The Daily Word of Righteousness

The New Jerusalem, #2

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. (Isaiah 54:11-13)

Who would have thought, from reading this prophecy, that God had in mind to glorify Jerusalem by creating a perfect spiritual Jerusalem and placing it on a new earth!—that the Throne of God Himself and of the Lamb would be in it in unveiled splendor!

Again Isaiah speaks of the new Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven:

For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. (Isaiah 62:1)

The problem with the old Jerusalem, as with all the cities of the earth, is that the inhabitants are filled with sin and self-seeking. No matter how marvelously a city has been constructed, its worth depends alone on the character of the inhabitants. A city is the people who inhabit it. It is the people of the city, not the streets, buildings, and parks, who make the city what it is.

God is carefully forming the inhabitants of the holy city, the new Jerusalem. It is called the "holy" city because every citizen walks in perfect righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.

The citizens of the new Jerusalem are not sinners who are being allowed to dwell there on the basis of God's mercy and grace. They are those whom God has created in Christ's image. The belief that we enter the Kingdom of Heaven and reside in the holy city in a forgiven but untransformed state may well be the greatest single error in Christian thinking.

To become a citizen of the new Jerusalem one must be born there.

And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. (Psalms 87:5)

After we have been born into the Jerusalem that is above, our sins having been forgiven through the blood of the cross, the Holy Spirit begins to work in us the ways of the Kingdom of God. There is no sin in the Kingdom of God, in the holy city.

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)

There appears to be a radical misunderstanding in current Christian doctrine concerning the manner in which God's grace operates.

The impression is gained, from contemporary preaching and teaching, that professing a belief in the facts of the atonement and resurrection gives to the individual a ticket to the Paradise of God. He is "saved by grace," meaning he will abide in Paradise forever because he believes Christ died for His sins.

We can understand how someone could come to this conclusion if the New Testament writings consisted only of Romans, Chapters Three through Five (although even here no mention is made of Paradise or Heaven). But a careful study of Chapter Six of Romans, as well as of the remainder of the writings of the New Testament, reveals quickly that redemption is not primarily a free ticket to a delightful land.

To be continued.