Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (6)

Continuing from Matthew 10 and 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9 also have the Lord’s words about denying the self, taking up the cross, and losing the soul life. Luke 9 adds one word not in Matthew and Mark: daily. “He said to them all, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (v. 23). Verses 24 and 25 are about losing the soul life for the Lord’s sake.

New JerusalemVerse 26 continues, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of this one will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Lord, save me from any shame about You and Your words.

In Matthew 16, Mark 8, and Luke 9 the portion about denying the self is immediately followed by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, which He describes as “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” This coming, in glory, foreshadows the coming age which leads to New Jerusalem.

The path to New Jerusalem includes the cross now, the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age, and then New Jerusalem itself. To be on this path, we must apply the cross of Christ to our soul life. The cross is available to us through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). Thus, it is by the Spirit, not by natural effort, that we go through the cross toward New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Serve God as Priests

Revelation 22:3 says about New Jerusalem, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him.” In what way will we serve as slaves in New Jerusalem? The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and includes three different words translated “serve.” The word in Revelation 22:3 means serve as a priest, or serve in New Jerusalemworship.*

How do we get into this eternal priestly service? The praise in Revelation 1:5b-6 says, “To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.” The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ released us from sins and made us a kingdom of priests!

Becoming priests is not by our choice nor by our effort. And we should not question or doubt our qualification for this service. It does not depend on us—He “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” This declaration in 1:5-6 is confirmed by the same word in Revelation 5:9-10.

He made us priests and He is our High Priest. As such He is “merciful and faithful” (Heb. 2:17), “great” (4:14), “holy, guileless, undefiled, higher than the heavens” (7:26), and perfected forever” (7:28).

Jesus Christ is so much, and we, always coming to Him (1 Peter 2:4), “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (2:5). We are not merely individual priests, but are being built together as a priesthood. As such we are “priests of God and of Christ” now, in the coming age (Rev. 20:6), and in New Jerusalem eternally.

* Some other verses with this word for serve are Matt. 4:10, Luke 2:37, Rom. 1:9, 2 Tim. 1:3.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

 

 

Joy, Praise, Victory, Kingdom

A song based on Revelation begins, “Lo, the kingdom of the world is now the kingdom of the Lord!” This line of the song comes from Revelation 11:15, “the seventh angel trumpeted; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” This “forever and ever” points to New Jerusalem, the center of God’s eternal kingdom.

New JerusalemThe song continues, “O what joy to all the saints does His eternal reign afford!” All who believe into Christ Jesus are saints because we have been “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:2). And we have His joy now and more so in His eternal reign in New Jerusalem.

The second verse of the song speaks of Satan being cast down. The third continues, “Now is come salvation, power, and the kingdom of our God.” The fourth declares our overcoming by the blood of the Lamb, our testimony, and not loving our soul life. These three song verses present Revelation 12:9-11.

Revelation 12:12 says, “Therefore be glad, O heavens and those who dwell in them.” This is echoed in words of praise in the song, including the chorus, Vict’ry, vict’ry, Hallelujah! The victory is won!

The song continues with the judgements in Revelation 17 and 18. This leads into the praise at the beginning of Revelation 19, “A loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! The salvation and the glory and the power are of our God. For true and righteous are His judgments.”

All these judgements are part of God’s clearing away of the old creation, so that He can bring in the new creation with New Jerusalem. And all of our praises develop the life of New Jerusalem within us.

I copied the graphic from a prior post on praising, since that post also is on Rev. 19:1.

God’s Kingdom and Glory

In Matthew 6:13 the Lord instructed us to praise our Father, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” (Forever points to eternity with New Jerusalem.) In Matthew 16:28 to 17:2 we have a preview of this kingdom and glory together. First Thessalonians 2:12 tells us that God “calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

New JerusalemBoth the kingdom and the glory are God’s but He has called us to participate in them. The first half of 1 Thessalonians 2:12, exhorting us to walk worthy of God, indicates that our participation is present and experiential. This present partici-pation is our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The guidance and energizing for this walk is 1) the conduct of the apostle among the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 2:1-10) and 2) his exhorting, consoling, and testifying (v. 11), plus 3) their receiving his word “not as the word of men but  even as it truly is, the word of God, which also operates in you who believe” (v. 13).

Because the word of God, transmitted to us by the Spirit through the Bible, is living, we need to let it dwell, live, spread, and operate in us. Lord, cause Your word to live and operate in me! This operation gradually develops the character and walk of New Jerusalem in us.

Unlike the early Thessalonians, we do not have the pattern of the apostle Paul. However, we are among Christians, and the Lord is not limited by the absence of Paul. We should ask the Lord to show us one or a few whom we can consider and let their Christian walk be a pattern to us.

