Holy and Without Blemish in Love

New JerusalemEphesians 5:27 tells us that Christ will “present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.” This church is His well-prepared bride, the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Christ cares for the church, “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” This corresponds with Revelation 21:2, “New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” His washing prepares the bride.

Also, we cooperate with Him. For example, holding to Him in love that His rich supply may flow out. This corresponds with Revelation 19:7, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Our cooperation prepares the bride.

The result of both sides of this preparation, is the bride “holy and without blemish.” This matches Ephesians 1:4, God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” Three phrases stand out:
holywithout blemishin love.

The church becoming New Jerusalem, “the holy city,” as the bride of Christ must be fully holy to match the Bridegroom. The bride must also be without blemish to match the unblemished Bridegroom. Being completely holy and without blemish fulfills Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Christians are the Father’s children, having the Father’s divine life and divine nature. Hence, they can be perfect as their Father is….The kingdom of the heavens is the highest demand, and the divine life of the Father is the highest supply to meet that demand.*

Love is the key for our perfecting, as part of “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9). To love God means to set our entire being absolutely on Him, that is, to let our entire being be occupied by Him and lost in Him, so that He becomes everything to us and we are one with Him practically in our daily life.º

Lord, keep us loving You every day from now to New Jerusalem!

* Part of the footnote on. Matt. 5:48       º Part of the footnote 3 on 1 Cor. 2:9
Both are in the
Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.

New Earth is Coming; the World is Going

“According to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). This new creation is presented to us in Revelation 21:1-2 with New Jerusalem as the site of God’s throne.

The Bible speaks of both the earth and the world. The earth was created by God for His purpose but the primary meaning of “world” in the Bible is the system created by Satan to take men away from God. The Lord Jesus told us, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). He accomplished this by His death.

The world is still around us because the judgment on the cross has not yet been brought to conclusion. This is like a person pronounced guilty by a judge in a law court. The verdict is final but it takes some time to transfer the criminal to prison. This is why the Lord asked the Father to “keep us out of the hands of the evil one”—the cast-out ruler—who is the source of the world (John 17:14-16).

New JerusalemIn Revelation 20 the executing of the judgment on the world will be concluded. The devil and everything originating with him (including the lust and vainglory of the world – 1 John 2:16) will be cast into the lake of fire. As a result, the new earth will have New Jerusalem but will not have any world.

The Lord told us, “take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Now, by regeneration, He is the Overcomer in us: “everything that has been begotten of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory which has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).

The new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem is our goal. May God keep us from the world, even though we outwardly are living in the world. Inwardly Christ is life both today, in the coming age, and in New Jerusalem.

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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.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

We are growing and being perfected in our Christian life. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem. This is not merely human maturity and human perfection; rather, it is Christ growing in us, Christ formed in us (Gal. 4:19), Christ making home in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). Christ in us becomes our maturity and perfection.

In 1 John 2:5 His word is for our perfection: “whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected.” In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” On one hand we need the word for our perfecting in love. On the other hand we need love to keep the word. Growth in Christian life is often bidirectional like this, not a matter of a sequence of steps. Lord, keep me loving You and Your word.

#NewJerusalemGod’s love is perfect, but there is a need for it to be perfected in us. This perfection saves us from all other loves, as in 1 John 2:15. And this perfection prepares us for New Jerusalem.

In 1 John 4:12 we love one another because God’s love is in us. While we are loving, God abides in us. The result is that God’s love is perfected in us. This shows that the perfection is not our human doing but is our cooperation with God working in us. “His love is perfected in us!

Then in verses 16-17 God is love in us. We open ourselves to this love, and then we and God have a mutual abiding and His love is perfected in us. Again, it is God in Christ perfecting us by being formed in us. Our cooperation with God’s perfecting work in us is the preparation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

While we are growing in our Christian life we are also being perfected. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemOur perfection includes transformation. Romans 12:2 exhorts us, “…be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.”

The result of transformation is that we corporately show forth the will of God. This will is good, in God’s sight, as is New Jerusalem. However, there may be outward events which help our transformation, which are not “good” according to our understanding.

In the same way, Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Again, this is God’s view of “good” and it applies to those who love God, those who are foreknown and predestinated by Him in eternity past to go through a process in order to be glorified (8:29-30). This glory ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Our transformation, the renewing of our mind, includes a change in our concept of “good.” God’s view of “good” is that we be transformed, conformed to the image of His Son (8:29), and glorified for New Jerusalem. This is far beyond a good job, a good, car, a good vacation, good food, etc.

Paul was pursuing God’s “good” (Phil. 3:12-14). Hence, in physical things he was content to abound or to be abased (Phil. 4:11-12).

The will of God in Romans 12 is well pleasing to Him, and to us when we are one with Him. God has predestinated us from eternity for His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5). And His good pleasure consummates in eternity with New Jerusalem. The will of God, including New Jerusalem, is perfect since God is perfect.

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The Mystery of God Revealed in Spirit to Those Who Love God

This is the era of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 2:1), of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11), of God’s will according to His good pleasure (Eph. 1:9), of Christ (Eph. 3:4), of the gospel (Eph. 6:19), and of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). These are not separate mysteries but multiple facets of one mystery.

New JerusalemThe mystery will reach a conclusion (Rev. 10:7), and everything of God will, pleasure, and purpose will be manifested. Nevertheless, the contents of the mystery—God, Christ, the kingdom, God’s will, the gospel, and godliness—will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

How can we see and enter into this mystery? Revelation in spirit and grace are necessary. For our sake, the apostles received a revelation in spirit (Eph. 3:3, 5) and received grace to minister it to enlighten us (3:7-9). This is according to God’s eternal purpose (3:11) so it surely includes New Jerusalem.

The mystery of God proclaimed in 1 Corinthians 2 was not according to human wisdom. To grasp God’s wisdom, our first key is “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (2:9). Natural senses (eye, ear, etc.) cannot touch the things God has hidden. Our need is to love Him. O God, we love You.

Our second key is “We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is from God, that we may know the things which have been graciously given to us by God” (2:12). We have received the Spirit and, the things which God has prepared, “God has revealed them through the Spirit” (2:10). O God, grant me a spirit of revelation to see the things You have revealed by Your Spirit.

To see more of New Jerusalem, which is mysterious to the natural man, we love God and receive the Spirit’s revelation.

Love the Lord to see New Jerusalem

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God’s Kingdom, Now and New Jerusalem

God has called us into His kingdom and glory (1 Thes. 2:12) to fulfill His purpose of being expressed and reigning through a corporate man (Gen. 1:26-28). Ultimately this goal is fulfilled in New Jerusalem which expresses God and is the center of His ruling in the universe.

New JerusalemRevelation 1:6 tells us that Jesus Christ “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever.” Again God’s kingdom and glory are linked. Today God has made the believers His kingdom; in the future the whole earth will be.

In Revelation 1:9 we read, “I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos…” The apostle John was inwardly in the kingdom while outwardly exiled to Patmos. New Jerusalem will be an open manifestation of the kingdom’s inward reality in which John was, and we are, participating.

In 1:9 John does not mention glory, only tribulation and endurance. Romans, Thessalonians through Titus, and James all have multiple mentions of endurance, which is needed to hold fast our faith in tribulations. Second Thessalonians 3:5 says, “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the endurance of Christ.” Our natural endurance is not what God wants; we need to be led into the endurance of Christ.

New Jerusalem will not display our natural (and fallen) virtues. Rather, it will be an exhibition of what God has imparted into us, including the love of God and the endurance of Christ. The glory of New Jerusalem will be a product of our loving God with the love He gives us and the many virtues of Christ realized by us in our living now, both in good times and in trials.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Pursue now, unto New Jerusalem (2)

Our present New Testament pursuing includes peace, love, sanctification, and building up (verses in prior post). All of these point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAdditionally, 2 Timothy 2:22 entreats us to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Our pursuing of righteousness is our pursuing of Christ because God has made Him righteousness to us (1 Cor. 1:30).

“We are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Not only New Jerusalem, but also the entire new universe will be characterized by righteousness. Furthermore, Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.” Ultimately the throne is in New Jerusalem from which the living water flows for eternity (Rev. 22:1).

