Our Path to New Jerusalem

Revelation 19:7 and 21:2 tell us that the holy city, New Jerusalem, is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The New Jerusalem, the bride, is the composition of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified people. Here is a brief look at these five steps on our path to New Jerusalem.

CHOSEN: First Peter 1:2 tells us that we are “Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Ephesians 1:3-4 says that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. The choice was entirely God’s, based on His foreknowledge. It is not our choice nor based on anything we are or have done. Because of God’s choice, we are in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemREDEEMED: Romans 5:12 declares, “through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men because all have sinned.” Because of sin and death, we need redemption to bring us back to God. Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem us. Galatians 3 says that Christ redeemed us out of the curse so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit and Galatians 4 says that God sent His Son to redeem us that we might receive the sonship.

REGENERATED: First Peter 1:3 blesses “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.” This fulfills the goal of redemption stated in Galatians. In God’s eyes regeneration was accomplished “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and we experience it at the time of our believing into Him.

Choosing, redemption and regeneration are three steps on our path to New Jerusalem. The other two will be in the next post.

Jesus and New Jerusalem: “Out of Heaven”

The Lord Jesus told us multiple times that He came down out of heaven:
John 3:13, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man…”
John 6:38, “I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 6:51a, “I am the living bread which came down out of heaven.”

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2 says, ” I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride.” And 21:10, “He [the 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,”

Both the Lord Jesus, the Bridegroom, and New Jerusalem, the bride, come down out of heaven. The two correspond to each other, as Eve corresponded to and complemented Adam in Genesis 2.

Eve is a strong contrast to the animals God created; among them “for Adam there was not found a helper as his counterpart” (Gen. 2:20). Eve was the complement to Adam because she came out of Adam. God built Eve with the rib He had taken out of Adam.

New Jerusalem comes out of heaven because it is composed of the life and nature of Christ imparted into us in His resurrection. First Corinthians 15:47-48 make a contrast, “The first man [Adam] is out of the earth, earthy; the second man [Christ] is out of heaven. As the earthy is, such are they also that are earthy; and as the heavenly is, such are they also that are heavenly.” As the heavenly new creatures, we compose the heavenly bride, New Jerusalem, which matches the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

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A Personal Testimony

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

Out from Christ to be Presented to Christ (2)

In Genesis 2 God built the rib, which He had taken from Adam, into Eve and brought her to Adam. No other creature could be Adam’s counterpart, but Adam welcomed Eve as his counterpart. This is a picture that the church, growing into New Jerusalem, is built with Christ to be presented to Him as His wife.

New JerusalemGod took the rib from Adam while he was in “a deep sleep.” Sleep here signifies death, as in John 11:11-13 and 1 Thessa-lonians 4:13-16. Then Adam was awake, signifying resurrection, and Eve was brought to him. Like Eve, both the church and New Jerusalem come forth through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Through death Christ both redeemed us and released His divine life, which was imparted into us in resurrection. Now “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4). Christ our life, not our natural life (which must be denied), is the life of the church and of New Jerusalem. It is by this life that the bride of Christ is prepared.

This life is imparted by the Spirit. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). “The Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). However, this Spirit is not separate from Christ. He, as the Spirit, enters into our human spirit; as a result, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit* is life because of righteousness” (Rom. 8:10).

Christ our life energizes us to deny our natural life, our self, and Christ our life grows until in the church, the new man, “Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). By His being all and in all His members, He can present the church to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:27). In the new creation and New Jerusalem there will be no self left to deny and absolutely Christ will be all and in all.

For more about the church, the precursor of New Jerusalem, coming out of Christ to be presented to Christ, see chapter 2 in The Glorious Church by Watchman Nee. It can be freely downloaded from Bibles for America (English) or Rhema Literature (30 languages).

* This is our human spirit because 1) it is contrasted with our human body and 2) the divine Spirit is life whether Christ is in us or not.

