New Jerusalem Comes from Divine Riches and is Without Human Poverty

The Lord Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, read from Isaiah about Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to announce the gospel to the poor…” (Luke 4:18). The poverty in this verse can certainly be understood physically but should also be viewed spiritually.

The Lord Jesus came to announce Himself to people who are poor spiritually, whether rich or poor humanly. What does this have to do with New Jerusalem? Simple. God’s riches bring us out of spiritual poverty all the way to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Ephesians 3:8 the unsearchable riches of Christ are the gospel announced by Paul. The goal of the gospel is not to save people from poverty but to impart these unsearchable riches into people. As a byproduct people are saved from spiritual poverty.

In Romans 2:4 “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” lead us to repentance. This is the beginning of our journey—to repent, turn to God, and receive Jesus Christ. Here three aspects of God’s riches lead us to repent and to enter the path to New Jerusalem. This repentance is one aspect of the rich gospel.

Ephesians 1:7 tells us that in Christ Jesus “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” We certainly need forgiveness, but the measure of God’s action is not our need but His riches. This forgiveness is another aspect of the rich gospel.

Romans 9:23 tells us God will “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.” We need mercy to bring us out of our poor condition, but God does not emphasize that poor condition. His mercy is shown, not because we are pitiful, but to gain us as vessels to display the riches of His glory. Eventually New Jerusalem will be a great corporate vessel displaying His riches.

 

Riches of God’s Glory, Now, New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is a city of glory. The apostle John saw “the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:10-11). “The city [New Jerusalem] has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem has the glory of God because it is saturated with God and hence expresses God. This expression is not simple because God is marvelously rich. New Jerusalem expresses the innumerable aspects of God’s being.

The word rich is not used in Revelation 21, but the riches of God’s glory are in other verses. Romans 9:23 tells us that God wants to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory.”

Each of us was created as a vessel to contain God. God has already prepared us for His glory, even for the riches of His glory. Each of us as an individual is very limited, but together we will display the riches of His glory.

In Ephesians 1:17-18 Paul prayed that the Father of glory would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation “that you may know…the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” These riches, like New Jerusalem, are not in the natural realm. This is why we need a spirit of wisdom and divine enlightening to see and know them.

Colossians 1:27 says “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory.” We need not struggle, unsure of what will happen. No. The revelation of the riches of glory is God’s desire and He will accomplish it. We cooperate by opening ourselves; Father, give me a spirit of revelation and enlighten my heart  that I may see the riches of Your glory for now and for New Jerusalem. 

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Purified for New Jerusalem by Cooperating with the Lord

The Lord Jesus early in the New Testament said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). The New Testament concludes with New Jerusalem, “the city was pure gold” (Rev. 21:18) and in it we “will  see His face” (22:4).

New JerusalemIn ourselves we are not pure* in heart; we need the Lord’s cleansing*! And we can receive His cleansing! He cleansed our hearts in response to our faith and He cleanses us from unrighteousness when we confess our sins. These are two steps toward the purity of New Jerusalem.

We also need an experiential purification of our being. This requires our cooperation with the Lord.

First John 3:3 says, “everyone who has this hope [His second coming, v. 3:2] set on Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” Here to purify ourselves is to abide in Christ by the teaching of the anointing (v. 2:27) and to live Him as our righteousness (v. 2:29).

Our cooperation with the Lord in purifying ourselves is also seen in 2 Timothy 2. “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness” (v. 19b). “If therefore anyone cleanses himself from these [vessels of dishonor, v. 20], he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared unto every good work” (v. 21). “Flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (v. 22).

We can turn from the unrighteous things, respond to the inner anointing, and pursue Christian virtures by calling on the Lord with companions. Thus the Lord will purify us, gradually making our inward nature and condition match the pure gold of New Jerusalem.

*For the verses cited in this post, clean and pure both come from the same New Testament Greek noun and cleanses and purifies both come from the related Greek verb.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (2)

Ephesians 1:3-14 presents our God and Father’s spiritual blessings to us. These blessings all point toward His glory which ultimately is manifested in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:5 speaks of, “Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” God predestinated us in eternity past according to His eternal purpose for His eternal consummation.

