Through the Cross, Looking to Jesus

The Lord desires to constantly apply His death to our natural life so that His resurrection life may be manifested. “We who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” (2 Cor. 4:11). This is our path to New Jerusalem, the consummate manifestation of the life of Jesus.

New JerusalemOn one hand “we are being delivered unto death.” On the other hand, we have to deny our soul life and bear our cross. We cannot do this ourselves. We need to be empowered by Him.

“Let us…run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:1-2).

We need the endurance of Jesus, so that we may reach the joy set before us, a joy which culminates in New Jerusalem. Thus, we look to HIm. This is similar to the first part of Romans 5. Being justified “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Standing in grace, equal to looking away to Jesus, brings forth many virtues including endurance.

A related verse is 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the endurance of Christ.” When our hearts are loving God we have endurance, but we are not the source. It is “the endurance of Christ.” He brings us through all the killing of our natural man into the reality of the new man, which becomes New Jerusalem.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (7)

New JerusalemWe are on the path from the created earth in Genesis 1 to the new earth with New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. Psalm 102, the Lord’s speaking in the gospels, Hebrews 1, and 2 Peter 3 all declare a transition from the old, corrupted earth to the new earth.

The prior post focused on 2 Peter 3:10-12. Then verse 13, “according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” This is the new creation which appears in Revelation 21:1 as the setting for New Jerusalem in 21:2.

Like Peter, we should live according to God’s promise, God’s unchanging word. The Lord told us “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.” Our stand is His eternal word.

The promise of a new creation is fulfilled in two steps—at the Lord’s second coming and then by New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. The first step is trumpeted in 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.”

The final preparation for the new earth with New Jerusalem is Revelation 20:11, “I [the apostle John] saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose face earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” After the judgments in 20:12-15, 21:1-2 tell us, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (5)

We are on the path from the original created earth to the new earth. This involves the reconciliation of all things by the death of Jesus Christ, the freeing of all creation, and the recognition and confession by all that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. New JerusalemThis glorification points toward New Jerusalem as the ultimate glorification of God.

Despite all that was accomplished by Christ in His death and resurrection, all that He is doing now in the believers, and all that will happen at His return, there will still be a new heaven and a new earth to replace the original heaven and earth. The Lord first mentioned this in Matthew 5:18, “Until heaven and earth pass away…”

This passing away was prophesied in Psalm 102, which is quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12:

You in the beginning, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain perpetually; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed; but You are the same, and Your years will not fail.

The book of Hebrews emphasizes the superiority of Christ and His new covenant. Our part is to look away to Him, hold to Him, come forward to Him on the throne, and let His living word operate in us. He must have priority in our lives over everything of the old creation; the old, perishing things are not our focus.

The Lord is perpetual and New Jerusalem will be perpetual by being saturated with Him. Lord, draw us every day to give You first place in our living!

Glory, Now to New Jerusalem

Our present sufferings bring forth eternal glory. Posts on this connection touched verses in John and Acts, Romans and 2 Corinthians, more in Romans, 2 Corinthians (again) and Philippians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, and again 1 Peter.

New JerusalemRevelation moves from “John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (1:9) to New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11). While we also partake of the tribulation in Jesus and are supplied by the endurance in Jesus, we look away to Jesus and to the glory of God filling New Jerusalem.

First Peter 1:11 speaks of “the sufferings of Christ and the glories after these.” The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and then entered into His glory in His resurrection (Luke 24:26, 46). Also, after “the suffering of death” He was “crowned with glory and honor,” in His exaltation (Heb. 2:9). At His visible return to earth, He “comes in His glory” (Matt. 25:31). He will also be glorious in the kingdom age and in New Jerusalem.

With us, there is some glory now, mostly hidden within us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we “exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). And, “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (2 Thes. 1:12).

One aspect of the Lord’s return is that He “comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). At that time He will “present the church to Himself glorious” (Eph. 5:27). This glorious church will continue to radiate His glory in the time of the kingdom and as His wife, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (6)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). In this age, God has shined in our hearts and we turn our hearts to the Lord to behold and reflect His glory.

In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our heart from everything to the Lord to behold Him. This is the same as Hebrews 12:1-2, “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.” Lord, enlighten us to see and put away the encumbrances.

