. And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month.”
When we believed in the Lord Jesus, we received the eternal life. Today, we drink one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), and in the New Jerusalem, the Triune God is life for our enjoyment for eternity—He is our light of life, tree of life, and water of life!

6. The consummation of the Bible and all the NT Blessings and Realities
• Revelation 21–22 “New heaven, new earth…holy city, New Jerusalem…it had a great and high wall and had twelve gates…there will be no night there…no longer be a curse…His slaves will serve Him…they will reign for ever and ever.”
All of us will be new in the New Jerusalem, and we will reign with Christ for eternity. Oh Lord, make me match the New Jerusalem today in every way!

Thanks!! to Deborah who wrote this post from her college conference notes.

* For each point we have presented a few verses. Here are more verses for each topic.
1. Jer. 3:14; John 3:29a; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25, 27a.
2. John 1:14; 2:16b, 19b, 21; 1 Cor. 3:9b, 12a; Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Tim. 3:15b; 1 Peter 2:5a; Rev. 21:3a, 18-19, 21a.
3. John 14:2-3, 20; 17:22-23a.
4. Rev. 21:18-19a, 23-24a.
5. John 7:37-39; 1 Cor. 12:13.

The Angel Brings Us into New Jerusalem

Several posts in January looked at aspects of New Jerusalem portrayed in the early chapters of Exodus. Later, God promised “I am now sending an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

New JerusalemGod prepared and promised the good land to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:7, 26:3-4). Ultimately the place God has prepared and promised is New Jerusalem, our eternal good land. Thus, the Angel bringing Israel to their place is a picture of Christ bringing us to New Jerusalem.

The Angel in Exodus 23 is God in Christ, as shown in Exodus 3:2, 4 where the Angel appears and God speaks. This is also seen in John 10:7-11 where Jesus Christ is the sent “Angel” and the Father is speaking.

Exodus 23:20 says that the Angel will keep us. Then 23:21-22 commands us to “listen to His voice.” He will keep us but we need to cooperate by listening to Him. In John 14:23 Jesus tells us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” Then in verse 24 He tells us, “The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

The Father sent the Son and the Father speaks through the Son. They keep us on the way to New Jerusalem by making an abode with us. The primary “keeping” is not preserving us from outward problems but maintaining our fellowship with the Lord. The key is our loving the Lord. By loving Him, our living, our daily walk, is brought into Him and He becomes the essence of our daily living. This inward reality is our foretaste of the place, New Jerusalem, to which the Angel is bringing us.

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.

God Mingled with Man for New Jerusalem

The Fall 2012 issue of Affirmation & Critique* focuses on New Jerusalem. Continuing prior posts, here is an extract from The Divine and Mystical in Figurative Language  (by Roger Good).

Although God exists in a divine, mystical, and invisible realm (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Col. 1:15; Rom. 1:20), He desires to communicate the realities of the divine and mystical realm to us. On the one hand, creation testifies of the characteristics of the divine and mystical realm, and on the other hand, God and the writers of the Bible employ figurative language, taking images from the physical realm, using literary devices such as symbols, types, figures, metaphors, similes, and allegories to communicate the realities of the divine and mystical realm. God’s ultimate goal in His economy is to mingle Himself with redeemed humanity. This is revealed in the greatest allegory of all—the New Jerusalem, the consummation of all the symbols, types, figures, and metaphors revealed in the Bible.

New JerusalemFor God to reach His goal, He became incarnated in the man Jesus, lived a perfect human life, died, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended. Through incarnation God and man were mingled in one man—Jesus, as He told His disciples in John 14:10, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me…the Father who abides in Me does His works.”

This was a first step. The next step occurred in resurrection, as stated by Jesus in John 14:20, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” In resurrection the mingling of God and man was expanded to millions of believers. Jesus Christ lives in us and we live in Him. This mingling is the essence of both our Christian life and 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.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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