Now & New Jerusalem: Behold His Face (5)

New JerusalemIn New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). To prepare us for this, God has already “shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 the Israelites looking at the face of Moses is likened to our looking at the Lord’s face. This is for today, not waiting for New Jerusalem.

During our Christian life we should continually behold the face of Jesus Christ. Whenever our heart turns to the Lord our veils are taken away (v. 16). These veils could be our ideas about what is best, our human goals, our attitudes about people and events, our complaining about outward sufferings, or many other things. When the veils are gone, we contact the Lord who is the Spirit and experience His inner freedom (v. 17).

As a result, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit” (v. 18). Our transformation is by our looking to the Lord, beholding His glory, so that He can infuse us with it. This is our preparation for New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

Our continual (or sadly, intermittent) beholding of the Lord produces continual (or sadly, intermittent) transformation, “from glory to glory.” God’s desire, for which He predestinated us, is that we “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). With this image and with “reflecting the glory of the Lord” we become a corporate expression of Him. which consummates in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Christ as the Riches in Christian Life

God’s unsearchable riches will be displayed through New Jerusalem. These riches are not only for New Jerusalem; they are for us to experience in our Christian life now.

New JerusalemGod’s rich mercy and kindness brought salvation to us. And the Holy Spirit has been “poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). By this Spirit in us we have a daily renewing.

As the Spirit imparts the riches of Christ into us, our hearts are “being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the full knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ” (Col. 2:2). Like prior verses, here we see that there is no separating the riches from the Person of Christ.

We can also “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). This dwelling helps, and is helped by, “singing with grace in your hearts to God.” Even in New Jerusalem, Christ, the living Word, will be dwelling in us. I believe that in New Jerusalem we will still be singing with grace to God. Besides singing now, it is also good to pray and praise with the word.

Furthermore, we can call on the name of the Lord. Whether almost silently or very loudly, we can call O Lord Jesus. “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).

All these Christian practices keep us holding our Head, Christ, and growing up into Him. This bring us to the building up of the Body of Christ by the rich supply out from Him (Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19). This present, living building up is for New Jerusalem, God’s eternal building.

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 outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.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.

God’s Preparation for Those Who Love Him

New Jerusalem is the bride of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:2). On one side God “has prepared a city” (Hebrews 11:16) and on the other side, the bride “has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). The two previous posts were on getting ready by loving our Bridegroom (one  two)

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 2:9 speaks of “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the things God has prepared for His lovers.

These God-prepared things “eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (1 Corinthians 2:9); hence they are not natural or physical things which can be seen, heard, or imagined.

These things “God has revealed through the Spirit” (v. 10), whom we have received that we may know these things (v. 12). In this spiritual realm, the key to knowing is loving God.

To realize and participate in the deep and hidden things God has ordained and prepared for us requires us not only to believe in Him but also to love Him. To fear God, to worship God, and to believe in God (that is, to receive God) are all inadequate; to love Him is the indispensable requirement. To love God means to set our entire being — spirit, soul, and body, with the heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) — absolutely on Him, that is, to let our entire being be occupied by Him and lost in Him, so that He becomes everything to us and we are one with Him practically in our daily life. In this way we have the closest and most intimate fellowship with God, and we are able to enter into His heart and apprehend all its secrets (Psa. 73:25; 25:14). Thus, we not only realize but also experience, enjoy, and fully participate in these deep and hidden things of God.*

Lord, draw me to love You supremely, to have my whole being occupied by You and lost in You.

Photo by Willem van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

* Note 3 on 1 Cor. 2:9 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by LSM.

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.

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life

New JerusalemGod sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). This “way of the Lord” extends from John unto New Jerusalem. To prepare the way is to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart for the Lord and His kingdom.

After the repentance spoken in Matthew 3 and 4, in Matthew 5:8 the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” And 2 Timothy 2:21-22 urges us to cleanse ourselves and pursue “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

This purity comes in two steps. First is our repentance and faith—God cleanses our hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9). This is once for all time. Second, we need the supply for a pure life day by day, because in ourselves we are not pure. Only the Lord Jesus is pure. First John 3:3 says “He is pure.” Only as He becomes our living can our living be pure.