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The Morning Star Rises and the Day Dawns unto the Full Day of New Jerusalem (3)

God in Christ is a rising Sun, moving toward the full day of the new creation. With God there is no sunset, only a day brighter and brighter. Eternally God in Christ will illuminate New Jerusalem so brightly that “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon.”

The women who were the first to learn of the Lord’s resurrection “came to the tomb as the sun rose.” The sun rising to begin a new day is a picture of resurrection beginning a new age. The “sun” of this age will rise to a full day, consummating in the city of resurrection, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemProverbs 4:18: “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”

We, in ourselves, are not righteous before God, but Christ has become our righteousness! As we live Him, He becomes our righteous actions, our righteousnesses, as our wedding garment (Rev. 19:8) that we may participate in the wedding feast.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that at the end of this age “the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father”(Matt. 13:43). In Malachi 4 the Lord is the rising Sun of righteousness; it seems that He is separate from us. But, in Proverbs 4 and clearly in Matthew 13, we shine.

We shine, but the light is not of us. We shine because Jesus Christ is in us, and through our living Him out as our righteousness, we become constituted with Him to be righteous subjectively/experientially and thus we shine. This righteous will increase into the new creation (2 Peter 3:13) and the shining will increase to New Jerusalem, the city having the glory of God.

Living Water Flows to, in New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemJesus went through death and entered into resurrection to release the flow of water of life, fulfilling His promises in John 4:14 and 7:37-39. This same water of life continues to flow as the river in New Jerusalem.

The release of living water in His death, seen in John 19, was foretold in Exodus 17. Moses was told to strike a rock so that water would come out for the people to drink as they travelled through the desert. First Corinthians 10:4 summarizes that experience, saying “all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ.”

Today, on our way to New Jerusalem, we are in a “desert.” The world around us is spiritually dry, without satisfaction to our inner thirst. The striking of the rock in Exodus 17, as a picture of the judgment of Christ on the cross, was once for all. Later, in Numbers 20, God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would release water to drink.

Today “the Rock is Christ” and we can “speak to the Rock.” Lord, I am thirsty, give me a drink of living water.

First Corinthians 12:13 says, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body…and were all given to drink one Spirit.” How to drink? Isaiah 12:3: “you will draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.” Isaiah 12:4 adds that, in that day, we will give thanks to the Lord and call on His name. To rejoice, give thanks, and call Lord Jesus are all ways to drink the living water. Practice now and expect to do more in New Jerusalem.

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Living Water Flows to, in New Jerusalem (2)

John saw in New Jerusalem is “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). This river is the Spirit, because John 7:38-39 tells us that the Spirit will be rivers of living water flowing out of us.

New JerusalemJohn 7:39 says “the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” The Spirit of God was moving in Genesis 1:2 but the Spirit that can enter into us and flow out of us was not yet at the time of John 7. The need was for Jesus to be glorified.

Comparing Luke 24:26 and 46, we see that for Him to be glorified was for Him to be resurrected. Then in resurrection “He breathed into them [the disciples] and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).

To be resurrected, Jesus first had to go through death. At the end of His crucifixion, “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” The blood is a symbol of our redemption and the water signifies the flowing Spirit as our eternal life.

The reality of blood and water remain with us through our entire Christian life and into New Jerusalem. In 1 John 1, if we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to cleanse us and to forgive us. In this same chapter the life brings us into fellowship with God and with one another.

In New Jerusalem is the throne of God and of the blood-shedding, redeeming Lamb, a memorial of our redemption. In New Jerusalem there is also the flow of the Spirit, the river of water of life as our eternal supply.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: the Unique Marriage

John told us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). Then he told us, “One of the seven angels…came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the bride,
the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (21:9-10).

New JerusalemEternally New Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. This is the unique eternal marriage.

In Matthew 22:23-33 the Sadducees asked the Lord about the continuation of earthly marriages after the resurrection of the dead. The Lord’s answer in verse 30 is, “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Here the Lord speaks about the “resurrection of life” (John 5:29), the resurrection of those who are righteous in Him (Acts 24:15), the first/best resurrection (Rev. 20:5, 6).

