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.

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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.”

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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.

The Wedding Feast and New Jerusalem

This concludes a group of posts about New Jerusalem as the eternal marriage. A link to each post is presented. The primary verses are:

“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.” (Rev. 19:7)

“Blessed are they who are called to the marriage dinner of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19:9)

“I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2)

“One of the seven angels…spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he…showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” (Rev. 21:9-10)

“At that time the kingdom of the heavens will be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom….The bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.” New Jerusalem(Matt. 25:1, 10)

New Jerusalem: the Unique Marriage
New Jerusalem: the Unique Marriage (2)

The Believers Together Are New Jerusalem

The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb
The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb (2)
The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb (3)
The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb (4)

Rejoice, the Marriage of the Lamb has Come

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Rejoice, the Marriage of the Lamb has Come, and His Wife [New Jerusalem] is Ready

Recent posts are on the marriage and marriage dinner of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and New Jerusalem as the bride, the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7, 9; 21:2, 10). When the Lord returns, He will present the church to Himself as His glorious bride (Eph. 5:27).

New JerusalemA song (words + music) express the Lord’s and our longing for this wedding day. The first verse is:
__Lord, Thou wilt soon appear,
____Thy day is almost here.
__Oh, how we love Thy coming soon!
____We have no other
____Lord, life, or lover
__Than Thou, Lord Jesus, our Bridegroom!

With the eternal marriage in view, the Lord spoke of Himself as the Bridegroom in Matthew 9 and 25. To prepare us, He is our Lord to rule us, our Life to supply us, and our Lover to attract us.

Ephesians has many verses on love, and presents human marriage as a picture of the eternal marriage of New Jerusalem. Part of the second verse of the song says:
__Oh what an hour sweet
__When Bride and Bridegroom meet
__And love surpassing comprehend.
Looking forward to the day of His return, Ephesians ends, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Lord Jesus, we love You and are eager to see You return and to comprehend the surpassing love! This longing is expressed in the third verse of the song, “Soon we shall see Thy face! / Amen, Lord Jesus! Quickly come!”

The last verse of the song says, “Thou, our Lord Bridegroom, Thou / Soon wilt return to claim Thy Bride.” Then Revelation 19:7 will be fulfilled, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife [New Jerusalem] ]has made herself ready.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb (4)

Revelation 19:7, “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 21:2, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

In the parable in Matthew 25, ten virgins all “took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” When he came, five who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast. Five foolish virgins were shut out. However, the Lord promised that He will never cast us out and that no one can take us out of His hand. As a result, these foolish believers will be in New Jerusalem but after a period of discipline.

New JerusalemThe paths of these two groups of virgins seem to match the verses in Revelation written above. Remember that these two verses are not at identical times but are separated by many events later in chapter 19 and through all of chapter 20.

Those who were ready and went into the wedding feast (Matt. 25:10) are those who “made herself ready” (19:7) and thereby receive the blessing (Rev. 19:9). Entrance to the wedding feast is not based on individual Christian perfection but on corporate experience of Christ, resulting in our building together.

The virgins who came later and were not let into the feast (Matt. 25:11-12), who are then perfected through discipline (as in Heb. 12:5-11) become part of the prepared bride in Revelation 21:2. They miss the wedding feast but are part of New Jerusalem for eternity.

Based on the Lord’s firm promises, I expect all believers to be constituents of New Jerusalem, whether partaking of the wedding feast or not.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Marriage Dinner of the Lamb (3)

Revelation 19:9: “Blessed are they who are called to the marriage dinner of the Lamb.” This dinner will be a reward to the Lord’s faithful believers. This dinner is a foretaste of the eternal marriage of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and His wife, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9-10).

New JerusalemThis marriage dinner is presented in a parable in Matthew 25:1-13. The virgins who were ready went in but the virgins who were not ready were shut out. But were they shut out temporarily or forever? Only temporarily; they will be brought to New Jerusalem.

Jesus said, “I give to them eternal life, and they shall by no means perish forever, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father…is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

And Jesus promised: “Him who comes to Me I shall by no means cast out” (John 6:37); “I shall by no means give you up, neither by any means shall I abandon you” (Heb. 13:5). The Lord’s promises here are unconditional. “By no means,” that is, under no circumstances whatever, will He ever cast us out or cease to uphold us. These are His faithful promises. This eternal promise endures unto New Jerusalem.

The prior post shows that the five foolish virgins are believers. The verses above show that they are eternally secure.* “No one,” including the devil and the foolish virgins themselves, can snatch them out of the Lord’s hand. And He will never give us up despite our foolishness. However, such believers should expect discipline from the Lord and the Father (Heb. 12:5-11).

The discipline will seem to be a matter of grief (12:11), but eventually these believers will be prepared and will partake of our Father God’s holiness (12:10) and match the holy city, New Jerusalem.

* For more, see The Assurance, Security, and Joy of Salvation or read online

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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