Betrothed to Christ as a Pure Virgin for New Jerusalem

Two thousand years ago John saw “New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” John had been carried away in spirit to have this eternal view, unlimited by time*. In our human life in time, we need to cooperate with the Spirit for the preparation of the bride by the growth, perfecting, and renewing in Ephesians and Colossians.

Another aspect of the preparation of the bride is in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with a jealousy of God; for I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” For this, Paul urges us to stay with “the simplicity and the purity toward Christ” (v. 3). We hold to the Jesus we received, the Spirit who regenerated us, and the gospel presented to us in the Bible (v. 4).

New JerusalemMatthew 5 also speaks of the pure in heart. To be pure in heart is to be single in purpose, to have the single goal of accomplishing God’s will for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). Ultimately the goal and the glory are New Jerusalem.

Our pure heart is also in 2 Timothy 2:22, “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” A pure heart is a single heart without mixture, a heart that seeks only the Lord and takes the Lord as the unique goal.

Lord, draw us daily to Yourself as our unique goal to purify us unto New Jerusalem.


Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* More on seeing New Jerusalem in spirit:
See New Jerusalem with a Spirit of Faith
In Spirit to See and Enter New Jerusalem

The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus and the Preparation of the Bride

The Lord Jesus promised, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). He will come to judge the earth, to rapture the believers, and to “present the church to Himself glorious” as His bride, His wife. We must cooperate with His operation to be ready for this. Here are links to posts on this topic with a key point or verse from each.

New Jerusalem

The Lord says, “Behold, I come quickly.” In response “The Spirit and the bride say, Come!”

We do not merely wait for His coming. We can be people “expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God.”

In a parable in Matthew 24 the Lord charges us to watch and to be ready for His coming.

In Matthew 25 “The bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.”

In Matthew 25 there is a warning to us—not all believers were ready to enter.

The readiness of the bride comes from God working in us in response to our cooperation.

Our cooperation includes letting the Lord’s living word operate in us, not loving the world, watching in prayer, denying the self to be filled in spirit, and not saying, my Master delays.

Until the Lord comes, “count the long-suffering of our Lord to be salvation.”

On one hand Christ sanctifies the church “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” On the other hand, Revelation declares “His wife has made herself ready.”

The Lord Jesus will come again in glory and will present the glorious church to Himself for His wedding. Eternally, glory fills New Jerusalem and the city “has the glory of God.”

The Lord Jesus Will Come in Glory and the Church Will Be Glorious

In Matthew the Lord Jesus tells us three times that He will come again in glory.
• “The Son of Man is to come in the glory of His Father with His angels.” (16:27)
• “See the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (24:30)
• “The Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him.” (25:31)

New JerusalemOur Lord Jesus Christ comes again not only in glory, but also “to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” At that time He will “present the church to Himself glorious…holy and without blemish.”

He will come in glory and the church will be glorious. The two will match, as Bridegroom and bride.

This matching in glory will consummate in New Jerusalem. An angel said to John, “Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:9-11).

The glory of the Lord’s coming and the glorious church become, for eternity, the glorious New Jerusalem. “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” New Jerusalem is glorious because the glory of God enlightens it and radiates through it.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (3)

New JerusalemIn Matthew 25 the Lord spoke a parable about a wedding feast. When the bridegroom came, those who were ready went in with him to the feast. This parable is a picture of the real wedding feast, with the Lord as our Bridegroom and New Jerusalem as His bride, who has made herself ready.

Those who were ready were filled with the Spirit. Those who were not allowed to enter had little of the Spirit. We should not think that those excluded from the feast were not believers. Look at the ten virgins in Matthew 25; both wise and foolish:
• all are virgins (v.1); unbelievers are not virgins in the Lord’s view;
• all went forth to meet the bridegroom (v. 1); unbelievers don’t do this
• all responded to the cry to go forth (v. 6-7); unbelievers won’t do this
• the foolish had lamps that were lit (v. 8); the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord
(Prov. 20:27), their spirit being “lit” indicates it was enlivened by the Spirit;
• the foolish called the bridegroom Lord (v. 11); unbelievers don’t do this.

The conclusion of the parable is “Watch therefore” (v. 13). Watch, pray, let the Spirit fill us. “Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth” (Col. 3:2). “Do not be drunk with wine [neither physically nor with worldly pursuits], …but be filled in spirit” (Eph. 5:18). We don’t wait passively for New Jerusalem; we pursue now to be filled and ready for the wedding feast!

Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (2)

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” “Let us rejoice and exult, New Jerusalemand let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

In Matthew 24 the Lord spoke to us about being ready. Three keys here are living contact with the Lord’s word, loving God, and watching in prayer. In Matthew 25 He continued with a parable about being ready for a wedding feast, which depicts the real wedding feast with Him, the feast tied to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 25:10: “The bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.” The key to readiness is being filled with the Spirit. signified in this parable by oil in the vessels.

God created man with spirit, soul, and body. Due to the fall of man, man’s spirit was deadened and his soul became the self. In regeneration the Spirit enlivened our spirit. Now there is a need to deny our self by exercising our spirit to take our cross daily so that the Spirit may spread from our spirit to saturate our soul. One aspect is Ephesians 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” a part of our soul.

To be ready, we need to deny our self in its ambitions, pride, pleasures, complaints, and many other things, and instead seek the Lord in His word, in prayer, in rejoicing, in singing, both alone and with other believers. This is our path to readiness on our way to the wedding feast and New Jerusalem.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9-10). In Revelation 19 a great multitude shouts, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, New Jerusalemand His wife has made herself ready.”

We, all the believers in Christ, as members of the corporate bride, get ready by cooperating with the Spirit’s work in us. Our cooperation hastens the readiness of the bride and the Lord’s coming.

Two portions in Matthew (one in the next post) speak about our readiness. Matthew 24 charges us to watch and to be ready for the Lord’s coming. His coming is both for judgment and for presenting the church to Himself glorious as His prepared bride.

The charge to be ready is in the context of historical and present unreadiness. These people are a warning to us. I see three principles to safeguard us. First, the Lord says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away” (24:35). Lord, make Your words always living to us.

Second, people are occupied with worldly endeavors. These are not necessarily evil but “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” Lord Jesus, keep me loving You and the Father!”

Third, in Gethsemane the Lord put watching and praying together. To watch is to be alert in fellowship with the Lord in prayer. Lord, make me a praying person. These three actions get us ready for the rejoicing of Revelation 19 and onward to 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 LSM.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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.

 

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