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

We All are Living Stones for New Jerusalem

In the New Testament, stones signify living persons. Jesus Christ is a living and precious Stone. God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, is in Him, the Cornerstone in resurrection (Eph. 2:20-21).

New Jerusalem In the natural realm, human beings are vessels of clay (Rom 9:21), earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7). In contrast, New Jerusalem has no clay, no dirt, only precious materials. How then can men of clay participate in New Jerusalem?

The answer is that in regeneration, in resurrection, the Lord makes us stones. When the Lord Jesus first met Simon, He told Him, “You are Simon, the son of John; you shall be called Cephas (which is interpreted, Peter).” Both Cephas (Aramaic*) and Peter (Greek) mean “stone.”

This change of name indicates a change of person, a change of constitution. In God’s salvation, the Lord transforms men of clay into stones for His building.

Peter tells us “Coming to Him, a living stone, rejected by men but with God chosen and precious, you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). This house will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem. We become living stones by coming to Jesus Christ mot only once but by coming to Him continually.

As we come to Him, he infuses us with His stone nature, reconstituting us from clay to stone. This builds us together as God’s spiritual house and prepares us for New Jerusalem, God’s eternal dwelling. In the context of Peter’s epistle, our “coming to Him” involves putting away evil things (2:1) and holding to His living and abiding word (1:22-25, 2:2-3). This is our path to New Jerusalem.

*The common language in Judea and Galilee in the first century.

Glory to God, Now and New Jerusalem

In my Bible reading, I came to Jude. Verses 24-25 say, “But to Him who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you before His glory without blemish in exultation, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, might, and authority before all time and now and unto all eternity. Amen.”

New JerusalemThe phrase “before His glory” reminded me of New Jerusalem, which radiates the glory of God, and the throne in New Jerusalem which is the source of the radiant glory. Of course, “before His glory” is also when the Lord returns visibly (Matt. 25:31) and in His kingdom.

God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord brings us to the glory “without blemish.” For us to be in the glory and to be glorious, we must be without blemish.

Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose us “to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” God is faithful to accomplish what He has said! Ephesians 5:25-27 tell us that Jesus Christ gave Himself for the church (in death), that He is washing the church in the water in His word (now), and that (at His return) He will “present the church to Himself glorious…without blemish.” This is His operating to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

We cannot be glorious nor be without blemish by our own effort, but we can cooperate with His operation. Philippians 2:12-15 speak of our “working out our own salvation” by cooperating with “God who operates in us” that we may be “children of God without blemish” shining in the world. The shining is a precursor to the glory of New Jerusalem.

Peter also speaks of our cooperation. He says that since we are expecting new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13), including New Jerusalem, we should “be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish” (3:14).

We thank our God and Savior for choosing us, dying for us, washing us, operating in us, and guarding us. May He now keep us cooperating daily. To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory!

Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

All Fall Short of the Glory of New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem

Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” While reading Romans 3 I was touched with the paraphrase in the subject line of this post. New Jerusalem is the ultimate display of God’s glory, so to fall short of the glory is to fall short of New Jerusalem.

The holy city Jerusalem…having the glory of God
Revelation 21:10-11
The glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem]
Revelation 21:23

Sin separated man from God and man was shut out of the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24). Thus man had no access to the tree of life. In New Testament terms, man had no access to eternal life, hence no way to express God’s glory.

The real expression of every living being is the demonstration of the life within that being. An apple tree bears apple blossoms and fruit because of its life. A dog sniffs and barks because of its life. Unsaved human beings express both good (from created life) and evil (from indwelling sin).

Regenerated human beings should exhibit, from eternal life within, the glory of God in a limited way now and in a full way in New Jerusalem. However, regeneration is not sufficient. The life of regeneration must spread and expand in us. This is “much more to be saved in His life” (Rom. 5:10). “Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

May we all long for the much more life and receive the abundance of grace until we are reigning in this life and the glory is brought forth. Lord, cause me to participate in the much more salvation of Your life. Spread life in me so that Your glory can be expressed through me. Lord, bring forth the glory of New Jerusalem now!

Perfected into One unto New Jerusalem

In John 17 the Lord Jesus prayed for our oneness in the Triune God. This prayer includes three stages of oneness—in the Father’s name (one), sanctification in the word of reality (two), and in glory (this post). Three stages in one hymn.

