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lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
Sweden

 Re: The Holy City



Now there are two things here, and you must remember that these are fundamental laws of the New Testament, or of the Christian life.
Firstly there is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a great reality. You believe in the reality of the Holy Spirit as a fact, but you cannot see Him, or hear Him with your natural ears, and you cannot know the reality of the Holy Spirit until something happens in you. Early in his Gospel this same John speaks about being ”born of the Spirit”. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, Nicodemus’ mind was just working in the natural realm and he said: ’Impossible!’ Jesus said: ”That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit” (John 3:6). What is it that is born of the Spirit? It is our human spirit. Because it has become separated from God it is looked upon as dead, and death is just separation from God, whether it be in time or in eternity.
Now, being ’born again’ means that our spirit is brought into life union with God, and what the New Testament means when it speaks of ’being alive in the spirit’ is ’in living union with God, the Holy Spirit’, that is, our spirit being alive unto God and unto Divine things. Here John was only saying in principle that his spirit was alive to the Holy Spirit at this time, and when that is true, as it should be of every one of us, we see a new world. ”And (he) shewed me the holy city”, and the Holy Spirit will do that with every one of us, so that we are able to say: ’I have seen something that God has shown me.’ Will you believe me when I say that that ought to be true of every Christian? The Christian life is not just a matter of reading the Bible, saying prayers and going to church. Those things may be good and necessary, but the Christian life really is a walk with God in the light. It is a matter of being alive unto God in the spirit and God being able to show us in our hearts what is His will, so that the true Christian should be able to say ’The Lord is showing me things’.
Now, you mature Christians, be very patient with this, because there are some young Christians here, and we can never go on very far until we have laid a proper foundation. What I have just said, then, is fundamental to the Christian life from its beginning.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/14 9:55Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
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 Re: The Holy City



Now we can go on to the next step. You say: ’Well, that is very wonderful and I want my life to be like that, but how can it be?’ We have our answer here, but in spiritual principle. What the Lord shows to your heart will depend upon how far up the mountain you are. Again you say: ’Oh, Mr. Sparks, what do you mean?’ Well, I am not talking about climbing the Jungfrau or the Blümlisalp. What does this mountain mean? What does it mean to go up any mountain? It just means getting away from this world. When you get up the mountain you have left the world behind; there is a great separation between you and the world, and you will never see heavenly, spiritual things until that has happened.
Do believe me: this is not a matter of age, or years. There are multitudes of Christians who have been saved for many years, and they are still down on the earth. They have still got their interests in this world - this world, and the things of this world, still have a large place in their life. They are what are called ’worldly Christians’. Of course, that is a contradiction in terms, because it is not true Christianity. Listen to Jesus as He is praying to His Father about His disciples: ”They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). ’They are not of the world. They do not belong here. They belong somewhere else. This world is not their life; their life is above.’ That is in John’s Gospel, and it is just clear, straight language, is it not?


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/14 11:37Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
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 Re: The Holy City



In the book of Revelation John puts it in this way of illustration - of a great and high mountain - and he is saying: ’The people who make this city are heavenly people, not earthly people. They are people who are separated in spirit from this world.’ The Apostle Paul put it in this way: ”If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1), and that only means: ’Get up on the mountain. Leave this world in spirit, in heart, and come up with the Lord Jesus.’
Let me go back again to what I began to say. This life in the spirit, in union with Christ, is not a matter of years or of age. It is possible that you were only born again yesterday and yet you are high up the mountain, and that is because you have said ’good-bye’ absolutely to this world. You are very utter about this matter of new life with the Lord.
As we move about this world we meet many people who call themselves Christians, and the strange thing is that we cannot talk to them about the things of the Lord. These professing Christians open their eyes and their mouths when you begin to talk about the things of the Lord. To them it is as though you were talking the language of another country, and the reason is that they have not yet come right away from this world in spirit. Let me say to the young Christians that this mountain is for you from the day that you are born again.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/14 11:50Profile
lwpray
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 Re: The Holy City



