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.

Our Destiny is New Jerusalem

As a believer in Jesus Christ, what is your future? The important answer is not college, career, family, social action, etc. If, according to 2 Corinthians 4:18, we regard the unseen, eternal things, our future is New Jerusalem, as presented in this excerpt from A&C:*

New JerusalemEphesians 1:5 says that we were predestinated unto sonship, which is for the New Jerusalem. Ephesians 1:11 says that we were predestinated according to His purpose, which is to have the New Jerusalem. Romans 8:29 says that we have been predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s firstborn Son. This is to have the many sons for the New Jerusalem. All this was determined in eternity past.

In time we have been regenerated, and eventually, we will be sanctified, renewed, transformed, conformed, and glorified to become the New Jerusalem. Concerning this, there can be no doubt, for the apostle John saw the New Jerusalem existing as a reality in the sight of God.

Regeneration, our new birth, was quick. Our position, our status is now securely in Christ. But, what about our condition? After our regeneration, we continue in a process of sanctification (Heb. 10:14), renewing (Titus 3:5), transformation (2 Cor. 3:18), and conformation (Rom. 8:29). All these aspects of the Lord’s operation within us bring us toward New Jerusalem.

The final step of this process is glorification (Rom. 8:17) by which our mortal body, the body of our humiliation, may “be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). This will bring forth New Jerusalem as the composition of all the glorified believers with the glorifying God. This is what John saw and reported to us in Revelation 21–22.

* Affirmation & Critique (A&C) is a Christian Journal published twice a year, © Living Stream Ministry. A&C presents Bible truths in a scholarly manner, with references to and citations from a variety of publications by authors over the entire Christian era. A&C exhibits much appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ and our life with Him. This group of my posts has short extracts from the article The New Jerusalem—the Consummation of the Divine Economy according to the High Peak of the Divine Revelation by Ron Kangas in the Fall 2010 issue.

A Spiritual House Grows to New Jerusalem

Both the tabernacle and the temple are pictures of the church as the New Testament dwelling of God and of New Jerusalem as the eternal dwelling of God.

Acts 7:47 mentions David, Solomon, and building the temple. Verse 48 refers to the prophet Isaiah and verse 49 quotes Isaiah, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is a footstool for My feet. What kind of house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest?” A note by Witness Lee on Acts 7* says,

This quotation from Isa. 66:1-2 indicates that the Lord was seeking a spiritual habitation in man’s spirit. This is proved by the unquoted part of Isa. 66:2 that says, “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit.”

In Old Testament times, God had a dwelling among His people. Yet even then He was longing for a dwelling in His people. This indwelling is realized now in the church as the precursor of New Jerusalem. Christ is in us and the Spirit is dwelling in us (Rom. 8:9-11). Thus, we are the reality of what was symbolized by the Old Testament temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17) and we are experiencing a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe spiritual nature of the New Testament building is also seen in Ephesians 2:22, we “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” and in 1 Peter 2:5, we “ourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.”

This spiritual building will progress on to New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem will be a spiritual city with Christ as the Living Stone and all of us a living stones and with the Spirit dwelling in each one of us.

* Acts 7:49, footnote 1, in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003.

New Jerusalem: the Glory to be Revealed

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Bible. It is the high point of everything God has done through the ages, especially what the Spirit has wrought within redeemed humanity. This is why we need to be in spirit and on a high mountain to see New Jerusalem.

When John saw New Jerusalem, he was both in spirit and also carried away onto a great and high mountain [Rev. 21:9-10]….New JerusalemWe need to be uplifted to a high mountain that we may see God’s dwelling place for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. In order for John to see the churches, it was sufficient to be on the island of Patmos [Rev. 1:9-12]. But the New Jerusalem is vastly higher than the churches, and in order to see it, John had to be carried to a high mountain. The New Jerusalem is a mountain city, and we must be on a mountain in order to see it. We need to be in the spirit and to get to a high mountain. This is the way to see the vision of the New Jerusalem.*

New Jerusalem is God’s eternal goal. It is also the eternal goal of every one of God’s people. Would you like to know where you are going? In spirit and on a high mountain, we can see the goal.

Remember Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.” And 1 Peter 4:13, “inasmuch as you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice exultingly.”

The present sufferings seem large when we focus on them. But we should look at the coming glory of New Jerusalem and rejoice!

*from Life-Study of Revelation by Witness Lee, © LSM, online reading (chap. 59, sec. 2)

The Triune God and New Jerusalem

The prior post asked, Where is New Jerusalem? And the answer is that New Jerusalem is in the Triune God. The city is in the Triune God because all God’s New Testament building work is in Himself.

We can also ask, Where is the Triune God? The answer is that the Triune God is in New Jerusalem. The city is in God and God is in the city. This is the consummation of words spoken by the Lord in John.

