The Tree of Life in New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:1-2 records that an angel showed John “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. And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month.”

In the flow [of the river] there is the tree of life bearing rich fruits (v. 2). This tree is the life supply, the food for life. In the church whenever there is the flow of life, the complete supply of God as our spiritual food will come to us in that flow. Whenever we attend a meeting, whether it is a prayer meeting, a meeting for the Lord’s table, or a fellowship meeting, we will partake of some fruit of the tree of life. In every meeting there will be something upon which we may feed.*

New JerusalemIn Galatians 3 the bountiful supply of the Spirit comes through the hearing of faith. This word was spoken to the Galatian believers corporately. In New Jerusalem there is one flow and one life supply for the built-up city. Today the flow and the life supply are for believers knit togetherª with others.

Similarly, Paul said that his difficult situation “will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Again, the bountiful supply, the river with the tree, comes through our relationship with other believers.

In New Jerusalem we will have the strongest and most complete knitting together and we will experience the eternal fullness of the river of life and the tree of life.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

ª Knit together in Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:2, 19; held (or joined) together in some translations

The River of Water of Life in New Jerusalem

An angel showed John “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.” Where the throne is, the water of life flows.

New JerusalemFrom the throne there issues the flow of the water of life (22:1)….This flow is God Himself, flowing out as life. In the church when God is allowed to exercise His headship in Christ and thus shine as the light, He spontaneously flows out to us as life. Whenever anyone enters into such a church life, he immediately senses this flow of life. There is a sense of being watered rather than any sense of dryness. Such a flow of life depends upon the throne being set up in the church. God’s authority must be exercised so that the light of God may shine and so that the life may flow.*

The crowds listening to Jesus sensed the flow. “When Jesus finished these words [Matt. 5-7], the crowds were astounded at His teaching, for He taught them as One having authority and not like their scribes.”

The headship of Christ indicates His authority. And from Him flows a rich supply for the building of His Body (Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:19). This rich supply builds the Body now and maintains New Jerusalem for eternity.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

The Headship, the Light of New Jerusalem

God in Christ is on the throne at the center of New Jerusalem. Today, God in Christ as the Head is building His Body toward that day (Eph. 4:15-16; Col. 2:19).

New JerusalemThis Christ is the light today and in New Jerusalem. “The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light” when Jesus came to dwell in Capernaum (Matt. 4:13, 16). “A light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:32). “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Today our need is to hold to Him as our Head so that a rich supply may flow from Him through us all for the building of His Body (Eph. 4:15-16; Col. 2:19). This building work is the preparation for New Jerusalem.

The headship of God in Christ is the very light. Wherever God is in authority, there is also light. On the other hand, wherever there is confusion, there is darkness. When God’s authority is exercised in a local church, that church will be full of the divine light. If God is not on the throne, if He is not in authority, He cannot shine, and there will be no light. If we all give place to God in Christ so that He may exercise His authority, if we all are willing to subject ourselves to Him, everything in our midst will be full of light.*

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

The Throne, the Center of New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:3 says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem]” and 21:23 tells us, “the glory of God illumined it [the city], and its lamp is the Lamb.”

New JerusalemIn this city there is a center, the throne of God. It is the throne of God in Christ (Rev. 22:3). God is in Christ, for Christ is portrayed as the lamp containing God as the light (21:23). The city of the New Jerusalem is like a lampstand, holding Christ as the lamp with God as the light. Thus, since God is in Christ on the throne, there is only one throne.*

The seven churches in seven cities in Revelation 1–3 are seen as seven golden lampstands (Rev. 1:11-12). Their ultimate development, both in the golden nature and in their function as lampstands, is New Jerusalem.

In the church life today there must also be a center. That center is the throne of God, from which God in Christ exercises His authority in the church. The entire church must be under the authority of God in Christ. Here we see the matter of headship. Christ with God is the Head.*

First Peter 4:17 declares, “it is time for the judgment to begin from the house of God.” We need to live under the headship of Christ to daily be saved from all natural and negative elements. In this way we are purified to satisfy God’s judging. This makes us match New Jerusalem which is pure, clear, and transparent (Rev. 21:11-21).

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ

Revelation 21:9-10 records that an angel spoke to John, “Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem.”

