The Course of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemOur Christian life begins with repentance and consummates with New Jerusalem. Although every Christian has had an initial experience of repentance, during the progress of our Christian life we might need further times of repentance.

It is sad that the New Testament has many examples of people who refuse to repent. The Lord rebuked multiple cities for this failure (e.g. Matt. 11:20-24), and large numbers in Revelation refused to repent (9:20-21) even when they knew they were under the judgment of God (16:8-11).

May we never be like those people. Lord, keep our heart soft to You every day. If we realize that we still have sin and sins, as we see in 1 John 1,and recognize that we are not sufficient in ourselves to serve the Lord, we will welcome His mercy. We are vessels of mercy, and God desires to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.”

Besides welcoming His mercy, we also confess our sins, exercising to be void of offense. This is our cooperation with His mercy. When we cooperate by confessing, we have boldness to come forward to His throne of grace, where we receive more mercy and find grace to meet every need (Heb. 4:16).

Thank God for His mercy to us that we may be vessels to contain and express His riches. This is for His glory. “To Him be the glory in the church” now (Eph. 3:21). And to Him be the glory in New Jerusalem for eternity.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 3

This is the next verse of a song about Christ’s love for the church as His wife. This love extends to New Jerusalem, His eternal wife.

New JerusalemIt begins with mercy and love. Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of our fallen condition but 2:4 declares the contrast, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” Through mercy and love, God made us alive together with Christ and raised us up together with Him.

Ephesians 2:7 tells us that God’s desire is that “He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The ability to produce this display out of our fallen condition manifests God’s unsurpassed wisdom and is through His grace, both mentioned in the verse and the song.

Certainly we can sense the love of God and must thank Him for this love, yet we are limited. We should expect, as in the song, that the fulness of this love is only comprehended by God.

This verse of the song ends with Christ laying down His life as a fragrant offering. The Lord spoke of this in John 10:11, “the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” And Ephesians 5:25 tells us, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

The fragrance at the end is clearly typified by the fragrance of the offerings in Leviticus and implied by the Father’s word “This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight” (Matt. 3:17).

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 19 Brings Us to New Jerusalem (3)

Revelation 19 has much to say about Jesus Christ Himself and His accomplishments to end this age, bring in the next age, and open the door for New Jerusalem to come down out of heaven.

In verse 19:14, “The armies which are in heaven followed Him on white horses, dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” The white and clean garments indicate that these believers are approved by the Lord. These garments are not merely gifts to them. Rather, the garments manifest the believers inward condition and daily living.

This clean living includes the cleansing of our sins, and also the transformation of our inner being. The first is the forgiveness by Christ’s redemption (Eph. 1:7). The second is accomplished by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) and also the purifying of our souls by our obedience (1 Peter 1:22).

New JerusalemThe garments qualify us 1) to attend the marriage dinner of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9), 2) to be part of His victorious army, and 3) to participate in New Jerusalem.

Forgiveness of sins is a necessary step in becoming part of New Jerusalem, but it is not the only step. We also need the renewing of our inner being to match the newness of New Jerusalem. This is the renewing of our mind by the Spirit in our spirit (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:23).

Those who are wearing white garments are on white horses. These match the white horse on which the Lord sits (v. 11). By the Spirit’s renewing, we are being renewed according to the Lord’s image (Col. 3:10), thus matching Him in many ways. We thereby become His expression now as the new man (Col. 3:10-11) and eternally as New Jerusalem.

The Promise: New Creation, New Jerusalem

This post concludes our look at New Testament verses with the words according to God’s... These eternal characteristics of God bring forth New Jerusalem and constitute us into it.

New Jerusalem1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Regeneration is our first step into New Jerusalem. There is nothing we can do to qualify ourselves for regeneration; Jesus Christ has done it all and according to God’s great mercy we can receive what He has accomplished.

2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” The new creation, with New Jerusalem as its center, is not our uncertain human hope; it is according to God’s promise. New Jerusalem will be full of “eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the times of the ages” (Titus 1:2). God’s promises are from eternity to eternity. Thank Him!

In the verses in this and four prior posts (1 2 3 4) we see God’s eternal plan carried out according to His great mercy, good pleasure, will, purpose, counsel, promise, riches of glory, riches of grace, and the operation of the might of His strength.

