The Church: Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is the household of the living God and the Body of Christ. Both of these aspects of the church present to us the reality of New Jerusalem. The city is God’s eternal home in His millions of people, and these people are built together in His life just as the Body of Christ is one living entity.

Continuing to look at the nature of the church as a forerunner of New Jerusalem, we read, “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:1, 2 Thes. 1:1). The church is “the church of God” (multiple verses) and the church is also “of human beings.” However, these humans are not natural, in Adam, but regenerated, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonians, and all believers, are in God and the Lord by God’s action. “Of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:29-30). This is what the Lord promised earlier, in John 14. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (v. 20). “That day” is the day in which He became our life in resurrection (v. 19).

John 14:20 presents a coinherence: we are in God by being in Christ and God in Christ is in us. The church is both “of God” (as in Acts 20:28) and “of the believers” (as in 1 Thes. 1:1). Likewise New Jerusalem is composed of the Triune God in all His people and all His people in the Triune God.

New Jerusalem, like the church, is much higher, much more mysterious, much more marvelous than a physical city; it is a composition of the Triune God and His people living in oneness.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Baptized in One Spirit into One Body           and into New Jerusalem

All believers in Jesus Christ, although very numerous, “are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). To be “one Body in Christ” is not by our doing. Rather, 1 Corinthians 1:29-30 assures us, “of God you are in Christ Jesus.” In the same way, it is of God that we are in New Jerusalem and are one organic city in Christ.

New JerusalemHow did God put us into Christ so that we could be one Body in Him? First Corinthians 12:13 tells us, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body.”

This Body is the present reality of New Jerusalem. The oneness of the Body of Christ and the oneness of the new man (Eph. 2:15, Col. 3:10-11) both point toward the oneness of New Jerusalem.

How do we partake of this oneness? “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body…and were all given to drink one Spirit.” Isaiah 12:3-4: “You will draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation, and you will say in that day, Give thanks to Jehovah; call upon His name!”

These verses tell us that spiritual drinking is calling on the name of the Lord. Calling O Lord Jesus brings us into the practicality of the oneness as our foretaste of New Jerusalem. We can also cry out O Lord Jesus, we love You!

Surely New Jerusalem will be full of rejoicing, thanksgiving, calling, and loving the Lord.

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.

Drinking by Calling on the Lord at Holding to Truth.

Living in Christ unto New Jerusalem

New JerusalemOur oneness in Christ is the oneness of the new man who will consummate in New Jerusalem. This oneness sets us apart from the nations around New Jerusalem.

Our position in Christ is of God and is unchangeable (1 Cor. 1:30). But, our living in Christ, His living in and through us, is variable. None of us can say a hundred percent of the time “for me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21)? To increase our living of Christ we open to and participate in the Lord’s renewing of the new man (Col. 3:10) so that He can be “all” in reality (3:11).

As a result of our believing in Jesus Christ, we have been transferred out of Adam and into Christ. Positionally this change is quick, but the change of living takes a long time.

A human illustration: in less than 24 hours a person can fly from the U.S. to Russia or Norway to Pakistan or Brazil to China, etc. This is a positional change. But how many years does it take for this person to fully grasp the language, food tastes, attitudes, and habits of the new nation? Likewise to learn to live Christ is not quick.

This is our time of training, our time of learning to live in a new country—Christ. The more we live here, the more we have the foretaste of New Jerusalem. When we are in the fullness of New Jerusalem we will be one hundred percent living and magnifying Christ. Lord, grace us to advance daily in our living and magnifying You until we reach New Jerusalem.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (5)

Revelation 21:3 declares, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [New Jerusalem] is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” This is wonderful. However, while the peoples around New Jerusalem have God as their God, they do not have Him as their Father. They do not have the divine life which incorporates people into New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRegarding these peoples, Revelation 21:3 promises, “God Himself will be with them.” We could say, God will be their neighbor and they will be God’s neighbors. This is wonderful, but it is far short of the condition of the people built into New Jerusalem.

