We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

In the New Testament are many verses about our growth and maturity. This is needed so that we will match New Jerusalem’s perfection.

#NewJerusalemColossians 1:28 speaks about becoming “full-grown in Christ.” In the next verse Paul tells us that for this full growth “I labor, struggling according to His oper-ation which operates in me in power.”

Struggle indicates a considerable effort. This shows both the importance of our maturity (to match New Jerusalem) and the non-trivial effort to reach maturity.

This struggle is not only for the apostles. Colossians 4:12 tells us “Epaphras, who is one of you [a Colossian], a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

Epaphras copied Paul’s example, and struggled for the maturity of his fellows believers.  Lord, grant us the willingness to struggle as Epaphras did. To struggle for maturity in this way is to struggle for New Jerusalem, which is the goal of the will of God, the goal of the bible, the goal of all the revelations in the Bible.

This struggle for maturity is not in our own effort. Instead, like the praying of Epaphras, the struggle is by our cooperation with God so that He can move through us. Our confidence is in God “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun in you a good work will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). God began a good work in us by regeneration in response to our believing. God will complete the work to bring us to maturity and to New Jerusalem at a speed dependent on our cooperation.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem is Eternal (2)

New Jerusalem is 
eternal
, based on the eternal redemption obtained by Jesus Christ. The city is part of God’s eternal 
covenant bringing us eternal salvation and an eternal 
inheritance.

New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). This is an eternal glory because God is eternal. “The God of all grace has called you into His eternal glory” (1 Peter 5:10). We are not worthy, but because of God’s mercy and the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, we have been called into the glory of New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemSecond Timothy 2:10 also speaks of our obtaining “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Although we have not physically seen this glory, we have been called into it and have obtained by faith. And by faith we hold to this salvation with glory.

Do not be shaken by troubles now. Second Corinthians 4:17 says, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” We have been called into eternal glory, and through afflictions the Lord constitutes this glory into us. As a result we correspond to New Jerusalem.

The afflictions are also mentioned in 1 Peter 5:10. After the phrase quoted above, it says,”after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” Our cooperation is to look away by faith to what is eternal: “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Through the Bible and the eternal Spirit, we can be strengthened with the view of the eternal glory of New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Sonntag, courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem: No More Tribulation (2)

In the New Testament, tribulation refers to the persecution of the Lord’s people throughout this age (e.g. Matt. 24:9, Acts 14:22) and to the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19), the last three and a half years (Rev. 12:14) of this age, immediately prior to the Lord’s visible return.

#NewJerusalemGod, in His sovereignty, uses both aspects of tribulation to prepare His people for New Jerusalem. Here are more verses about this.

Acts 14:22, “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.” This was spoken by Paul and Barnabas in caring for relatively new believers. Tribulations would not be rare to them, but through these they were brought into the reality of the kingdom, which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

To participate in this entrance, we must continue in the faith. Some ways to do this are to read and say amen to God’s word, to sing about our Lord, and to praise Him. Also, since Romans 8:35 promises that neither tribulation nor other difficulties can separate us from the love of Christ, we can continue by declaring, Lord Jesus, I love You.

Revelation 1:9: “I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John partook of the endurance in Jesus to suffer tribulation for the word and the testimony. May we follow his example.

At that time John tells us that he was in the kingdom. This was the spiritual reality. Like the believers in Acts 14:22, John was still waiting for the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom at the Lord’s return and the fullest experience of the kingdom in New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Seek the Riches of Christ

New JerusalemThe riches of God‘s kindness, forbear-ance, long-suffering, assurance, grace, and glory are to us today and will fill and radiate from New Jerusalem. This “good news” is “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8).

We can all learn as Paul did (Phil. 4:12), “I know also how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to lack.” Whether we abound or are abased in human terms, the riches of Christ are available.

Similarly to Paul, the Lord Jesus tells the believers in Smyrna (Rev. 2:9), “I know your tribulation and poverty (but you are rich).” They were humanly poor but divinely rich. In such circumstances, may we be “rich in faith” (James 2:5). This faith substantiates and carries us toward the presently unseen New Jerusalem.

