God Gave Us a Guarantee, a Foretaste

God’s Spirit within us is the pledge, the deposit, the down payment, guaranteeing all that God will be to us and do in us. This includes the redemption of our mortal body, then our participation in the kingdom age, and ultimately our participation in New Jerusalem.

Besides the verses in the prior post, Romans 8:23 says, “we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body.”

The Spirit as the guarantee is also the Spirit as the firstfruits, the foretaste of our full enjoyment of all of God’s riches.

At present our realization and appreciation of what God in Christ is to us is limited. The limiting factor is our fallen body, our flesh, in which nothing good dwells (Rom. 7:18). This limitation is the reason for the groaning in Romans 8:23.

Another limitation is our mind, to the extent it has not yet been renewed by the Spirit.

While we are groaning we also are partaking of the firstfruits of the Spirit. This Spirit is not only a guarantee of the coming riches but He is also our current foretaste of these riches. This foretaste gives us confidence for our fuller participation in God’s riches during the coming age and the fullest participation in New Jerusalem.

Sonship for New Jerusalem (3)

God has chosen and predestinated us unto sonship “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:4-6). This praise culminates with the glory of New Jerusalem.

We have the sonship, yet Romans 8:23 says, “we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body.” We have the sonship but we are awaiting the fulness of this sonship.

New JerusalemThe fulness will occur at the redemption of our mortal body. The mortality of our body, with its weaknesses, sicknesses, and lusts, is the cause of our groaning.

While we are groaning, “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).

Sonship is “to the praise of the glory of God.” The glory is within us, but will be released at the Lord’s return when our physical body is “conformed to the body of His glory.” The climax of this released glory is New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God.”

All believers in Jesus Christ have been born of God and have the sonship. Throughout our Christian life we cooperate to let this sonship grow in us. Growth unto maturity, while awaiting our Lord’s appearing, is our path to 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by LSM.

Through Suffering to the City of Glory

The Lord will shine with great glory from His return to eternity in New Jerusalem. Today we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5) and “shine as luminaries, holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2).

Romans 8:16-17 say, “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.” Here are several facts: we are children of God, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and we will suffer with Him to be glorified with Him. To be glorified with Him is preparation for the city of glory, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWe are told that our path to glory involves suffering. All humans have troubles in areas such as family, health, work, and housing. In our suffering we should be “with Him” always turning our heart to the Lord.

In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas labored, “Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.”

God’s kingdom and glory are linked; for example, “God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thes. 2:12).

Eternally, in New Jerusalem there will be no more suffering but we will participate in the fullness of God’s kingdom and His glory.

Glorified to Match the City of Glory

In His return, in the manifestation of the kingdom, and in New Jerusalem Jesus Christ will be shining brightly with the glory of God. We too will be shining because He is in us and will shine through us.

New JerusalemSecond Thessalonians 1:8-9 speaks about the Lord’s judgment on evil doers at His return. Verse 10 continues, “When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” The Lord Jesus is coming in glory and He is coming to release His glory from within all His believers. This is the same as Romans 8:17, we will “be glorified with Him.”

Romans 8:29-30 speaks of God’s foreknowledge and predestination, which were in eternity. Then His calling and justifying, which have been accomplished. These verses also speak of our being conformed to the image of God’s Son and being glorified. This conformation and glorification are the result of His work within us.

The steps from foreknowledge to justification are preparation. Conformation and glorification are a process which changes us* from people of the fallen old creation to people of the glorious new creation to be part of New Jerusalem.

We will be glorified to match New Jerusalem as the city of glory.


* Romans 8:29-30 are past tense because in God’s view everything has been done. In our view conformation and glorification are in process and will become visible at the Lord’s return.

Our Inheritance and God’s Inheritance

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the consummation of our inheritance of eternal life and of God’s kingdom. We partake of both today and will have a far richer participation in eternity.

Romans 8:16-17 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.” Ultimately, to be glorified with Christ is to be New Jerusalem with Him.

We are children of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Our inheritance with Christ is to be glorified with Him. Our glorification rests to lesser or greater extent on our current sufferings. While suffering, we must remember that these trials are temporary and produce “an eternal weight of glory.”

Paul prayed that God would give us “a spirit of wisdom and revelation” and to enlighten our heart that we may know “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). We receive so much from God, including all the blessings in Ephesians 1:3-14. Eventually all these divine riches bring forth the glory in us, and this glory is what God inherits in us.

We inherit all God’s riches to be our life, salvation, glory, and more. In return, these riches wrought into us become what God inherits. The mutual result is New Jerusalem, saturated with eternal life and “having the glory of God.”

Photo by Bill Ingalls, courtesy of NASA.

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.

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