Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (6)

Continuing from Matthew 10 and 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9 also have the Lord’s words about denying the self, taking up the cross, and losing the soul life. Luke 9 adds one word not in Matthew and Mark: daily. “He said to them all, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (v. 23). Verses 24 and 25 are about losing the soul life for the Lord’s sake.

New JerusalemVerse 26 continues, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of this one will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Lord, save me from any shame about You and Your words.

In Matthew 16, Mark 8, and Luke 9 the portion about denying the self is immediately followed by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, which He describes as “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” This coming, in glory, foreshadows the coming age which leads to New Jerusalem.

The path to New Jerusalem includes the cross now, the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age, and then New Jerusalem itself. To be on this path, we must apply the cross of Christ to our soul life. The cross is available to us through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). Thus, it is by the Spirit, not by natural effort, that we go through the cross toward New Jerusalem.

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Glory: the Lord’s Presence Manifested

In recent reading*, I was touched by the question, What is glory of the Lord? The next sentence of my reading gave this answer, It is the presence of the Lord manifested before the eyes of humanity. The glory will be manifested by New Jerusalem, but it was also manifested to people in the past.

Acts 7:2 says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia.” This appearing motivated Abraham to leave his fatherland and follow the Lord to a new place. Lord, motivate us to follow You daily.

The glory also appeared to Israel, when the tabernacle was completed (Exo. 40:35) and at other times (e.g. Exo. 16:10, Lev. 9:23, Num. 14:10). However, many in Israel were obstinate and the manifested glory was sometimes a rebuke to them. Lord, keep our hearts soft toward You.

New JerusalemLater, the glory of the Lord appeared at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:11). In the New Testament the glory was briefly manifested on the mountain (Mark 9:2-3), to Stephen (Acts 7:55), and to Saul (Acts 26:13-15). And the Lord promised that people “will see the Son of Man becoming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

Since Saul’s time, the glory is hidden but we do have the presence of the Lord. The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). He in us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). In spirit we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

He will come to fulfill the hope of glory and to manifest His glory in us (2 Thes. 1:10), in the coming kingdom, and in New Jerusalem.

* Witness LeeThe All-Inclusive Christ, chap. 9, Living Stream Ministry

Posts will resume, Monday, November 27.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 19 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit, the primary theme, of Revelation. Throughout Revelation Jesus Christ is seen carrying out God’s judgements on the enemies and developing His corporate testimony all the way to New Jerusalem. We continue in chapter 19.

New JerusalemVerses 19:1-4 are praises for God’s judgements. Verses 5-6 is another praise. Verse 7 goes on, “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.” This is rejoicing for the positive side of God’s move, the move unto New Jerusalem.

Jesus, the Lamb, will receive His bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2). He, and this marriage, are worthy of our rejoicing and our giving glory to Him. We need not wait until the time of Revelation 19 nor until New Jerusalem. We can rejoice today and give glory to Him today. “Worthy is the Lamb” (Rev. 5:12).

Verse 19:8 continues, “And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” Christ became righteousness to us at our initial salvation (1 Cor. 1:30). Now He is our life; as we live Him He becomes righteousness in our living; this daily manifestation of Him is the righteousnesses in 19:8, portrayed by fine, bright linen garments.

Verse 19:9 says, “Blessed are they who are called to the marriage dinner of the Lamb.” Unlike a human wedding, which often focuses on the bride, the focus in Revelation 19 is the Lamb. He is our Redeemer and our Life, and by our experience of Him we become His expression in a corporate man, both today and in 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.

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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

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 17 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit, the emphasis, of Revelation. Throughout Revelation Jesus Christ is carrying out God’s economy to develop His corporate testimony, which consummates with New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRevelation 15 to 18 is mostly judgments (ch. 17). Verse 17:14 says, “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they who are with Him, the called and chosen and faithful, will also overcome them.” Here again the Lord is declared to be the Ruler of the whole earth.

In 17:14 He displays His victory. The victory is simple—the Bible gives no details of this “war.” The victory is simple because the war is extremely short, exactly like the war in 19:19-21. It is short because the Lamb is the overcoming and almighty Lion (5:5). The ultimate result of these victories is a new creation, with New Jerusalem, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

Verse 17:14 also says, “they who are with Him, the called and chosen and faithful, will also overcome them.” The faithful believers with the Lamb overcome all the opposers, as also in chapters 12 and 19. These believers  participate in the Lamb’s victory.