These riches will abound in New Jerusalem, but don’t wait. Consider two paths to being rich in Christ. One is Ephesians 3:14-19. Paul prayed that the Father grant us, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened that Christ may make home in our hearts. (This strengthening is much higher than if it were according to our lack.) Father, grant me the strengthening I need for Your Son to make home in me!

A second path is in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” His words are spirit and life (John 6:63), so His words can live in us. Lord, cause Your word to live richly in me!

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and untraceable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33 – sing it) Praise Him now; praise Him in New Jerusalem!

Photo by Randy Roberts, courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

 

Precious Faith Brings Forth Precious Stones for New Jerusalem

Jesus Christ is the living Stone and we too are stones for God’s building today and for New Jerusalem.

Genesis 2:7, “Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground…” In God’s creation we are earthen vessels but in His new creation by regeneration we become stones.

God created Adam, using a piece of clay taken from the earth as material. Therefore, all of us today who have been born of Adam are also clay. However, since we have been saved with God’s life, in God’s eyes we are no longer clay but stones. Immediately after Simon Peter confessed that the Lord was the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Lord said to him, “You are Peter” (Matt. 16:16-18). Peter is a translated word which means “a stone.” Likewise, every saved person is a “Peter,” a stone, used by God for the building of this city.

However, in the New Jerusalem the materials used by God for building are not merely ordinary stones but precious stones. Hence, it is not enough that we were saved and became stones; we still need to become precious stones. This requires us to put ourselves in the hands of God so that He can do the work of constitution.*

New JerusalemPaul speaks about building God’s house with precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12). This is directly in line with New Jerusalem in Revelation 21: “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (v. 19).”

Second Peter 1:1 says that we all have equally precious faith. Verse 4 tells us that God “has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature.”

By this precious faith we lay hold of the precious promises. Through these promises God works in us to make us precious stones for His building now and for New Jerusalem.

Lord, we are open to You. Work in us and constitute us with Your preciousness.

*A quote from The Building Work of God, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee
A short video by Christian Research Institute about Witness Lee.

Forget What is Behind, Seek New Jerusalem

New JerusalemJesus Christ died to redeem and purchase for God “men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:5-9). In His death He created “in Himself one new man” (Eph. 2:15). And, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free” (1 Cor. 12:13).

The Body of Christ is the new man and will consummate in New Jerusalem. Here there are no national distinctions, no racial differences, no social classes, but

Christ is all and in all.”

The new man is the reality of the longing of Old Testament people of faith. Hebrews 11:14-16 says of them, “they seek after a country of their own. And if indeed they continued to remember that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return; but as it is, they long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

Because of their absoluteness, Hebrews 11 continues “Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” This city is New Jerusalem, where we will be with all of them. In our Christian life, may we enter fully into the absolute seeking of this “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1).

Lord save us from any remembrance of the country (or race or social status or language) from which we came out. Lord save us from any opportunity to return, and keep us always seeking the better country. Lord, every day give us a longing for New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.


The Bible charges us to obey the government (1 Peter 2:13-14). Therefore we should obey distinctions which the government makes (e.g. citizen, non-citizen) but we should not bring these into our Christian life and our Christian fellowship.

 

More Seeing and Entering New Jerusalem

We should all desire to be “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). The seeing requires us to be “in spirit” and to have completed a spiritual journey (described in prior posts) to a high mountain.

According to John 3:3 and 3:5, when we see, we enter. Both depend on our new birth. The extent of our seeing and entering New Jerusalem matches the extent to which we let the new birth operate in us. This is like a human—birth brings the baby into humanity but the baby requires many years of development to fully see and enter into human life.

John 3:5: Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

New JerusalemIn John 3:5 being born anew has two aspects: water and Spirit. Being born of water is the termination of our old life. How much will we cooperate with the Spirit to apply this termination to our old habits, our old amusements, our old attitudes, and our old goals? This is the denial of our self spoken by the Lord in the gospels (e.g. Matt. 16:24) by cooperating with the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

Being born of the Spirit is the enlivening of our human spirit and the joining of the Spirit with our spirit. How much will we live and walk according to this spirit? This is not separate from the first aspect of being born anew. In Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live”—the first aspect, “but it is Christ who lives in me”—the second aspect. The more Christ lives in us the more we see and enter New Jerusalem.