Now I want to say a very strong thing, and it may be difficult for you to accept it. Do you realize that this world lies under a curse? God has pronounced a curse upon this world as it is, and what is the expression of a curse? The law of frustration operates where a curse is. You just go so far, and you can go no further. Human life just goes so far, and that is the end. It does not go right through to fullness and perfection. Everything is imperfect, and is frustrated by death. A man spoken of by Jesus Christ accumulated great stores in his lifetime, and then he rubbed his hands together and talked to himself: ’Soul, you can retire now. You have great stores laid up for yourself, so just eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said: ”Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?” (Luke 12:20).
The curse and death mean the frustration of all the purposes of man, and what is true of human life is true of the world. Oh, what a lot man has done to try to break through the sound barrier of frustration! What a long way he has gone today! Why, if you had been told twenty-five years ago how things would be today, you would never have believed it. Yes, man has gone a very long way, even to the moon - and then someone just puts his finger on a button, the nuclear bombs begin to fall and all his work is wiped out in a moment. Everybody knows of that possibility, and the Word of God has told us quite clearly that that is exactly how it will be. Because a curse rests upon this world it can never go right through to perfection.
What I am getting at is this: If you and I in spirit get bound up with this world we shall come under spiritual death. Any Christian who is sensitive to the Holy Spirit will register something wrong when they touch this world and their reaction will be: ‘I have come down. I have touched this cursed world and death is registered in my spirit.’
You will never see the things of God until you get above the fog of this earth. If you come down into the self-life, then it is frustration. If you touch the world’s life it is frustration, and you will never see the things of God until you get above this world in spirit. The language is very simple and very significant: ‘I was in the Spirit, and I was on a great, high mountain, and then I saw something.’ You see, these are spiritual laws of the Christian life and they are very real. I hope we do know something about this.
May the Lord explain to our hearts just what it means where we individually are concerned!



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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/14 14:54Profile
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 Re: The Holy City



THE HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM”
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter Five
THE LOVE OF GOD

“And he that spake with me had for a measure a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth; and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal” (Revelation 21:15, 16).

For the sake of friends who have not been with us before let me just give this word of explanation. We are considering in these days the meaning of this new Jerusalem, this holy city, which the Apostle, in a vision, saw coming down from God out of heaven. We have pointed out that this is not a literal city, but a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ and His Church as God is going to have it at the end.
So now we come to the greatness of the city. The Apostle says that in his vision he saw an angel, in whose hand was a golden reed with which he was measuring the city, and then the Apostle tells us that the measurement was given by the angel - twelve thousand furlongs high and twelve thousand furlongs on every side. And the city was made of transparent gold. That, of course, is something that you have never seen on this earth! The reed with which the city was measured, and the city itself were of the same material: the measurement of the city was by a reed of pure gold, and the city itself was of pure gold. In the Bible gold is always the symbol of the Divine nature, and the supreme thing in that nature is love. It is this same John who says: “God IS love” (1 John 4:8), and everything that is of God is measured according to the standard of Divine love. When we approached this city earlier in the chapter John told us that he saw “the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God”, and the supreme thing about the glory of God is the love of God.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/15 1:19Profile
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 Re: The Holy City



THE GREATNESS OF HIS LOVE
Now look at the size of this city. The measurement is given as twelve thousand stadia. I don’t know whether any of you have worked that out, but in English that is one thousand, three hundred and seventy-nine miles, and in metres it is two million, two hundred and twenty thousand. Do you recognize what that represents? That is many times higher than the Jungfrau, and, indeed, many times higher than the highest mountain in this world, Mount Everest. Do you understand now why I say this cannot be a literal city? It is as high as that, as long as that, as wide as that, and is as great as that on every side. This is impossible of literal interpretation, and must therefore represent spiritual principles.

Now understand that we are speaking about the love of God in Jesus Christ expressed in a redeemed people and manifested in its fullness in eternity. If this measurement is something beyond all natural conception, the love of God in Christ Jesus toward us is completely beyond our imagination, and this immense city is a symbol of the immensity of the love of God. The Apostle Paul mentions this in one place, when he prays that the Church may be “rooted and grounded in love”, and that it “may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge...” (Ephesians 3:17,18). The love of God surpasses knowledge, just as this symbolic city is something altogether beyond knowledge. That is why we sang that hymn which is all about that Divine love:
“It passeth knowledge, that dear love of Thine...
Oh, fill me, Jesus, Saviour, with Thy love!”

