THE NEW JERUSALEM, THE CITY OF GOD
(PART II: ITS CITIZENS AND PROVISIONS)
When we stopped in our study of Revelation 21, we had looked at the construction of the Walls of the City and their content. Also, the twelve foundations, the twelve gates (composed of twelve great pearls), the streets of pure gold, etc.
Further we thought a little about worship and reviewed a few thoughts about God, Himself and reviewed salvation and how to go to Heaven, if we truly want to (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-13).
Before we continue our study in Revelation and because we might be feeling a need to be delivered from Evil Pursers (like the virus), I thought Paul’s life might help some of us who know Christ as personal Savior.
Also, there might be some who are reading this on the web or listening to our radio broadcasts who are feeling a little down. Let’s think about a statement “Our God is great and with Him nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37).
Other help from the Scriptures can be found in such verses as:
“I can do all things THROUGH Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13
God’s servant [Christian] can be content in all circumstances no matter how severe they are – through Christ – but he cannot be content in any circumstance apart form Christ. Note exactly what the verse says:
“I can—through Christ.”
“Christ who strengthens me.”
Christ does not do everything for the believer; neither does the believer do everything for himself. Both Christ and the believer have a part in conquering circumstances. The believer DECLARES “I can,” and he gets up and faces the circumstances head on. It is then that Christ steps in and strengthens the believer. God will provide and care for His dear servant [child].
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Briefly we consider some important information that God has in this section for the believer, before we continue with our Revelation study.
FACT: There may be mature saints reading this or listening on the radio who need to review this area for personal reasons. Also, there may be newly saved folks who will be studying and need to think about what Paul is saying for spiritual growth.
PROBLEM OF PRIDE
Note: Paul had experienced the spiritual power of Christ, as some of you have. God had given Paul deep and intimate spiritual experiences, just as he has with some of you. Others may need to grow spiritually.
However, there was the danger that Paul might think too highly of himself, therefore, God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh. The way one should probably look at this, is this: the thorn in the flesh, was given because God loved Paul and wanted to bless Him but Paul had to realize that he was no better than other men. (see Hebrew 12)
Fact: Paul was totally dependent upon God despite the indescribable spiritual experiences God had given him.
So, this needs to be delved into a little in order to see the overall picture of what God is doing. Just what was the thorn in the flesh that was given to Paul to help him with pride issues. The word “thorn” (skolops) means either thorn or stake. It is generally taken to mean THORN in this verse.
There are many guesses as to what the “thorn” was:
Some thought it was, spiritual suffering such as constant attacks by Satan or opposition by men, or occasional evangelistic failure in order to keep Paul humble and on his face before God seeking supernatural strength.
Some physical suffering such as recurring fever (for example, malaria), or epilepsy, or poor eyesight.
FACT: We might not like the reality, but the fact is that we do not know what Paul’s thorn actually was.
The best guess seems to be some kind of physical ailment, for suffering is what this passage is all about (2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10).
The words flesh, strength, weakness, and infirmities are used; and although these same words could be used to describe spiritual sufferings, the context does not weigh toward spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:10).
The clearest description of the thorn is probably eye trouble (2 Corinthians 10:10; Galatians 4:13-15; 6:11).
FACT: Paul had been stricken blind for three days at his conversion, and he had been badly beaten and stoned several times during his ministry life (2 Corinthians 11:24-27).
These physical events may have had something to do with the “thorn in the flesh” but we do not know if that’s true or not. A serious injury to his eyes, or for that matter to any other part of his body, could have occurred at any of these tragic events.
WHAT PAUL WANTED FROM GOD:
FACT: Paul wanted deliverance and relief; he wanted God to remove the thorn. Why? Because of three possibility.
- It pricked and bothered him.
- It distracted him from his labor.
- It made him appear personally weak and sickly.
