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.

The Two Ends of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemThe New Testament begins with repentance and ends with New Jerusalem. These are the two ends of our Christian life.

The New Testament begins with a call to repent “for the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 3:2), “and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and “for forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3). When we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven and we also receive eternal life. These two steps bring us into the kingdom.

The New Testament ends with New Jerusalem; at the center of this city is the throne of God and the Lamb from which the river of water of life flows. Here the Lamb is a memorial of our forgiveness, the river is the divine life supply, and the throne indicates the kingdom.

Everyone who has been regenerated has had the initial experience of repentance. As we go through our Christian life, we might need more times of repentance. For example, Simon had believed and been baptized (Acts 8:13) but Peter exhorted him to repent. And Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians brought forth repentance among them (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord charges us to repent. This is to return to our best love to Him (2:5), to turn from false teachings and immoral actions (2:16, 22), and to rise out of deadness and lukewarmness (3:3, 19). These needs, or other actions which keep us from the Lord, require our repentance. This is part of our journey from initial repentance to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Spoken to Ephesus in Revelation 2

New Jerusalem is a marriage. The relationship of the Lord and the city, His bride, is in love. Last month there were six posts on this love from verses in Ephesians, The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians.

At the beginning of Ephesians God “chose us…to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” At the end of Ephesians “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Approximately 30 years after Ephesians was written, the Lord spoke to them again in Revelation 2:1-7.

New JerusalemThe Lord commended the Ephesians for their work and labor and endurance and hating what He hates (v. 2-3, 6). However, He also said, “I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love” (v. 4).

The Lord focused on this one lack among them because loving Him is so important. We go to the marriage of the Lamb in love and with love.

The Lord’s word to the Ephesians is also to us: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (v. 7).

The Lord’s instruction to us is “Remember therefore where you have fallen from and repent” (v. 5). We need the rebuke in verse 4 and the reminder in verse 5. Thank the Lord that there is still time to repent!

Lord Jesus, forgive me for letting my love to You fade. Please keep my ear open to the Spirit and remind me always to love You.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The Gospel: a Promise of Resurrection and Incorruption

“Our Savior Christ Jesus, nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). His resurrection nullifies death and His resurrection life changes our corruption into incorruption, thus preparing us for New Jerusalem.

In Acts 13 Paul spoke of “the gospel of the promise made to the fathers.” This gospel is characterized by resurrection and incorruption. The first step for us, as mentioned in Acts 13, is forgiveness of sins as God’s response to our repentance. This is Luke 24:47, “Repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.”

Based on this forgiveness, we receive God’s eternal life, an incorruptible life, the life of resurrection. This life matches New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection.

When we receive this life, the first action in us is that our deadened spirit is made alive. Then gradually this life spreads in our being to renew our soul—our mind, emotion, and will—making our soul life. Gradually this life is imparted into our mortal body, an impartation which will be completed at the Lord’s return so that “the body of our humiliation” may be “conformed to the body of His glory.”

This life saturating our being makes us people full of life and full of incorruption, swallowing all the death and corruption in our being. Through this development, we get fully conformed to New Jerusalem to become a part of this city “having the glory of God.”


Some phrases about this development of life:
Eph. 2:5 God, “when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ”
Rom. 8:10 “if Christ is in you…the spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Rom. 8:6 “the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
Rom. 8:11 God will “give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (3)

#NewJerusalemIn the New Testament we no longer have a physical temple. Rather, the living temple is both Jesus (John 2) and His believers (2 Cor. 6:16). But, the Bible’s description of the old, physical temple depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The prior two posts are about the ark and its contents, described in Hebrews 9:4. Then 9:5 says, “And above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place.” The lid of the ark, with the propitiatory blood on it, frees us from the condemnation of falling short of the requirements of the law in the ark.

Today we certainly need forgiveness and cleansing of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. Before our initial repentance we were dead spiritually and were sinners condemned by God’s righteous requirement. We repented and believed, thus “though dead in your offenses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our offenses” (Col. 2:13).

That action took care of all offenses before our regeneration. Afterwards, 1 John 1:9 applies, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thank Him!

In New Jerusalem there is no sin nature and we will never do sinful deeds. Nevertheless, in New Jerusalem God and the redeeming Lamb are on the throne (Rev. 22:3) and they are the temple (Rev. 21:22). This is a memorial of what is portrayed by the blood on the lid of the ark in the old holy of holies.

