God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing

eastern Sierra near BishopHebrews 11:16, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says God “has prepared a city for them.” If God has already prepared the city, why don’t we have any realization of it?

There are two parts of the answer to this question. One* is that God’s view is eternal, whereas our view is temporal. If we ask one another, When did you receive the Lord Jesus? the answer from our side will be in the recent months or years or decades.

In contrast, God’s view is different:
• “God, being rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
• “those whom He predestinated, these He also called; and those whom He called, these He also justified; and those whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30)
According to Ephesians, God has made us alive, and seated us in the heavenlies when Jesus Christ resurrected and ascended. In Romans, God has already glorified us.

With God’s eternal view, He has already prepared the city New Jerusalem for those whom He has chosen, called, justified, made alive, and glorified. We need to see as God sees. Hebrews 11:16, God “has prepared a city for them” is in a chapter full of faith, not sight. “We walk by faith, not by sight/appearance” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Lord, cause our faith to grow (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

He has prepared a city for us. May we exercise our faith to say “amen” to what God has said. He has prepared and He will bring us on to New Jerusalem.

* The second will be in the next post.

God Builds Through Us

Hebrews 11:10, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says it is

“The city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God”

Since God is the Builder, what part (if any) do we have in the preparation of New Jerusalem? To answer this, let’s look at Matthew 16:18, where Jesus declares, “I will build My church.”

New JerusalemThe Lord is building His church, but He is not doing it directly from the heavens. Rather, He works through the many members of His Body. This is clearly seen in Ephesians 4:15b-16, “the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

In this verse (and the parallel Colossians 2:19), the rich supply for building comes out of the Head, Christ, yet it also comes through the joints of supply and through the operation in each member. The result is the building up of the Body of Christ.

The same principle applies to what God is doing to build New Jerusalem. God is the Builder of the city! Yet He is not acting alone. Rather, He is building through His people. Christ’s building of His Body through the gifted joints of supply and through His operation in every member is part of God’s building of New Jerusalem. Lord, keep me open to Your operation so that You can build through me.

Experience the Light of Life (2)

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:23 says about New Jerusalem, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

The glory of God as the light and the Lamb as the lamp signify that God in Christ is the light of the New Jerusalem in eternity. In the new city there is no need of the sun, the natural light, or any man-made lamp because God Himself will be the light, and Christ will be the lamp, shining out God to enlighten the entire city. This means that God in Christ is everything in the New Jerusalem. In the presence of the greatest light, all the lesser lights count for nothing. Outside the New Jerusalem there will still be day and night, but inside there will be no night (21:25).*

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God is in Jesus Christ who is our light of life (John 8:12) today. Thus, inwardly we can experience the light of New Jerusalem. This light gives us a sense about things and actions. The sense may be peace or joy, indicating that something corresponds with the light. Or, the sense within may be uneasiness or confusion, indicating something that is of darkness rather than light.

We need first to be aware of this light, this sense, within and then give heed to it. Gradually we learn to live according to this inward divine light. God’s word is a help in our learning to live in the light.

Psalm 119:130 says that the opening, or entrance, of God’s Word gives light. Day by day we need to enter into the holy Word. Then we will see and be in the light, which is God Himself through His Word. Therefore, we should not realize or do anything according to our natural ability or according to the education we have received. We have God as our unique light to apply to our life.*

When we read, we need an attitude of seeking to gain the light of life, not merely seeking to have some knowledge. We need to be nourished by spiritual eating, with praying, meditating, and singing. These are good ways to open to the light of life and experience a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* These are excerpts from the book Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM. See message 431 in online reading.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Experience the Light of Life

New JerusalemRevelation 22:5 says about New Jerusalem, “Night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them.” The sun is one of the natural lights created by God and a lamp is one of the artificial lights made by men. Neither of them are needed in New Jerusalem.

The light of New Jerusalem is God Himself in Christ Jesus. This is Revelation 21:23, “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

God is light (1 John 1:5) and Jesus Christ is the light of life (John 1:4). They are not two separate lights; God is in Christ and shines through Him today. In New Jerusalem the glorious God shines from within the Lamb-Lamp.

In the ancient times the outer court of the tabernacle was lit by the sun during the day and by the moon at night, and the Holy Place was lit by the lampstand. In the Holy of Holies, however, there was no sun, no moon, and no lampstand. The light in the Holy of Holies was God Himself in His eternal glory….Besides the New Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies in both the tabernacle and the temple is the only structure in the entire Scriptures that is equal in three dimensions. Similarly, the Holy of Holies is the only other place where there is need of no light other than God. This shows that in eternity the holy city will be the Holy of Holies. In the New Jerusalem God Himself in Christ will be everything to us. The Triune God will also be our light to enlighten us. Here we have the intrinsic essence of the New Jerusalem.°

Thank you Lord Jesus that You are our light of life today. Enlighten us more today.

° This is an excerpt from the book Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM. See message 431 in online reading.

Walk in the Unique, Eternal, Divine Light

Revelation 22:5 says about New Jerusalem, “Night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them.” New Jerusalem is and our Christian life today should be characterized by God’s shining.

New JerusalemThe light of the holy city is the unique, eternal, divine light in which the redeemed elect live and move within the city (Rev. 21:23, 25). In the whole universe there are only three kinds of light. First, there is the natural light, the sun and the moon, created by God. Then there is the artificial light made by man. Third, there is the real light, the genuine light, which is God Himself. Revelation tells us that in the New Jerusalem we do not need the natural light of the moon and the sun or any artificial light. This is because we have the real light, which is the source of all the light. This light is God who shines within Christ and is diffused over all the nations.°

We should not wait for New Jerusalem to experience God as light. John 1:4, speaking about the incarnation of Jesus, says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Later Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

When we receive Jesus as our life, we have the real light. This is the unique, eternal, divine light of New Jerusalem. Now we should walk in this light (1 John 1:5-7). When we have a sense of darkness or confusion, we need to stop a moment and pray, opening ourselves to the Lord: Lord, shine in me now as You will shine in New Jerusalem.

° This is an excerpt from the book Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM. See message 431 in online reading.

Photo courtesy of University of Iowa and NASA.

The Riches of God’s Glory

New Jerusalem is a city of glory, a city “having the glory of God
(Revelation 21:11).

New JerusalemEphesians 3 shows something of the development of the glory which ultimately will be in New Jerusalem. Paul prayed, asking the Father to “grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man…” (v. 16).

This strengthening is so “that Christ may make His home in our hearts…” (v. 17) which results in our apprehending the vastness of Christ and knowing His love (v. 18-19), which results in our being “filled unto all the fulness of God” (v. 19). The conclusion is “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever.” (v. 21).

The apostle prayed that the Father would strengthen the saints according to the riches of His glory. This implies that the glory of God can be wrought into the saints. In the doxology he said, “To Him be the glory” (v. 21), implying that the glory of God, which has been wrought into the saints, returns to God. First, the glory of God is wrought into us; then it returns to God for His glorification….The apostle prayed that God would strengthen the saints according to His glory, “but” eventually God’s glory, after being wrought into them, returns to Him along with the strengthened saints. This is the way in which God is glorified in the church.*

The glory wrought into us is first for glory to God through the church in this age. Consummately it is for glory to God eternally and for God’s glory to be expressed universally through New Jerusalem.

* A part of footnote 1 on Ephesians 3:20 in this online NT (© LSM).

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Living House Becomes the Living City

New JerusalemIn Genesis 28 Jacob had a dream and he named that place Bethel, which means house of God. Then the tabernacle was the house of God (Mark 2:26) and later the temple was the house of God. The temple was in the city of Jerusalem but was much smaller than the city.

Both tabernacle and temple were physical pictures. Today the house of God is a living house, the church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the Son of God and the great Priest over this house (Hebrews 3:610:21). This house is not a physical building but is composed of all God’s New Testament people.

The house of God today is built by Jesus Christ growing in us (Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Peter 2:2-5). At the end of the Bible we do not find the term house of God because the house has grown to become the city of God:
 the city whose Architect and Builder is God (Hebrews 11:10)
 the city which God has prepared (Hebrews 11:16)
 the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22)
 the city of God, New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12)
 the holy city, New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2)

Colossians 2:19 declares that when we hold Christ the Head, who in verse 17 is the reality of all positive things, all the Body is richly supplied and knit together and thereby grows with the growth of God. Lord, keep me holding You as my Head every day that we may be richly supplied for growth in You.

This song expresses a longing for the Lord to grow in us.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: God Manifested in Humanity

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is a living city and the consummation of all the spiritual blessings we have in the New Testament.

In 1 Timothy 3:15-16 Paul says, “I write that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth. And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh…”

The house of God today is a living house, the church of the living God. This house will grow to the city of God, New Jerusalem.

The sentences above from 1 Timothy are joined by And.* And ties the house of God to the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh. The New Testament begins with this manifestation, as seen in the early part of John 1 and in 1 John 1:1-3. This manifestation continues with the church as the house of the living God.

The New Testament manifestation of God consummates in New Jerusalem. The city has the glory of God; the glory has been wrought into the city. It is the ultimate manifestation of God.

We cannot say that the city is “God manifested in the flesh” for our fallen, sinful flesh will have been eliminated by our transfiguration at the Lord’s return (Philippians 3:21). However, we can say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in humanity. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17, 30) when He returns, thereby allowing New Jerusalem to fully manifest God’s glory. Praise Him!

* Although And often does not appear in English Bibles, it is clearly in all Greek texts from which our English New Testaments are translated.

New Jerusalem is a Living, Spiritual City

New Jerusalem is a living city. It is the eternal expansion of the house of the living God—a composition of the Triune God and all God’s people.

Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” All the New Testament blessings are spiritual, including our participation in God’s New Testament building (Ephesians 2:22) which consummates in New Jerusalem.