Lord, besides Your operating word, show me how to have a worthy walk on my way to New Jerusalem.

The Bright Lamb-Lamp of New Jerusalem

In Matthew 16:28 the Lord said that some disciples would see “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” A week later three saw Him transfigured. This is the kingdom of God with the glory of God. Ultimately, the kingdom and glory is New Jerusalem. John tells us that he saw the city has the throne of the kingdom at its center and has the glory of God (Rev. 22:1, 21:10-11).

The seeing of the kingdom in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 gives us a preview of New Jerusalem. These chapters speak not about outward power but about the appearance of the Lord.
“He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light.” (Matt. 17:2)
“He was transfigured before them, and His garments became sparkling, exceedingly white.” (Mark 9:3)
“And as He prayed, the appearance of His face became different, and His garment dazzling white.” (Luke 9:29)

New JerusalemAlthough Jesus knew beforehand that this transfiguration would happen, Luke records that He prayed. We need to pray to release what God wants for His kingdom on earth, as in Matthew 6:9-10.

His prayer and transfiguration indicate that the change in His appearance was from within, not from outside. The Greek word translated transfiguration is also transformation in 2 Corinthians 3:18. There the word clearly indicates a change by the Spirit operating within us to bring us onward in glory.

The brightness of the Lord Jesus on the mountain is a preview of His brightness as the Lamb-lamp in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). This is the glory of God radiating through Him, a glory brighter than the sun, so that New Jerusalem “has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe path from the creation of earth to new earth and New Jerusalem has many ups and downs, but God is never defeated. God’s path is through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ then through His work in the church.

Psalm 2 foretells the resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Christ. This also shows God’s path to His rule over all the nations on the way to eternal peace on the new earth.

Psalm 24 begins, “The earth is Jehovah’s, and its fullness, the habitable land and those who dwell in it.” The earth is Jehovah’s today, whether man realizes this or not. Yet, for the full manifestation of His reign, there is the need of those who will seek His face (v. 6), those who will care for God and His purpose above earthly, human things. This matches the Lord’s call in Matthew 6 to seek first (above all) the kingdom of God.

Seeking God and His purpose correspond with our call in Matthew 6:10 to pray, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.” God wants to exercise dominion over the whole earth. He could do this immediately by His direct authority, but has chosen not to. Rather, He intends to operate through His people, which is why we need to pray.

The answer to our seeking and our prayer is the repeated declaration in the second half of Psalm 24, “The King of glory will come in.” This was echoed by the Lord Jesus in His words to the disciples about seeing “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This coming will usher in the kingdom age leading to the new earth with 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod created, formed, and made us for His glory (Isa. 43:7), a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11, 23).

Between the first and last chapters of the Bible, on our journey from creation to glory, we receive the redemption from Christ and experience His life entering and maturing in us. While eternal life is maturing in us, conforming us to the perfection of New Jerusalem, there are often outward sufferings.

We should not be surprised by sufferings. The Lord told us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The sufferings are outward but the peace of the Lord is inward. Sufferings are in the old creation and temporary; peace is in the new creation and is eternal. The name Jerusalem means foundation of peace.

Paul and Barnabas, visiting recently saved Christians, were “establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Inwardly, in spirit, we are already in the kingdom of God (see next paragraph). Outwardly, we will participate in the global manifestation of God’s kingdom in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

John describes himself as “your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). This indicates that we too are partakers in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.

These verses speak about troubles, but if our view is on eternity, on New Jerusalem, we will echo 2 Corinthians 4:17, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory,”

No Flesh in New Jerusalem

When God created man (Gen. 1:26-27), He blessed man (v. 28) and said that everything was very good (v. 31). In Genesis 2 God’s desire was that man take God, portrayed by the tree of life, as his life. However, in Genesis 3 man fell and was shut away from the tree of life. In Genesis 6 God declared that man is flesh.

Romans 3:20, “Out of the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” This is in contrast to Peter’s statement that righteousness dwells in the new heavens and new earth. Romans 7:5, “When we were in the flesh, the passions for sins, which acted through the law, operated in our members to bear fruit to death.” This is in contrast to New Jerusalem and the new creation which have nothing of death.

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 15:50, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” This is in contrast to New Jerusalem which is the ultimate stage of God’s kingdom. Hence, flesh cannot and does not have any place in New Jerusalem.

The flesh is the result of Satan as sin entering into man. The termination of the flesh is through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 2:14: “He also Himself in like manner partook of the same [blood and flesh], that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil.”
Romans 8:3b: “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”

His accomplishments on the cross are gradually applied in our being. The final step is Philippians 3:21, “Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory, according to His operation by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.” The result: no flesh in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is Eternal (3)

New Jerusalem is 
eternal
, based on the eternal redemption obtained, and eternal life released to us, by Jesus Christ.