The sins we must put away, by confessing and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), are obviously negative. The encumbrances however may seem positive—our attitudes, goals, preferences, interests, etc. However, we must put these away because they hinder our “looking away unto Jesus.” This is like Matthew 1624-25; we must deny ourself and take up our cross to follow Him.

Many parallels are in these verses: looking away, putting away, turning (2 Cor. 3), denying (Matt. 16). Moses is an example; he considered “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked away to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). He had the Lord’s presence as his reward then and will participate in New Jerusalem as the ultimate reward.  Lord, grant us the same attitude and consideration that Moses had!

By denying and turning, we look to Jesus. This looking, to see His face in spirit today, is our current reward, our foretaste of seeing His face in New Jerusalem. In our looking away to Jesus He, as the Author/Source/Initiator and as the Perfecter/Completer of our faith, will energize us to run the race with endurance to the goal.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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 See Jesus, We Look Away to Jesus

Hebrews 2:6-8a, quoting Psalm 8:4-8, says about Jesus, “What is man, that You bring him to mind? Or the son of man, that You care for him? You have made Him a little inferior to the angels; You have crowned Him with glory and honor and have set Him over the works of Your hands; You have subjected all things under His feet.”

New JerusalemJesus was made “a little inferior to the angels” in incarnation (see Phil. 2:5-8) and was “crowned with glory and honor” after His resurrection and ascension (see Acts 2:22-36).

Hebrews 2:8b-9a continues, “For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing unsubject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him, but WE SEE JESUS…”

What does this have to do with New Jerusalem? Today we do not see all the things God has done. Apparently not all things in this world are subject to Jesus. We don’t see New Jerusalem. We don’t realize how God is working in a hidden way to prepare for the second coming of Jesus. But, we do know God is “leading many sons into glory” (Heb. 2:10), a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem.

We cannot correlate everything around us and all that happens in society with “leading many sons into glory,” but WE SEE JESUS. Rather than trying to understand world events, let us “run with endurance the race which is set before us, LOOKING AWAY UNTO JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1b-2a).

Jesus is the Author of our faith and it is by this faith that we look to Him. It is by this faith we realize that God is leading us into the glory of the Lord’s return, the glory of the kingdom, and the glory of New Jerusalem. Lord, keep us looking away from outward things and looking at You.

Photo courtesy of NASA and ESA.

Jesus Christ, the Originator and the Finisher

New JerusalemRevelation 1:5-6 says that Jesus Christ, through His redemption, “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” Revelation 22:3-5 says that we will serve Him as priests and will reign with Him in New Jerusalem. Thus, the kingdom of priests extends from the Lord’s resurrection to eternity.

Revelation 5:9-10 says the same. In a praise to the Lamb, we read, “You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.”

These verses make it clear that we are a kingdom of priests not by our choice nor by our accomplishments nor by our efforts nor due to anything else of ourselves. The Lamb has made us a kingdom of priests.

Since we are priests, we should live as priests. But learning to live as a priest is also not by our own determination nor by our own energy. The key is “looking away unto Jesus, the Author [Originator, Inaugurator] and Perfecter [Finisher, Completer] of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

The “looking away” to Him is also our “coming to Him” (1 Peter 2:4) by which we “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood” (2:5). Our coming to Him is by prayer, singing, declaring His word, thanking Him, calling on His name (Romans 10:12-13), and praising.

He is the initiation of the kingdom of priests and He will bring us to the consummation in New Jerusalem.

A song begins_-_Take time to behold Him,
______________Speak oft with Thy Lord,
____________Abide in Him always,
______________And feed on His Word.

Photo by Gregory Heath, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

God Has Prepared the City, But … (2)

God has prepared a city for the people of faith! But … we do not yet see New Jerusalem because God is eternal, outside of time, and we are still partially in time and in the old creation.

New JerusalemHere are other instances God’s preparation that do not yet see:
• First Peter 1:5 says we “are being guarded by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time.”
• Hebrews 2:8-9 says “in subjecting all things to Him [Christ], He [God] left nothing unsubject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him, but we see Jesus…” To see Him we must look away from everything else to Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The important point is not to depend on our physical senses for spiritual matters. Hebrews 11 is about people of faith, not about those with keen physical eyesight.

Second Corinthians 4:13 speaks of our spirit of faith. The following verses contrast outward and inward things, concluding (v. 18), “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.”