In 1:5 and 3:14 the Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful One, and in 19:11 His name is “Faithful and True.” Furthermore, in 21:5 and 22:6 His words are faithful and true. The faithful believers are those who love the Lord, love His word, and take His word as their nourish-ment and enlightening. This is John 14:23, ” If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.”

Certainly in New Jerusalem we will all love the Lord and keep His word absolutely, but we need to be perfected now. Lord, grant us more love for You and Your word every day; form Yourself as the faithful One in us.

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The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 2 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The testimony of Jesus is the centrality of Revelation (19:10). Here are more characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ related to our progress to New Jerusalem (Rev. 2). Some of these characteristics are also in Revelation 1:13-20.

New JerusalemWe see the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of the seven lampstands (1:12-13), the seven churches (1:20) and caring for them in Revelation 2–3. His care is not limited to this age, because the lampstands today are the forerunner of the eternal lampstand, New Jerusalem.

Revelation 2:1 repeats the fact that the Lord is “He who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.” His walking and speaking care for the churches. As our High Priest, His care brings us to Himself and ministers Himself to us. His goal is to be glorified in us when He returns (2 Thes. 1:10) and in New Jerusalem.

Our response to His care should be the best love for Him (2:4) so that our love governs our working for Him (2:2).

In 2:8 the Lord describes Himself as “the First and the Last, who became dead and lived again.” Nothing in our lives starts without Him and nothing ends apart from Him. Therefore, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because it matters to Him concerning you” (1 Peter 5:7). Lord, fulfill in us Your word in 2:10, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

In 2:12 He is the One “who has the sharp two-edged sword.” This sword is His living and operative word which is sharper than any physical sword and which can divide all the mixture in our being (Heb. 4:12). By the dividing, He can wash away all our blemishes to present us to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:26-27), causing us to match New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 1 Brings Us to New Jerusalem (2)

New JerusalemThe essence of Revelation is the testi-mony of Jesus. We continue looking look at some of the characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ as they relate to our progress to New Jerusalem. (Rev. 1:9-20)

In Revelation 1:9 the apostle John is our “brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.” Acts 14:22 informs us that “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” Ultimately this kingdom is New Jerusalem. Between here and there are tribulations, but we do not endure them in ourselves. We are in Jesus.

In 1:10 John heard a voice, in 1:12 he turned to see the voice, and in 1:13 he saw “One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle.” This Son of Man is Jesus Christ, our High Priest, who ministers to us (as in Heb. 5–10) and brings us onward through this life and unto New Jerusalem.

His characteristics in 1:14-16 may be considered in the notes here.

In 1:17-18 He declares, “Do not fear; I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” We should not fear anything because He is first and last, so nothing is outside the limits He sets and because He has conquered death. Rather than fear, we should let our requests be made known to Him so that He may be our peace (Phil. 4:6-7).

This wonderful One is caring for us now and will surely bring us all the way to New Jerusalem.

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The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 1 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe heart, the central theme, of Revel-ation is the testimony of Jesus. He (not judgments nor beasts) is our focus.

In Revelation our Lord Jesus is seen in many ways. This post begins a look at some of His characteristics as they relate to our progress unto New Jerusalem. (Rev. 1:1-6)

In Revelation 1:4-5 grace and peace come to us from God who is, was, and is coming; and from the seven Spirits; and from Jesus Christ. Grace enables us to grow (2 Peter 3:18) and peace sustains us in the tribulations we face. The goal of our growing is the maturity of New Jerusalem.

In 1:5 Jesus Christ is the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. Although we may not be faithful to Him, He is faithful to care for us and to care for God’s purpose through us, all the way to New Jerusalem. He is also the Ruler of everything, no matter how confused we are by human governments today.

He is the Firstborn and we are His many brothers (Rom. 8:29), who have been made alive (resurrected) together with Him (Eph. 2:5-6) for the city of resurrection.

In 1:5 He also loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. Because He loves us, we are supplied to love Him. And we thank Him for releasing us!