Matthew 5:48 says, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” As children of the Father, we have the Father’s life, which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). With Him as our life we can be pure (read more).

To the degree that Jesus Christ is our living, to this extent we have daily, experiential purity. Out of this living, as Revelation 19:7-8 declares, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure.”

The fine, bright, and pure linen given on that day is an expression of all the preparation and the living leading to that day and ultimately to New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Manger, courtesy of CSIRO Australiawww.scienceimage.csiro.au.

Receive the Word with Faith to Get Ready

In Matthew 24 and 25 the Lord Jesus urged us to be ready for His coming. This readiness for Him as the Bridegroom is related to preparation of New Jerusalem as His bride.

The preparation is carried out not by our own zeal or energy but by our cooperation with Him. Hebrews 3:7 to 4:13 speaks about the failure of the children of Israel to pass through the wilderness and enter the good land. Their journey is like our journey as virgins going forth to meet the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). Thus we can learn from their failure.

New JerusalemHebrews 4:12 says, “the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The condition of our heart is important in our being ready for the Lord.

Hebrews 4:2 says of those who died in the wilderness, “the word heard did not profit them, not being mixed together with faith in those who heard.” When we receive the word of the Lord with faith and say amen to it, then it will be living and operative in us.

The living and operative word profits us when it nourishes our spirit, divides our spirit from our soul, and operates in our heart. The gradual nourishing, dividing, and operating get us ready for the Lord’s return and for New Jerusalem.

A song:
__Jesus is coming, now He’s on His way—
____Amen the Word of God!
__Would you be ready if He comes today—
____Amen the Word of God!
__His Word prepares us, to Jesus bears us—
____Amen the Word of God!

The word of God is living and operative!

The Preparation of New Jerusalem

The apostle John saw a new heaven, a new earth, and 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 post begins a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2 does not say who accomplished the preparation of New Jerusalem as the bride. However, through this series we will see clearly from many New Testament verses that this preparation requires both God and man.

The first step in the preparation was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord.” This was prophesied in Isaiah 40. Verses 3-4 say, “The voice of one who cries in the wilderness: make clear the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be made low, and the crooked places will become straight, and the rough places, a broad plain.”

It seems that Isaiah, and the quotations in Matthew, Mark, and Lukmarten, by Nathan Stone, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Statione, speak about changes in the physical landscape. However, these physical descriptions are portraits of people’s inner condition. Therefore, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that John prepared the way of the Lord by proclaiming repentance for the king-dom and the people responded by being baptized while they confessed their sins.

Another indication that “the crooked places” (and valleys, hills, rough places) refer to our heart is in Acts 8. Peter said to Simon the magician, “your heart is not straight before God. Repent therefore from this wickedness of yours and beseech the Lord if perhaps the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (8:21-22).

The real preparation of the way of the Lord is in our hearts. This preparation begins with our repentance and our confessing our sins. In this age we cannot say we have no sin and we cannot say that we have not sinned. But, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-10). More confessing in His light brings more forgiveness and more cleansing, which means more preparation for New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nathan Stone, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

Filled by & for Hearing, Speaking, Singing

Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit” parallels the throne of God and of the Lamb from which comes the river of water of life in New Jerusalem. In Galatians 3 we receive the Spirit by the hearing of faith (v. 2, 5).

New JerusalemTo have hearing we also need speaking. We should not depend on a select few to speak. Rather, as Ephesians 5:18b-19 says, we should “be filled in spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and psalming with your heart to the Lord.”

The psalms, hymns, and songs may be directly from the word of God or may express what we see in the word of God. When we are filled in spirit and speak, others will have the hearing of faith and receive the Spirit. Then others may speak and we receive the Spirit. This mutual, spiritual speaking and hearing expresses the reality of the Body of Christ.

Colossians 3:16 is very similar: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.” The word dwells/lives in us. The word of God living in us corresponds with our being filled in spirit in Ephesians 5.

Both Ephesians and Colossians include singing—with grace, with our hearts, to the Lord.