Our predestination is “unto sonship”—we become sons of God with His eternal life (John 6:47) and His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This life brings us partici-pation in the city of life, New Jerusalem, a composition of all God’s sons. This is the good pleasure of God’s will.

Ephesians 1:6 tells us that God’s blessings in verses 4 and 5 are, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He graced us in the Beloved.” We benefit from all these blessings, but their goal is praise to God.

The praise is not directly to God but praise to the glory of His grace. Glory is God expressed. God’s desire is to express Himself through man. Thus He created man in His image (Gen. 1:26) so that man could be His vessel to contain Him for His expression. God’s desire is to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23).

Grace is God in Christ enjoyed by man. The result of this enjoyment is visible. Barnabas came from Jerusalem to Antioch and “saw the grace of God” (Acts 11:23). What he saw is being multiplied in many believers in many cities to produce the ultimate expression of God’s grace in New Jerusalem. Grace, God enjoyed by all His people, is expressed in New Jerusalem’s glory (Rev. 21:11), resulting in eternal praise to the glory of His grace.

New Jerusalem: Glorious Corporate Vessel

The Body of Christ is a living, corporate composition of all the believers in Christ. Likewise, New Jerusalem is a living, corporate composition of all God’s people throughout the ages. Here is another excerpt from Affirmation & Critique*.

God created human beings as vessels unto honor prepared unto glory…(Rom. 9:21, 23). Sadly, humankind fell into sin. To sin is to fall short of God’s glory and thus to express sin and the sinful self and to love the glory of men more than the glory of God (3:23; John 5:44; 7:18; 12:43). But Christ’s redemption has fulfilled the requirements of God’s glory (Rom. 3:24-25; Heb. 9:5; cf. Gen. 3:24), and through the gospel of the glory of God, God has called us by and into His eternal glory (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 1:11; 1 Thes. 2:12; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3). By God’s mercy and grace, we have believed into Christ, and now the all-inclusive Christ dwells in us as the hope of glory (John 3:15; Col. 1:27; 3:4, 11; 1 Cor. 15:45) for us to experience, enjoy, and express. Day by day, as we behold and reflect the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the Lord’s image from glory to glory for the expression of God in Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

New JerusalemEach of us is a vessel created “unto glory.” God will “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23).The word unto indicates a goal and implies a process.

God’s goal in creating vessels unto glory is New Jerusalem, because in eternity there are no individual glorious vessels, there is only the one great corporate vessel, New Jerusalem—“the holy city, Jerusalem…having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:10b-11a). We are all vessels unto glory to become members of this glorious city.

The process “unto glory” is well presented in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “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.” Eventualy the glory in us becomes the glory of New Jerusalem.

“From glory to glory” denotes the steps of a gradual process. This process is accomplished by the Lord Spirit but He requires our cooperation. We turn our hearts to the Lord and behold Him (2 Cor. 3:16-18), so that the Spirit can impart the glory into us. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

* 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 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.

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.

God’s Mercy and the Great Corporate Vessel

God’s mercy takes us out of sin and death to be vessels of mercy containing the riches of His glory. Ultimately all God’s people are a corporate vessel, New Jerusalem, radiating the riches of His glory.

New JerusalemEphesians 2:1-3 describes our fallen condition. Then verses 4-6 say, “but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.”

God’s love causes Him to be merciful to us and results in our being made alive, raised, and seated in Christ. We did not deserve His salvation but He was merciful. Of course, we are in need of His salvation but even more, He wants to save us for His eternal purpose consummating in New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:7 speaks of this purpose. God saved us “That He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” New Jerusalem is the ultimate display of “the surpassing riches of His grace.”

The great corporate vessel is in a hymn which begins,
God eternal has a purpose,   Formed in His eternal past,
Spreading to eternal future;   ’Twixt these ends all time is cast.

The latter verses of the hymn include these lines:
Lord, increase Thyself within us   That we might be built by Thee
Into that great corporate vessel   Filled with God exclusively.

