New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots (2)

God chose us in eternity past to “be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 1:4) and in eternity future New Jerusalem, the holy city, will be holy and without blemish.

The prior post presents the Lord’s work to make us without blemish. In addition to the verses there, Colossians 1:22 says, “He now has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and without reproach before Him.” His death, for our reconciliation, has the goal of New Jerusalem holy and without blemish.

New JerusalemDespite what He has accomplished, we should not wait passively. Philippians 2 exhorts us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (v. 12). We work by cooperating with God who operates within us (v. 13).

By this cooperation, we will be without murmurings and reasonings (v. 14), “that you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (v. 15). In this shining we present the word of life to worldly people (v. 16).

Our cooperation with God’s operation in us causes us to be without fallen humanity’s blemishes and with divine shining as channels for the word of life, that God’s salvation might reach people in this crooked generation.

Peter, based on our expectation of the new creation with New Jerusalem, exhorts us “be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish” (2 Peter 3:14).

In Revelation 14:1-5 we see overcomers, firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Part of their description is that they “are without blemish.” Surely these overcomers lived according to the exhortations in Philippians 2 and 2 Peter 3. Not only are they without negative blemishes, they are also singing a heavenly song of praise, a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nick Pitsas, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

The Lamb’s Book of Life for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:27 tells us that “only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” enter New Jerusalem.

Philippians 4:3 speaks about Christians “whose names are in the book of life.” Surely they will be in New Jerusalem. In contrast, “if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

Revelation 13:8 tells us that those dwelling on earth, “every one whose name is not written in the book of life of the Lamb” will worship a beast. Similarly Revelation 17:8 says that these people will marvel when they see a beast.

Some verses associate the book of life with the Lamb. God’s eternal purpose is that man receive Him as life so that man can express and represent God (Gen. 1:26). Therefore, God put created man in front of the tree of life in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8-9, 15-17). This tree is a symbol of Christ, who is the real life for man.

Unfortunately man partook of the wrong tree, and was banished from the garden and the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24). This closure persisted until God incarnated in the man Jesus. He, the Lamb of God, died on the cross to redeem us and reopen the way for us to receive the divine life. This life enables us to participate in New Jerusalem.

We see three steps: redemption, life, city. Redemption is for life, and life is for the city. All three are 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.” To wash is to apply the Lamb’s redemption; to come to the tree is for life, and to enter the gates is to be in New Jerusalem. Praise the Lamb!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Jesus Christ, Living Forever and Ever

New JerusalemRecent posts are glory to God and the Lamb forever and ever and God and the Lamb reigning forever and ever. Now, verses about God and the Lamb living forever and ever. Of course, New Jerusalem is the consummation of “forever and ever.”

Revelation 1:17b-18: “I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The Lord Jesus is the living One. He entered into death and came forth in resurrection. His living forever and ever is in resurrection. Likewise His reigning forever and ever is in resurrection.

His living and reigning in resurrection are characteristics of New Jerusalem. It is a city in resurrection. Not only our Lord, but also we are in resurrection. Our natural life has been crucified and buried with Him so that we walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). In this age we are learning to partake of this spiritual reality; in New Jerusalem we will be fully in newness of life, that is, in resurrection.

Revelation 4:9-10: “when the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits upon the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall before Him who sits upon the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever…” We too should give glory to Him and worship Him who sits on the throne and lives forever and ever.

Revelation 10:6 and 15:7 also speak about “Him who lives forever and ever.” His eternal living is our eternal life supply in New Jerusalem—the river of life which flows from the throne and the tree of life it conveys to us. His eternal living in resurrection is for us not only in New Jerusalem but also for today.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Praises in the Book of Revelation (2)

There are many praises in Revelation for what God and the Lamb are and for what God and the Lamb do. We who are believers join the heavenly praising now. In eternity the entire new creation will praise God and the Lamb on the throne in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRevelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel trumpeted; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” This brings out the praise in verse 17, “We thank You, Lord God the Almighty, He who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have reigned.”

We are in the spiritual reality of God’s kingdom now (Rom. 14:17) and John testified that he was in this kingdom while in exile on Patmos (Rev. 1:9). But, the world still has its kingdoms, nations, etc. When these are terminated at the seventh trumpet, that surely will bring forth more praises and thanks from the heavens and from God’s people on earth.