Surely New Jerusalem will be full of the Spirit and full of the living word. There we will still be speaking and hearing the living words, the words of the faith. New Jerusalem will probably also be full of our singing to the Lord.

We Are Receiving the Promise of the Spirit

New JerusalemThe prior post paralleled Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit” with the view of New Jerusalem in Revelation 22:1, “He showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

In Galatians 3:2, 14 we receive the Spirit and in 3:5 God is bountifully supplying the Spirit. We receive because He supplies. And His supplying is continuous (clearly indicated by the Greek verb). Therefore our receiving should be continuous, not once-for-all. This parallels New Jerusalem: a river of water of life is proceeding out of the throne. This river is flowing continually for our continual refreshment and supply eternally.

Our receiving is by faith (3:14), specifically the hearing of faith (3:2, 5). Whether we understand or not, we exercise our spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13) to say amen to God’s word. Here is an invigorating song about saying Amen to God’s Word.

Our spirit of faith matches, in essence, the Spirit whom we are receiving. Three verses closely couple our human spirit with the divine Spirit:
• “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6b)
• “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit” (John 4:24)
• “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16)
We need to exercise our human spirit to contact and receive the divine Spirit.

This Spirit is flowing, and being received by us, as pictured by the river of water of life in New Jerusalem. Lord, keep me receiving the Spirit by the hearing of faith every day as a foretaste of the river New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Government.

 

See New Jerusalem with a Spirit of Faith

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” New Jerusalem surely fits the category of things not seen, so we need to lay hold of it by faith.

You might counter my “not seen” statement because John told us that he saw New Jerusalem. This is Revelation 21:9-11a:

New JerusalemOne of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.

Yes, John saw the bride, the wife of the Lamb, when he was “in spirit.” And he was on “a great and high mountain” above the worldly cares and outside the physical distress of his exile on the island of Patmos. This was a spiritual seeing from a high spiritual position; this was not a physical seeing.

Our situation is the same. We cannot yet see New Jerusalem with our physical sight but we can see it in spirit. We cannot see New Jerusalem when we are buried in our worldly cares and complaints but we can see it when we allow the Lord to carry us above everything of the material world.

The key to this seeing is our “spirit of faith” (2 Corinthians 4:13). Our human spirit, regenerated by and one with the Spirit, contains the faith we need to substantiate the physically unseen New Jerusalem.

May we be people who are filled with the Spirit in our spirit by the word of God, speaking, singing, giving thanks, and praising (Ephesians 5:18-21, Colossians 3:16). May we be carried away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

ps: The seven last plagues in Revelation 21:9 are part of God’s judgements to clean up the universe for 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, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Let us Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes

New JerusalemBoaz and Ruth are a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5) and a picture of the Lamb and New Jerusalem (Revelation 21). Boaz redeemed Ruth from her poverty, then married her and brought her into his house. Jesus Christ has done the same for us.

A part of this wonderful picture is Ruth’s seeking. She said to her mother-in-law, “For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you dwell, I will dwell; and your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). May we all have such an attitude in our heart and declare it with our mouth.

After going to be among God’s people, Ruth was not passive; she went out to glean after the harvesters. As a sojourner and a widow, this gleaning was her right (Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-21), and she came forward to exercise this right.

In God’s mercy she came to the field of Boaz (Ruth 2:1-3). We must come forward, but it is the sovereign God who arranges where we will be. Thank God for this marvelous picture.

Ruth followed the instruction of Boaz to stay with his reapers (Ruth 2:8-9, 23). Ruth was also obedient to the instructions from her mother-in-law (Ruth 3:1-5). Probably her simple obedience followed from her simple and firm declaration in verse 1:16.

May the Lord grant each of us a heart to go, to dwell, to be among God’s people, and to be with God. May we be those who “follow the Lamb wherever He may go” (Revelation 14:4). Eventually, New Jerusalem will be the destination of our going, New Jerusalem will be our dwelling, and New Jerusalem will be our abiding with God’s people and with God.

Here is Ruth 1:16-17 in a song.

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