God will have His corporate vessel,   All His glory to contain;
Lord, we’re wholly for Thy purpose   All Thy goal in us attain.

Lord, increase in us. Fill us to become Your corporate vessel, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA, Caltech-JPL, and University of Wisconsin.

Vessels of God’s Mercy for His Glory

God’s merciful care brings us from a pitiful situation to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRomans 9:15-16 say, “For to Moses He says, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”

The next verse in Romans refers to Pharaoh, at the time of the exodus. This makes it clear that “him who wills” is a person like Pharaoh who makes his own decisions ignoring the Lord. And “him who runs” is a person like Pharaoh who thinks he is knowledgeable and capable to do things on his own.

In contrast, a person who cries out for mercy knows he has a need beyond his control or capability. Physical needs are obvious with a situation such as severe illness. However, spiritual needs might not be obvious, especially if our human situation is in good condition. If this is our case, we need mercy to see that we need mercy!

The Bible makes it clear that every human being needs mercy. Consider Romans:
• all were constituted sinners (5:19)
• death passed on to all men (5:12)
• all fall short of the glory of God (3:23)

We need mercy because of the negative effect of sin and death. We also need mercy because in ourselves we do not have the glory of God, an essential quality of New Jerusalem.

God’s intention is to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23). Each of us is a vessel of mercy to be transformed to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Together, all of us will be New Jerusalem, a corporate vessel radiating “the riches of His glory.”

Photo by Robert Kenton, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

God’s Mercy Brings us to New Jerusalem

God’s merciful care for us eventually brings us to New Jerusalem. On one hand, mercy comes from Him. On the other hand, we should ask for mercy.

New JerusalemRomans 9:15-16 say, “For to Moses He says, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” How much we must thank God that He is willing to have mercy and compassion on us.

Although mercy does not depend on our efforts, we should ask God to be merciful to us. We should not passively wait for mercy. Some examples:
• In Matthew 15:22 a Canaanite woman cried out for mercy;
• In Matthew 17:15 a man asked for mercy to his son;
• In Matthew 20:30-31 two blind men cried out, Have mercy on us; they continued to cry out even when the crowd tried to silence them.
In every one of these cases the Lord responded positively to the request for mercy.

In Mark 5:6 a demon-possessed man saw Jesus at a distance, ran to Him, and worshipped Him. Jesus cast out the legion of demons and the man was healed. He wanted to go with Jesus, but was told (v. 19), “Go to your house, to your own people, and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”

In this case we see that the Lord’s mercy to us is part of the good news we can declare. While declaring this good news, we should remember that the mercy which saves us out of a pitiful situation is so that God can bring us into glory, into New Jerusalem.

Here is a song about God’s mercy sung in English; the text of Romans 9:15 appears in Korean at the end.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Here is more about the apparent, but not actual, conflict between God determining who receives mercy and our crying out for it.

A Journey from the Clay of Creation to the Glory of New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:11).

The New Jerusalem is built of three kinds of precious materials, signifying that she is built with the Triune God. First, the city proper, with its street, is of pure gold (vv. 18, 21). Gold, the symbol of the divine nature of God, signifies the Father as the source, from whom the element for the substantial existence of the city is produced. Second, the twelve gates of the city are pearls, which signify the Son’s overcoming death and life-imparting resurrection, through which entrance to the city is gained. Third, the wall of the city and its foundation are built of precious stones, signifying the Spirit’s work of transforming the redeemed and regenerated saints into precious stones for the building of God’s eternal habitation that they may express God corporately in His all-permeating glory.*

New JerusalemIn Genesis 2:7 God “formed man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” and Romans 9:21 describes man as vessels of clay.

We are on an amazing journey from vessels of clay to a constitution with the precious materials of New Jerusalem. This journey is dependent on God’s mercy, making us “vessels of mercy” upon whom God will “make known the riches of His glory” (Romans 9:23), a glory ultimately displayed by New Jerusalem.

Although the glory will be made known through us, it is not of us and we cannot boast. Rather, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christ is the treasure and we are the earthen vessels. He is the excellent One!

