New Jerusalem, a Mutual Dwelling Place

New JerusalemThe idea of a mutual dwelling—we in God and God in us—is first clearly presented in John’s gospel. In John 14:20 Jesus said, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” That day is the day of resurrection after the Lord accomplished redemption and when He as the Spirit could enter into us.

According to the Lord’s word, this mutual dwelling is true today. Lord, cause us all to know that we are in You and You in us! This mutual dwelling will continue into New Jerusalem.

The holy city is also the dwelling place of God (v. 3). God and Christ dwell in this city. On one hand, They are the temple in which we dwell, and on the other hand, They are also the Dwellers within the city. This means that the New Jerusalem is a mutual habitation. God dwells in us, and we dwell in God. The church today is a habitation where God may dwell (Eph. 2:22), and God is the home where we may dwell (Psa. 90:1). This is not a new concept. Christ said in John 15, “Abide in me and I in you” (v. 4). He is saying in essence, “I am your abode, and you are My abode.”*

We might be concerned about our physical dwelling, but the Lord is much more concerned about our mutual spiritual dwelling. It is the reality, no matter where we are physically. For example, Paul experienced the spiritual reality while he was in a Roman prison. Mutual indwelling today is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

The Lord God and the Lamb are the Temple

In Revelation 21:22 John speaks about New Jerusalem, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

New JerusalemThere was a temple in the ancient city of Jerusalem, but in the New Jerusalem there is no temple (v. 22), for God Himself and Christ are the temple. They are the temple, where the serving ones will dwell and serve. A temple is a place where those who serve God dwell.… God is the very God whom we serve, but He is also the temple where we serve. That means that we serve God in God. … God Himself and Christ Himself are the temple in which we serve God and Christ.*

Revelation 22:3 says of New Jerusalem, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him.” To serve here is to serve as priests. This is the fulfillment of Revelation 1:5-6, “Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth” who “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.”

Through His death and resurrection He made us priests. We serve in this way today, as in Romans 15:16 and 1 Peter 2:5. And we will serve eternally in New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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The Lord Jesus Portrayed in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe Lord Jesus is portrayed in the New Jerusalem….First, He is the Lamb (22:1). Even in eternity the Lord Jesus will always be remembered as the Lamb who died for our redemption, who shed His blood for us, and who gave Himself as the very food of life to satisfy us. Second, this Lamb is also the lamp, in whom God is the light (21:23; 22:5). The lamp is the vessel of God, containing God and expressing God….Third, this very Christ is the tree of life (v. 2), the source of all life supply. In the church life we must have Christ as the Lamb, the lamp, and the tree of life. Fourth, Christ is even the temple of the city (21:22).*

1: “He showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.”
2: “The glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
3: “On this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life.”
4: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
Revelation 22:1; 21:23; 22:2; 21:22

Not only in New Jerusalem, but also today the Lord Jesus is our redeeming Lamb. “We have redemption through His blood” (Eph. 1:7). He is our light of life. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” and “I am the light of the world” (John 1:4; 8:12).

Also today, as well as in New Jerusalem, He is the tree of life, our life nourishment. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48). Fourth, we are in Him (Phil. 3:9; 4:13). The Lord Jesus will be fully manifested in New Jerusalem; He should also be manifested in our present living.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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We Are Members of the Body of Christ

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: New Jerusalemthe first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst” (Rev. 21:19-20).

Prior posts considered God’s initiation, mercygrace, faithfulness, and transformation work as seen in the apostles whose names are on these stones.

Sixth, the twelve foundations of the city are composed of twelve kinds of precious stones (Rev. 21:19-20). This signifies oneness in variety. Not one stone is the same: Peter is one color, and John is another. Altogether there are twelve colors seen in the apostles—a real variety. Yet there is also oneness in this variety….Can we respect someone else whose ministry is totally different from ours? We must. We must hate narrow-mindedness and the urge to convince and convert others to be like ourselves. Never forget that Peter is Peter and John is John. The Lord Jesus is very great and wonderful. He needs many different persons to express Himself; one individual Christian is not sufficient.*

We are many members in the one Body of Christ, “and all the members do not have the same function” (Rom. 12:4). “There are distinctions of ministries, yet the same Lord” (1 Cor. 12:4-11). And we cannot say to others, I have no need of you (12:18-21).