It will require all eternity to understand that love.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/15 11:48Profile
lwpray
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 Re: The Holy City



Do you remember what the Apostle Paul says about this love? His description of how great this love is is that it is beyond the greatest things that are known in our human life. He says, in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (verse 35), and here are some of the big things in human life: “Shall tribulation?” Perhaps you do not know very much about tribulation, but there are some of God’s people in various parts of the world who do know the meaning of that word, and for them the second greatest thing in life is tribulation. “Or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” These are all very big things! If you know anything about them you know that they are bigger than anything else except the love of God. But the Apostle has not yet completed his list. He goes on like this: “I am persuaded, that neither death...” Is death a big thing? “...nor life” - and life is a big thing, for it can hold a great many big things - “nor angels...” Well, now, you will have to have a good Bible study with that word!

Read all the great things that angels did. On one occasion the earthly Jerusalem was beseiged by a great foreign nation, who came with their chariots and their horses, and their men in armour, and they spread themselves like locusts over all the land. The servant of God prayed, and God sent one angel. In the morning, when the men of Jerusalem awoke, that whole army consisted of dead corpses. Only one angel - and a vast and mighty army lay dead! Shall angels separate us from the love of God, whether they be good or bad angels? “Nor principalities...” They are the spiritual authorities that govern the nations of this world, and you must remember that they are SPIRITUAL forces. They are evil forces, and today you are seeing what they are doing in the nations of this world. They are doing very terrible things: but the Apostle goes on: “Nor things present...” and there are plenty of things present today, enough to frighten anyone. It would not do for me to begin to speak of all these terrible things which are now present. We have read in our papers today of the assassination of the Prime Minister of South Africa, and that within the last few years twenty-six world rulers have been assassinated. These are only a few of the things which are now present. “Nor things to come...” - and the Bible tells us of terrible things that are going to come on this world. On he goes: “Nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation...” Think of anything that would be terrible and great, and the Apostle says: ‘Put them all together and they will NOT be able to separate us from the love of God.’ How great is the love of God!
This same John wrote in his Gospel: “God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). How great is His love!

It takes something that man cannot measure even to consider the love of God. These measurements of the city are only symbolic of the greatness of the love of God toward you and toward me in Jesus Christ, and when God has done His work in His people eternity will show how great His love was. We may not be able to grasp it or understand it now, but then we shall fully understand, and I think that the thing about which we shall all be talking for all eternity will be: ‘Oh, how great was His love!’
Presently the Apostle will tell us who are outside of the city, for he says that there will be many outside. These are the people who never accepted God’s love, and for all eternity they have lost this wonderful thing - the immense love of God. What a great thing, therefore, it is for us to accept God’s love!


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/15 14:44Profile
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 Re: The Holy City



THE STABILITY OF HIS LOVE
If these measurements represent the greatness of God’s love, this immense city must be a very, very stable thing. It would be a very big thing to be able to move the Jungfrau, but if you put a hundred Jungfraus on top of one another, no Samson would be able to lift that! Here we come, year after year, year after year, and the mountain is still just in the same place. When I was a little boy I lived where there are some mountains, and I go back there now - and I won’t tell you how long it is since I was a little boy! - and see the mountains in exactly the same place. They have not moved nor changed one little bit. You see what I am coming to - how reliable is this love of God! “They that trust in the Lord”, said the Psalmist, “Are as mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth for ever” (Psalm 125:1). One of our New Testament texts says: “Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), and in spiritual language that just means: ‘You are come to the love of God, which is unchanging and immovable.’ Stability is a characteristic of Divine love.

The Lord Jesus has given us a picture of this in His well-known parable of the Prodigal Son. That son was a son of his father’s love, but he despised it and packed up, and went right away from where that love was. He spent all his father’s resources in sinful living and brought shame and dishonour upon his father’s name. Then, at last he remembered his father’s love and said to himself: ‘I will arise’. He did not say: ‘I will arise and go home’, but: ‘I will arise and go unto my father’. So he turned his footsteps toward his father again, and Jesus gives us the picture of the father on the top of the house looking to the horizon. I suppose that father had been praying every day: ‘Lord, bring my son home.’
So every day he went out to see if his prayer was being answered - and then this wonderful day arrived. He saw a black spot on the horizon and said: ‘Someone is coming.’ He watched, and then he said: ‘It is my son!’ He did not wait for the son to arrive. Down the stairs he went and out on to the road. The boy began to make some excuses and give explanations, but the father smothered it all and he could not get it all out. It says: “He (the father) fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). He brought the son back into the house and said: “Let us eat, and make merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Now Jesus was saying: ‘That is the love of God for man, for sinful man, for man who has gone away from God. God’s heart just longs to have that man back again.’ The unchanging love of God! The father did not say: ‘He is a bad boy. He has not appreciated my love. I wash my hands of him and will have nothing more to do with him!’ Oh, no, God’s love does not change when we go wrong. How strong is this city! How immovable is this city! How unchangeable is this city! And all that is true of the love of God.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/16 1:43Profile
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 Re: The Holy City