Hebrews 9:14 declares that “the blood of Christ…[will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” In New Jerusalem the Lamb is present as an eternal memorial, and in New Jerusalem we will “serve the living God” (Rev. 22:3).

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   6-9 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The central theme of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. This wonderful One is seen throughout Revelation caring for God’s interests on earth, which consummate in the new creation with New Jerusalem at its center. Here are some aspects of His care in Revelation 6–9, which bring us to New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 5 the Lamb is declared to be the only one in the universe worthy to open the seven seals. In 6:1 He opens the first, and in 6:2 the gospel is released. By responding to this gospel we are on the path to New Jerusalem. Thank Him for giving us this open door!

In 7:9 a great multitude, those purchased (5:9) “out of every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” This multitude will continue before the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem (22:1).

In 7:15 this multitude serves God “day and night in His temple” just as we will serve Him as priests in New Jerusalem (22:3).

Verses 7:16-17 present the Lamb’s care for the multitude. Revelation 7:9-17 has many parallels with New Jerusalem.

In 8:3 Christ adds Himself as incense to our prayers that they be accepted as a sweet-smelling savor to God. These prayers of the believers, on earth cooperating with the heavens, open the way for the seven trumpets.

These trumpets bring forth many calamities and judgments on the negative things and people on earth (Rev. 8–9). These actions conclude with the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ in 11:15, a kingdom which continues into New Jerusalem.

The actions in Revelation 9 should lead men to repent but 9:20-21 say they did not. Sad. It is His mercy that we can repent. Repentance Puts Us on the Path to New Jerusalem.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   2-3 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

In Revelation 2–3 we see the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of seven lampstands, caring for their development today unto the eternal lampstand, New Jerusalem.

New JErusalemIn Revelation 2:18 is the One “who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like shining bronze.” He passed through all kinds of testing during His earthly life and has come out approved, like shining bronze. Thus, He is qualified to judge anything negative in us, burning it with the fire of His eyes.

We should not be afraid nor shrink back. Instead, we should invite Him to burn whatever in us does not correspond to New Jerusalem.

In 2:28 He speaks of Himself as the morning star, as a prize to watchful overcomers. Lord, train us to be watchful for Your second coming. His warning in 3:3 should remind us to watch— “If therefore you will not watch, I will come as a thief, and you shall by no means know at what hour I will come upon you.”

In 3:7 He is “the Holy One” preparing us for the holy city, New Jerusalem.

In 3:14 He is “the faithful and true Witness.” We are neither faithful nor true in ourselves. Lord, work your attributes into us.

In 3:18 He is ready to sell us “gold refined by fire that you may be rich, and white garments that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness may not be manifested, and eyesalve to anoint your eyes that you may see.” The Lord’s salvation is free but gaining these qualities requires a price. The price is to be zealous rather than lukewarm (3:15, 19) and to repent of our puffed up attitude and lack of love and zeal for Him (3:19).

The Lord’s gold, white garments, and eyesalve all prepare us for New Jerusalem.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Versionpublished and © by Living Stream MinistryAnaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.orgthis too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Inside of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:8 and 22:15 speak of people who are not only outside New Jerusalem but also in the lake of fire.

These verses are the ultimate development of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, and Ephesians 5:5, which name many unrighteous things saying, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The kingdom which they will not inherit consummates in New Jerusalem with the throne of God and the Lamb as its center.

We, in ourselves, are not better than those people. The difference is that we have, by faith, received Christ as our righteousness. The first stage of this receiving is our initial repentance and believing in Christ. The continuing stage is our daily pursuit of Christ.

Our pursuing is to receive more of Him as our righteousness. “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). This reigning in life is more than having Christ as our objective righteousness. It is living Christ out as our daily righteousness.

Jesus Christ being our righteous living is portrayed in Revelation 19:8: New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ is “clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” These righteousnesses (plural) are the Christ we live out day by day.

This living is also in Revelation 22:14, “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.” Our washing is actually His washing of us in response to our confessing (1 John 1:9).

This washing gives us right to the tree of life, Christ as our life and life supply. By this supply we live Him out. His living through us is bright and pure, matching New Jerusalem, thereby bringing us into it in reality. Thank Him that He enables us to be inside New Jerusalem and not outside.

