Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (5)

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the Lord told us to deny our self, take up our cross, and lose our soul life. In John He presented Himself as a pattern of this denying. The immediate goal of these actions is to follow Him and to be His disciple.

New JerusalemThe broader goal, shown in His speaking following this subject, is His second coming, His glory, and His kingdom. If we follow Him in denying and losing, we will participate in these blessings on our way to New Jerusalem.

The Lord is our pattern. In John 5:30 He told us, “I do not seek My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”

In John 6:38 He said, “I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” To deny ourself is to deny our own will, to not seek or do what we want.

In John 7 He said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him, this One is true, and unrighteousness is not in Him.” And in John 8, “I do not seek My glory.” He denied Himself by not seeking anything by Himself or for Himself.

To follow the Lord, we cannot seek our glory, our prestige, our fame. We are only earthen vessels to express the Lord, with New Jerusalem as the ultimate vessel of glory.

 

Jesus and New Jerusalem: “Out of Heaven”

The Lord Jesus told us multiple times that He came down out of heaven:
John 3:13, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man…”
John 6:38, “I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 6:51a, “I am the living bread which came down out of heaven.”

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2 says, ” I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride.” And 21:10, “He [the angel] carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,”

Both the Lord Jesus, the Bridegroom, and New Jerusalem, the bride, come down out of heaven. The two correspond to each other, as Eve corresponded to and complemented Adam in Genesis 2.

Eve is a strong contrast to the animals God created; among them “for Adam there was not found a helper as his counterpart” (Gen. 2:20). Eve was the complement to Adam because she came out of Adam. God built Eve with the rib He had taken out of Adam.

New Jerusalem comes out of heaven because it is composed of the life and nature of Christ imparted into us in His resurrection. First Corinthians 15:47-48 make a contrast, “The first man [Adam] is out of the earth, earthy; the second man [Christ] is out of heaven. As the earthy is, such are they also that are earthy; and as the heavenly is, such are they also that are heavenly.” As the heavenly new creatures, we compose the heavenly bride, New Jerusalem, which matches the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

 

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm

New JerusalemJohn saw New Jerusalem when an angel showed it to him and carried him away “in spirit onto a great and high mountain” (Rev. 21:9-10). The angel’s showing, in spirit, and on a high mountain, indicate that seeing New Jerusalem is not based on human capability, is not in the natural realm, and is not on an ordinary level.

New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the consummation of His work of redeeming, sanctifying, and glorifying all His believers (Eph. 5:25-27). Thus, we should not think of New Jerusalem as a physical city. To think about the Lord’s words in the physical realm is to repeat a recurring error. Here are examples of this error from John’s gospel.

• In 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were in the natural realm, thinking He spoke about the physical temple. But, He spoke about His body in resurrection.
• In 3:3-6 Jesus spoke about being born anew, being born of the Spirit. Nicodemus misunderstood, thinking about natural birth.
• In 4:10-14 Jesus spoke about living water but the Samaritan woman only could conceive of physical water.
• In 4:32-34 the Lord spoke about being nourished by doing the Father’s will but the disciples only thought about physical food.
• In 6:38, 42 the Lord spoke about coming out of heaven but the Jews could not get beyond their knowledge of His human family.

These examples (and more in the next post) show the futility of depending on our own knowledge and comprehension with divine things. To see and understand New Jerusalem we need to be out of our natural understanding. We need to ask the Lord to carry us away,to keep us in spirit, and to bring us the high mountain so that we may receive a revelation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem

In Christ we have eternal life. New Jerusalem is an eternal city, so it is intimately tied with eternal life. This post begins a look at that which is eternal throughout the New Testament, and the relationship to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemJohn 3:15, 16, 36 (and many more verses) give the first step – whoever believes into the Son of God has eternal life. Thus, whoever believes also will be part of New Jerusalem, the city of life. This life is the Son, Jesus Christ, as we see in John 11:25 and 14:6; hence, He who has the Son has the eternal life (1 John 5:11-12).

The Lord also tells us, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54). To eat His flesh is to receive by faith all that He did in giving His body for us; and to drink His blood is to receive by faith all that He accomplished in shedding His blood for us*. This eating and drinking will continue into New Jerusalem where we will eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink the water of the river of life.