New JerusalemNew JerusalemI am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
(14:20)
Abide in Me and I in you.
(15:4)

 

Romans says we are “in Christ Jesus” (8:1) and “Christ is in you” (8:10). In Colossians Paul announced “Christ in you” as part of his labor to “present every man full-grown in Christ” (1:27-28). And 1 John 4:15 says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.”

New Jerusalem is not a physical place for us or God to be. The dwellers and the dwelling are one, not separate. New Jerusalem is the consummation of the mutual indwelling of the Triune God and all His people. New Jerusalem is in, and one with, the Triune God and the Triune God is in, and one with, New Jerusalem. In other words, New Jerusalem is the mingling, the blending, the coinherence*, of God and God’s people.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Triune God in His people and His people in the Triune God.

Photo courtesy of NASA and JPL-Caltech.

* A word meaning one dwells in another and the other in the one, as in John 14:20, 15:4, 1 John 4:15.

Love the Lord Jesus, Rejoice and Exult

New JerusalemWe are in a series of posts on preparation of New Jerusalem. An outstanding characteristic of New Jerusalem is that this city is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 19:7 proclaims, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

Love is the critical factor for a bride preparing to be married.

In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus says to us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” The making of this abode, in response to our loving the Lord, is part of the preparation of New Jerusalem as the eternal mutual abode of God and man.

Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” The “good” here is neither outward blessings nor human success, but the accomplishing of God’s purpose as revealed in verses 29-30. Our loving of God causes us to care for His desire regardless of our human situation. And New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the “good” which God is accomplishing in those who love Him.

Second Timothy 4:8 speaks of “all those who have loved our Lord’s appearing.” This is a stark contrast to those who “loved the present age” (v. 10). If we love Him, certainly we will love His appearing. Lord, cause us to love You every day.

A song echoes this prayer:
___Lord, keep my heart always true to You,
___Never backsliding, always viewing You,
___A heart that is pure that sees only You,
___A heart that loves You and treasures only You.

Lord, keep my heart in this wonderful condition from now until New Jerusalem appears.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

I am in My Father, You in Me, and I in You

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is being prepared! God already sent John the Baptist, came in the man Jesus, and sanctified us through His death on the cross.

Another step of preparation is in John 14. In verses 2-3 the Lord Jesus tells us, “In My Father’s house are many abodes; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.”

In John 13–17 Jesus speaks ten times about going to the Father but He never speaks about going to heaven. His destination is a Person, not a location. His goal is God dwelling in us and us dwelling in God.

His going was in His death and His coming is in His resurrection (John 20:19). The “place” is not a physical location; the place is God Himself. In resurrection He lives and we also live (John 14:19) and in resurrection, living together with Him, we know that we are in the Father by being in Him and that He is in us (v. 14:20). Through death and resurrection He prepared the way to bring us into the Father.

His living in us and our living in Him is the characteristic of the New Testament from resurrection to eternity. Examples:
• We are in Christ Jesus and He is in us (Romans 8:1, 10).
• The New Testament building is a living building in Christ Jesus and He is making His home in our hearts (Ephesians 2:20-22; 3:16-17).
• Our life is hidden with Christ in God and Christ is in us as our life (Colossians 3:3-4).
• We abide in Him and He abides in us (1 John 4:13).

Praise the Lord for His death and resurrection. They accomplished so much. Now, as a result of our believing, He is in us and we are in Him unto New Jerusalem.

Related posts: In the Triune God,   No Mansions,   Mutual Abiding unto New Jerusalem
Mutual Abiding from Resurrection to New Jerusalem

Death, Resurrection, Newness

New JerusalemWe are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and in resurrection we walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This life and this new creation are inward, not humanly visible now, but will be openly displayed when New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven as the consummation of all the newness in the Bible.

Resurrection and newness cannot be separated. If we have one, we have the other. This is true today and we will realize and experience this to the utmost in New Jerusalem.

Resurrection and a walk in newness of life is a result of baptism into the death of Christ (Romans 6:4). The reality of this baptism is the Spirit, who is “the Spirit of reality.” In John 16:13 the Lord Jesus tells us, “when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality.”

This Spirit came when the Lord was resurrected. On the day of His resurrection, He came to His disciples and “breathed into them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). From this time the disciples could walk in newness of life—for example, compare Peter’s foolish speaking before the resurrection with His bold declaring of the word of God in the early chapters of Acts.

It is by this Spirit that “we serve in newness of spirit” (Romans 7:6). This verse speaks of our human spirit regenerated by the Spirit (John 3:6), functioning with the Spirit (Romans 8:16), and in oneness with the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).

Apart from the Spirit (who brings us the reality of God) with our spirit, there is no newness. New Jerusalem will be filled with the Spirit of reality and will be entirely and eternally new.

Photo of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, courtesy of ESA and VITO (Belgium). The colors show the condition of the vegetation rather than the actual colors of the landscape.

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