We Serve as Priests, Now + New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe description of life in New Jerusalem includes, “And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him” as priests (Rev. 22:3). Several NT verses speak of our serving as priests also in the present age.

We might feel unqualified to serve, but God in Christ has done everything needed to qualify us. He “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6). He did this by dying to redeem us and resurrecting to enliven us.

Hebrews 9:14 proclaims, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” This is the redeeming aspect. We apply this in our Christian life by confessing our sins (1 John 1:9).

In Hebrews 12 Jesus is “the Author (Originator) and Perfecter (Completer) of our faith.” This is the life aspect. We serve God as redeemed people by His divine life and supplied by His grace. We need to repent of our unqualified feeling. Then we put away every encumbrance and look away [from ourselves] to Jesus (12:1-2)!

As we look away from self to Jesus, we are kept in the grace of God (12:15). We have already “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (12:22). Outwardly things may be in disarray but “receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly with piety and fear” (12:28). This is our foretaste of serving God as priests in New Jerusalem.

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The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (5)

Genesis 1–2 presents many pictures which are fulfilled in New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. A song couples these two ends of the Bible. Here is the fifth verse of the song and the Bible verses underlying it.

New JerusalemMan in the garden of the clay was formed,
In nature as the Lord created him;
The tree of life was then without the man,
Not having yet become his life within.

Genesis 2:7 says, “God formed man with the dust of the ground.” Then 2:9 says, “out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

The tree of life symbolizes Christ, who is “the life,” to be our life, the life that brings us into God’s building and builds us together as New Jerusalem.

God told Adam that he could eat from every tree except that he should not eat the tree of knowledge. This is God’s first commandment to man. However, man violated that command, ate from that tree, and was shut out from the garden with no access to the tree of life.

But God’s purpose cannot be stopped by this failure. God came in Christ, redeemed us, and regenerated us with Himself as life, the reality of the tree of life, the life of New Jerusalem.

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The Gospel: Be Cleansed, Receive Eternal Life, Enter New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 22:14 proclaims, “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city.” This is the gospel to everyone now.

Our robes signify our conduct. In the eyes of God all our living apart from Him, even our good deeds, is like “a soiled garment” in Isaiah 64:6. We need to wash our robes/garments, our conduct. This washing is by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14) which cleanses us from everything we have done apart from God (Acts 15:9).

This cleansing/washing gives us the right to the tree of life—Jesus Christ becoming our life for our new birth and being our life supply for our daily living with Him.

The cleansing/washing also gives us the right to enter by the gates into the city, New Jerusalem. An unbeliever’s basic need is to confess that he is a sinner apart from God, to turn to God, and to thank Jesus for dying to cleanse him and resurrecting to impart eternal life into him. This is the proper response to the proclamation of Revelation 22:14.

In contrast to 22:14, verse 15 declares “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and makes a lie.” Those who reject cleansing through the death of Jesus and refuse to repent (e.g. Rev. 16:9) will be outside, that is, in the lake of fire.

May all who are around us hear and respond to Revelation 22:14 to be cleansed, have life, and enter 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by LSM.

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Christ Redeemed Us for New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:1 presents the river of life and 22:2 the tree of life in New Jerusalem. Verse 22:3 continues, “And there will no longer be a curse.”

New JerusalemThrough death and resurrection Jesus Christ overcame everything negative in the universe, and by the end of Revelation 20, all His victories had been fully applied and every negative thing is in the lake of fire. So, there is no curse in New Jerusalem.

The curse originated in Genesis 3 after the serpent, the devil, had deceived Eve and Adam. The curse was applied to the serpent but also experienced by humanity, who had received the nature of sin and death from the serpent (Rom. 5:12).

Later the law was added. On the positive side, the law testifies God’s attributes; on the negative side the law exposes the sin nature operating in man. Galatians 3:10 tells us that “as many as are of the works of law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things written in the book of the law to do them.'”

As fallen men we were under the curse but, “Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse on our behalf; because it is written, ‘Cursed is every one hanging on a tree'” (Gal. 3:13).

He died on the cross (“hanging on a tree”) “that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14). Now, through faith we are sons of God, have put on Christ, are one in Christ, and are heirs according to God’s promise (3:26-29), ultimately to inherit all that Christ is in New Jerusalem.