In and of Christ today we are one Body. The same will be true in New Jerusalem, the city built by God on twelve foundations.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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Transformation to Precious Stones for New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:14 says about New Jerusalem, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Verse 21:19 begins, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone.” Then verses 19-20 name twelve different stones, all precious.

The precious stones speak of God’s work of transformation. Every precious stone comes from common elements. A precious stone is a compound of several elements which have been pressed together under intense heat. It is not an entity in its original state; it requires a work of full transformation.*

By regeneration we receive the divine nature. From that time onward we need to be pressed and burned, but do not be frightened. We all appreciate Peter, John, and the other disciples, but most of us little realize how much pressure they experienced. They are no more pieces of clay but precious stones.*

New JerusalemTransformation is presented in Romans 12:2, “be transformed by the renewing of the mind” and 2 Corinthians 3:18, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.”

Renewing takes us from the old creation to the new creation and transformation from glory to glory prepares us for the city of glory, New Jerusalem. Be transformed indicates we must cooperate to let the Spirit renew us. This cooperation is by turning our heart to the Lord (2 Cor 3:16) to behold and reflect the glory of the Lord.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

 

The Foundations Declare God’s Faithfulness

New Jerusalem has twelve foundations with the twelve names of the twelve apostles. By considering these apostles we see aspects of God’s work among men: God’s initiation, God’s mercy, and God’s grace.

New JerusalemFourth, it is also through God’s faithfulness that the apostles have become the city’s foundation stones. In the Scriptures the rainbow is a sign of God’s faithfulness….Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all looked for “the city which has the foundations” (Heb. 11:10). They looked for such a city because that city is built upon the faithfulness of God. Psalm 89:2 says that the faithfulness of God is established in the heavens themselves. Strictly speaking, the twelve stones alone do not compose the foundations of this holy city; rather, the faithfulness of God bestowed upon the twelve stones makes up the foundations.*

Many NT verses speak of God’s faithfulness. It is with us today and will be proclaimed by New Jerusalem’s foundations. Some verses:
1 Cor. 1:9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son.”
1 Thes. 5:24, “Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it.”
Heb. 10:23, “He who has promised is faithful.”
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins…”
Rev. 1:5, “Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead…”

God in Christ is the faithful One to carry out His promises with us today and to maintain New Jerusalem for eternity.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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God’s Mercy Brings His Grace to Us

New Jerusalem has twelve foundations with the twelve names of the twelve apostles.
New JerusalemThese apostles portray aspects of God’s work among men. First, everything is of God; second, we depend on God’s mercy; third, mercy brings us to God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:4-5 shows God’s mercy opening the way for us to receive His grace. “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” We have been made alive to live the Christian life now and to be part of New Jerusalem.

The twelve foundation stones are also a witness of God’s grace….God’s grace is nothing less than God Himself. God gives Himself to us as our enjoyment to meet all our needs. In Galatians 2:20 Paul says that it is no longer he but Christ who lives within him. Again, he declares, “Yet not I but the grace of God” (1 Cor. 15:10). By putting these two verses together, we see that grace is nothing less than Christ Himself. Grace is God in Christ as my strength, my power, my enjoyment. These poor fishermen and a publican could become so important as parts of the foundation of the holy city, not only because of God’s mercy but also because of God’s grace.*

God is rich in mercy and He wants to grace us. Therefore, Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.” Our responsibility is to come forward to Him; then we easily receive mercy and spend time to find grace. This is on our path to New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

We are in New Jerusalem by God’s Mercy

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem has twelve foundations with the twelve names of the twelve apostles. This is the second post on what they represent of our Christian experience.

The Bible does not uplift the human qualifications of the apostles. Several were poor, uneducated fishermen. Matthew was a despised tax collector. They did not become apostles by their human qualifications but due to God’s mercy.

Paul’s education and upbringing did not make him an apostle. He rejected all of that, as he stated in Philippians 3:4-11, because of the riches he received by revelation from Christ.

The apostles are also the real witnesses of God’s mercy. When we consider the twelve foundations, we must recognize the mercy of God….Praise God that His mercy is so far-reaching that it has reached poor sinners like us!…If we are humble, we will realize how truly pitiful we are before the Lord and how worthless in His eyes. We need His mercy….It has nothing to do with our qualifications; it is all the Lord’s mercy….What a mercy! These twelve foundation stones will eternally declare God’s mercy. We must know the mercy of God!*

Like the apostles, we are objects of God’s mercy. Our qualification is not anything of ourselves. God says, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy….So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy (Rom. 9:15-16).

