New Jerusalem’s Glory: Now or Later?

Revelation 21 describes New Jerusalem as “having the glory of God.” God, in His divinity, has this glory from eternity past. The glory of this divinity was hidden in the humanity of Jesus and revealed briefly on the mountain (Matt. 17:1-2). This glory will be revealed openly and permanently when the Lord returns.

New JerusalemToday we are members of the Body of Christ, and in eternity we will be constituents of New Jerusalem, sharing in the glory of the city. When do we partake of this glory?

On one hand, in Romans 8:29-30 Paul writes to us that God foreknew, predestinated, called, justified, and glorified us. All these are past tense verbs. We easily agree with most of these, but has God actually glorified us already? We need to believe God’s word!

On the other hand, Hebrews 2:10 tells us that God is “leading many sons into glory.” And Romans 8:17 says, “we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.” These verses indicate that our partaking of glory is coming, not yet present. Again, we need to believe God’s word!

God is eternal, outside the limits of time. Here we have been glorified. God, through incarnation, entered into time. Here our glorification is a process that is in progress. We cooperate by turning our heart to Him so that the Spirit can transform us from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18), step by step bringing us onward to the glory of New Jerusalem.

Our human cooperation is in the realm of time but in God’s eternal view we are already in the glory of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Two Aspects of Redemption on Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

In Christ Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, through which we become sons of God. This redemption has been fully accomplished and is eternal. This is the first step on our path to New Jerusalem.

Based on redemption, we become sons of God by His life entering into us. This is the new birth, the regeneration, of our spirit. This life gradually spreads into our soul to renew and transform us*. Now, as Christians, “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).

New JerusalemWe already are sons of God, but we are in the initial stage of sonship. We eagerly await the full sonship, “the redemption of our body.” This is the second step of redemption on our path to New Jerusalem. This will transpire at the Lord’s second coming.

Ephesians 1 tells us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit “who is the pledge/ guarantee of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” God is our inheritance both today and in a fuller way when our body is redeemed.

We need to cooperate to reach this goal. Ephesians 4 cautions us, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Spirit is working in us to transform our soul, to prepare us for the redemption of our body and take us unto New Jerusalem. We hinder this work and grieve the Spirit when we disobey the Spirit and live according to the flesh.

* See verses (and footnotes) in Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 3:18, Eph. 4:23, Titus 3:5.

New Creation, Now and New Jerusalem (2)

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). That is an accomplished fact based on our faith in Jesus Christ. Now, through the renewing of the Holy Spirit, we are gradually becoming the reality of New Jerusalem.

Paul the apostle, writing about his Christian living, said, “a new creation is what matters” (Gal. 6:15).

The old creation is our old man in Adam (Eph. 4:22), our natural being by birth, without God’s life and the divine nature. The new creation is the new man in Christ (Eph. 4:24), our being that is regenerated by the Spirit (John 3:6), having God’s life and the divine nature wrought into it (John 3:36; 2 Pet. 1:4), having Christ as its constituent (Col. 3:10-11), and having become a new constitution.

The old creation was old because it did not have God’s element; the new creation is new because it has God as its element. Although we are still the old creation, we experience the reality of the new creation when we walk according to the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25). This new creation fulfills God’s eternal purpose, which is to express Himself in His sonship.*

New JerusalemNot only in New Jerusalem, but even now, “a new creation is what matters.” For this we need to take care of our regenerated spirit, the first part of our being to be made new by Christ’s salvation. This is the fulfillment of the promise in Ezekiel 36:26, ” I will also give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”

Today our spirit is life and the Spirit in our spirit is life to our whole being (Rom. 8:2-11). And our new heart loves the Lord and His word. This is our experience of the new creation and our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* Part of Galatians 6:15, note 1, written by Witness Lee, in the online Recovery Version NT.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (4)

God’s path from the creation of earth to new earth and New Jerusalem is through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then through His work in the church and with the church’s cooperation. An example of our cooperation is the prayer in Matthew 6, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.”

New JerusalemWhen man was deceived and corrupted in Genesis 3, the entire creation was corrupted. Even the heavenly things need purifying (Heb. 9:23). But “the creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20).