Revelation 12:10 has more: “I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.” The transition in Revelation 11 concerns the kingdom of the world and in this chapter concerns the casting down of the devil, satan.

The result of this casting down is “Therefore be glad, O heavens and those who dwell in them” (v. 12). There is more gladness in Revelation 18:20 as a result of further judgements by God. We, God’s people, should be glad now, will be glad then, and this gladness will continue to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

No Beasts in or near New Jerusalem

Revelation 13 says much about two beasts. Chapter 14 has a heavenly warning about the beasts, 15 shows those who were victorious over the beasts, 16 has judgement on them, 17 introduces another beast and presents much beastly activity, and 19 has their terminations in the lake of fire.

New JerusalemThese beasts are all opposed to New Jerusalem because they oppose the accomplishing of God’s purpose on earth. This purpose is first revealed in Genesis 1:26 where the Triune God created man in His image and let man have dominion over the earth.

God’s purpose is also revealed in Zechariah 12:1 which speaks of God “who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” The heavens contain the earth and earth is a dwelling place for man, who has a human spirit to contact God who is Spirit (John 4:24).

By contacting God, man receives the life of God, portrayed by the tree of life in Genesis 2. As a result of this contact, man’s spirit is born of God’s Spirit. This birth with God’s life enables man to express God and to rule the earth for God.

Genesis 1–2 is the beginning of God’s purpose; Revelation 21–22 is the consummation. In this consummation, man is beholding God constantly (Rev. 22:4). Man is continually supplied with God’s life by the river of life with the tree of life (22:1-2). God in this corporate man is fully expressed through New Jerusalem which radiates the glory of God (21:11). God and the Lamb on the throne (22:1) reign and man reigns with them (22:5).

Praise God that New Jerusalem is the eternal fulfillment of God’s purpose and that the opposing beasts are gone.

This post is in my list of what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

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The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The heart of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. He (not calamities nor judgments nor beasts) is our focus. In Revelation our Lord Jesus is seen in many ways. He is working to conclude this age, to bring the kingdom of God to earth, and to consummate God’s economy with the new creation. Here is a link and one highlight from each post on the wonderful Jesus Christ bringing us to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRev. 1: in verse 5  Jesus Christ is the faithful Witness. He is faithful to care for us and to care for God’s purpose through us, all the way to New Jerusalem.

Rev. 1: in verses 17-18 He declares, “Do not fear; I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever.” We should not fear anything because He is first and last; nothing is outside the limits He sets.

Rev. 2: in verse 12 He “has the sharp two-edged sword.” This is His living and operative word, which divides all the mixture in our being (Heb. 4:12) and washes away all our blemishes to present us to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:26-27).

Rev. 3: in verse 7 Jesus Christ is “the Holy One” sanctifying us for the holy city, New Jerusalem.

Rev. 4–5: in verse 5:5 Jesus Christ is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” He, the victorious One, defeated God’s enemies to clear the way for our redemption, regeneration, and perfection.

Rev. 6–9: in verse 8:3 Christ adds Himself as incense to our prayers that they may be a sweet-smelling savor to God. These prayers of believers on earth cooperating with the heavens open the way for the seven trumpets.

Rev. 10–11: in verses 10:1-7 Christ comes to claim the earth and to declare that there will be no more delay in completing the mystery of God, leading to New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.

Rev. 12: verse 10 has a loud proclamation, “Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ.”

Rev. 12: verse 11 says that we overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb, the blood shed in His redemptive death. We also overcome because of the word of our testimony of all that Jesus Christ has accomplished.

Rev. 14: chapter 14 begins with praise. There are many praises in Revelation—here and chapters 5, 12, 19—and surely there will be more praises in New Jerusalem.

Rev. 17: verse 14, “The Lamb will overcome, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings.”

Rev. 18-19: chapter 19 begins with praise, “a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! The salvation and the glory and the power are of our God.”

Rev. 19: verse 7, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife [New Jerusalem, in 21:9-10] has made herself ready.”

Rev. 19: verse 11, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sits on it called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” What Jesus Christ is, not what we are, accomplishes everything leading to New Jerusalem.

Rev. 19: Christ is our fine garments. These qualify us 1) to attend the marriage dinner of the Lamb, 2) to be part of His victorious army, and 3) to participate in New Jerusalem.

Rev. 20: the millennium in verses 20:4-6 has many parallels with New Jerusalem.