New JerusalemIn John 17:22-23 the Lord prayed, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” The glory is the expression of God.

Because we have all received the divine life and divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), we have this glory. The extent to which we live by the divine life and divine nature determines the magnitude of glory expressed. New Jerusalem will be the fullest expression.

As before, oneness in the divine glory is not outward, not man-made, not by adherence to a creed, not by following a set of rules. The real oneness, now and unto New Jerusalem, is as “We [the Triune God] are one.” Nothing less, nothing lower. Our oneness is God in Christ in us and we in Him. This matches what the Lord told the disciples, “you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

In the Triune God, with the Triune God in us, we “may be perfected into one.” Perfection is a quality of God, not of men. For us to be perfected into one is to be perfected in our living in and because of the Triune God. At times we fail, but we confess our sins and receive His forgiveness. Eventually we will mature in the divine life and come to the reality, the perfection, of New Jerusalem.

As in verse 17:21, so in verse 23 the result of the oneness today is “that the world may know.” The perfection in glory is not only for New Jerusalem but even for today.

See also Glorification and Oneness in the Triune God.

God’s Goal is New Jerusalem

Revelation 20:10: “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:14: “death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21:4: “death will be no more, nor sorrow or crying or pain anymore.”

New JerusalemAs human beings, we might be very happy and satisfied with these conditions. However, God is not satisfied. Why? Because these remove what is contrary to God’s purpose but these actions do not fulfill God’s purpose nor reach His goal.

God’s goal is to bring forth, by His life in human beings, a corporate expression of Himself. God’s goal is achieved with New Jerusalem “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God is the expression of God; this is the primary characteristic of New Jerusalem.

The expression of God is accomplished by God’s life maturing in us. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross removed all the barriers between us and God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ imparted Him as life into us (1 Peter 1:3).

The effects of the death and resurrection of Christ are seen in Romans 5:10, “if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life.” Reconciliation with God is a result of the death of Christ, and salvation in life is a result of the resurrection of Christ.

The “much more” salvation is the spreading, the increase, of Christ as life in us. The increase of life generates the increase of expression. A small green plant might be unidentifiable, but when the plant grows to full size and brings forth blossoms or fruit, then this expression surely will identify the plant. Likewise, when Christ grows in us to maturity, God will be expressed in full by all of us built together to be 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 Living Stream Ministry.

We Await the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto Eternal Life and New Jerusalem

We were sinners but through God’s mercy His salvation came to us. Now we are His people to display and to tell forth His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9-10), both now and in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAlthough we have been saved and our salvation is secure, we still need God’s mercy. This is indicated by the opening words to several epistles:
• “To Timothy, genuine child in faith: Grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:2)
• “Grace, mercy, peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (2 John 3)
• “Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.” (Jude 2)

The epistles of Timothy and 2 John were written to respected Christians known to the apostles. Yet they wished mercy even to these advanced believers. Certainly we too still need mercy.

Jude was written to believers in general, those who are “beloved in God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ” (v. 1) and also wishes mercy to them. This too includes us.

This mercy is not only related to our being saved from sin, condemnation, and other negative matters. Jude 21 encourages us to “keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” We have eternal life already; here “unto eternal life” indicates we still need mercy to be brought into the fuller enjoyment of this life in the coming age and the fullest enjoyment of it in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Lance Cheung, courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to God’s Mercy He Saved Us

New JerusalemThe prior post focused on Ephesians 2, where God’s mercy is brings us to salvation “that He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of this display.

Titus 3:4-5 say, “the kindness and the love to man of our Savior God appeared, not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

Titus 3:3 (like Ephesians 2:1-3) presents our fallen condition, requiring God’s mercy. Then Titus 3:4-5 (like Ephesians 2:4-6) presents God’s mercy and our salvation. This salvation renews us to be God’s people for the building of God’s habitation.

First Peter 2:9-10 is similar—“you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but now are the people of God; who had not previously been shown mercy but have now been shown mercy.”

Again, mercy has come to us to make us God’s people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation. An issue of this is that we tell out/declare/show forth/proclaim His virtues, His excellencies. Eternally, New Jerusalem will be this telling out, this showing forth, of God’s excellencies.

