Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

New Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb, is composed of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified people. God’s choosing determined that we are on the path to New Jerusalem. Although we were among fallen men, Christ’s redemption brought us back to God and regeneration gives us God’s eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemTRANSFORMED: Regeneration is to be born of the Spirit in our spirit, as the Lord spoke in John 3. Transformation is the spreading of divine life into our soul to renew our mind. This renewing is also our transformation (Rom. 12:2).

This is based on our consecration (Rom. 12:1) and is accomplished by our cooperation with the Spirit’s work in us and is “unto glory” that is, unto New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

GLORIFIED: Transformation develops God’s glory within us. However, transformation is in our soul and the expression of glory is still constrained by the body of our humiliation (Phil. 3:21). Glorification, transfiguration, is the divine life saturating our mortal body so that it will “be conformed to the body of His glory.” This is “the redemption of our body” which is the full sonship.

This glorification will occur when the Lord returns, “When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). This, our glorification, is “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8) whose glory we “behold and reflect” (2 Cor. 3:18) throughout our transformation, saturating our entire being and radiating through us that all may behold.

This glory developed in us began with regeneration, continues through transformation, and is concluded by glorification. This causes us to match New Jerusalem, the city which “has the glory of God.”

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory

Joy, Praise, Victory, Eternal Marriage

The song of praises in the prior post continues in its ninth verse:
_Now rejoice and be exceeding glad! What glory is displayed!
_For the marriage of the Lamb, the wife all ready now is made!

New JerusalemThese words correspond with Revelation 19:7. John says here, “Let us rejoice.” This comes from the exhortation in the heavenly praise in 19:5-6 concerning God’s reign.

In 19:7-9 the praise and rejoicing continues to the marriage of the Lamb. The Lamb, Jesus Christ, is the eternal Husband, and New Jerusalem is His eternal wife. This is clearly stated in Revelation 21:2, 9-10.

The song continues, In fine linen, bright and pure, ’twas granted her to be arrayed. This is Revelation 19:8, which also says that “the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.”

The fine linen is not a physical garment, but is our righteousnesses, our righteous acts. These acts are Christ Himself coming forth in our living. This is the result of our giving ourselves to gain Christ and be found in Him in daily life, having Him as our righteous living, as presented in Philippians 3:7-9. This expression of Christ in our living is a precursor of His much fuller expression through New Jerusalem.

The tenth verse of the song presents Revelation 20, the devil cast into the lake of fire. This is the final step of carrying out the judgement Christ accomplished on the cross. This is cause for more praise; the song says, Hallelujah, never more need we his provocations bear!.

The judgements in Revelation 20 are the last step before the new  creation appears with New Jerusalem. For every one of these steps we can rejoice. Hallelujah!

A Personal Testimony (2018)

I wrote my first Personal Testimony post in May 2014, a month after my wife died. I wrote a second Personal Testimony a year later. Now it is four years since her death and I have the feeling to write again.

I continue to love the Lord Jesus, read His word, have frequent fellowship with believers, teach in a Bible school, and participate in the Lord’s work. And I keep writing this blog about New Jerusalem.

The New Testament views death as sleep, from which the Lord will awaken us.* “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Resurrection is our hope for all who are or will be asleep in the Lord.

But I am not passively waiting for that resurrection. Paul, in the last years of his Christian life, said that he had not yet attained to the goal, but he pursued (Phil. 3:12-14). I am surely further from the goal than he was, so I pursue, “forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before.”

To forget the things behind is not to despise all that the Lord has done with us. Rather, it is to clear the path so that He can do more and become fresh and richer to us. Every day or every week we should realize more of Him as everything to us. Lord, bring me onward with Yourself! This is our goal today, and our ultimate goal is New Jerusalem.

Here is a song based on Philippians 3 about pursuing Christ.

* For example, Matthew 9:23-25, 27:50-53; John 11:11-13; Acts 7:60; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (4)

Romans 5, Romans 8, and 2 Corinthians 4 all speak about passing through sufferings to glory.

The first step of this glory an inward beholding, as in 2 Corinthians 3:18. The second step is the Lord’s visible return to earth. “We eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:20-21). The ultimate step of this glory is New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemPaul prayed for the development of the virtues of Christ in the Philippians “to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11). He also told them, “to you it has been graciously granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe into Him but also to suffer on His behalf” (1:29). Again we see sufferings and glory in the Christian life. However, New Jerusalem will be glory without sufferings.

This gracious granting to suffer implies the supply of grace to carry us through the sufferings.

Paul also stated his own desire (and no doubt his desire for us also) “to gain Christ and be found in Him…to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead” (3:8-11).

It is by the power of His resurrection that we are enabled to be in the fellowship of His sufferings. Gaining Christ and being found in Him daily develop the power of His resurrection in us and bring us into the fellowship of His sufferings. This fellowship eventually brings us to the resurrection, the transfiguration, of our mortal body to meet the Lord in glory at His return and to participate in New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection and glory.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

#NewJerusalemMany New Testament verses speak about our growth. Growth is needed so that we will mature in the divine life to match New Jerusalem.