The “glory of the children of God” will first be when the Lord comes “to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and ultimately in New Jerusalem. Thus the ultimate freeing of creation will be the new creation.

This freeing of the corrupted creation has its base in the work of Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God was pleased “through Him [Christ] to reconcile all things to Himself.” Here “all things” includes not only humans but also all creatures. After His reconciling death,

God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9-11

This universal confessing will began from the Lord’s visible return to earth and will continue in the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity.

Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe Christian life includes sufferings, but our focus is not on them. Instead, we focus on the unseen, weighty, eternal things including Christ as our hope of glory—the glory of His return and of New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:16-18 says, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.”

Romans 8 is clear that we are children of God growing to be heirs. During this growth we suffer, but not by ourselves. “We suffer with Him.” The result is “we may also be glorified with Him.” May we be filled with the attitude that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory, a glory which concludes with New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:35 asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” Verse 40 answers that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Romans 5 our hope, which is Christ in us, energizes us to pass through sufferings. In Romans 8 love, which is also Christ in us, energizes us. Then Romans 12:12 encourages us to “Rejoice in hope; endure in tribulation; persevere in prayer.” By rejoicing and praying, we contact the Lord, and He supplies us to walk the suffering path to His return, after which we enjoy New Jerusalem.

 

 

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.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (2)

The New Testament temple is spiritual, not physical. We do not need the Old Testament’s physical temple; nevertheless, the record about it in the Bible depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The ark in the holy of holies contains the manna, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant (Heb. 9:4). The budding rod (Num. 17) started as a rod, a stick, lifeless and cut off. During a night before the Lord it “put forth buds and produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds.” This is a picture of resurrection, and is related to having authority in the divine life.

Colossians 2:12 says we were “Buried together with Him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with Him through the faith of the operation of God.” This is our initial experience of being one with Christ in His death and resurrection. The budding rod signifies a much deeper experience of the same resurrection.

New JerusalemIt is desirable that we all enter the holy of holies to experience this in our current Christian life. Since New Jerusalem is the eternal holy of holies, at that time we will all have this deepest experience of Christ in resurrection.

The tablets of the covenant point to the Old Testament law. This has been replaced by the inner “law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2). To experience the controlling, leading, restricting, and guiding of the eternal life within is the experience portrayed by the tablets in the ark.

Today, when we live by this inner law, “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (Rom. 8:4). Today this is an exercise but in New Jerusalem it will be spontaneous and continuous.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 exhorts us “be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This good, well pleasing, and perfect will is ultimately to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Romans 12:1 shows us that a base for our transformation is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”

This consecration comes out of the foregoing chapters of Romans—realizing that we, as fallen, natural men, cannot please God but need His life in us to enable us to be people for His purpose.

We cannot transform ourselves. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord; He is the source! Ephesians 4:23 says we should “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” Our transformation is by renewing and our renewing is accomplished by the Spirit in our spirit.

The first verse of a hymn (music) by Witness Lee speaks of God’s intention, His will, and our consequent need for transformation (see graphic in this post). The fourth verse of the hymn, based on 2 Corinthians 3:18, presents something of God’s goal.
__By the power of His Spirit
____In His pattern He transforms;
__From His glory to His glory
____To His image He conforms.
New Jerusalem, radiating the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), is the fulfillment of God’s will.

The chorus is a good prayer for each of us.
__Lord, transform us to Thine image
____In emotion, mind, and will;
__Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
____All our being wholly fill.

The hymn is © 2001 by Living Stream Ministry, used by permission.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

While we are growing in our Christian life we are also being perfected. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemOur perfection includes transformation. Romans 12:2 exhorts us, “…be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.”

The result of transformation is that we corporately show forth the will of God. This will is good, in God’s sight, as is New Jerusalem. However, there may be outward events which help our transformation, which are not “good” according to our understanding.

In the same way, Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Again, this is God’s view of “good” and it applies to those who love God, those who are foreknown and predestinated by Him in eternity past to go through a process in order to be glorified (8:29-30). This glory ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Our transformation, the renewing of our mind, includes a change in our concept of “good.” God’s view of “good” is that we be transformed, conformed to the image of His Son (8:29), and glorified for New Jerusalem. This is far beyond a good job, a good, car, a good vacation, good food, etc.