NOTE Paul prayed three times for God to remove the thorn. Jesus Christ had also prayed three times for the suffering of the cross to be removed. (Matthew 26:36-46)
There were three reasons why God refused to remove the thorn from Paul’s flesh.
First, God wanted to guard against Paul’s being puffed up – PRIDE.
Second, God wanted to reveal His power in Paul. The weaker the vessel, the more God is glorified when the vessel really serves Christ. Note God’s answer to Paul:
“My grace is sufficient for thee”: the presence, love, favor, and blessings of God are sufficient to help the believer walk through any suffering [such as the current virus].
The word “sufficient” (arkei) means the power and strength to withstand any danger. God’s grace within the believer can carry the believer through anything. In Paul’s case, it was physical suffering. In our case it may be either physical or spiritual attacks; but no matter: God’s grace is sufficient to see us through whatever the thorn is in our life.
“My strength is made perfect in weakness” the weaker the believer, the more God can demonstrate His strength. If a man is self sufficient, he does not need God; but if he is weak, he needs God: the help, provision and sufficiency of God.
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
NOTE the point of this statement: infirmities or weaknesses are purposeful. The believer suffers for a reason: that the power of Christ may be demonstrated and clearly seen in his life. The word “rest” (episkenosei) means to fix a tent upon. The idea is that the power of Christ rests upon the suffering believer just as the Shekinah glory dwelt in the holy place fo the tabernacle. What a glorious thought! When he suffers, the strength of Christ fixes itself upon and dwells within the believer—filling him with the glory of God.
Third, God wanted to teach Paul to live “for Christ’s sake.” When Paul suffered some infirmity or weakness it gave Christ the opportunity to infuse power into Paul. Paul’s infirmity gave Christ an opportunity to prove Himself. Therefore, Paul says that he took pleasure….
“in infirmities”: a general term meaning all kinds of sufferings and weakness, whether moral or physical. The power of Christ can overcome any weakness or temptation for the believer.
“in reproaches”: whether ridicule, insult, slander, rumor, or whatever.
“in necessities”: hardships, needs, deprivations, hunger, thirst, lack of shelter or clothing, or any other necessity.
“in persecutions”: verbal or physical attack, abuse, or injury.
“in distresses”: tight situations, perplexities, disturbances, anxious moments, inescapable, problems and difficulties.
FACT: When the believer is weak, he is strongest. How? By the power of Christ. And the power of Christ is much stronger than all the combined forces of mankind. (see Ephsians 6:10)
NOTE: The great need of the believer today is to acknowledge his weakness before the Lord. When he does, the Lord pours His strength into the believer’s mind and heart. The Lord EMPOWERS the believer to overcome and conquer all infirmities and weaknesses.
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.” (Matthew 19:26)
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” ( I Corinthians 1:27)
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit IN THE INNER MAN.” (Ephesians 3:16)
“Now unto him that is ABLE TO DO EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL THAT WE ASK OR THINK, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Hebrews 11:33-34 – “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edged of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
Psalm 8:2 – “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.”
Psalm 62:11 – “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.”
Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and shall walk, and not faint.”
Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
NOTE: If you have not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior, please read and think about what the following Scriptures are telling you. This is personal and not intended for anyone else. This is between you and God, period. Read and consider the following verses of Scripture seriously.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 10:9-13 – “That if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Acts 2:41 – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
Now decide which gate you are going through. Why? because one leads to heaven and the other to hell and the lake of fire. Read:
Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter ye in the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which is in thereat: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Ephesians 6:10 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
Spirit control and works of the flesh:
Galatians 5:16-21 – “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murder, 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.”
Having read this portion of Scripture it is time to make a decision that will determine eternity for you. Christ said, “I am the Door”. It’s up to you. Your choice will determine where you will spend eternity. If you have decided to accept Christ as your Savior, please let us know and we will send you a free, helpful booklet on how to grow as a Christian.
In our next study we will return to Revelation chapter 21 dealing with the new Jerusalem.