New Jerusalem[New Jerusalem] is also called the bride (vv. 9-10)….The first bride, Eve, was a part of her husband. She came out of Adam (Gen. 2:21-24); therefore, she was his counterpart. Even so, the church must be a part of Christ (Eph. 5:30-32). A bride also speaks of love and oneness. The husband loves the bride, and the bride loves her husband. She is united in oneness with her husband. Such oneness is not only a matter of love but also a matter of life.*

Romans 12:5, “we who are many are one Body in Christ” and Ephesians 5:30, “we are members of His Body.” This is the church in Christ, part of Him, to be His counterpart as Eve to Adam. This is the spiritual reality today and how much more of New Jerusalem.

We can love our Husband, Christ because “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). His love supplies us to love and His life maintains us in oneness. This is true in the church and also in New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

New Jerusalem: the Tabernacle of God

Revelation 21:2-3, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”

The New Jerusalem is the very tabernacle of God (v. 3). The tabernacle conveys three basic thoughts: that of dwelling, of rest, and of expression. The church must be such a tabernacle. It must be a place where God dwells, where God rests, and where God expresses Himself.*

New JerusalemThe church as the dwelling place is seen in 1 Timothy 3:15, which says the house of God is the church of the living God. The church as the rest is presented in Hebrews 4:3, “we who have believed enter into the rest.” The rest in this verse is His rest in verse 1.

The church ass the expression of God is set forth in Ephesians 3:10, “In order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church.” This manifestation of God’s wisdom is based on the presentation to all men of the “unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (v. 8).

The church is God’s dwelling and ours, God’s rest and ours, and God’s expression through us corporately. In this way the church is a miniature of New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

Characteristics of New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:9-23 describe features of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is a city built up in perfect order. It is not simply a heap of precious stones but a city built up with precious stones (Rev. 21:10-11). We may possess many good materials that are ideal for building; however, if these materials are merely gathered in a pile, they certainly do not compose a building. Even so, in the church life there must be the real building, not only a group of wonderful believers gathered together. Our first need is to be transformed into precious material; then we must be built up with others as a building.*

NeW JerusalemAfter being born of the Spirit we need to be transformed by the Spirit, transformed from natural, fallen beings to beings saturated with the divine life. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “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.”

Transformation requires us to turn our heart to the Lord daily (v. 16) and to behold His glory (v. 18) which is to behold His person. In this way His glorious image is wrought into us to prepare us for New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God.”

We also need to be built together, as in Ephesians 2 and 4 and 1 Peter 2, to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

God’s Building Work with Man (7)

New Jerusalem is both a dwelling place and the ruling center of God’s kingdom. The church today, as the precursor of New Jerusalem, should be the same.

God our Father “delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). Today, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

New JerusalemThe church today must be the realm of God’s kingdom. The apostle Paul speaks of this vital principle in his writings. Romans 12 reveals the Body of Christ, but Romans 14 speaks of the kingdom. The proper church life is a realm, a sphere, where God may exercise His authority. Strictly speaking, the proper church life is the kingdom of God. The church life must be like the holy city, the New Jerusalem, a center where God may exercise His authority.*

Examples of obedience to God’s authority in the church today are seen in Hebrews: a warning against disobedience (2:2-3); exhortation not to harden our hearts to God’s voice (3:7–4:7); a desire that we be diligent and not sluggish (6:11-12); encouragements to come forward, hold fast, exhort one another (10:19-25); and accepting His discipline (12:5-11).

Today Christ is “the Head of the Body, the church” and should “have the first place in all things” (Col. 1:18). God desires that all things be headed up in Christ (Eph. 1:10), beginning with His believers. Eventually everything in the universe will be headed up by the throne in New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

God’s Building Work with Man (6)

In Revelation 21:2 John says, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” In 22:1 John says “And he [an angel] showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb…” In New Jerusalem the redeeming God, the Lamb-God, is on the throne. The throne is the center of the city and the city is the center of the new creation.