First Peter 5:10 says, “But the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” With our cooperation, God Himself will perfect us. All the sufferings we go through are for our perfecting, for our reaching God’s goal, New Jerusalem.

Paul expresses this cooperation as counting all things loss for the excellency of Christ (Phil. 3:7-8), an excellency fully manifested by New Jerusalem. He sought to gain Christ and be found in Him (3:8-9). He was also pressing onward toward the goal, the fullest experience of Christ, which would prepare him for the prize, New Jerusalem (3:13-14).

When we have a goal different from New Jerusalem, our attitude is not like Paul’s and we try to escape the sufferings and we hold on to all things. But Paul was a person fully for God’s eternal purpose. His desire was to live Christ and magnify Christ whether through life or death (Phil. 1:20-21), whether his outward circumstances were bountiful or pitiful (4:11-12).

On the road to New Jerusalem, outward circumstance do not matter. Our attitude should be, “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). The sufferings are “things seen” but New Jerusalem is among “things not seen.”

Lord, turn my view away from the temporal things to Your eternal things.

Seek the Riches of Christ

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s work through all the ages. For New Jerusalem God manifests “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” (Rom. 2:4), “the riches of His glory” (multiple verses), “forgiveness according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7), “the surpassing riches of His grace” (Eph. 2:7), “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8), and “the riches of the full assurance” (Col. 2:2).

New JerusalemAll of these riches continue into New Jerusalem and we should seek them, regardless of whether we are rich or poor humanly. Moses was this kind of seeker, considering “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26).

Monetary riches are deceitful (Mark 4:19) and hinder our entrance into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-24), which ultimately is New Jerusalem. These physical riches are a root of evil (1 Tim. 6:10), full of uncertainty (1 Tim. 6:17), and can bring in many problems (James 5:1-3).

By grace, the churches in Macedonia were a strong contrast in their liberal giving to needy believers. “That in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2).

Hebrews 13:5 exhorts us, “Let your way of life be without the love of money.” If we love human riches we will seek them and our heart will be on them (Matt. 6:19-21). But, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ we will seek Him and our heart will be set on heavenly matters.

May the Lord be merciful to us all. Whether we have human riches or scarcity, let us be those who seek the riches of Christ, who seek to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8), who seek the present reality of 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 by Randy Roberts, courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

God Strengthens Us, According to the Riches of His Glory, unto New Jerusalem

This post continues verses that say according to God’s will/purpose/pleasure… all of which are surpassing and excellent and which culminate in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 3:16: “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit…” Ephesians 1 has a prayer for our seeing and Ephesians 3:14-19 is a prayer for our experience.

For such experience, we do not depend on our own strength. Rather, God strengthens us according to the riches of His glory. This strengthening is for Christ to make home in our hearts (3:17) so that we can be filled unto all the fullness of God (3:19) to glorify God in the church (3:21) and in New Jerusalem (3:21).

Philippians 3:21: “Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory, according to His operation by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.” Currently our body is a body of sin and death (Rom. 6:6, 7:24). This in no way matches New Jerusalem. But our Lord Jesus Christ is able to conform us to His body of glory to match the city of glory. This is not according to our need but according to His all-subjecting operation.

Philippians 4:19: “And my God will fill your every need according to His riches, in glory, in Christ Jesus.” God fills our need but not according to our need. God fills according to His riches. And this filling is in glory, corresponding to New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

Colossians 1:11: “Being empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all endurance and long-suffering with joy.” We are empowered to “walk worthily of the Lord” (1:10) but this empowering is not merely to match our shortage. Instead it is far higher, according to the might of His glory, another pointer toward New Jerusalem.

We can pray, Lord, turn my view from myself, my situations, and my needs to You, Your riches, Your glory, Your operation, and Your power

New Jerusalem is Pure, Transparent, Bright

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is pure, clean, clear, and transparent. New Jerusalem, as the bride of the Lamb, is also bright: “it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

Within New Jerusalem is “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceed-ing out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street” (Rev. 22:1). The brightness is from the Lord Jesus Himself. He says, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16). When He appeared to Saul from heaven, He was “a light from heaven beyond the brightness of the sun” (Acts 26:13).

New Jerusalem is a composition of God in Christ dwelling in all God’s redeemed people. The city is bright not only because the Lord Jesus is bright. It is bright because He is living with every redeemed person and will make each one bright with Him.

The Lord spoke about this in Matthew 13. At His second coming, His angels will cast out all who are stumbling blocks and all who practice lawlessness (v. 41). “Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (v. 43). “Father” here indicates that the righteous will shine forth because of the Father’s life, which is Christ in us.

The righteous will shine because their living is Christ, who becomes their practical, experiential righteousness. This is the longing expressed by Paul in Philippians 3, to be found in Christ, having the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith.