All of these divine characteristics are eternal. They are manifested in His actions in eternity past (e.g. predestinating in Eph. 1:5), now (e.g. making known to us the mystery of His will in Eph. 1:9), and at His second coming (e.g. conforming our body of humiliation to His body of glory in Phil. 3:21).

These characteristics and the actions carried out through them have eternal results in New Jerusalem, where we will forever enjoy the riches of His grace and proclaim the riches of His glory.

According to God’s Purpose, Grace, Mercy

New JerusalemThis post has more verses with the pattern according to God’s…everything. God’s ways and His acts are marvelous and culminate in New Jerusalem.

Colossians 1:29: “For which also I labor, struggling according to His operation which operates in me in power.” Paul labored much, but not by his own effort. His labor was according to the Lord’s operation in him. This is the Lord Jesus, carrying out, through faithful believers, His declaration in Matthew 16, “I will build My church.”

2 Timothy 1:9: “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages.” God’s calling of us, like so many other steps He takes, is according to His own purpose. This calling is also according to His grace, His coming to us to be experienced by us.

Titus 3:5: “Not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:3 describes us as “…once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving as slaves various lusts and pleasures…” As such we were not qualified for God’s purpose and had no share in New Jerusalem. But when the kindness and love of God appeared (Titus 3:4), He saved us according to His mercy.

Hebrews 2:4: “…distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His will.” Likewise, we were not qualified to receive the Holy Spirit, but, based on His mercy, God gave the Spirit according to His will. In ourselves we are not suitable for New Jerusalem because of God’s mercy the Spirit will constitute us for this city.

Thanks be to our God and Father for His rich provision.

New Jerusalem, a Revelation in Spirit

Recent posts present steps in our Christian journey to get to the high mountain to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). How long will this journey take? The Bible does not say.

New JerusalemThe length of the journey depends both on the Lord’s mercy and on our cooperation along the way. Do not be discouraged by failures. In the Old Testament picture Israel had complaints and resistance along the way. Nevertheless, God brought them to the mountain because that was His intention to fulfill His purpose.

When Israel began walking after eating the passover lamb (a picture of Christ— 1 Cor. 5:7) they had no idea how long it would take to get to the mountain. Likewise, we have no idea when we will be “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). We are journeying like Abraham, who “being called, obeyed to go out…not knowing where he was going” nor when he would arrive (Heb. 11:8).

God had promised to bring Israel to the mountain (Exo. 3:12) and He did it. Since there is also a New Testament mountain, surely there is also a New Testament promise.

The key to seeing New Jerusalem is our human spirit. The Holy Spirit is involved in the vision in oneness with our spirit. We are one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), and the Spirit witnesses with our human spirit (Rom. 8:16). If we are in the flesh, the Holy Spirit remains in us but cannot live or work in us. May we let the Spirit dwell in us, live in us, be active in us. There is no other way to see New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Praise God for Mercy unto New Jerusalem

God’s mercy underlies our redemption, our regeneration, His supply for our daily Christian walk, and our certainty of the eternal future in New Jerusalem. As we conclude our posts on God’s mercy, here are some verses from a hymn written by Witness Lee (music). We “glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:9).

New JerusalemGod, we praise Thee for Thy mercy,
__’Tis so great and so profound!
In our weakness and our failures;
__With its greatness it abounds.
We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
__With such mercy we’ve been crowned!

Mercy reaches us even when we are in our weakness and in failures. And what day do we not have failure? Therefore we can join the praise of Lamentations 3:22-23, “His compassions do not fail; they are new every morning.” We fail but His compassions never fail. Of course, we will not have failures in New Jerusalem, but His mercies, His compassions will still be there.

New JerusalemFor Thy mercy we are grateful,
__’Tis so rich, so plenteous!
Thru Thy mercy in redemption,
__Thou hast richly favored us.
If without this, if without this,
__How could we be favored thus?

We can never cease to praise Thee,
__As Thy mercy e’er endures;
All Thy grace and all Thy favor,
__Ever for us it secures.
Trusting in it, trusting in it,
__Thy sure mercy us assures.