New Jerusalem[A city] is the symbol of the kingdom. The throne of God will be displayed in the New Jerusalem, for this city is the center of God’s authority. The early chapters of the book of Revelation reveal God sitting on the throne apart from the city (4:2-3). But in the concluding chapters God is on the throne in the city (21:5; 22:3). This signifies that it is not until the New Jerusalem descends out of heaven at the end time that God will be enthroned in a city. He is on the throne now, but at that time He will exercise His authority over a full kingdom.*

There are many aspects of the throne of God presented in the Scripture. In ascension the Lord Jesus “sat down on the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). When He comes again in glory “He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matt. 25:31). Revelation, beginning from chapter 4, says much about the throne of God from the Lord’s ascension and continuing through this age.

Revelation 20:11 unveils “a great white throne” for the final judgements. Eternally “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in” New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3) for His eternal and universal kingdom.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

God’s Building Work with Man (5)

Genesis 12:8 tells us that Abraham had a tent and built an altar to Jehovah. That tent was a pre-figure of God and man being built together into a mutual, eternal dwelling place, New Jerusalem.

In the early stages of history there was a little tent with a little altar. Through many generations that tent has increased until ultimately there is a large tabernacle. How significant it is that the New Jerusalem is still called the tabernacle of God (Rev. 21:3). This tabernacle is the total mingling of God with man.*

Revelation 21:2 records John’s seeing of New Jerusalem. Then in verse 3 “a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God.”

New JerusalemThis ultimate consummation of God’s work is not only a tent, a tabernacle, but also a city [Rev. 21:2, 10]. A tent is not very strong or permanent, but this tent is also a city. According to the scriptural meaning, a city is a center for the exercise of authority. Therefore, the city symbolizes the kingdom. The New Jerusalem is not only a tent as a dwelling place; it is also a city as the center of a kingdom.*

The entrance into this kingdom is being born again, of the Spirit in our human spirit (John 3:5-6). The reality of this kingdom today is the Spirit (Rom. 14:17) who is one with our reborn human spirit (Rom. 8:16). At the Lord’s second coming His kingdom will replace all the human kingdoms and bring peace to the whole earth (Rev. 11:15-18). New Jerusalem will be the center of God’s eternal kingdom.

* Excerpts from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

Dear Readers, in October we will resume three posts per week—Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

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.

God’s Building Work with Man (4)

New JerusalemRevelation 21–22 presents New Jerusalem to us, followed by some words from the Lord. New Jerusalem, as the conclusion of the Bible, is the conclusion of all that God has done through the ages. New Jerusalem is not separate from all that God accomplished before Revelation 21. It is His goal from eternity.

Abraham, in following God, “eagerly waited for the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God (Heb. 11:10). And New Jerusalem is that city with foundations (Rev. 21:19-20).

The Bible is a composition of sixty-six books that tell us how God has been working for over six thousand years to bring His ultimate building into existence. Bible students speak of many dispensations, telling how God works in one age in a certain way and in another age in another way. Yet the ultimate result, the issue of all God’s work throughout all generations, will be the New Jerusalem. However we may interpret the dispensations, we must realize that all of God’s various ways of working will issue in a certain kind of result—the New Jerusalem.*

All negatives in the universe were overcome by Christ through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. All are fully eliminated in Revelation 20. This affords a way for New Jerusalem to appear in a new and pure creation. Although it might be difficult to see how some of God’s work today is toward this goal, we must realize that New Jerusalem is the target and the consummation of all God’s work.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

God’s Building Work with Man (3)

New Jerusalem“He who believes into the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36a). When we believe, we receive eternal life. This is to be born again. John 3:6 says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Our second birth, of the Spirit, is the beginning of our journey to New Jerusalem.

Because we have had two births, we are both natural, fallen men, men of flesh, and redeemed, regenerated men, men with God living in us. God wants to spread in us; to live in, with, and through us; to be formed in us. God’s goal is that we no longer be natural, fallen men but “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).

We all need, experientially, to have Christ incarnated into us. Then He must bring us through death and resurrection into God. The more we pass through the cross and into the resurrection, the more we will be in God. God is in us today, but we are not very much in God. This is why God is doing His work of building on this earth today.*

God seeks our cooperation with His building work. On one side our cooperation is to deny our self, our soul-life, as spoken by the Lord in Matthew 16 and Luke 9. On the other side our cooperation is to live and walk in spirit as in Galatians 5:16, 25. This cooperation allows God a way to build Himself into us and to build us with Him into New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

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