No Curse in New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem has a Wall with Twelve Gates

Revelation 21:12 tells us that New Jerusalem “had a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names New Jerusalemof the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”

New Jerusalem has a great wall to clearly separate it from what is not part of it. But it also has gates so that we may enter the city! “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city” (22:14).

To wash our robes is to receive the forgiveness brought forth by the death of Jesus on the cross with the shedding of His blood. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Jesus accomplished the redemption; we wash our robes (our conduct) by receiving what He did; the result is the forgiveness of our offenses.

Based on this forgiveness, we partake of Christ, portrayed by the tree of life, as our life and enter through the gates into New Jerusalem. The city has twelve gates, with twelve angels and twelve names inscribed. Twelve in the Bible signifies eternal perfectness. The gates through which we enter New Jerusalem are not temporary but are eternal.

The Lord’s shedding of His blood was in His death and our partaking of Him as life is in His resurrection. His death and resurrection are our entrance into New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the Bride,                        Jesus Christ is the Husband

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). The entire city is the bride and the Husband is the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:25-26 speaks of the Lord’s work to prepare the bride “that He might present the church to Himself glorious” (v. 27) at His second coming, His coming in glory.

John the Baptist spoke of the Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom with all the believers as His increase (John 3:28-30). And in Mark 2:19-20 the Lord Jesus described Himself as a Bridegroom. These words point toward the Husband of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21.

Jesus Christ as the Husband of the church in Ephesians 5 and of New Jerusalem is also prophesied in the Old Testament. Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your Husband; Jehovah of hosts is His name. And the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” The Lord Jesus is our Redeemer so that He can impart eternal life into us to constitute us to be His bride so that He can be our Husband.

Hosea 2 speaks of Jehovah’s reclaiming Israel from idol worship. Verse 16: “And in that day, declares Jehovah, You will call Me My Husband.”

New Jerusalem as a bride for Jesus Christ the Husband is not a new idea in Revelation; rather, it is the consummation of what is presented to us throughout the Bible.

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New Jerusalem Comes Down, Prepared

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

New JerusalemThe fact that prepared follows from God implies that God is the Preparer of the bride. Hebrews 11:16 agrees with this, saying that God “has prepared a city for them”—for those who live as sojourners on the earth while seeking a better country, a heavenly one (11:13-16).

Some of the preparation has been done by the Triune God with no action by us, including incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. These steps are necessary to redeem us and to release the divine life so that it can enter into us. Without this redemption and life, there is no possibility for us to be prepared for New Jerusalem.

After we receive this life, we need to cooperate with it. The word bride indicates a wedding feast, about which the Lord speaks in Matthew 25:1-13. In this parable the wise virgins gain the oil, a type of the Spirit, to fill their vessels. This filling is our cooperation with the preparation of New Jerusalem.

This corresponds with being filled in spirit in Ephesians 5 which requires not being drunk with worldly pleasures and pursuits. This filling also depends on our singing with our heart to the Lord, speaking to one another, giving thanks to God, and submitting to one another.

To be filled with the oil in every part of our begin results in our life and nature matching that of New Jerusalem, the city which is from God and of God.

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Sonship for New Jerusalem (3)

God has chosen and predestinated us unto sonship “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:4-6). This praise culminates with the glory of New Jerusalem.

We have the sonship, yet Romans 8:23 says, “we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body.” We have the sonship but we are awaiting the fulness of this sonship.

New JerusalemThe fulness will occur at the redemption of our mortal body. The mortality of our body, with its weaknesses, sicknesses, and lusts, is the cause of our groaning.

While we are groaning, “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).

Sonship is “to the praise of the glory of God.” The glory is within us, but will be released at the Lord’s return when our physical body is “conformed to the body of His glory.” The climax of this released glory is New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God.”

All believers in Jesus Christ have been born of God and have the sonship. Throughout our Christian life we cooperate to let this sonship grow in us. Growth unto maturity, while awaiting our Lord’s appearing, 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by LSM.

