The Gospel of the Kingdom and New Jerusalem

The gospel is of glory and of peace; both link New Jerusalem to the gospel. The gospel is also “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23). This is another link between the gospel and the eternal kingdom of God which is the new creation with God’s throne at its center, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Matthew 24:14 the Lord Jesus says, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” 

The gospel to every nation is based on the Lord’s accomplishment on the cross, as declared in the song of praise to Him in Revelation 5:9, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for 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.”

Through death the Lord purchased some from every nation and made us all priests to God. Now the gospel goes out to every nation to proclaim this accomplishment. This gospel brings us into the priesthood now (1 Peter 2:5, 9) and in New Jerusalem.

The priesthood purchased out of every nation is also a kingdom. Like the priesthood, the kingdom is both now and eternally in New Jerusalem. This is the eternal goal of the gospel of the kingdom.

Additional verses about the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel to the nations include Mark 13:10, Luke 4:43, 16:16, Acts 8:12, and Gal. 3:8.

The Narrow Way of Bearing the Cross and Denying the Self unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 16:24-25, “Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it.” These words are followed by the Son of Man coming in His glory and in His kingdom, both of which point to New Jerusalem. This is the constricted way the Lord spoke about in Matthew 7.

New Jerusalem

This subject seems negative, BUT remember, the death of our natural life manifests the resurrection life, the only life present in New Jerusalem. “Always bearing about the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” (2 Cor. 4:10).

Here is one key point or verse from each post in this series, with a link to the post.

The death of Christ terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released the divine life, and created the new man.

We were crucified with Christ and also raised with Him (Rom. 6:6, Col. 3:1).

Christ offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). In this Spirit His death and His life are available to us.

Objectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. Galatians 2:20 is about our experience.

Christian growth in life is gradual (Gal. 4:19). To deny ourself is the key to growth.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, begin in Matthew 10:38, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

Luke adds a word not in Matthew, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 14: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own soul-life, he cannot be My disciple.” If we are not disciples, how will we be in New Jerusalem?

Denying and losing the soul life is our responsibility, yet self cannot deny self. We apply the death of Christ in Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, “by the Spirit you put to death…”

The Lord told us to deny ourself, and He did this. An example: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26).

In John 7 and 8 the Lord declared that He did not seek His own glory.

To deny ourself is to deny our opinions, preferences, like and dislikes, complaints, and vain talking. Perhaps none are evil, but they are self and will not be in New Jerusalem.

Denying and losing the self seems negative, but death is followed by resurrection. We are being put to death that the life of Jesus may be manifested (2 Cor. 4:10-12).

The word of the cross is…to us who are being saved…the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

We boast in Christ Jesus and long “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:3, 10).

To deny the self requires constant exercise, empowered by His resurrection with a longing for the fuller resurrection at His return and the fullest in New Jerusalem.

Looking away unto Jesus” enlivens us to be delivered unto death and to deny ourself.

The denial of our soul life is presented in Ephesians 4:22: “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man. Then we put on the new man who continues into New Jerusalem.

To deny our self and lose our soul life is to take the constricted way which leads to life (Matt. 7:14), eventually to the city of life, 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 U.S. National Park Service.

The Narrow Way unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 7:14: “Narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life.” We have this life today through regeneration. We take the narrow, constricted way now to New Jerusalemthe fuller joy of this life in the mani­­festation of the kingdom and to the fullest joy in New Jerusalem.

The narrowness and the constriction correspond with taking up our cross daily and denying our self, our soul life. The narrow, constricted way does not accommodate self-indulgence, selfishness, selfish ambition, self-love, self-will, seeking gain through base means, seeking our own things (even if good), nor apparently good things like self-chosen lowliness.*

In contrast, a walk on the constricted way is to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteous­ness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Our fleeing is our denying. Righteousness, faith, love, and peace are all Christ Himself supplying us to bear our cross on the constricted way.

Similarly 1 Timothy 6 speaks of things that cannot come through the narrow gate, such as pride, contentiousness, envy, strife, slanders, and love of money. Verse 6:11 then tells us that to be “a man of God” on the constricted way, we need to flee all the selfish things “and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness.” All of these virtues are Christ Himself as our life in resurrection and all will continue on the constricted way unto New Jerusalem.

*All these “self” characteristics are from New Testament verses.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

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.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe have, objectively, all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now this must become our constitution by Christ increasing in us and our self decreasing.

This decrease is through our denying our self to apply, in spirit, the death of Christ to our natural being. Our denying ourself is part of our journey through the cross to New Jerusalem.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, our natural life, are in five different chapters. In Matthew 10:38 He said, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The next sentence has denying the soul life. If we do not take our cross / deny our soul life, we are not worthy of Him. How then could we be worthy to participate in New Jerusalem?

In Matthew 16 the Lord spoke again about denying the self, taking the cross, and losing the soul life. This is in the context of His building the church, his Body, which He is building by flowing out through His members, as revealed in Ephesians 4:15-16. His Body, composed of Him mingled with His believers as the members of His Body, is the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (5)

Positionally we have all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now it gradually becomes part of our living, expressed in our daily life. This maturing in life is a foretaste of New Jerusalem, the ultimate corporate expression of Christ.

Growth in the Christin life is a gradual process. This life is Christ Himself. As He increases and spreads in us we grow. Some verses about this progressive growth:
• “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)
• “That He would grant you…to be strengthened…that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:16-17)
• “The Head, out from whom all the Body…grows with the growth of God.” (Col. 2:19)

New JerusalemOur gradual entering into the experience of all that Christ is to us is our growth in Christian life. This is in resurrection. How does this relate to going through the cross to New Jerusalem? The answer is: for Christ to increase in us requires the decrease of our natural life.

There are three New Testament Greek words translated life in English; one indicates our physical life, one our psychological life (soul life), and one eternal life. For the increase of eternal life, the Lord instructed us to deny our self life. “Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).

To deny ourself is to follow the Lord; this is the key to Christian growth and is how we progress by the cross to New Jerusalem.

 

The Word of the Lord Jesus Brings us to New Jerusalem

In Revelation 21:1 John said, “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.” This new heaven and new earth are the scene in which New Jerusalem appears.

The Lord Jesus foretold the passing away of the old creation when He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Perhaps the Lord’s word is the basis for Peter to quote Isaiah, “the word of the Lord abides forever” and to declare “according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

New JerusalemThe Lord’s comparison indicates that we should give more attention to His words than to heaven and earth. They will be replaced but His words will carry us onwards into New Jerusalem. Here are a few of the many functions of this word.

• We have been regenerated by incorruptible seed, “the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)
• We live, not by bread alone, but by “every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)
• We grow spiritually and taste the Lord by means of “the milk of the word.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
• We are sanctified to match the holiness of New Jerusalem by the “washing of the water in the word.” (Eph. 5:26)

To hold to the Lord’s word is tied to loving Him. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23) and “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (15:10).

Loving the Lord Jesus and holding His word are basic necessities for today. They also prepare us for New Jerusalem and will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: God is our Master

Revelation 22:3 says “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Three posts have looked at all of us as slaves of God. Now consider a few verses showing the Lord Jesus as our Master, the One whom we serve.

New Jerusalem“No one can serve two masters….You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). We serve our Master, God, now and in New Jerusalem. Then, the parable in Matthew 13:24-30 portrays the Lord as the Master, who sowed good seed in his field to bring forth sons of the kingdom of God. What He sows is always good.

In a parable in Matthew 18, the Lord as the Master was moved with compassion and forgave His slave’s debt. This is a picture of the forgiveness of sins that we received. However, later the Master disciplined the slave because he did not forgive his fellow slave. Full forgiveness, from the Lord to us, and from us to one another, is necessary on the path to New Jerusalem.

Second Peter 2:1 speaks of the Master who bought us. This purchase was by the redeeming death of the Lord Jesus. Because He paid the price for us, we can receive the forgiveness of all sins. His redeeming death also cleanses us from all our filthiness. This is illustrated by His cleansing of ten lepers who cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Finally, Colossians 4:1 instructs human masters “grant to your slaves that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Our heavenly Master is just and equal, having no respect of persons. This righteousness, equal treatment, forgiveness, mercy, cleansing, and more characterize the One we will serve as slaves in 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.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

New Jerusalem: God’s Slaves Serve Him

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 human society slavery is not good, but to be slaves of God (and also sons of God) is our eternal destiny. Let us review the divine slavery as revealed in the New Testament.

Moses is identified as a slave in Revelation 15:3. In a parable in Matthew* 21 the Lord Jesus describes the Old Testament prophets as God’s slaves. Mary called herself a slave of the Lord (Luke 1:38) and Simeon likewise (Luke 2:29). The Christians in Jerusalem asked the Lord to “grant Your slaves to speak Your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29)

New JerusalemPaul, James, Peter, and Jude all began epistles calling themselves slaves of the Lord. Paul also referred to Timothy, Epaphras, and Tychicus as slaves of God. All of these labored to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

In parables in Matthew 13, 24, 25 the Lord Jesus portrays all His New Testament disciples as His slaves and Himself as the Master. In Matthew 20:27 He said, “whoever wants to be first among you shall be your slave.” And in Acts 2 is God’s promise to pour out His Spirit upon his slaves.

These verses indicate that we are slaves of God both in this age and in New Jerusalem. We must give ourselves to serve God and learn how to serve. An example to us is the faithful and prudent slave in Matthew 24 who gives food to God’s household and does not eat and drink with the drunken. This food nourishes us to grow in the divine life. We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem.

*and similar verses in Mark and Luke

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.

The Morning Star Rises and the Day Dawns unto the Full Day of New Jerusalem (3)

God in Christ is a rising Sun, moving toward the full day of the new creation. With God there is no sunset, only a day brighter and brighter. Eternally God in Christ will illuminate New Jerusalem so brightly that “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon.”

The women who were the first to learn of the Lord’s resurrection “came to the tomb as the sun rose.” The sun rising to begin a new day is a picture of resurrection beginning a new age. The “sun” of this age will rise to a full day, consummating in the city of resurrection, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemProverbs 4:18: “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”

We, in ourselves, are not righteous before God, but Christ has become our righteousness! As we live Him, He becomes our righteous actions, our righteousnesses, as our wedding garment (Rev. 19:8) that we may participate in the wedding feast.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that at the end of this age “the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father”(Matt. 13:43). In Malachi 4 the Lord is the rising Sun of righteousness; it seems that He is separate from us. But, in Proverbs 4 and clearly in Matthew 13, we shine.

We shine, but the light is not of us. We shine because Jesus Christ is in us, and through our living Him out as our righteousness, we become constituted with Him to be righteous subjectively/experientially and thus we shine. This righteous will increase into the new creation (2 Peter 3:13) and the shining will increase to New Jerusalem, the city having the glory of God.

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