And Hebrews 13:13-14 encourages us, “Let us therefore go forth unto Him….For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.”

God has prepared the city. Our responsibility is to look away unto Jesus; to regard the unseen, eternal things; and to seek the city to come, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Priests from Exodus to New Jerusalem

In Exodus 19:3-6 Jehovah spoke to Moses concerning bringing Israel out of Egypt, “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then….you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

New Jerusalem

For Israel to be a kingdom of priests is a foretaste of our New Testament experience and a foretaste of New Jerusalem. Revelation 1:5-6 says that Jesus Christ loves us, has released us from our sins in His blood, “and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” By His action, all of His redeemed people are a kingdom of priests now. This depends neither on our education or ordination, nor on our feeling of adequacy or inadequacy.

Revelation 5:9-10 is an angelic praise sung to the Lamb repeating the same fact—“You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God.”

The extent to which we live out this wonderful fact depends on our time beholding God. He brought us “to Himself” (Exodus 19:4), and we should turn from everything else to “look away unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Here are words and music of a song about the priests’ living.

Today our living in the reality of the kingdom of priests may be sporadic but in New Jerusalem this living will be continual. There, in the new creation, we, God’s slaves, “will serve Him” (Revelation 22:3, where the Greek word means “serve as priests”) and we “will reign forever and ever” (22:5).

The song mentioned above includes,
____In the holiest place, live before His face,
____Light of glory thru me will shine;
Let us live before His face now and anticipate much more in New Jerusalem.

Looking Away to Jesus, We Run to the Goal

New JerusalemThe street of New Jerusalem is “pure gold, like transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). The pure gold street portrays a walk according to the divine nature. In God’s salvation we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), so we can walk on the golden street now.

Our Christian walk today, a walk in Christ Jesus the Lord (Colossians 2:6), is also a race. Race means that we are not on a casual stroll but on a walk that requires diligence and effort. Our effort is to cooperate with the indwelling Christ to let Him live/walk/run through us. Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

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.

Endurance is needed now because of the encumbrances and the sin; weights which will no longer drag us down in New Jerusalem. We overcome (put away) these weights by looking away from them to Jesus. Our putting away by looking away matches 2 Corinthians 3:16-17: whenever our heart turns to the Lord, there is freedom.

Our putting away by looking away also parallels Philippians 3. We are not yet perfected (v. 12) but, forgetting the things which are behind and stretching toward the things before we pursue toward the goal (v. 13-14). This is the opposite of John 6:66 where many disciples left Jesus and went back to the things they had left behind.

The ultimate goal of all our running and pursuing is New Jerusalem. May we be willing to forget everything behind, pursue walking in Jesus Christ now, and stretch toward the greater enjoyment of Jesus Christ in all that is before us unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

song about running the race by looking to Jesus:
There’s a race for us to run—Hallelujah,
__And a way for us the race to win.
To all those who have begun—Hallelujah,
__God has spoken, “Look away to Him!”
___Look away! O look away!
___Look to Jesus now today!
___Look away from everything unto Jesus,
____Look away from everything to Him!

Have Life !

New JerusalemThe end of John 20 says that Jesus did many things, not all of which are written. John tells us that some things “have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.” The objective of John’s writing is for us to believe that the man Jesus is the Christ, the One anointed by God to carry out His purpose, and that the man Jesus is the Son of God.

By believing, we have eternal life. This life is mentioned in about 40 verses in the gospel of John. Jesus is this life (14:6) and He came that we might have this life abundantly (10:10).

The objective of John’s gospel is not to record every detail, not to answer every question, and not to satisfy our curiosity. The objective of John’s gospel is the same as God’s objective—to be life to us through Jesus Christ.

I believe that John’s writing of Revelation is the same. Revelation gives us only a little information about New Jerusalem and the new creation around it. It does not tell us every detail that we would like to know and it does not satisfy our curiosity. But this is not the goal of Revelation.

Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things written in it, for the time is near.” This verse guides us regarding what to do with Revelation: receive and keep what is written. Since God has chosen not to answer so many potential questions, we should ask Him to wash us from our questioning.

The goal of our receiving and keeping what is written is not answers to satisfy us but life to fulfill God’s purpose. Lord, wash away my curiosity and make me a man of life, growing daily in You. May Revelation because a fountain of life to me to equip me for Your goal.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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