Rev. 20: in the second half of the chapter, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man who has been given all judgement (John 5:26-27), clears up everything to bring in the new creation.

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

Rev. 21: in verse 22 John saw no temple in New Jerusalem, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. God and Jesus Christ are the living temple of the city. There is no physical temple.

Rev. 22: in verse 2 is the tree of life, a symbol of Jesus Christ, who is our life and our life supply now and eternally.

 

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   18-19 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit, the central subject, of Revelation. Throughout Revelation Jesus Christ is carrying out God’s economy to eliminate God’s enemies and to develop His corporate testimony, which consummates with New Jerusalem. Now we come to chapters 18-19.

Revelation 18:1 says, “I saw another Angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority; and the earth was illumined with His glory.” This Angel is Jesus Christ. He is the One with great authority. He is also the One who fills the earth with glory, by Himself here and later through New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIs Jesus Christ an Angel? Yes! The Greek word means a messenger, someone sent with a message. God sent Jesus Christ to us with the message of His salvation and His purpose.

After the judgement in chapter 18, chapter 19 begins with praise, “a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! The salvation and the glory and the power are of our God.”

In 19:5 is the exhortation, “Praise our God, all His slaves and those who fear Him, the small and the great.” We are His slaves both in this time and in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3). A primary duty is to praise Him. In 19:6 the response to the exhortation is “the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunders, saying, Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”

This voice of the multitude marks the start of the next age with the visible kingdom of God on earth, brought in by the prior judgements and by the visible second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the first stage of the visible kingdom; New Jerusalem is the ultimate stage.

Photo courtesy of Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 17 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit, the emphasis, of Revelation. Throughout Revelation Jesus Christ is carrying out God’s economy to develop His corporate testimony, which consummates with New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRevelation 15 to 18 is mostly judgments (ch. 17). Verse 17:14 says, “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they who are with Him, the called and chosen and faithful, will also overcome them.” Here again the Lord is declared to be the Ruler of the whole earth.

In 17:14 He displays His victory. The victory is simple—the Bible gives no details of this “war.” The victory is simple because the war is extremely short, exactly like the war in 19:19-21. It is short because the Lamb is the overcoming and almighty Lion (5:5). The ultimate result of these victories is a new creation, with New Jerusalem, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

Verse 17:14 also says, “they who are with Him, the called and chosen and faithful, will also overcome them.” The faithful believers with the Lamb overcome all the opposers, as also in chapters 12 and 19. These believers  participate in the Lamb’s victory.

In 1:5 and 3:14 the Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful One, and in 19:11 His name is “Faithful and True.” Furthermore, in 21:5 and 22:6 His words are faithful and true. The faithful believers are those who love the Lord, love His word, and take His word as their nourish-ment and enlightening. This is John 14:23, ” If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.”

Certainly in New Jerusalem we will all love the Lord and keep His word absolutely, but we need to be perfected now. Lord, grant us more love for You and Your word every day; form Yourself as the faithful One in us.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 14 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

Revelation 19:10 tells that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit (the essence, the focus, the heart) of the prophecy (the book of Revelation). Throughout Revelation Jesus Christ is carrying out God’s economy to bring all God’s people to New Jerusalem and all that is of the devil to the lake of fire.

Skipping over the two beasts in chapter 13, we look at Jesus Christ in chapter 14. It begins with a praise before the throne. There are many praises in Revelation—here and chapters 5, 12, 19—and surely there will be more praises in New Jerusalem. Perhaps we could say that praising our Lord keeps us on our journey to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemVerse 14:5 tells us that no lie is in those who sing. The devil is the source of lies (John 8:44) and Jesus is the truth, the reality (John 14:6). The singers are one with the Lord and have nothing to do with the devil.

Verse 14:5 also tells us that “they are without blemish.” This is His doing (with our cooperation), washing us with His living word that we may be without blemish (Eph. 5:26-27).

In 14:9-12 there is a warning not to worship the beast. The Lamb is worthy and we worship Him. We praise Him with our words and our singing.

In 14:14 on a cloud is “One like the Son of Man sitting, having a golden crown on His head.” The crown is another affirmation in Revelation that Jesus Christ is the Ruler over all (1:5, 19:16). He now reaps the ripe harvest of the believers, the culmination of His sowing in Matthew 13. This ripeness is a matter of maturity, a maturity which is needed for New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 12 Brings Us to New Jerusalem (2)

New Jerusalem

Revelation 19:10 tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of the prophecy” and Revelation 22:7-19 clearly show that “the prophecy” is the book of Revelation. Everything positive in Revelation, from the golden lampstands in chapter 1 to New Jerusalem in chapters 21–22 is the testimony of Jesus.