Unsearchable Riches in New Jerusalem

The riches of God’s glory are for us from now unto New Jerusalem. The New Testament also presents other aspects of God’s riches, for today and for New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem Romans 2:4 speaks of “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” which leads us to repentance. Via repentance we receive Christ as our eternal life, which puts us on the way to New Jerusalem.

Second Corinthians 8:9, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor in order that you, because of His poverty, might become rich.” He had to become poor, lowly, to live a live of suffering culminating with His death on the cross. Through His death and resurrection we are rich in Him.

In Him “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Forgiveness is one of the riches we receive through His poverty and is according to the riches of His grace.

Another contributor to our repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life is “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ…” (Eph. 2:4-5). We are not qualified, but God is rich in mercy, for us to receive now and to display in New Jerusalem.

All these aspects of God’s riches are so “That He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). God’s riches in kindness, mercy, and grace are so that He can work Himself into us and be expressed through us in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

To make us aware of all this, grace was given to announce “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8). God is not only rich but surpassingly and unsearchably rich. These riches require the entirety of New Jerusalem and of eternity for their display.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

 

New Jerusalem: No Darkness, No Death

New Jerusalem is a city of light and life. The antithesis is darkness and death; New Jerusalem will not have either of these.
New Jerusalem• Revelation 21:25, “there will be no night there”
• Revelation 21:4, “death will be no more.”

When Jesus Christ comes, light and life come, and darkness and death are banished. Matthew 4:13-16 tells us that Jesus, “came and dwelt in Capernaum…in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying… The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and to those sitting in the region and shadow of death, to them light has risen.” This great light consummates in the light of New Jerusalem.

Then verse 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to proclaim and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” The kingdom is a matter of life. We repent, we turn, from our past; we turn to believe, to receive, and are born into the kingdom (John 3:3, 5). This kingdom of life also consummates in the light of New Jerusalem.

The same thought is in Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness but are now light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” We were not only in darkness, but we were darkness itself. Now we are in the light (1 John 1:7) and are light, so we walk as children of light. “Children” is a matter of life. To repent and believe in Jesus Christ is to turn from darkness to light and from death to life. This begins our walk to New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Bortniak, courtesy of NOAA/U.S. Department of Commerce.

Live the Father’s Life for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe have a Christian journey to a spiritual mountain to see New Jerusalem. To reach this mountain requires experiences of Christ. It also requires exercise of our spirit mingled with the Spirit because a proper Christian life is a walk according to the spirit (Gal. 5:16).

In Matthew 4:17 the Lord proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” In Matthew 5–7 He spoke about the reality of life in this kingdom. Both are necessary steps toward the vision of New Jerusalem.

Repentance was proclaimed to those beside or on the sea of Galilee, which typifies living in a worldly situation. May we all repent of whatever degree of worldliness we have. Then we go up a mountain (Matt. 5:1) to enter the reality of the kingdom of the heavens.

In ourselves we cannot fulfill what the Lord spoke in Matthew 5–7. But He gave us the key, “our Father.” He spoke this phrase at least 12 times in these three chapters. We are sons of our Father (5:45) and His life in us enables us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48).

Beside the sea we repent and on the mountain we live by the Father’s life. The reality of this life is the Spirit. “The Spirit gives life” (John 6:63, 2 Cor. 3:6) and because of being born again our spirit is life (Rom. 8:10). It is in our spirit, regenerated by the Spirit, that we are carried to the mountain for the vision 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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life

New JerusalemGod sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). This “way of the Lord” extends from John unto New Jerusalem. To prepare the way is to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart for the Lord and His kingdom.

After the repentance spoken in Matthew 3 and 4, in Matthew 5:8 the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” And 2 Timothy 2:21-22 urges us to cleanse ourselves and pursue “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

This purity comes in two steps. First is our repentance and faith—God cleanses our hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9). This is once for all time. Second, we need the supply for a pure life day by day, because in ourselves we are not pure. Only the Lord Jesus is pure. First John 3:3 says “He is pure.” Only as He becomes our living can our living be pure.

Matthew 5:48 says, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” As children of the Father, we have the Father’s life, which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). With Him as our life we can be pure (read more).

To the degree that Jesus Christ is our living, to this extent we have daily, experiential purity. Out of this living, as Revelation 19:7-8 declares, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure.”

The fine, bright, and pure linen given on that day is an expression of all the preparation and the living leading to that day and ultimately to New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Manger, courtesy of CSIRO Australiawww.scienceimage.csiro.au.

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