This eating and drinking is not physical but is spiritual, by faith. Many were bothered by the Lord’s word about eating Him (John 6:60) because they only knew the natural realm. But He said (v. 63), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Then Peter confessed (v. 68), “You have words of eternal life.” Lord, keep us eating Your words of life.

When we are in spirit and receive the Lord’s words as spirit and life, we are nourished and have a foretaste of the tree of life in New Jerusalem.

* From footnote 2 on John 6:54 in the Online Recovery Version New Testament, © LSM.

Purified for New Jerusalem by Cooperating with the Lord (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is pure: “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18), “the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (21:21). New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (21:9); “it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean/pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

For us to match the purity of New Jerusalem, first the Lord cleanses/ purifies our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). Second, He cleanses us from unrighteousness as we are enlightened and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Third, He purifies us as we cooperate with His moving in us both to depart from unrighteousness and to let Him live through us as righteousness.

Ephesians 5:26 is also in the third step of this cleansing/purifying. The Lord sanctifies the church, “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” Here word is the Greek rhema, which means the instant word, the particular word or speaking enlivened to us as we read or remember the printed words of the Bible.

The Lord is cleansing the church but we need to cooperate. The exhortation in James 4:8 hits responsibility on our side, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-souled!” Double-souled is double-minded, having the heart divided between two parties — God and the world.*

These rhema words to us “are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). They might be as simple as “no” to separate us from something of the world. When we respond to these words, the life in us has a way to flow. This is “the washing of the water in the word.” By this washing we experience a little more of the purity of New Jerusalem.

*From the footnote on James 4:8 in NT Recovery Version Online.
For the verses cited in this post, clean and pure both come from the same Greek noun and cleanses and purifies both come from the related Greek verb.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service. 

Partake of One Bread, One Body, One City

Pictures of the oneness of New Jerusalem include the one flock, the one new man, and the one Body. Another picture is in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, “The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ? Seeing that there is one bread, we who are many are one Body; for we all partake of the one bread.”

The breaking portrays the death of Christ and the partaking implies His resurrection. By His death and resurrection, we have all become one in Him. This is the oneness of His Body, of the one new man, and of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemPartaking of the bread makes us one. This is not the physical bread on the table, which is only a symbol. Remember John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” Jesus Christ is the real bread, the living bread, as testified in all of John 6. Today our eating/partaking must be by exercising our spirit to contact the Spirit.

The most solid way to partake is with the Word and Spirit together. Ephesians 6:17-18 encourages us to receive “the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit.”

The word in verse 17 is “the instant word spoken at the moment by the Spirit in any situation. The sword, the Spirit, and the word are one. When the constant word in the Bible becomes the instant word, that word is the Spirit as the sword that kills the enemy.*”

The spirit in verse 18 is “our regenerated spirit, indwelt by the Spirit of God. It may be considered the mingled spirit — the spirit that is our spirit mingled with God’s Spirit. In praying, the main faculty that we should use is this spirit.**”

Receiving the word in spirit energizes us to participate in the one Body as the foretaste of New Jerusalem.

*Note 4 on Ephesians 6:17 and **note 3 on Ephesians 6:18 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version © by Living Stream Ministry

The Nations around New Jerusalem (7)

Revelation 22:2, describing New Jerusalem, says, “And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” The fruits are for the people constituted into New Jerusalem while the leaves are for those living around the city.

The tree of life is a symbol of Christ and the fruits are Christ as our life supply as He spoke in detail in John 6. What then are the leaves?

* The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. In the Bible, leaves are a symbol of man’s deeds (Gen. 3:7). The leaves of the tree of life symbolize the deeds of Christ. The regenerated believers eat the fruit of the tree of life, receiving Christ as their inward life and life supply, that they may enjoy the divine life for eternity, whereas the restored nations are healed by the leaves of the tree of life, taking the deeds of Christ as their outward guide and regulation, that they may live the human life forever.

New JerusalemThe nations are guided outwardly by the deeds of Christ. This is very good, but it is also very different from being supplied inwardly by the life of Christ. The Lord is the bread of life edible today. We shouldn’t wait for New Jerusalem. “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” is a promise for today (John 6:57).

The proper Christian living today and our eternal living in New Jerusalem is Jesus Christ as our life supply to be lived out by us. This is much higher than being guided by Him as our outward example. Eating brings us into New Jerusalem!