Unlike the peoples (plural) as neighbors around New Jerusalem, the people (singular) in New Jerusalem live in God and God lives in them. The source of this mutual indwelling is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In John 14:20, speaking about resurrection, He assures us, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

Besides this verse in John, many verses in the epistles speak of Christ in us; examples are “Christ is in you” (Rom. 8:10) and “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27); also look at this Bibles for America post.

Christ is in us and we are in Christ; examples are “of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30) and “You are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Being in Christ and having Christ in us is the essence of New Jerusalem, a blessing much higher than being around New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Where is New Jerusalem ?

New JerusalemWhere? The obvious answer is what John said in Revelation 21:1-2, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven…” New Jerusalem is in heaven until it comes down out of heaven to be on the new earth.

The New Testament also locates the city another way. First Corinthians 1:29-30 says that of God we are in Christ Jesus. And Colossians 3:3 says “your life is hidden with Christ in God.” The Triune God is our spiritual location no matter what our physical location is. This location will continue into New Jerusalem.

Furthermore, John’s epistles exhort us to walk in the light and to walk in love and they also tell us that God is light and God is love. Therefore, our walk, our daily living, is in God. This walk in God will continue into New Jerusalem.

We and God together are God’s building. Where we are, that’s where God’s building is. Ephesians 2:20-22 says that we are being built together

Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.

These verses thrice say that God’s New Testament building work is in Christ Jesus the Lord. New Jerusalem, as the consummation of God’s building work, surely will not be brought out of Christ. The city will also be in Christ Jesus, who is the embodiment of the Triune God.

Colossians 2:6-7 puts the verses from John and Ephesians together, saying we should walk in Christ Jesus the Lord and that we are being built up in Him.

Q: Where is New Jerusalem ?
A: in the Triune God !

New Jerusalem Displays the Wisdom of God

Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24) and He is God’s wisdom imparted to us (1:30). In His resurrection He as wisdom is manifested through His believers, displayed through the church, and eventually exhibited through New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 1:30 says that of God we “are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God.” This wisdom is not for human activities; rather it is “righteousness and sancti-fication and redemption.” God’s wisdom is Christ our righteousness, Christ our Sanctifier, and Christ as our Redeemer.

In Jesus Christ we have the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7). This grace abounds to us through God’s wisdom and prudence (1:8) not for human affairs but for carrying out God’s will according to God’s good pleasure and purpose (1:9). God’s purpose, God’s good pleasure, God’s will, culminates in exhibiting His wisdom through New Jerusalem as the center of the new creation.

Christ as wisdom is spoken by the apostles (1 Corinthians 2:7, 2 Peter 3:15) as an expression of the Christ who lives in them. The speaking of the apostles brings forth the church, the Body of Christ. As members of the Body, when we “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom,” this indwelling wisdom is manifested in our interactions with one another and in our singing with grace to God (Colossians 3:16). We can also “walk in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5).

As we all live out Christ as our wisdom, “the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church” (Ephesians 3:10). The Greek adjective translated “multifarious” occurs only here in the New Testament. Marvin Vincent says, through the Church God’s wisdom in its infinite variety is to be displayed.* This display is now because it is through the church.

Ultimately the display of God’s multifarious, infinite wisdom through the church will become a display through New Jerusalem.

*Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, reprinted by Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1946 (originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887).

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.

Indestructible, Unalterable, Unshakable

New JerusalemEverything of our Christian life is in Jesus Christ.

We received redemption in Him (Romans 3:24)
We have been baptized into Him (Romans 6:3)
Of God we are in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30)
We are all one in Him (Galatians 3:28)
We are one Body in Him (Romans 12:5)
He created the new man in Himself (Eph. 2:15)
We can be empowered in the grace in Him (2 Timothy 2:1)
We are called into God’s eternal glory in Him (1 Peter 5:10)
and much more!

The ultimate issue of our Christian life is New Jerusalem. Our Christian life and living today is in Jesus Christ* and, as the Body is in Him and the new man is in Him, so also New Jerusalem will be in Him.

Therefore, what He is will characterize New Jerusalem. Let’s look at 3 verses in Hebrews.