We also pursue faith. This faith is our conviction of things not seen, including New Jerusalem, the city with foundations toward which Abraham looked (Heb. 11:1, 10, 16). We pursue peace too, which comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (start of Rom., 1&2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil) and is called “the peace of Christ” in Colossians 3:15. Additionally we pursue love, the love which is of God (Rom. 5:5) and is God Himself (1 John 4:16).

All our pursuing (and our fleeing also) is “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” To call on the Lord is to cry out to Him. This is an audible calling, as in Acts 7:59, and 9:14, 21. Here is much more on the Biblical history of calling on the name of the Lord. Given this long history, it is likely that even in New Jerusalem we will call on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Lord, bring me into the practice of 2 Timothy 2:22. Give me calling companions with whom I can call on You and pursue You as my righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

More: Discovering the Indwelling Christ as the Spirit by Calling on Him at Holding to Truth.

The House of the Living God—The Church Now, New Jerusalem in Eternity

The Fall 2012 issue of Affirmation & Critique* is on New Jerusalem. Here is an excerpt from the second article, Aspects of the New Jerusalem as the City of the Living God (by Witness Lee).

God has been working throughout the ages, first creating the universe and man and then coming to earth to redeem man. The Lord Jesus, the God-man, lived on earth, He was crucified and resurrected, He ascended, and He poured Himself out as the Spirit upon His disciples. The disciples then went out to preach the gospel. As a result of the preaching of the gospel, throughout the centuries people have been saved and added to the church in order to be built up as the Body of Christ to express Him.…The New Jerusalem is a great sign of the totality of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people.

The church today is the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). This house is not an actual house but the totality of God’s people. This house is a sign signifying that the church’s function today is to be a house in which the Triune God can dwell. In eternity this house will be enlarged to a city—the New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe physical things of the Old Testament were signs. Now we are in the New Testament age, the age of reality. This reality is spiritual, not material. We “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).

How wonderful that God desires to dwell in His people. For this Christ is making His home in our hearts (Ephesians 3:15) and we are being built up as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). This is the fulfillment of what the Lord promised 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.”

The key is to love the Lord Jesus. Lord, grant us mercy to love You every day from now unto 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.

We Await the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto Eternal Life and New Jerusalem

We were sinners but through God’s mercy His salvation came to us. Now we are His people to display and to tell forth His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9-10), both now and in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAlthough we have been saved and our salvation is secure, we still need God’s mercy. This is indicated by the opening words to several epistles:
• “To Timothy, genuine child in faith: Grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:2)
• “Grace, mercy, peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (2 John 3)
• “Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.” (Jude 2)

The epistles of Timothy and 2 John were written to respected Christians known to the apostles. Yet they wished mercy even to these advanced believers. Certainly we too still need mercy.

Jude was written to believers in general, those who are “beloved in God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ” (v. 1) and also wishes mercy to them. This too includes us.

This mercy is not only related to our being saved from sin, condemnation, and other negative matters. Jude 21 encourages us to “keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” We have eternal life already; here “unto eternal life” indicates we still need mercy to be brought into the fuller enjoyment of this life in the coming age and the fullest enjoyment of it in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Lance Cheung, courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

New Jerusalem is Prepared as a Bride

The apostle John declares “I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalemprepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2). This post concludes a lengthy series on the preparation of the bride.

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the bride and the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:9-10). The preparation of this city-bride has two sides:
God’s side—God “has prepared a city” for His people of faith who turn their back on the fallen world and “long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
Our side—we must cooperate with God’s operation to get ready. “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

Here is a summary statement, a key Bible verse, and a link to each post in this series on the preparation of the bride of the Lamb. Some posts also link to a coordinating song.

✦ The first step in the preparation was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3-4 and quoted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

✦ To prepare the way is by exhorting people to repent, to have a change of heart (Matthew 3:3). This is followed by many other words in Matthew concerning our heart.

✦ Jesus was declared to be God’s salvation, “prepared before the face of all the peoples” (Luke 2:30-32). Without Him as our salvation, we cannot come to New Jerusalem.

✦ In Hebrews 10:5-10 we see the preparation of a human body for the Lord Jesus, that He could be the unique sacrifice for sins, a step in God’s preparation of New Jerusalem.

✦ In John 14:2-3 the Lord Jesus tells us, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again.” He went through His death and came again in resurrection.