To be in Christ and to be positionally righteous in Him is a fact. To be found, to be seen by others, in Him and to be found living out God’s righteousness, is much more. Such a living produces the shining in the kingdom and the bright clothing of the bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem—Magnification of Christ (2)

The prior post presented Paul’s individual magnification of Christ (Phil. 1:20) as a miniature of the corporate magnification of Christ in New Jerusalem. The Greek verb translated magnify means to declare to be great, to glorify, to praise, to exalt.

Although magnify is not in Revelation, the magnification of Christ is seen in the glory of the city: “And he [an angel] carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (Rev. 21:10-11a)

New JerusalemBased on Paul’s example, we magnify Christ today by living Him, by believers praying for us, by the bountiful supply of the Spirit, and by His excellency motivating us to count everything else as a loss (Phil. 1:19-21, 3:7-8).

Another magnification is in Luke 1:46-47, “Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior.” First, Mary’s spirit exulted in God; then her soul magnified the Lord. Her praise to God issued from her spirit and was expressed through her soul. Her spirit was filled with joy in God her Savior, and her soul manifested that joy for the magnifying of the Lord.*

Based on Mary’s example, our magnification of Christ is by the joy of the Lord. In our-selves and our situations we often feel we cannot rejoice, but we are in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). In Him we can rejoice now and we will rejoice in New Jerusalem. Philippians 3:1 and 4:4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

Acts  16:25 describes an undesirable situation, a prison: “about midnight Paul and Silas, while praying, sang hymns of praise to God; and the prisoners were listening to them.” Christ in us is able, any place, any time, any situation, for our praising to magnify Him; how much more in New Jerusalem!

* from footnote on Luke 1:47 in NT Recovery Version Online.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

We Pursue toward the Goal to Gain Christ

New JerusalemGod has already prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16). This is New Jerusalem. At present we can have a spiritual foretaste of New Jerusalem but we do not have a full realization of it.

The foretaste combined with the lack of full realization should motivate us to rise up and pursue. “We are not of those who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39). Rather, as Paul said, “I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

What then should we pursue? Jesus Christ!!  Paul’s pursuing in Philippians 3:12 is defined in prior verses: “that I may gain Christ” (v. 8) and “to know Him” (v. 10).

We have Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and our Life. Yet we still should pursue to have increasing realization and experience of Him. A song based on Philippians 3:10-14 begins,

__Press on, press on toward the goal—
____The all-inclusive Christ.
__To gain the prize of God’s high call,
____Press on, press on to Christ!

May the words of this song be our attitude, our aspiration. The fuller our realization of Jesus Christ, the more we will taste the reality of New Jerusalem. Let us be encouraged by the Lord’s word in Philippians and by its expression in this song.

__Press on, press on, this one thing do,
____Forget the things behind;
__Press onward to the Christ before,
____Press onward with this mind!

Let us pursue, let us press on, to the fullest gaining and knowing of Jesus Christ. This is our path 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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Forgetting, Stretching, Pursuing

New JerusalemGod has already prepared a city for His people—“He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). This is New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:22 says further that we “have come forward to…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Our coming forward is by faith.

God has prepared and we have come forward. So why don’t we see New Jerusalem? Why aren’t we fully conscious of it? Prior posts (one two) responded to this question.

Although God has prepared the city, it has not been manifested. This absence should motivate us to pursue, to come forward, not to relax, not to be passive. This is Paul’s attitude in Philippians 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal…”

Paul received much revelation and grace from the Lord. Yet, he did not boast in that. Nor did he count that as sufficient. Rather, he pursued. The Lord is ever new, ever fresh, ever unfolding His riches. We need not fear dropping the past because there will always be something more of Him before us.

May the attitude and desire expressed in Philippians 3 be infused into us! May we all be saved from passivity. Let us pursue more of the Lord daily. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo by Willem van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia

God Has Prepared the City, But …

We are in a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem. Hebrews 11 speaks about people of faith. Regarding Abraham and his descendants it says, “they long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (v. 16).

New JerusalemThis verse says that God has already prepared the city of New Jerusalem. This is the city which has foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God (v. 10).

But … why don’t we see the city? It is because we are stuck in time. God (and what God does) is eternal, outside the limitations and sequential order of time.

But … why don’t we see the city? It is also because we are partially stuck in the old creation. One part of our being—our human spirit—has been born of the Spirit (John 3:6). This is wonderful. Thank the Lord for this!

Another part—our mind—is being transformed by renewing (Romans 12:2) indicating that our mind is old, separated from the newness of God. And Philippians 3:21 speaks of a third part of our being as “the body of our humiliation” because sin dwells in it (Romans 7:14-18).

What should we do? One answer is in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18. These verses say that whenever our heart turns to the Lord the veil—anything of time and the old creation which separates us from the Lord—is taken away. Then the Lord, the Spirit transforms us.

This transformation is “from glory to glory” taking us toward the ultimate glory of New Jerusalem.

Read more about the three parts of man, their condition, and God’s salvation or watch a 5 min video.

Earth rise from Apollo 11 in lunar orbit, photo courtesy of NASA.

%d bloggers like this: