The New Jerusalem—A Pattern for Living—The Building Materials
Part One of this series, we looked at the foundation of the holy city "The New Jerusalem" and the structure described in Revelation 21:10-21.
We began by looking at how Jesus, whose name means salvation, is the only sure foundation and how our life with God must begin with this groundwork laid. Jesus is the chief corner stone of our lives, and all else is to be built upon faith in Him, and what He has done for us.
There is more to the Christian life than just having our ticket punched for eternity through salvation in Jesus. We have to live this thing out in our thoughts, actions, and core motivations. These are the building materials for the next phase in the building of this structure.
This article begins with the materials and their spiritual applications, that are used to begin building upon the foundation of forgiveness through Christ alone.
Once the foundation is laid we need to be careful how we build and what we build with.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on itendures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
— I Corinthians 3:9-15
Gold Silver And Precious Stones
In this portion of Scripture, there are two sets of materials that we can build with. The first three materials, in the first set, consists of gold, silver, and precious stones and are good solid everlasting materials and reveal to us how the tool of faith is how godliness, redemption, and glory are installed in our life.
- Gold in the Bible represents God's divine nature of love.
Believing and trusting in who He is in all His goodness, splendor, and majesty, with a genuine eye on eternal life, will impart to us these very qualities
we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord
— II Corinthians 3:18
- Silver in the Bible represents redemption
Believing we have access to God and all the good that he has for us through Jesus who paid the redemption price for our sins, knowing we are forgiven and forgiving others enables us to live life on new terms and as new people delivered from the power of darkness, the things we have done or the things done to us.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
— Colossians 1:13-14
- Precious stones are the result of the above two, we begin to see ourselves as God's redeemed children reflecting His goodness, glory, and majesty to others and may include suffering for His name sake
The second group is the wood, hay, and stubble and represents Christian activity that looks important but has little eternal value and is generally self-serving. Or can simply be blatant and obvious sins of the flesh.
- Wood in the Bible represents carnal man. It is trusting in our own human abilities and reasoning to meet our needs and is focused on this life.
- Hay is justifying ourselves and making ourselves "seem" right in what and why we do it.
- Stubble is believing that the results of the above two will get us to our destination and simply is the result of the above two.
Heat and pressure will either cause us to become a precious jewel or a heap of ashes.
Heat and fire will actually refine and beautify the first three materials. Heat and fire will inevitably destroy the last three. There is no way to avoid the heat and fire of living life. Heat and fire will reveal the true substance of the materials being subjected to it.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
— I Peter 1:6-7
The Chief cornerstone that Jesus laid, is the revelation that God the father, the creator of all things, and the giver of life loves us. Jesus' life, teachings, and His interactions with people were all attempts to communicate love to the human heart, which was finalized by His death for our sins.
When Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, the doubt of God's ability to satisfy them entered their souls and the faith and provision that came with it was never again retrieved in the human experience until Jesus came to restore it. Most of our sins have to do with attempts to please, satisfy, and comfort ourselves and the genuine needs of our hearts without considering God. A lot of our religious activity centers upon the very same motivation.
The needs of our hearts are love, acceptance, value, peace, protection and to know that our lives have meaning and purpose. This is the frame work for our house. What we build upon and the materials we use to build that structure will determine if that house will stand on this earth and into eternity.
whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.
— Matthew 7:24-27
Examples of Wood, Hay, and Stubble
Trusting that my good deeds will buy me God's love and acknowledgment and the love and acknowledgment of others is one example of inferior material.
Years ago I had a friend whose daughter died of cancer and I tried to do so many things for her that I felt went unnoticed. One day I was complaining about it and minutes later I received a phone call from her saying she had a gift for me to say thank you for everything. My heart was immediately convicted and I believed the Lord to say in my heart "here is your reward" I understood this to mean that if earthly acknowledgment and appreciation was what I was looking for then this was it, but I certainly felt that I missed out on something so much bigger, better, and eternal.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
— Matthew 6:1-3
We are not doing God favors by our good deeds. God wants our good deeds to be born from a knowledge and experience of His love for us and our desire to reciprocate that love.
We love Him because He first loved us. Our "works" are not good deeds our "works"are to be this:
— I John 4:19
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
— John 6:29
When we believe that He first loved us and we do deeds for others from that love then our motives will be pure and not self-serving.
Another thing we might try to build a structure on is the opinions of others. We set out to please people rather than God. We become dependent on their acceptance of us, and whether they think well of us or not becomes paramount to us. It can lead to self-hatred for not being able to meet up to the perceived expectations of others, or hatred of others because of their inability to fulfill our expectations of them. If someone says something bad about us and it shatters us, then our house is built on sand. God only becomes God to us when His thoughts are esteemed above the thoughts of others.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
— Matthew 6:24
We cannot serve God and mammon, ourselves, or the opinions of others. When we are loyal to the opinions of others we will think little of what God thinks. God ceases to be God to us when we exalt the opinions of others over the thoughts of God in this way.