Second Thessalonians 2:16: God our Father “loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope in grace.” The love, comfort, and grace are for us now, and in the kingdom age, and eternally in New Jerusalem. Thank Him for His wonderful care for us.

Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” The eternal Spirit brings to us the conscience-purifying effect of Christ’s blood shed on the cross. And through this eternal Spirit we have the eternal life, the resurrection life, the life that characterizes the kingdom of God and New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemSecond Peter 1:11 speaks about our “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” We are already in the spiritual reality of the kingdom, as seen in Romans 14:17, “the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This spiritual reality is ours now because of our new birth by the Spirit (John 3:5).

Nevertheless, there is a fuller stage of the kingdom to come. By partaking of the divine nature (1 Peter 1:4) the divine virtues develop in us and give us the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom and carry us onward to New Jerusalem.

All of these eternal things are “according to the eternal purpose which He [God] made in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). God’s purpose is eternal and consummates in eternal New Jerusalem.

God’s purpose is far higher than our sinful condition, far higher than overcoming evils on earth. His purpose takes care of these negatives but much more brings forth New Jerusalem with the glory of God radiating through all God’s people.

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.

New Jerusalem: No More Tribulation (2)

In the New Testament, tribulation refers to the persecution of the Lord’s people throughout this age (e.g. Matt. 24:9, Acts 14:22) and to the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19), the last three and a half years (Rev. 12:14) of this age, immediately prior to the Lord’s visible return.

#NewJerusalemGod, in His sovereignty, uses both aspects of tribulation to prepare His people for New Jerusalem. Here are more verses about this.

Acts 14:22, “Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” This was spoken by Paul and Barnabas in caring for relatively new believers. Tribulations would not be rare to them, but through these they were brought into the reality of the kingdom, which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

To participate in this entrance, we must continue in the faith. Some ways to do this are to read and say amen to God’s word, to sing about our Lord, and to praise Him. Also, since Romans 8:35 promises that neither tribulation nor other difficulties can separate us from the love of Christ, we can continue by declaring, Lord Jesus, I love You.

Revelation 1:9: “I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John partook of the endurance in Jesus to suffer tribulation for the word and the testimony. May we follow his example.

At that time John tells us that he was in the kingdom. This was the spiritual reality. Like the believers in Acts 14:22, John was still waiting for the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom at the Lord’s return and the fullest experience of the kingdom in New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Seek the Riches of Christ

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s work through all the ages. For New Jerusalem God manifests “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” (Rom. 2:4), “the riches of His glory” (multiple verses), “forgiveness according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7), “the surpassing riches of His grace” (Eph. 2:7), “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8), and “the riches of the full assurance” (Col. 2:2).

New JerusalemAll of these riches continue into New Jerusalem and we should seek them, regardless of whether we are rich or poor humanly. Moses was this kind of seeker, considering “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26).

Monetary riches are deceitful (Mark 4:19) and hinder our entrance into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-24), which ultimately is New Jerusalem. These physical riches are a root of evil (1 Tim. 6:10), full of uncertainty (1 Tim. 6:17), and can bring in many problems (James 5:1-3).

By grace, the churches in Macedonia were a strong contrast in their liberal giving to needy believers. “That in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2).

Hebrews 13:5 exhorts us, “Let your way of life be without the love of money.” If we love human riches we will seek them and our heart will be on them (Matt. 6:19-21). But, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ we will seek Him and our heart will be set on heavenly matters.

May the Lord be merciful to us all. Whether we have human riches or scarcity, let us be those who seek the riches of Christ, who seek to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8), who seek the present reality of 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo by Randy Roberts, courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

Praises in the Book of Revelation (2)

There are many praises in Revelation for what God and the Lamb are and for what God and the Lamb do. We who are believers join the heavenly praising now. In eternity the entire new creation will praise God and the Lamb on the throne in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRevelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel trumpeted; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” This brings out the praise in verse 17, “We thank You, Lord God the Almighty, He who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have reigned.”

We are in the spiritual reality of God’s kingdom now (Rom. 14:17) and John testified that he was in this kingdom while in exile on Patmos (Rev. 1:9). But, the world still has its kingdoms, nations, etc. When these are terminated at the seventh trumpet, that surely will bring forth more praises and thanks from the heavens and from God’s people on earth.

Revelation 12:10 has more: “I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.” The transition in Revelation 11 concerns the kingdom of the world and in this chapter concerns the casting down of the devil, satan.

The result of this casting down is “Therefore be glad, O heavens and those who dwell in them” (v. 12). There is more gladness in Revelation 18:20 as a result of further judgements by God. We, God’s people, should be glad now, will be glad then, and this gladness will continue to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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