The blessings in Ephesians 1 are both spiritual and heavenly, and New Jerusalem is both spiritual and heavenly. One day the city will “come down out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2). From that time it will be on earth but it will still have the heavenly nature, not an earthly nature.

New JerusalemThe spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1 include:
• God’s choosing and predestinating us,
• Christ’s redemption and abounding grace,
• The Spirit’s sealing and pledging,
• God’s revealing of His will (His eternal purpose) and His giving us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Jesus Christ.
All of these blessings are on the path to New Jerusalem.

God’s choosing and Christ’s redeeming were accomplished without any effort on our part. Now we need to receive forgiveness and grace, to cooperate with the Spirit’s operation in us, and to join in the prayer of verses 16-23 by asking for a spirit of wisdom and revelation and by asking for the eyes of our heart to be enlightened.

May we all see and experience more of our Lord Jesus Christ, more of the hope of God’s calling, more of the riches of God’s glory, and more of the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us who believe. May our seeing extend from our current Christian life all the way to New Jerusalem.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo of Venus (upper right) crossing the sun, courtesy of NASA.

Let Us Come Forward for Mercy and Grace

New JerusalemBoth God and New Jerusalem have the appearance of jasper stone (Revelation 4, 21). This shared appearance begins now. In 1 Peter 2:4 the Lord is a living Stone. As we come to Him, He makes us living stones (v. 5). Our coming to Him is by drinking the milk of His word.

Our coming is also to His throne. In Hebrews 4:14-16 we have a great, ascended High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, who has been tempted in all respects like us, yet is without sin. Because of Him, “Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.”

Because the crucified, resurrected, and ascended Jesus is our High Priest, the throne is not for judgement but for mercy and grace. Thank Him! Today the throne is in heaven, as John saw in Revelation 4.

How can we come to the throne of God and the Lamb, Christ, in heaven while we still live on earth? The secret is our spirit, referred to in v. 4:12. The very Christ who is sitting on the throne in heaven (Rom. 8:34) is also now in us (Rom. 8:10), that is, in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), where the habitation of God is (Eph. 2:22).*

The throne of grace to which we come forward today will be the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem. Our receiving mercy and finding grace today prepares us for more mercy and grace in New Jerusalem. As Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us come forward.”

* A part of footnote 1 on Hebrews 4:16 in this online NT (© LSM).

Photo courtesy of U.S. government.

Coming to Him, We Are “Jasperized”

In Revelation 4:2-3 John saw a throne in heaven and One sitting on the throne who was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance. Later he saw the holy city, Jerusalem, having the glory of God and her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone  (Revelation 21:10-11). He also saw that the wall of the city was built of jasper (v. 21:18). Both God and New Jerusalem have an appearance like jasper.

God desires to develop this identical appearance now. First Peter 2:4 says that the Lord is a living Stone and verse 5 says that by coming to Him we are becoming living stones to be built together as a spiritual house.

What is presented in 1 Peter—both He and we are living stones—is the preparation for what John saw—God and New Jerusalem are jasper.

We become living stones as we come to the Lord. Our coming is in Peter 2:4. In verses 2-3 we drink the pure milk of the word of God and we taste that the Lord is good. Then we come to the One we are tasting.

Let us all drink from the word of God. Whether we understand everything or not, whether everything seems applicable to us or not, we can read the word of God. Then:
New Jerusalem• we can say amen to His word
• we can thank Him for His word
• we can pray with what we read
• we can meditate on His word
• we can ask for His speaking
• we can sing His word

Through these practices, God’s word becomes our joy (Jeremiah 15:16) and our nourishment (Matthew 4:4). This gradually constitutes us as living stones and “jasperizes” us for New Jerusalem.

Related post: The Stones Express God

Photo by R Robinson, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Filled by & for Hearing, Speaking, Singing

Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit” parallels the throne of God and of the Lamb from which comes the river of water of life in New Jerusalem. In Galatians 3 we receive the Spirit by the hearing of faith (v. 2, 5).

New JerusalemTo have hearing we also need speaking. We should not depend on a select few to speak. Rather, as Ephesians 5:18b-19 says, we should “be filled in spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and psalming with your heart to the Lord.”

The psalms, hymns, and songs may be directly from the word of God or may express what we see in the word of God. When we are filled in spirit and speak, others will have the hearing of faith and receive the Spirit. Then others may speak and we receive the Spirit. This mutual, spiritual speaking and hearing expresses the reality of the Body of Christ.

Colossians 3:16 is very similar: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.” The word dwells/lives in us. The word of God living in us corresponds with our being filled in spirit in Ephesians 5.

Both Ephesians and Colossians include singing—with grace, with our hearts, to the Lord.

Surely New Jerusalem will be full of the Spirit and full of the living word. There we will still be speaking and hearing the living words, the words of the faith. New Jerusalem will probably also be full of our singing to the Lord.

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