When we get our sense of value from good deeds and the opinions of others we are trusting and founding our lives upon the premise that I am only valued for what I do. The end result is being used by others and accomplishing nothing of spiritual value in their lives or our own. We endlessly busy ourselves with the lives of others to the neglect of our own relationship with God. Our house is being built on sand.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
— Luke 14:26
God is not asking us to hate these significant relationships. He is asking us to put Him far above any one of them. Our value is not found in any of these relationships.
Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him.
— Psalm 45:10
Another faulty building material is trusting ourselves, our spouse, our children, our friends or our government to keep us safe from physical or emotional harm. This may lead to great fear and disappointment as the storms of life blow and we observe how flimsy these resources really are.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
— Psalm 4:8
Trusting in success to fulfill our sense of meaning in life is a poor resource and can lead to devastating depression when a failure occurs. If we feel we are nothing because of lack of worldly success our house is built on sand.
for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
— John 12:43
God will affirm us if we worship Him.
We all have a need to be seen and heard. If we believe that if we could have a moment of fame, or to even live a life of one, so we could feel good about our existence, we are building our house on sand. It can lead to pride and do desperate things to obtain it. It is only God's notice that matters as Hagar well discovered.
Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”
— Genesis 16:13
I believe that God understands that we feel natural emotions of disappointment with each of these examples but when we have allowed them to devastate us we can be sure we built our lives upon them and they are only sinking sand.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:15-16
Can we know that if no one on this earth loved us again that we are still loved?
I can't help but think of our cornerstone, Jesus, who went to a cross all alone and was abandoned by all who claimed to love Him, yet He kept His eyes on the Father's love.
I was reading a book called "He Loves Me" by Wayne Jacobsen and the author suggested the possibility that when Jesus asked "Father why have you forsaken me" it wasn't because the Father forsook Him. He was just so clouded by the sin He was bearing that He couldn't see it and became like us. Jesus later said to the Father "into your hands I commit my Spirit" meaning even though He felt so forsaken He still chose to trust the Father's love.
But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
— John 2:24-25
Everything we do outside of the experiences of God's love for us can be traced to an impure motive to attain something our soul needs which translate to sin even if it looks good by worldly standards.
If our value, esteem, and security are in God and God alone it cannot be stolen. It is a firm foundation. No matter how others treat us, no matter what our circumstances are. God himself submitted Himself to a human death to prove it.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:19-21
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bond servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
— I Corinthians 4:5-9
Knowing Jesus and the love of the Father through His cancellation of our sins is the bedrock of the condition of our souls.
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
— Matthew 16:13-19
Jesus wasn't saying He was going to build the church on Peter. He said He was going to build His church upon the foundational belief that Jesus is the messiah (appointed, anointed, empowered one to do so) and the church would be built by the revelation of individual believers who understood Him to be their savior.
Through God's sacrifice of His one and only Son, sin no longer separates us from His love. People can treat us bad and we can still know we are loved. We may make mistakes and blunder of our own and still know we are loved. The wind in our lives can howl like a category 5 hurricane but our soul is safely held in our knowledge of His love for us. We are free to be loved and free to share the love with others. We have access to His throne of grace to obtain what we need (Hebrews 4:16). We no longer have to scramble through our lives looking for ways to milk and our needs and desires out of other people. We no longer need to manipulate our circumstances to make ourselves comfortable. We can rest on the solid rock.
Are the materials, our thoughts, feelings, lives, situations, circumstances, and even our attitudes, firmly planted on the bedrock and foundation of God's awesome love for us? If no one else on earth affirmed our value can we know for certain we are valued by the creator of the universe?
Do we know that we are loved with an eternal love? A love that doesn't depend on anything that happens on this earth and never ever wears out.
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.
— Jeremiah 31:3
If we do not believe He is our defense we might avenge a situation ourselves. If we do not believe He adores us we may seek adoration from others. If we do not believe we are significant to Him we may seek to be in other ways. If we do not believe He loves us and forgives us we might try to right our wrongs in some very wrong ways. If we do not believe He answers prayer we may never talk to Him
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
— John 14:8
Every human heart yearns to know "The Father" Jesus came to show us "The Father" and His great love.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
— John 17:20-25
May we let the love of the Father transform our lives, and may our good deeds be born of our knowledge and experience of that love, and fulfill the plans and purposes of God.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
— Matthew 6:33
Part three to follow.
© 2010 Tamarajo