Paul was pursuing God’s “good” (Phil. 3:12-14). Hence, in physical things he was content to abound or to be abased (Phil. 4:11-12).

The will of God in Romans 12 is well pleasing to Him, and to us when we are one with Him. God has predestinated us from eternity for His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5). And His good pleasure consummates in eternity with New Jerusalem. The will of God, including New Jerusalem, is perfect since God is perfect.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

No Flesh in New Jerusalem

When God created man (Gen. 1:26-27), He blessed man (v. 28) and said that everything was very good (v. 31). In Genesis 2 God’s desire was that man take God, portrayed by the tree of life, as his life. However, in Genesis 3 man fell and was shut away from the tree of life. In Genesis 6 God declared that man is flesh.

Romans 3:20, “Out of the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” This is in contrast to Peter’s statement that righteousness dwells in the new heavens and new earth. Romans 7:5, “When we were in the flesh, the passions for sins, which acted through the law, operated in our members to bear fruit to death.” This is in contrast to New Jerusalem and the new creation which have nothing of death.

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 15:50, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” This is in contrast to New Jerusalem which is the ultimate stage of God’s kingdom. Hence, flesh cannot and does not have any place in New Jerusalem.

The flesh is the result of Satan as sin entering into man. The termination of the flesh is through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 2:14: “He also Himself in like manner partook of the same [blood and flesh], that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil.”
Romans 8:3b: “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”

His accomplishments on the cross are gradually applied in our being. The final step is 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.” The result: no flesh in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

God’s Purpose: Much Higher than Our Need

New JerusalemIn recent months I have been touched by various phrases like according to God’s will or according to His riches. What God does is not according to man’s need but much higher—according to His purpose. Man’s need is solved by God’s salvation but God’s salvation is for His goal, which much greater than satisfying our need.

Because of this realization I gathered verses which include something like according to His… This is the first of a few posts in which I present these verses in their order in the Bible. These verses are on this New Jerusalem blog because God’s will, God’s riches, and God’s grace all point toward New Jerusalem.

Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We are not called by God because we need to be saved from sin and death; rather we are called according to His purpose. For His purpose He saves us from sin and death as a preparatory step so that we can grow in Him and be built together in His life to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:5: “Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Before creation, before any sin and death, God foreknew us and predestinated us to be His sons, to have His eternal life. We have this life so that God can bring forth His good pleasure in us. This good pleasure, including New Jerusalem, is according to His will.

Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” Even redemption is not according to our need but according to the riches of His grace. God will display the surpassing riches of this grace in the ages to come (Eph. 2:7), including New Jerusalem in eternity.

God’s Economy for His Eternal Purpose

New JerusalemThe Greek word oikonomia (οικονομια) is used in the New Testament nine times. It is a combination of the words oikos and nomos which respectively mean house and law. Oikonomia means a household arrangement, a plan for management of a large household.

The English word economy is equivalent to oikonomia. It is used in Ephesians 1:10, 3:9, and 1 Timothy 1:4 for God’s plan, God’s administrative arrangement for carrying out His purpose in His house, His household, which is the totality of His people.*

God’s purpose is eternal, not short-term. Ephesians 3:11 speaks of “the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.” His economy is for accomplishing this eternal purpose. The goal is New Jerusalem at the center of the new heaven and new earth.

God arranges everything to bring us to New Jerusalem as His eternal goal. Ephesians 1:11 tells us that, before creation, we were “predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

God works all things according to His will. Regarding our lives, Romans 8:28 says, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The “good” here is not our bank account, our career, our family, nor any other human measure of goodness.

The good in Romans 8:28 is for “His purpose” and is further defined by verses 8:29-30 which conclude with our glorification. This glorification is so that New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). May we open our hearts to the Lord so that our concept of “good” gets aligned with His, and so that New Jerusalem as a city of glory becomes our yardstick of goodness.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* In other verses (1 Cor. 9:17 and Eph. 3:2 are examples) oikonomia is translated stewardship, indicating the responsibility for cooperating with God in His economy.

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