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The Daily Word of Righteousness
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)
The new Jerusalem consists of the spirits of righteous people made perfect.
It is not that the heavenly Jerusalem primarily is a city to which we go when we die. Rather it is true that the saints are the city. The essence of the heavenly Jerusalem is Christ-filled saints. The form the spiritual Jerusalem may take either now or in the ages to come is a result of what the members of the Body of Christ are.
The heavenly Jerusalem is the Church.
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just [righteous] men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)
The Church consists of righteous people made perfect. The Church is being created now. The Church, the heavenly Jerusalem, is not only a place where one goes, the Church is what the saints are!
The righteous enter the garden of God when they die, apparently. There they await the Day of Judgment. The Day of Judgment will reveal what they are, what they have become in Christ.
But the Divine redemption does not have as its final goal the entrance of people into the garden of God in the spirit world. The goal of the Divine redemption is a Church without spot or wrinkle, a holy Jerusalem that will govern the nations of the earth in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
If we are living in the presence of Christ now we will continue to live in His presence when we die physically. If, however, we are living a careless, spiritually neglectful life now, it is not true that we will be transported to a city of wonders when we die. Rather, our physical death will serve to open our eyes to our threadbare spiritual condition.
The heavenly Jerusalem consists of the spirits of righteous men made perfect. They are the city, whether they are pursuing their human life on the earth or have died and now are serving the Lord in some area of the spirit world.
An acknowledgment of the facts concerning the atonement made by Jesus, and the declaration of His Lordship, is not what constitutes the spirit of a righteous man made perfect. Rather, the inhabitants of the heavenly Zion are believers who are cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the perfecting of their spiritual nature.
Only those who actually practice the commandments of Christ have lawful access to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the holy Jerusalem (Revelation 22:14).
The common Christian teaching of our day is pervaded with a misunderstanding. It is that "grace" is a Divinely given substitute for the cleansing and perfecting of our spiritual nature. Imputed (ascribed) righteousness has been emphasized past all reason and benefit, while the all-important transformation to actual righteousness has been neglected.
To be continued.