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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

God’s Mercy Points toward New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work. His plan in eternity past and His doings through the ages all conclude with this wonderful city shining with His glory.

New JerusalemBecause all men are in sin, there is a big chasm between us and God. Despite this separation, God’s mercy reaches us. Mercy brings us to a place where we can receive what we are not qualified for and what we do not deserve.

Mercy reaches us not only because of God’s love but also because God’s eternal intention is to involve man in the accomplishing of His plan. This intention was first stated at the creation of man in Genesis 1:26-28. This post is the first in a short look at mercy as an element of the pathway to New Jerusalem.

The coming of John the Baptist opened the New Testament. When it was time for him to be born, “her [his mother’s] neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had magnified His mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her” (Luke 1:58).

John’s father Zachariah, full of the Holy Spirit, said about John “you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the merciful compassions of our God, in which the rising sun will visit us from on high” (Luke 1:76-78).

Zachariah’s words show us that both John’s preparing of the way of the Lord and the coming of the Lord Jesus (the rising sun) are “because of the merciful compassions of our God.” Thank God for this merciful beginning on the New Testament road to New Jerusalem.

God Operates and We Cooperate

New JerusalemThe city New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (Revelation 21:2, 9-10). The Bible affirms both that God prepared the city (Hebrews 11:16) and that the bride made herself ready (Revelation 19:7).

God has prepared! Thank Him! Now we must get ourselves ready. However, in ourselves, we cannot get ourselves ready. We get ready by cooperating with God’s operation in us.

Here are two examples of God’s operation and our cooperation:
• Philippians 2:12-13 exhorts us “even as you have always obeyed…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.” Because God is operating in us, we can work out our salvation by obeying His operation in us. (read more)
• Romans 10:12-13 promises, “the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him; for ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” There is no doubt that the Lord is rich in Himself, but these riches are imparted only to those who will call upon His name. (read more)

We are those engaged to Christ, to become New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, and we should maintain our simplicity and purity toward Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). This simplicity is well expressed in a song which begins
__Simply loving everyday;
____Loving through a stormy way,
__Even when my faith is small,
____Loving Jesus, that is all.

May we be those who love the Lord Jesus Christ every day from now until New Jerusalem appears.

God Prepared, Christ Accomplished, We Receive

The New Testament begins with two steps of God’s preparation of New Jerusalem. First is John the Baptist, sent to “prepare the way of the Lord” by turning our hearts to God. Second, God was incarnated in the man Jesus to be the salvation prepared for all peoples.

Southeast Alaska, USFS photo, CC 2.0This God-man Jesus lived a wonderful human life and then gave Himself to be crucified to redeem us from our sins.

Hebrews 10:5-10, quoting Psalm 40, tells us that the Lord declared to the Father, “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You did not delight.” In contrast, He also said, “a body You have prepared for Me.” The writer of Hebrews concludes, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

In Hebrews we see that the preparation of a physical, human body for the Lord Jesus is a step in God’s preparation of us to participate in New Jerusalem. As sinners we could never enter the holy city. But, by the Lord’s offering of Himself in His physical body, we have been sanctified positionally.

Furthermore, Hebrews 10:14 says “by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Not only has our position, our standing, been sanctified to match the holiness of New Jerusalem. We also are being sanctified dispositionally so that our attitudes, our desires, and our living are fully in accord with the holy city.

God prepared, Christ accomplished, we receive; this is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, Creative Commons 2.0.

Salvation Prepared for All Peoples

The apostle John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2). This preparation involves what God has done, what God is doing, and our cooperation with His doing.

A good example of this cooperative preparation: God sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” by preaching repentance for His kingdom (Matthew 3:2-3). Some people cooperated by confessing their sins and being baptized (3:6).

Lenk, 1999

Another step on God’s side of the preparation was the incarnation of Jesus. After His birth, His parents brought Him to the temple in Jerusalem. Simeon, a righteous and devout man, was there and the Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25).

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and declared to God, “my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). The Spirit’s speaking through Simeon reveals that Jesus is the salvation prepared for everyone, both Jews and non-Jews.

Without God’s salvation, we cannot have a share in New Jerusalem. Only by receiving Jesus as our Savior and having Him as our salvation, can we get to New Jerusalem. Thus, God’s preparation of His salvation for all people is part of His preparation of New Jerusalem.

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