Christ living in us is a matter of faith. Galatians 2:20 continues to say “I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God.” Lord, fill me with Yourself as my faith so that You may live through me. Lord, bring me more into New Jerusalem.

A Personal Testimony

New JerusalemIn April of last year [2014] my wife, Karen, died. However, as I shared in last year’s Personal Testimony, that event was not primarily a physical death. Rather, it was the Lord calling her to be with Him in paradise. Because of the Lord’s speaking then, we both accepted His call without fear and without regret.

How thankful I am for His speaking which took so much potential turmoil out of the events last year. However, I realize that not every Christian couple has such an experience and I am sympathetic with those who go through a time of distress and sadness. He is the Lord and we cannot say why He gives one couple one experience and another couple a very different experience. Neither should we make judgements about these differences.

Since a year ago I have gone on with the Lord. The peace of a year ago has remained. She is asleep in Christ, awaiting the resurrection at the Lord’s visible return, as presented in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16. She is also awaiting the better country, New Jerusalem, the city God has prepared for His people of faith (Hebrews 11:16).

The Lord has brought me on since then, keeping me in Christian fellowship and touching me on aspects of my living so that my reality may become a little more “to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Regarding Karen, I am at rest in Him. Regarding my future,

Come, Lord Jesus! 

We Enter New Jerusalem by Faith

New JerusalemGod has prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16), who are people of faith (the subject of Hebrews 11). This city is New Jerusalem. And, by faith we  “have come forward to…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).

God has prepared New Jerusalem. We do not see the city with our eyes but “faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

This faith does not come from our determination. This faith does not come from convincing ourselves. Faith comes from God:

Acts 14:27  “God opened a door of faith.”
Romans 10:17  “Faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
2 Peter 1:1  “Simon Peter…to those who have been allotted faith equally precious as ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

We have faith because God has allotted it to us. In 2 Peter 1:1 many English translations say that we have received/obtained like precious faith. It does not originate in us; God allotted faith to us and we received it from God.

Other verses speak of our faith and indicate that we do need to exercise faith. True! But we must remember that “our faith” does not originate with us.

By this faith we give attention to the unseen, eternal things. By faith come forward to and substantiate New Jerusalem.

Enter into What God Has Prepared

God has prepared New Jerusalem for all the people of faith (Hebrews 11:16). Spiritually, we have come forward to this heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22). However, God must do a work in us before we can fully enter into this marvelous city.

New JerusalemGod’s work in us, after our initial salvation, includes growing (1 Corin-thians 3:6), renewing (Ephesians 4:23), sanctifying (Hebrews 2:11), transforming (2 Corinthians 3:18), and building (Ephesians 2:21-22).

God desires to work in us and we need to cooperate with Him. By cooperating, we enter into what He has prepared, including New Jerusalem.

Acts 14:22 tells us that “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” God arranges whichever tribulations are necessary. His intention is not our suffering but our entering.

Likewise, 1 Peter 1:3-9 tells us that we have been regenerated unto a living hope, unto an inheritance kept in the heavens and unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. These verses also say that we might be sorrowful under trials but that these are for the proving of our faith.

And, Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we will receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Similarly, 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” Verse 18 then encourages us not to focus on the temporary, visible things but on the eternal, invisible things.

Let us go on by faith, not dragged down by the environment, keeping our spiritual eyes on the eternal glory of New Jerusalem.

God Has Prepared the City, But … (2)

God has prepared a city for the people of faith! But … we do not yet see New Jerusalem because God is eternal, outside of time, and we are still partially in time and in the old creation.

New JerusalemHere are other instances God’s preparation that do not yet see:
• First Peter 1:5 says we “are being guarded by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time.”
• Hebrews 2:8-9 says “in subjecting all things to Him [Christ], He [God] left nothing unsubject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him, but we see Jesus…” To see Him we must look away from everything else to Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The important point is not to depend on our physical senses for spiritual matters. Hebrews 11 is about people of faith, not about those with keen physical eyesight.

Second Corinthians 4:13 speaks of our spirit of faith. The following verses contrast outward and inward things, concluding (v. 18), “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

And Hebrews 13:13-14 encourages us, “Let us therefore go forth unto Him….For we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.”

God has prepared the city. Our responsibility is to look away unto Jesus; to regard the unseen, eternal things; and to seek the city to come, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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