ENTERING THE NEW JERUSALEM
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.’ And this expression ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore since we receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:22-29)
When these words were written to the Hebrews they were being reminded of the awesome presence of God when He gave the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Exodus chapters 19 and 20 record that great fear of the Lord came upon all and then Moses said:-
“Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20)
We modem day Christians have very little fear of the Lord, and often forget that our loving heavenly Father is also God the Judge of all, and that His righteous wrath can come upon all who persistently refuse to obey His commandments. In this present day His judgment is falling on churches, men and ministries, for the time has come in which He is once more shaking both heaven and earth. His rebellious and sinful church is being scourged and disciplined because of His Father love. When we see Christian ministers of international reputation exposed as charlatans, whoremongers and greedy for gain, we should examine ourselves and ask Him to reveal any sin in us.
Each one of us needs to bring our lives and lifestyle under His judgment. This great shaking is taking place for He is no longer willing to tolerate our Harlot Christian religion with all its traditions, and the way we separate our secular and religious lives.
We need to understand that it is the Holy Spirit Who is calling us out of Babylon, and that we are unhappy with the church system because the Spirit of God within us is unhappy with it. He also has a greater purpose in calling us out, for He still loves all men, and He desires us to become like Christ, so that His love will become tangible and real to a world that is sick of religion.
Jesus wants us to become the manifested Sons of God, and so close to Him that we will be able to do what He did, and eventually even the “greater things” that He promised His disciples would do. We are a long way from becoming like Him, but if we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches today, and we respond by abandoning everything in order to live in submission to Jesus, then we will see the world stand in awe of the Body of Christ. We shall also see the greatest harvest of souls in history.
Jesus desires us to experience His Way of life so that the glory of God shines from us in such a way that the lost will be drawn to Him. As we walk in His Way and fellowship with Him, the Spirit of Christ manifested in us will change the world, not our dogmatic verbal arguments and defense of our religion. As we walk in His Way and fellowship with Him He will restore the Holy Spirit power we read about in the Acts of the Apostles. The insipid, almost powerless life that characterizes most Christians, must be replaced by even greater power than that displayed by the first disciples.
Entering the New Jerusalem is a process which first requires us to truly die to self, and allow Jesus to have the first place in our hearts. This means that we must learn to be truly humble and become servants, losing all thought of self-importance. We need at least one or two other believers with whom we share our lives intimately and entirely, for that is true fellowship.
Above all we must have intimate fellowship with our Father and our Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This fellowship is the sharing of our whole life with God. It has nothing to do with the shallow relationships we have experienced in attending church meetings, which we commonly call fellowship. This fellowship, which the apostle John wrote about embraces every aspect of our lives. It requires us to become aware of His constant presence within us and to seek His glory in all that we do and think. It is when we experience this kind of fellowship with God that we receive revelation from His Spirit, and begin to have the mind of Christ.
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn. 1:3)
Jesus enjoyed fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit before His incarnation. The indescribable fellowship of the Holy Godhead is eternal, and this fellowship continued during the short 33 years of His life on earth. This fellowship seeks only to love and to serve and to glorify the others within the fellowship, and we need to grasp the miracle that we are called to join in and be part of this fellowship.
Consider the fellowship that those who followed Jesus enjoyed with Him, and how He taught them to be servants of one another. Intimate fellowship with God must lead us to desire only the good of others within our fellowship, as we understand what it means to be great in the Kingdom of God. John and the other Apostles knew what this meant, and this is why he wrote these words for our benefit and instruction, and that our joy might be complete.
The Holy Spirit is calling millions of God’s children to come apart from their religious activities and to spend time alone with God. Ministers who have been widely known bible teachers and conference speakers, evangelists and pastors are hearing the same word from the Lord. Some are responding by canceling their engagements, withdrawing from public life and waiting in prayer upon our God.
Yet once more God is shaking the heavens and the earth, and He is removing and destroying the trappings of religion and the things that we have created. This will continue until the only thing which cannot be shaken remains, the Kingdom of God.
Those who are hearing the call, “Come out of her My people”, are assailed with doubts, fears and confusion. The evil spirit of tradition and the power of social conventions bring questions to our minds. What will we do about marriages and funerals without their conduct by “the church”? What about Sunday schools? It will help you to get past these barriers when you grasp the fact that there is no basis in the teaching of Jesus or the New Testament for our present day Christian ideas of these things.
It is possible to be married by a civil authority according to the laws of the land. Any believers can gather thereafter to bless the couple and pray with them. No “ordained minister” is necessary for a couple to be joined in the sight of God. In some countries only ministers of registered churches with approved constitutions are granted a license to marry people. This is all part of Babylon’s control, but we do not need to be bound by it.
Funeral services are of no relevance in the Kingdom of God. God’s children can only rejoice when one of us goes to be with the Lord. A burial or cremation of the earthly body by any person is perfectly in order. There is nothing holy and sanctified about a “church funeral service”, although tradition will try to keep us ignorant of this and insist on its necessity in order to bind and hold us in Babylon. Acts chapter 5 records the death of Ananias, a sinful believer, and that he was buried without even his wife being invited to the funeral.
“And the young men arose and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.” (Acts 5:6, 7)
Sunday schools did not exist until 1780 when they were started to give the poorest children an opportunity to learn to read and write, combined with religious instruction. Sadly they have replaced God’s plan which is for parents to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord. Religious instruction from others is better avoided by children of Spirit-led parents.