THE EQUALITY OF HIS LOVE
One more thing: I did not expect to be preaching the Gospel in this way this evening, but I have the feeling that this is what the Lord wanted said, and I think He wants us all to have a new understanding of the greatness of His love.
It says that this city is equal on all its sides. It is all the same on the east, on the west, on the north and on the south. The love of God is not bigger for people who live on the east than it is for people who live on the west. It is not different for those who live on the north from what is for those who live on the south. There are the people who have everything that they need and want. We say that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. On the other side there are the people who have nothing, the poor, miserable people of this world. There are the people who live in the sun of the east and the people who live in the cold winds of the north. There are all kinds and conditions of people in this world, but the love of God is equal to them all. God has no favourites. There is no partiality about the love of God. It does not matter what we are, or where we are. On every side the love of God is the same.
How equal is the love of God! Are you not glad that it is like that? There are those people who have all the advantages. They have godly parents and grandparents, were born into a Christian home and brought up in a Christian atmosphere. There are those people who never had any godly parents or grandparents. They were born into very sinful homes and families. You know, General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said a very strong thing about those people, and used a word that we don’t like using: ‘My work is for the people who were damned into this world!’ Well, it does not matter which side it is. God’s love is no greater for the people who have all the advantages than it is for those who have none. God’s love is a very righteous love. It just levels everyone out, and in eternity it will not matter what we were here - we shall have to say: ‘It is the love of God that got me here.’
The greatness of His love; the stability of His love; the equality of His love - how wonderful is the love of God! And you and I are called by that love that we, through eternity, shall show it forth to the whole universe.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/16 10:12Profile
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 Re: The Holy City



THE HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM”
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter Six
“CLEAR AS CRYSTAL”

“...and he that sat was to look upon like a jasper stone and a sardius” (Revelation 4:3).
“Having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were jasper stone, clear as crystal... And the building of the wall thereof was jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto pure glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper... and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie” (Revelation 21:11, 18, 19, 27).
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof” (John 8:44).
“And as for you, the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as his anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie’ (1 John 2:27).

We have now passed the half-way line of this consideration, and it is very important that we should understand clearly what it is that the Lord is wanting to show us. There are many words, and there is much teaching, and we just ask ourselves: ’What is it all about?’ The one thing about which we shall have to be clear at the end is: ’What is it that the Lord has really said?’ Therefore, leaving all the symbolism, that is, the means the Lord uses to lead us to the truth, let us seek to understand exactly what the Lord is saying.

THE END TOWARD WHICH THE LORD IS WORKING
It can all be gathered into a few words: The Lord is trying to show us what is the great end toward which He is moving in the lives of His people, and that end is the expression of His own Divine nature in them. That Divine nature has been brought to us in His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit has come to reproduce Jesus Christ in the Church, so that when God’s work is done in His people there will be a manifestation in His universe of the Divine nature in a people. God is not doing two things, but one thing. Evangelism is just the gathering of the people, the adding of believers to the Lord Jesus. From that time it is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform those believers to the image of God’s Son, and the end of the work of the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of Christ in and through the Church.
The Christian’s life is progression in the increase of Christ. That explains all the dealings of the Holy Spirit with us, for His one object is to bring the Church to the fullness of Christ. If you want to know what the fullness of Christ is, then you have it in this symbolic presentation of the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Every aspect of this city represents some spiritual feature of the Lord Jesus, that is, it represents some feature of the Divine nature which is to be reproduced in the Church, the people of God. Is that quite simple? Now do you understand what it is all about? If you do, we can go on.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/16 13:45Profile





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