God’s desire is to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory,” (Rom. 9:23). The ultimate stage of His glory is New Jerusalem. It is God’s mercy that we can participate in that glory.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by LSM.

Everything about New Jerusalem is of God

New Jerusalem has twelve foundations with the twelve names of the twelve apostles. The apostles represent six things about New Jerusalem and our current Christian and church life. These six will be reviewed beginning here.

The apostles signify that this new city [New Jerusalem]…is not of man but of God (Gal. 1:10-12). None of the apostles are of man; all are of God. This is the real testimony, and we must apply this principle to ourselves. In the church life everything must be of God; there must not be anything of man. The foundation of the church life must only be of God….If we initiate anything which is of man rather than completely of God, the foundation will not be strong. In every city we must allow the church life to be initiated only of God, not of ourselves.*

New JerusalemIn 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul asks them, “what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though not having received it?” What we have as Christians is not of ourselves; we received everything from God.

Our first birth was of the flesh; “that which is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:6). And “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). But we have been born again of the Spirit to inherit the kingdom of God, the church life today and New Jerusalem in the future.

Finally, John saw “New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”


The next post will be Monday, January 4.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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The Foundations of New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:14 says about New Jerusalem, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

New JerusalemEphesians 2:20 says that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. But in the New Jerusalem there are no prophets. We must realize that at the time of the letter to the Ephesians some things were still not fulfilled; hence, prophecy was required. But when the New Jerusalem descends out of heaven, everything will be completed. There will no longer be a need for prophets who foretell the things of God. Therefore, we should not place too much importance on such prophets. On the other hand, all the apostles abide forever, for on the twelve foundations of the city are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14).*

The number twelve indicates eternal perfection and completeness. The Bible does not tell us which names are on the foundation and we should not speculate. Nor does the Bible tell us if the number here is literal or symbolic; again, we should not speculate.

The apostles are the foundation of the city but 1 Corinthians 3:12 says, “if anyone builds upon the foundation…” We all are qualified to build on the foundation of Christ that has been laid by the apostles. This is for the building up of the Body of Christ.

This divine building work requires “the operation in the measure of each one part” (Eph. 4:16); each of us a a part and each should participate in the building work. New Jerusalem is the consummation of this building of God with man upon the foundation of the apostles.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

The Twelves of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe number seven is common early in Revelation. An example is verse 1:4 “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace…from the seven Spirits.”

The number twelve occurs many times in the description of New Jerusalem. Examples: “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (21:14). “The twelve gates were twelve pearls” (21:21).

Seven is the Triune God (three) with His creatures (four). Twelve is the Triune God mingled with His people.

The book of Revelation begins with the number seven and ends with the number twelve….First, we as creatures have God added to us; then from the time of regeneration God is multiplied within us….The entire city of the New Jerusalem is a mingling of man with God—this is why the whole city is represented by the number twelve….The church must begin with the divine nature being added to the human nature; then each person must be mingled with God….The maturity of the church life is the very mingling of God with man.*

God desires that, in this age, that Christ be formed in us (Gal. 4:19). Romans 8:29 also tells us God’s intention: “those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers.”

New Jerusalem is saturated with God and radiates the expression of God. It is the outcome of all that God is doing in this age. God is working now toward this goal. We can cooperate by praying daily Lord, form Yourself within me today; develop a little of New Jerusalem in me now.


The next post will be Monday, December 28.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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New Jerusalem is Full of the Glory of God

New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11); “the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (21:23).

New JerusalemThe city is full of the glory of God because it is so straight and transparent (vv. 11, 23). Strictly speaking, the glory of God is the very content of the city, for the city is completely filled with His glory. This means that the city is a vessel to contain and express God. To illustrate this point, let us consider a common table lamp:…the light is the very content of the lamp and the shade. The glory of God is simply God Himself being manifested. The New Jerusalem is full of God’s glory; therefore, God is manifested in this city. The normal church life today is the same: it is full of God’s glory, manifesting and expressing God.

In the end of the quote, normal does not mean typical or averageNormal refers to what God desires and expects to seen in the church today. Christ is our life and should be our living. Paul said “to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). His “earnest expectation and hope” was “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (1:20).

If we all have such an expectation, and if to us to live is Christ, then the church will surely manifest and express God in Christ as a miniature of New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM

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