✦ Romans 9:23 calls us vessels of mercy, saying that God “might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory.” New Jerusalem will be the consummation of this glory.

✦ In 1 Corinthians 2:9 are “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Verses 6-14 show that these things have spiritual characteristics related to New Jerusalem.

✦ In Matthew 24:32-44 the Lord Jesus warns us about His coming, “be ready, because at an hour when you do not expect it, the Son of Man is coming.” He also said, “My words shall by no means pass away.” His words are important for our getting ready.

✦ In Matthew 25:1-13, “those who were ready went in.” This is to be with Jesus Christ our Bridegroom. For this we need the extra supply of oil.

✦ In Luke 22 Peter said to Jesus, “I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death.” Peter’s failure that night shows that we cannot get ready by ourselves. Rather, we must “come forward to the throne that we may receive mercy and find grace.”

✦ We should get ready and by ourselves we cannot. But “the word of God is living and operative” (Hebrews 4:12). We receive this word by faith (4:2) to get ready for the Lord.

✦ Our receiving the living word of God by faith is our cooperation with the Lord. We also “pursue…with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

✦ To call on the Lord out of a pure heart is needed, but in ourselves we are not pure. Nevertheless, we can “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He is our Father and we have His perfect and pure life.

✦ The “things which God has prepared for those who love Him” are “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (1 Cor. 2:9).

✦ God prepared the city New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16), the city is the bride (Revelation 21:2), the bride made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). Did God do the preparation or do we get ourselves ready?

God operates and we cooperate. We are those engaged to Christ, to become New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, and we should maintain our simplicity and purity toward Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). More about God operates and we cooperate.

✦ God has prepared the city but we do not see it. Why? God is eternal but we are stuck in time. So, we turn our hearts to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) and exercise our spirit of faith to care for the unseen, eternal things (2 Corinthians 4:13, 18).

✦ God has prepared the city and we have come forward by faith. We continue to pursue, to stretch forward to what God will manifest (Philippians 3:12-14).

✦ We pursue toward the goal and “we are not of those who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39). What are we pursuing? Christ Jesus. We pursue that we “may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

✦ God prepared and we are pursuing to gain Christ and be found in Him. Yet, there are tribulations while we strive to enter into what God has prepared. Nevertheless, Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we will receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

✦ God has prepared New Jerusalem. We do not see the city with our eyes but “faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

✦ New Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:7 proclaims, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Love is the critical factor for a bride’s preparation.

✦ Love is the critical factor and Ephesians 5:2 encourages us to “walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” To walk in love is to have our daily life governed by and filled with love from the Lord to us and reflected from us to Him.

✦ New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the things God has prepared for His lovers.  The crucial factor in our preparation is that our hearts be filled with love for our Lord.

Lord Jesus, we love You!

God’s Preparation for Those Who Love Him

New Jerusalem is the bride of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:2). On one side God “has prepared a city” (Hebrews 11:16) and on the other side, the bride “has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). The two previous posts were on getting ready by loving our Bridegroom (one  two)

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 2:9 speaks of “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the things God has prepared for His lovers.

These God-prepared things “eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (1 Corinthians 2:9); hence they are not natural or physical things which can be seen, heard, or imagined.

These things “God has revealed through the Spirit” (v. 10), whom we have received that we may know these things (v. 12). In this spiritual realm, the key to knowing is loving God.

To realize and participate in the deep and hidden things God has ordained and prepared for us requires us not only to believe in Him but also to love Him. To fear God, to worship God, and to believe in God (that is, to receive God) are all inadequate; to love Him is the indispensable requirement. To love God means to set our entire being — spirit, soul, and body, with the heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) — absolutely on Him, that is, to let our entire being be occupied by Him and lost in Him, so that He becomes everything to us and we are one with Him practically in our daily life. In this way we have the closest and most intimate fellowship with God, and we are able to enter into His heart and apprehend all its secrets (Psa. 73:25; 25:14). Thus, we not only realize but also experience, enjoy, and fully participate in these deep and hidden things of God.*

Lord, draw me to love You supremely, to have my whole being occupied by You and lost in You.

Photo by Willem van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

* Note 3 on 1 Cor. 2:9 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by LSM.

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