This resurrection of life is at the Lord’s second coming, when the dead believers in Christ and the believers who are alive on earth both enter into a full resurrection, including the redemption of their bodies. They all are constituents of the city of resurrection, New Jerusalem. All these believers are the corporate wife of the Lamb, married to Him. Per the Lord’s word in Matthew, they are no longer in any human marriage.

I do not see any clear word in the Bible about marriages among the nations on the new earth around New Jerusalem, but for the believers in Christ, the city is clearly the unique eternal marriage.

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (3)

God created the earth for His purpose. Through all His operation in time, God will gain the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity. But, God did not create the world and there will be no world in eternity!

In the Bible, we find both “earth” and “world.” We might use these two words interchangeably, but in the Bible they are different. A primary Biblical meaning of “world” is an evil system arranged systematically by Satan. All the things on the earth, especially those related to mankind have been systematized by Satan into his kingdom of darkness to occupy people and frustrate them from accomplishing the purpose of God.*

New JerusalemBecause the world is negative, it needs to be judged. Jesus, looking forward to His crucifixion, said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Therefore, we can boast in “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” and by His cross we have been separated from the world. But before believing and receiving Christ Jesus and all He accomplished, we “once walked according to the age of this world” and were people “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:2, 12).

But now, in Christ, we have God and we have hope, even the hope of glory, the hope of participating in New Jerusalem. Through His death and resurrection we have been transferred from the world to God’s purpose for the earth with New Jerusalem as the goal.

* Part of footnote 2 on John 12:31 in the Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry. More about the Biblical meanings of “world.”
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

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.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (3)

In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). Now, in resurrection, we see the Lord in spirit and He is our joy.

The prior posts touched John 14 and 16. Then the Lord prayed, “I desire that they also may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory.” (17:24). To behold His glory is to behold Him, to have a foretaste of the promise in Revelation 22.

The fulfillment of this matter began with the Son’s resurrection, when He brought His believers into participation in His resurrection life, and will consummate in the New Jerusalem.*

New JerusalemFor this beholding, the Lord says we must be with Him, where He is. To be with Him is in resurrection. He told us in John 14:20 that from the time of His resurrection, we “will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

This mutual indwelling is in spirit. The Spirit of reality has regenerated our human spirit (John 3:6) and now indwells it (John 14:17, Rom. 8:11). We are one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17).

In spirit we see the Lord! It is wonderful to await the Lord’s second coming when “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7), and to pray Amen, Lord, come quickly (Rev. 22:20). Yet, while doing this, we must not forget that today we are in Him and He is in us so we can behold Him and His glory now.

New Jerusalem will be the fullness of beholding the Lord and His glory, but this is available in lesser degree now. Lord, grant us this beholding experience today!

* Part of footnote 1 on John 17:24 in the Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.

Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (2)

In eternity, in New Jerusalem, we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). Before that time the Lord has promised, that in resurrection, we will behold Him and we will live (John 14:19).

New JerusalemOur present beholding is spiritual. We behold the Lord in spirit because the Spirit of reality is in us. In contrast, the unbelievers cannot behold Him because this Spirit is not in them (John 14:17).

Shortly before His death, looking forward to His resurrection, the Lord said, “A little while and you no longer behold Me, and again a little while and you will see Me” (John 16:16). While He was in the tomb, the disciples dd not behold Him, but after three days they saw Him again.

Their seeing of the Lord in resurrection was physical and spiritual. However, their physical seeing was intermittent and short-lived. But their, and our, spiritual seeing is permanent, continuing into New Jerusalem.

The disciples were confused about the Lord’s word, so He explained. He told them “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (John 16:22). This inward joy is a proof that we are seeing the Lord spiritually. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not physically recognize the Lord, but they testified “Was not our heart burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32)

Certainly in New Jerusalem there will be a greater, clearer beholding of the Lord, along with greater joy. The Lord has promised that no one takes this joy away from us, but we need to pray, Lord, keep me in resurrection beholding You, that I may experience this joy.

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