In 1:6, He “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” The consummation of this is our reigning with Him and serving Him as priests in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:5, 3).

Revelation 1:6 ends, “to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.” Yes, glory and might to our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ now and in New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Shadows of New Jerusalem, Psalms 138-145

New JerusalemWe continue looking at clear words and hints in Psalms about Christ, God’s house, God’s city, and God’s blessing to the whole earth. These point toward Christ on the throne in New Jerusalem at the center of the new earth.

Psalm 138:4-5 say, “All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Jehovah; for they have heard the words of Your mouth. And they will sing of the ways of Jehovah, for great is the glory of Jehovah.” This corresponds with Revelation 21; verse 23 says the glory of God illumined New Jerusalem. Verse 23 also says the nations on new earth will bring their glory and honor into New Jerusalem (analogous to giving thanks in Psalm 138).

Psalm 144:3 says, “O Jehovah, what is man, that You take knowledge of him, And the son of man, that You think of him?” This repeats Psalm 8:4, quoted in Hebrews 2:6, and is in reference to Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2 goes on to speak of His incarnation, His death, His resurrection, and His being crowned with glory and honor in ascension. In New Jerusalem the Lamb, indicating incarnation and death, will be on the throne, indicating exaltation with glory and honor (Rev. 22:1).

Psalm 145:1-3 say, “I will extol You, O my God and King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is Jehovah, and much to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.”

In New Jerusalem we will extol and praise our God and King, and bless His name forever. And, although we will see, appreciate, and partake of His greatness, we will never reach its limit, for it is unsearchable. New Jerusalem will contain and display the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

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The Son is the Brightness of God’s Glory, Both Now and in New Jerusalem

Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son of God, who is God (v. 8), is “the effulgence of His [God’s] glory.” This effulgence/radiance/brightness/brilliance° ‘is like the shining or the brightness of the light of the sun. The Son is the shining, the brightness, of the Father’s glory.’* This is true today and will be visible to all in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRevelation 21:11 says that New Jerusalem came down “having the glory of God” and verse 23 says “the glory of God illumined” the city New Jerusalem.

With Hebrews and Revelation together, we realize that New Jerusalem has the glory of God because the Son is in New Jerusalem, and that the glory of God illuminates the city because God in the Son shines in it.

God’s glory radiating through Jesus was seen when He took three disciples up the mountain. Matthew 17:2, “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light.” This was a foretaste of the glory of New Jerusalem.

The brilliance on the mountain was temporary but the Lord told us people “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). This will be His visible return to earth, preparing the way to New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 24:30, as well as 16:27 and 25:31, Jesus speaks of the Son of Man coming in glory. Hebrews speaks of the effulgence of the Son of God. Both are true because Jesus Christ is both Man and God.

The mountain, the Lord’s coming on the clouds, and New Jerusalem descending introduce three stages of the Son as the brightness of God’s glory.

° various translations, thanks to biblehub.com.
* from footnote on Heb. 1:3 in NT Recovery Version Online.
Photo via Good Free Photos.

 

The Spirit and a Serpent for New Jerusalem

It is well-known that John 3 is a chapter on new birth and eternal life. In verse 3 Jesus speaks about being born again (or born anew), in verse 5 about being born of water and the Spirit, and in verse 6 He tells us, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” When we are born anew, our deadened human spirit is born of, made alive by, the divine Spirit. Being born again begins our walk on the golden street of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWhen we believe into Jesus Christ, not only is our human spirit made alive, but also we receive eternal life. This is John 3:15-16. This is a new beginning with a new life. The consummation, the maturity, of this life is New Jerusalem.

But how can a serpent be related to New Jerusalem? Numbers 21:4-9 has the base for our answer. The people of Israel sinned in complaining against God and serpents bit them. Moses prayed and God told him what to do. “Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the pole; and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

The Lord Jesus applied this to Himself. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Because of sin, all humans have the evil nature, the poison, of the serpent Satan within. The Lord Jesus was lifted up on the cross as the reality of the bronze serpent to free us from this serpentine nature.

We need both of these for our participation in New Jerusalem—the Lord Jesus lifted up to cast out the old serpent (John 12:31) and save us from that nature, plus the Spirit entering into us with eternal life. We receive, rejoice, and go on to New Jerusalem.

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