Continuing in Revelation 12, verse 11 says that we overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb, the blood shed in His redemptive death.

We also overcome because of the word of our testimony, our declaration of all that He has accomplished whether in incarnation, human living, death, resurrection, or ascension, especially His conquering of the devil, sin, and death. Our overcoming is not in nor by ourselves but by Jesus Christ.

Verse 11 also says that the overcoming believers “loved not their soul-life even unto death.” This is the carrying out of the Lord’s word in Matthew 16:24 to deny ourselves and follow Him. However, we cannot deny ourself by ourself ! We need Him! In John 10:11 He told us that He is the good Shepherd who laid down His soul-life for the sheep.

In Revelation 3:21 our Lord tells us, “I overcame.” We need Him as the Overcomer in us. By living one with Him, we apply the blood, testify, and deny ourself. Ultimately our testimony in New Jerusalem will be that the wonderful Jesus Christ overcame in us everything that is in the lake of fire.

There will be a break in this series; it will resume after three other posts about New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 12 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe book of Revelation is centered on the testimony of Jesus (19:10). Throughout Revelation we see the Christ, the One anointed to carry out for God’s plan on earth. This plan culminates with the new creation and New Jerusalem. In this post we look at our Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 12.

This chapter begins with the woman, the man-child, and the dragon. Then 12:7-9 present the war in heaven and the casting down of the devil. Verse 10 has a loud proclamation, “Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ.” Here, as in 11:15, the eternal stage of the kingdom is New Jerusalem with God’s reign over the whole universe.

The proclamation in verse 10 also declares that our accuser (the devil) has been cast down.

The authority of Jesus Christ is declared many times in Revelation, including 1:5, 11:15, 12:10, 15:3, 17:14, and 19:16. This is from His death, resurrection, and ascension, as declared by Peter in Acts 2:36, “God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you have crucified” and as written in Ephesians 1:22 that God “subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body.”

In Acts 2 our response to His exaltation is to repent, believe, and be baptized. This begins our progress toward New Jerusalem. In Ephesians our response to God’s actions is to grow in life and participate in the building up of His Body in love (Eph. 4:15-16).

Jesus Christ is “Head over all things to the church” because the church is the focus of God’s operation in this age. The church, the Body of Christ, is the forerunner of New Jerusalem as the eternal mingling of God and man.

Photo courtesy of www.goodfreephotos.com.

In Spirit on a Mountain, see New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe are looking at an issue of Affirmation & Critique* on New Jerusalem. The prior post includes this sentence from The Divine and Mystical in Figurative Language: God and the writers of the Bible employ figurative language, using literary devices such as symbols, types, figures, metaphors, similes, and allegories to communicate the realities of the divine and mystical realm.

We must recognize that the Bible uses such figurative language. We must also recognize that the reality of all these pictures are God, Christ Jesus, His offices and accomplishments, His believers and their Christian experiences, and His Body.

We are familiar with parables in the gospels. Parables are not merely nice stories, they all have spiritual significances, such as the sower and seed being the Lord Himself and the word of God (Matthew 13:3-23).

Revelation is a books of signs, as stated in verse 1:1. For example, the seven lampstands in Revelation 1 are symbols of the seven churches, and the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12:1-9 portray the people of God and Satan.

The consummation of Revelation is New Jerusalem, which is also presented by the Bible in figurative language. This is why we need the Lord to carry us away in spirit to a high mountain to see New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10-11). All the natural elements (e.g. gold, pearls, wall, precious stones, tree of life) in Revelation 21–22 have spiritual significance.

We should not use our human imagination to create images of these figures in a natural way. Rather, we should open our heart to the Lord and ask Him to give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may see the reality of these figures. Lord, show me New Jerusalem!

* Affirmation & Critique is a Christian Journal published twice a year and available online. It presents Bible truths in a scholarly manner, with references to and citations from a variety of publications by authors over the entire Christian era. Affirmation & Critique exhibits much appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ and our life with Him. The Fall 2012 issue (Vol. XVII, No. 2) focuses on New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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