Photo by Scott Bauer, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

* Note 1 on Rev. 22:5 in The NT Recovery Version Online, © 1997-2012 by LSM.

Prior posts in this series: one two three four five six

The Nations around New Jerusalem (6)

The peoples, the nations, around New Jerusalem participate in the general blessings of the new earth. These nations (plural) are distinct from the people (singular) who live in Christ with the reality of God’s new creation; these are the constituents of New Jerusalem and partake of the special blessings in this city. Revelation 22:2 says,

He showed me a river of water of life….on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

John 6:56There are three provisions here: the water of the river of life, the fruits of the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree. The leaves are specifically designated for the healing of the nations around New Jerusalem. In contrast, the water and the fruit symbolize the supply of divine life to the people built into New Jerusalem.

The life supply of the water continues our drinking the Spirit in John 4 and 7. “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink….This He said concerning the Spirit” (John 7:37-39).

The life supply of the fruit continues our eating Jesus as the bread of life in John 6. ” I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever” (v. 51).

In John 6:56 the Lord tells us, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.” In verse 63 He explains that this is not physical; instead, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” The mutual abiding requires our spiritual eating now and the fullest mutual abiding in New Jerusalem matches our spiritual eating of the fruit of the tree of life.

Bread and Water Bring us to New Jerusalem

Israel’s journey in Exodus 12–19 is a picture of our Christian journey. Their journey brought them to Mt. Sinai to see the vision of the tabernacle. Our journey results in our being “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem.

Prior posts touched several steps preparatory to seeing New Jerusalem. Another step is to take Christ as our living bread, typified by manna (Exo. 16), every day. Jesus clearly told us “he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:57). Eating is a daily necessity; without spiritual eating we cannot have a proper Christian life and cannot journey onward to the mountain.

Eating the manna is by our living contact with the Word of God. Deuteronomy 8:3, quoted by the Lord in Matthew 4:4, says that God “fed you [Israel] the manna…so that He might make you know that man lives not by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out from the mouth of Jehovah.”

One more step is to drink the living water which flows out of the smitten rock. When the Lord, pictured by the rock, was smitten on the cross, blood and water flowed out. The reality of this water is the Spirit, as presented in John 7:37-39. Eventually this will be the river of water of life in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemJohn 19:34: “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”

A song about this flowing:
__The blood and water flowed from Him,
____In streams of pure salvation.
__The blood brings cleansing from all sin;
____Water, regeneration.
__And now the Spirit flows,
____Brings God where’er He goes.
__All he could do, the foe,
____Was just release the flow.
__And God just keeps on flowing.

God’s continual flow, beginning from the cross, carries us all the way to New Jerusalem.

Heavenly Diet in Exodus and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem is “a river of water of life, bright as crystal….And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month” (Revelation 22:1-2).

New Jerusalem comes out of heaven from God to earth. Its position is on earth but its nature is heavenly. In this city the tree of life is the heavenly diet for God’s people. By eating the twelve fruits of the tree of life, we are supplied with the divine, eternal life to live a heavenly life on earth. This life is Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and to live this life is to live Him (Philippians 1:21).

The manna in Exodus is a shadow of the heavenly diet of New Jerusalem. In Exodus 16 “Jehovah said to Moses, I will now rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day…” (v. 4).

In John 6 the Lord Jesus told us that He is the bread of life, the reality of what was pictured by manna (v. 32-35). He also said that if we eat Him we will live because of Him (v. 57). Then He told us that the way to eat Him is to take His words, and that these words are spirit and life (v. 63). For this we must not only use our mind to understand the words but also use our human spirit. We must strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit.

The nourishment we gain from the Scripture becomes our bread of life, causing us to grow in the divine life. This growth goes onward until we arrive at New Jerusalem.

More about manna is in Life-Study of Exodus, chapters 35-39.

We Who Wash, Eat, and Enter Are Blessed

New JerusalemRevelation 22:14 declares “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city.” Three steps are presented: we wash our robes, come to the tree of life, and enter into the city, New Jerusalem.

To wash our robes is to cleanse our conduct by confessing our sins and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness and cleansing. This is clear from Revelation 7:14 and 1 John 1:7-9, and is an ongoing action on our part.