The next two posts will be a brief look at the journey from clay to the precious materials of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps, courtesy of NOAA (U.S. Dept. of Commerce).

* Part of note 1 on Revelation 21:21 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version published and © by Living Stream Ministry.

Pursue with Those Who Call on the Lord   Out of a Pure Heart

New Jerusalem is revealed in Revelation 21–22 as a bride prepared for her Husband. This preparation involves many things including God’s sending of John the Baptist, God coming in the man Jesus, His offering of Himself to death in the body prepared by God, and God preparing us as vessels of mercy. On our side, the preparation includes our repentance and confession of sins, the exercise of our spirit to receive the deep things God prepared for us, and our holding the living word of God in faith.

New JerusalemOur cooperation with God’s preparation is also seen in 2 Timothy 2:21-22, “If therefore anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared unto every good work. But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

In these verses:
• We cleanse ourselves (by opening to the Lord and His word, not by our own effort) from things of dishonor, not passively waiting for the Lord to cleanse us.
• We flee youthful lusts (even if we are not young).
• We pursue spiritual virtues with others who have the same pursuing and who call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:12-13).

Our heart is a key to our preparation. Lord, work in me to purify my heart, and purify the hearts of those with whom I pursue and call. This is a part of our journey to New Jerusalem.

With this preparation, we can be vessels unto honor, prepared unto every good work. These are the good works which God prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). This is much higher than what is “good works” in the human realm. The highest good work is to minister Christ as life to other people for them to receive eternal salvation and for them to be knit together in the Body of Christ consummating in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Come Forward to Get Ready

In Matthew 24 and 25 the Lord speaks about our being ready for Him as our Bridegroom. (see posts:  ) This corresponds with Revelation 21:2, “New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

New JerusalemIn Luke 22 the Lord spoke about His death. Peter said to the Lord, “I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (v. 33) but the Lord responded, “I tell you, Peter, a rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me” (v. 34). Peter’s example shows that we cannot get ready by our own determination, our own zeal, or our own effort.

To be ready, we need the Lord’s mercy. Romans 9:23 calls us “vessels of mercy, which He [God] had before prepared unto glory.” As vessels, we can receive whatever God wants to pour out. Yet, we must cooperate by opening to Him, coming to Him.

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.” This throne is in the heavenly holy of holies. A note in the Recovery Version* asks and answers a question:

How can we enter the Holy of Holies while we are still on earth? The secret is our spirit, referred to in Hebrews 4:12. The very Christ who is in heaven is now also in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). As the heavenly ladder (Gen. 28:12; John 1:51), He joins our spirit to heaven and brings heaven into our spirit. Hence, whenever we turn to our spirit, we enter into the Holy of Holies. There we meet with God, who is on the throne of grace. See also this note.

Our spirit connects us to the heavenly throne of grace. Here we receive mercy and grace to get us ready for the Lord’s return and for New Jerusalem.

* The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; it is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Vessels of Mercy, Prepared unto Glory

New JerusalemThrough Christ’s death and resurrection, God gained us as vessels so that He can live in us and we can live in Him. These steps to our mutual indwelling are preparation for New Jerusalem. Here are two more aspects of the preparation:

One, we are vessels for God firstly by His creation and secondly by His redemption and regeneration. Romans 9:23 calls us vessels of mercy because we did not arrive at mutual indwelling by our own doing. The verse says that God “might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory.”

God has prepared us as vessels for His glory. He will make known not only His glory but the riches of His glory! Eventually New Jerusalem will be a corporate vessel of mercy with a full display of  the riches of God’s glory.

Two, we, as God’s corporate vessel, are a masterpiece, but not in or of ourselves. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand in order that we would walk in them.”

This masterpiece was created for us to walk in the good works prepared beforehand by God. These works should be very special, in accord with the content and flavor of Ephesians, and consistent with our being God’s masterpiece in Christ Jesus.

Surely these good works include making known the multifarious wisdom of God, being filled to the fulness of God to express HIm, and manifesting glory to God (Ephesians 3:10, 19, 21). These good works should be our experience today, leading to much more in New Jerusalem.

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