Our children can be filled with the Holy Spirit at a very early age, and learn to hear His voice and walk in His ways by the example and teaching of their parents, whose responsibility it is to disciple them. They can be baptized in a swimming pool or river, and even a bath tub will do. No special cleric is needed to baptize a believer, for this is the work of every disciple.
The insistence of certain denominations on officially baptizing their people is motivated by the same worldly spirit that causes a rancher to brand his cattle. Now they are ours, and nobody may take them away from us.
Because the world system controls the churches of Babylon, tradition and social custom have become so important that they have more power over people’s minds than the Word of God. The carnal mind will even appeal to scripture to enforce traditional understandings, and unwittingly perhaps, support the hold of Babylon over believers, to stop them leaving the gilded city.
To justify church buildings and traditional meetings it will be pointed out that Jesus customarily went to the Synagogues, and that the first disciples met in the Temple. However, Jesus lived under the Law, and He could not have kept its requirements perfectly outside the religious system. The Law required Him to attend meetings, pay tithes, keep the Sabbath and attend Jewish feasts and festivals. Only by doing so, and then giving up His sinless life at Calvary did He set us free from Moses’ Law, and its religious system.
The first disciples were all Jews and met in the Temple because they did not yet understand fully what Jesus had accomplished. It took many years before some of the early Christians grasped the fact that there was no longer any need to live under the Law. In fact most of the Jewish believers remained zealous for the Law and thought that only Gentile disciples were free from its demands.
When Paul came to Jerusalem, just before his imprisonment, he told the elders what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry, and scripture records subsequently:-
“And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, ‘You see brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Therefore do this we tell you: We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing in the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.’ Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself along with them went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, UNTIL THE SACRIFICE WAS OFFERED for each one of them.” (Acts 21:20-26)
Scripture is telling us that the Jewish believers in Jesus were unable to fully understand the New Covenant in His blood. So strong was their tradition and religious custom that they even continued to offer sacrifices after the resurrection. They simply could not escape from the tentacles of Babylon which had enfolded the whole Jewish religion. God allowed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 to separate the Temple and the church.
The world system has such a powerful hold over our minds that we too will not escape fully and enter the New Jerusalem unless we, like Paul, count all things as “dung” in order that we may know Jesus in all fullness.
It takes time to be set free from our traditions and social customs and the religious beliefs that do not have their origin in our Lord. Only the Holy Spirit can do this as we worship God and submit ourselves to Him. As we come to know Him more intimately so He will show us what we must do, but our God is seldom in a hurry, so we must learn humility and patience and await His direction.
The Holy Spirit also shows us the people to whom we are to be joined in fellowship. This is very different from “joining something”, be it a group or so called house church. We can simply go about our lives and wait until we become aware that God has joined us to other believers. He does this in many ways, sometimes at a place of work, sometimes a sports club, sometimes through a business or social contact.
Relationships fashioned by the Holy Spirit are permanent and without stress or strain. There is a spiritual joining that endears us to each other as His love flows between us, and this cannot be manufactured, only recognized when it is there.
Very often God will join us to people that we would not choose for He is the One building His Body, not us. When we choose our relationships, we allow our personal likes and dislikes, and social conventions to influence our choice. God puts us together with people who will be profitable for our development, and help to conform us to the image of His Son. We must be prepared to accept criticism, rebuke and exhortation, as well as encouragement and support from those with whom we are joined in fellowship. Father knows who we need around us to smooth out our rough edges and shape our lives. When we make the choices we are likely to avoid those who annoy us, dent our egos, and reveal the flaws in our characters or the limit of our abilities. Yet all these things are essential if we are to be changed into His likeness.
The New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ must be manifest upon the earth before Jesus can return. He is not coming back for a bickering, immature, unclean girl wearing grubby denim jeans. His Bride will be a manifestation of Himself, composed of those who have made themselves ready. She will be beautiful beyond compare, pure and Holy, obsessed with her Husband, and counting all things loss that she may know Him.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has MADE HERSELF READY. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, ‘Write. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.'” (Rev.19:7-9)
The Lord is calling out His Bride, but we have to do our part and make ourselves ready. How small a thing it is to give up our religious traditions, our security in structures and organizations, and everything the world can offer in exchange for being part of His Bride.
If you purpose in your heart to continue on your journey to the Bride City, remember that you only get there by the inward way. It is not accomplished by religious observance, acts of charity, bible study, verbal prayer and fasting. These things are good, but are all external and we do them by the exertion of self.
It is by the cultivation of our relationship with God within us in the Spirit that is the Way to the City. Learn to rest in Him and to know that you are IN HIM and He is IN YOU, and that His divine will is that we only do and say those things that He activates. The true meaning of being led by the Spirit means to walk in submission and obedience to Jesus. This obedience is not a mechanical response to law, but the result of our precious love relationship, which urges us from within to please our Wonderful Counselor and Saviour Husband.
Come to the place of complete inward spiritual peace and tranquility, regardless of external circumstances, relying and trusting only in Him, and not yourself or others. This is real faith, and it develops from our personal inward walk of fellowship with our Lord. Always remember that fellowship is sharing every aspect of your life with God, and not having certain areas excluded from that relationship. There should be no division between your spiritual and secular life.
HE IS THE WAY. HE IS THE TRUTH. HE IS THE LIFE.
May the Holy Spirit lead and guide you on your journey to the City of God, which is always a place of corporate fellowship, and may you never doubt that we and He can become one flesh, now in this earthly realm.
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless… no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. THIS MYSTERY IS GREAT BUT I AM SPEAKING WITH REFERENCE TO CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.” (Extracts from Eph. 5:25-32)