Verse 7:16 says that Christ was appointed a High Priest “according to the power of an indestructible life.” We are familiar with the term eternal life but the word indestructible is unique in this verse. New Jerusalem will not only be eternal in quality and time but also indestructible.

Verse 7:24 tells us that “He, because He abides forever, has His priesthood unalterable.” Because New Jerusalem is in Jesus Christ, because He is perfect, and because the city is animated with indestructible life, there is no reason or possibility to change it—it is unalterable**.

Verses 12:22-24 speak of our coming forward to Mt. Zion, to the city of the living God, to God, to Jesus, to the blood which speaks better. Then verse 12:28 sums up saying, “Therefore receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace.” Our coming forward is our receiving. Other things are shakable (v. 12:27) but New Jerusalem is unshakable. Let us come forward, receive, and have grace!

Lord, grace us in Yourself every day from now unto New Jerusalem.

* Our position in Jesus Christ is eternally firm, yet when we get angry, sink in despair, forget about Him while we pursue other goals, or any other kind of failure, our living is not in Him. At such times we are in Him positionally but not abiding in Him. We can confess our sins/weaknesses/failures, ask Him to forgive us (1 John 1:9), and ask Him to return us to and keep us living in Him.

** We often change things in our human surroundings because we get tired of them; we become unsatisfied. But in New Jerusalem we will be totally satisfied and will not seek any alterations.

Washed by the Water in the Word to be Holy

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city. Jesus Christ has accomplished and God has given Him to us as our holiness objectively. Thus, in position, in status, we match the holy city. Throughout our Christian life we gradually enter the subjective experience of this holiness.

First Corinthians 3:17 says, “the temple of God is holy, and such are you.” This is an objective fact. God put the Corinthian believers into Christ and made Christ their sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:29-30). Because of God’s action, Paul could say that the Corinthians were the holy temple of God.

However, consider their condition as described in 1 Corinthians: divisions, fornication, lawsuits, denying resurrection, etc. They were sorely lacking in experience of the fact that God had given them. They were fleshy and infants in Christ (v. 3:1).

Ephesians 2:21 says that in Christ “all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” “Being fitted together” and “growing” indicate a subjective, on-going experience. This experience will bring us into the reality of the “holy temple in the Lord” a temple which has the same constitution as the holy city.

To match New Jerusalem, we need the daily renewing of the Holy Spirit, the renewing which began from our regeneration (Titus 3:5). Ephesians 5:25 says that Christ gave Himself for the church. Verses 26-27 tell us that He is working to “sanctify* her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious…holy and without blemish.”

Lord, grant us the daily renewing and the washing of the water in Your word. Infuse us with Yourself that we may be holy and without blemish to match New Jerusalem.

* Reminder from a prior post: although the English words holy/holiness (from Anglo-Saxon) and sanctify/sanctification (from Latin) seem very different, they are translations of closely related New Testament Greek words.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Jesus Christ is Our Sanctification

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2, 10) and Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God. When we receive Him, His holiness becomes ours, which enables us to participate in the holy city.

First Peter 1:2 says that we were “Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in the sanctification* of the Spirit unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” This is the Triune God’s operation. The Father chose us in eternity past. The Spirit sanctified* us, separating us from all else to bring us to Jesus Christ in order that we could obey Him and receive forgiveness of sins based on His blood shed in death.

As a result of our response to the Spirit’s sanctification, 1 Corinthians 1:30 declares that of God we “are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” It is of God, not of ourselves, that we are in Christ Jesus. And, since we are in Him, He is our sanctification, our holiness. He is the source, we are not. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 1:31 says, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.”

Because our sanctification of from Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ, we are saints. We are saints in Him, not in our natural being. Romans (1:6-7) was written to those in Rome called by Jesus Christ, the called saints. Ephesians (1:1) was addressed to the saints in Ephesus and Philippians (1:1) to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.

Our holy position in Christ and our status as saints (sanctified people) in Him are because God’s operation put us on the path to the holy city New Jerusalem. Our position and status today match New Jerusalem!

* Although the English words holy/holiness (from Anglo-Saxon) and sanctify/sanctification (from Latin) seem very different, they are translations of closely related New Testament Greek words.

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