Sonship for New Jerusalem (2)

God has chosen and predestinated us unto sonship according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:4-5). Then verse 6 says that this is “to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He graced us in the Beloved.” God’s choosing, predestinating, good pleasure, His will, His grace, and the praise of His glory all climax in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemGod’s choosing and predestinating are eternal, but man fell into sin and death and was under the condemnation of the law. We could not do anything but “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law, that He might redeem those under law that we might receive the sonship” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Through the death of Jesus Christ we were redeemed and through His resurrection we were regenerated (1 Peter 1:3) and “receive the sonship.” Redemption is needed for fallen humanity but life brings forth the praise of His glory now and in New Jerusalem.

For this sonship, Romans 8:15 tells us that we “have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba, Father!” This is the divine Spirit who gives birth to our human spirit and then dwells in our human spirit. In this spirit we have the reality of sonship. To cry “Abba, Father” releases the spirit deep within us to testify that we are children of God, born of God (v. 16).

From regeneration we are children of God. Now we are growing in this life to be mature sons to be fully prepared for New Jerusalem.

 

New Jerusalem, the Eternal City (2)

New Jerusalem is eternal and all the positive eternal things in the New Testament are related to it. Christ’s eternal redemption cleansed us and His resurrection released the eternal life to us. The eternal redemption is practical into us through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14) and the eternal life is Christ Himself living in us.

New JerusalemThe blood Christ shed for eternal redemption is “the blood of an eternal covenant” (Heb. 13:20). In this covenant all that Christ is and all He has accomplished is guaranteed to us. And He becomes “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).

Because “Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God,” His blood acts to “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). We serve God now and will serve Him in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3). While we are serving, we have the gift of “eternal comfort and good hope in grace” (2 Thes. 2:17).

Outwardly we have trials and sufferings but these do not negate the eternal salvation. Rather, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). Based on this vision, Paul said, “I endure all things for the sake of the chosen ones, that they themselves also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10).

Salvation with eternal glory brings glory into us and brings us to New Jerusalem, the city of glory.


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 by S.L. Wong via pexels.com.

New Jerusalem, the Eternal City

New Jerusalem is an eternal city. All the positive eternal things in the New Testament point toward this city. This is the first of a few posts looking at these eternal things.

Romans 16:26 speaks about “the eternal God.” And Ephesians 3:11 says that this God has an eternal purpose. God has a definite purpose underlying His creation of the universe. This purpose is to gain a corporate humanity for a wonderful expression of Himself.

God’s purpose is first indicated in Genesis 1:26, where man was made in the image of God. This man fell away from God but God’s purpose is eternal. God came in the man Jesus and through death created a new man (Eph. 2:15). This new man fulfills God’s purpose and expresses God here on earth now and becomes New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemThe new man expresses the eternal God by having the eternal life. This eternal life is emphasized in John and 1 John and is also touched in about 20 other verses in multiple New Testament books.

This eternal life comes to us through “the eternal redemption” accomplished by Christ shedding blood on the cross and bringing it into the heavenly holy of holies (Heb. 9:12) as the reality of Leviticus 16.

The Lamb of God on the throne of New Jerusalem reminds us of the eternal redemption, and the river of water of life is the eternal life flowing to supply the entire city, the city of life, for eternity.

Redemption unto New Jerusalem (4)

When our Lord Jesus comes again in glory, He will redeem our mortal, corrupted body, transfiguring it to be like His body of glory (Phil. 3:21). This is a step on our path to New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God.”

The graphic is the last verse of a hymn about the redemption of our body. Once more, the New Jerusalemverse begins with Christ our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Then “He is our history.” We have believed “into Christ Jesus” and we are now in Him. Here He is our history.

He has become one with us and He is our life (Col. 3:4) for us to experience Him daily. Soon He will come again to transfigure our mortal bodies and bring us into His glorious liberty. This liberty will free our mortal bodies from sin, death, and all kinds of weaknesses and corruption unto the eternal, incorruptible New Jerusalem.

The freedom of glorification through the redemption of our mortal bodies will make even our physical bodies one with Him. We will be one with Him completely and forever.

Based on the redemption gained through Christ’s death and our believing, we have regeneration in our spirit. That began the renewing of the Holy Spirit in our soul (Titus 3:5), which will culminate with the redemption/transfiguration of our body. All of this prepares us to rejoice with Christ at the wedding feast and to live eternally as part of New Jerusalem. Thank Him for this wonderful, complete salvation!

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