As a result of washing, we have right to the tree of life. Cleansing brings us to life, even as in New Jerusalem the river of life flows out of the throne of the redeeming Lamb (Revelation 22:1). With the river is the tree of life (22:2) which depicts Christ as our continual supply of life. “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:57). We eat multiple times per day; likewise, we confess our sins regularly and we take Christ as our life supply regularly.

By taking Christ as our life supply, we enter into New Jerusalem. The entry into the city is not physical but is by life, resurrection life. Today our entrance is into the hidden, spiritual reality of the city, in the corporate life of the Body of Christ. In the future we will be in the fullness of the city.

Praise the Lord! He shed His blood for our washing, He is our life supply, and He is our entrance into New Jerusalem.

Here are words and music for singing Revelation 22:13-14.

Related posts: Redemption for Life, (2), (3), (4) _Gates of Pearl

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life”

We have been on an eating journey through the Old Testament. (Later we will take a NT journey.) Jesus Christ, the bread of life (John 6:35) and the passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), is the reality of many kinds of physical food given by God to His OT people. All these pictures of our spiritual eating will culminate in New Jerusalem with “the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month.” Each paragraph below links to one post in this eating journey.

Boston, David Kan

The tree of life was in the garden of Eden as a picture of Jesus Christ as our life and as the life supply for our daily living. In John 6:57 our Lord Jesus told us, “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”

The first commandment from God to man concerned eating. This command was given in the garden of Eden. God’s desire was (and is) that man receive Him as man’s life, as pictured by “the tree of life in the middle of the garden” (Genesis 2:9).

Eating the lamb is the focus of the passover feast. Exodus 12:4 says “according to each man’s eating you shall make your count for the lamb.” Christ is the real lamb (John 1:29) and the reality of this feast (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

The passover lamb was eaten “with unleavened bread with bitter herbs” (Exodus 12:8). This is to take Christ as our sinless (unleavened) life and thereby to have a bitter feeling about sin.

We should eat unleavened bread seven days. Seven is a number of completion, indicating that we should eat Jesus as our unleavened bread through our whole Christian life. This is  to “keep the feast…with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

Manna is bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4). Exodus 16 and Numbers 11:7-9 give a detailed description of manna. These details portray the richness of Christ as the bread of life in our Christian experience.

Israel was instructed to gather manna each day. Through Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4 we learn that manna shows us “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” Let us be people Eating the Word of God.

The priests eat the offerings in Leviticus 1–7. In the New Testament we are the priests (Revelation 1:5-6), Jesus Christ is the reality of the offerings (see verses in the post), and we mainly eat by thanking and praising the Lord for all that He has done and all that He is to us.

Exodus 40 and Leviticus 24 speak of the bread of the presence on the table in the tabernacle. This table and the lampstand are closely related. When we, the NT priests, eat the bread, we experience Jesus as the “light of life” (John 8:12).

The bread of the presence multiplied from tabernacle to temple (as did the lampstand). We expect much more multiplication from temple to New Jerusalem. This multiplication portrays the unsearchable/exhaustless riches of Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 12:7 tells Israel to eat and rejoice before their God when they gather in Jerusalem. This is a picture of a New Testament feast with Christ as the reality of our sacrifices and offerings, as the real firstborn, and as the content of our vows and freewill offerings.

In Leviticus 23 the Lord spoke about “My appointed feasts.” The introduction to these feasts is the sabbath rest. This shows that we should rest in Jesus Christ and His accomplishments in order to have proper Christian feasts.

Israel began to eat the produce of the land after they crossed the river Jordan. The variety and abundance of this produce again points us to the Christ who is unsearchably, immeasurably rich (Ephesians 3:8).

A feast of the passover and a seven-day feast of unleavened bread are recorded in 2 Chronicles 30. This feast was held “with great rejoicing” which caused them to continue for another seven days. The key was preparing their heart to seek God.

First Kings 8 records a feast after dedication of the temple and Ezra 6 records a feast after the dedication of the second temple. As we offer ourselves to the Lord and participate in the NT building work, we are preparing and entering into a feast.

Second Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 35 record a marvelous passover feast following the cleansing of the temple, of Jerusalem, and of the whole land. The more we cleanse our hearts from desiring and working for goals other than the Lord, the more we will feast.

Photo of Boston harbor, courtesy of David Kan.

Related post: Is Your Spiritual Eating Advancing by Tom at Holding to Truth in Love

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