Without God’s mercy in redemption we could never have begun the path to New Jerusalem. To arrive in New Jerusalem, we surely need life and the growth in life which only God can give (1 Corinthians 3:6), yet without mercy for redemption, we are shut out from life (one two three posts on this). God’s mercy secures all God’s grace and all God’s favor for us; trusting in mercy and praising for mercy, we have assurance unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of Salt Lake City Weather Service Forecast Office and NOAA.

God’s Eternal Goal is New Jerusalem

Romans 11 speaks of God’s work among the Jews and among the non-Jews. All of this work is unto His eternal goal, the New Jerusalem.

Mercy is intimately involved in God’s work through the ages. Romans 11:30-32 says,

For just as you [believers not of the Jews] once disobeyed God, but now have been shown mercy because of their [the Jews] disobedience, so these also now have disobeyed, so that because of the mercy shown to you they also now may be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.

New JerusalemGod wants to show mercy to all. He will do it in His way and in His time. Nevertheless, we should cooperate. We should cry out to Him for mercy. We should also come forward to the throne of grace to receive mercy.

We should praise God. We do not understand all His working and cannot comprehend why He does things a certain way, but we should recognize that He is infinitely wise and knows the best way to accomplish everything. Romans 11:33-36 proclaims, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!…To Him be the glory forever.”

Finally, in the words of Romans 15:9, “the Gentiles should glorify God for His mercy.” We are objects of His mercy! Let us glorify Him now and unto New Jerusalem.

Photo by Bruce Fritz, courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The New Creation is What Matters

It is God’s mercy that we have been forgiven and regenerated and are going to New Jerusalem. On this path we still need God’s mercy. Today we come forward to receive mercy and find grace at the throne, which is the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem.

In Galatians 6:15-16 Paul says, “For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation is what matters. And as many as walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.”

New JerusalemCircumcision and uncircumcision are outward; they are not what matters. What matters to Christians is the new creation. In Galatians the new creation includes Christ revealed in us (1:16), being sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (3:26), Christ living in us (2:20), and Christ formed in us (4:19).

The new creation also includes receiving the Spirit by faith (3:2), being perfected by the Spirit (3:3), walking by the Spirit (5:16), living by the Spirit (5:25), and sowing unto the Spirit (6:8).

In our living we should care for the new creation. Presently this creation is spiritual and hidden within us. Eventually the new creation, the new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem as their center, will become visible to all (Revelation 21:1-2).

Paul’s word in Galatians 6 wishes peace and mercy to those who walk by caring for the new creation, to those who have a living and a view unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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.

Mercy Leads Us to Life for God’s Habitation

New JerusalemEphesians 2 and Titus 3 present our transition from a sinful condition apart from God to having eternal life for the building of God’s habitation. Both God’s life and His habitation have their consummation at New Jerusalem.

We need the eternal life to participate in the building of God’s habitation. Our growing in this life is the building up of this habitation and of the Body of Christ, as in Ephesians 4:15-16. However, as sinners, we are not qualified to receive eternal life. We are shut out, kept away from the tree of life, as portrayed in Genesis 3:24. Therefore we need God’s mercy.

Like Ephesians 2 and Titus 3, 1 Peter also has the thread of mercy, life, and building. Verse 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, kept in the heavens for you.”

Our regeneration, the marvelous inheritance, the building of God’s house in 1 Peter 2, and the new heavens and new earth in 2 Peter 3 all point toward New Jerusalem.

Blessed be our God and Father, who regenerated us according to His great mercy and who will also bring us unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

According to God’s Mercy He Saved Us

New JerusalemThe prior post focused on Ephesians 2, where God’s mercy is brings us to salvation “that He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of this display.

Titus 3:4-5 say, “the kindness and the love to man of our Savior God appeared, not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

Titus 3:3 (like Ephesians 2:1-3) presents our fallen condition, requiring God’s mercy. Then Titus 3:4-5 (like Ephesians 2:4-6) presents God’s mercy and our salvation. This salvation renews us to be God’s people for the building of God’s habitation.

First Peter 2:9-10 is similar—“you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but now are the people of God; who had not previously been shown mercy but have now been shown mercy.”

Again, mercy has come to us to make us God’s people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation. An issue of this is that we tell out/declare/show forth/proclaim His virtues, His excellencies. Eternally, New Jerusalem will be this telling out, this showing forth, of God’s excellencies.

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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

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