We Are Being Renewed into New Jerusalem

New JerusalemDue to the fall of man in Genesis 3, God’s original creation became the old creation. But “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). The consummation of the change from the old creation to the new is Revelation 21:1, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more.”

Although we are in Christ and positioned in the new creation, we still need much of God’s renewing work within us. Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10, and Titus 3:5 all speak of this on-going renewing work within us to fully match us to the new creation and New Jerusalem.

This renewing is the Spirit working the heavenly life and nature into us so that we live a heavenly life on earth. This life has a heavenly expression on earth; the ultimate step of this expression is New Jerusalem.

Starting in the garden of Eden, the God of creation began to work in us to make us pure gold and precious stones. When His work is done, we will be in the New Jerusalem. At that time we will not only be in the New Jerusalem, but we will also be able to say that we are the New Jerusalem. It is God who is working heaven into us, and it is God who is working us into the heavenlies (cf. Eph. 2:6). Heaven and man are becoming one. What is heaven?*

Do not lose heart…our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). We thank the Lord that He is able to work daily in us to renew us to be fully one with Him for New Jerusalem.

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.
* “What is heaven?” See the next post.

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New Jerusalem: God and Man Mingled

The garden of Eden and New Jerusalem mirror each other. The garden unfolds God’s purpose and the city shows the completion. God and man are present in the garden but are separate. In New Jerusalem God and man are present in a merged, mingled way.

In the garden of Eden in Genesis, we see man, pure gold, and precious stones. The man, the pure gold, and the precious stones are separate from each other. When we come to the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, we see pure gold and precious stones but no man. Where is man? Can anyone find man in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21? In Genesis we can see man in the garden of Eden, but in Revelation we cannot see man in the New Jerusalem. Why is this? This is because the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is the issue of God’s work in man throughout the ages. The city, the place itself, is man. In the New Jerusalem, man, the pure gold, and the precious stones are one and cannot be separated.*

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the mingling of God and man, accomplished by man’s willing cooperation with God’s work in man. God’s work begins with His Spirit regenerating our human spirit (John 3:6), making us alive with God’s life. This is the beginning of God’s work in man.

God continues with the Spirit’s transforming work in us and concludes with the transfiguration of our mortal bodies when the Lord Jesus returns visibly. The goal of this work is to conform us to His image, as clearly presented in Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and Philippians 3:21.

Because God’s work in us conforms us to His image, New Jerusalem is not only the manifestation of God but even more the manifestation of God in man.

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place and Bride

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The city is the bride and the Husband is Jesus Christ. This is the culmination of His redeeming and sanctifying the church “that He might present the church to Himself glorious” (Eph. 5:25-27).

The glorious church, the predecessor of New Jerusalem as the bride, is purified by the divine life that she be without “spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.”

One side of the Lord’s sanctifying, renewing, and transforming work in us is that all the natural elements (e.g. spots, wrinkles) are removed. The other side is that the divine life and nature fills us and transforms us to be golden and precious. This produces New Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God and the bride of Christ.

When we come to Revelation 21, a city of pure gold appears, and a wall of precious stones is manifested. The street of this city is pure gold, and the outward wall is composed of precious stones. This city is a sign with a twofold significance. On one hand, this city signifies a place, because it is a city. On the other hand, it signifies a person, because it is a bride, the wife of the Lamb. In other words, this city is the dwelling place of God and all the saints, and it is also the issue of God’s work in man throughout the ages. This city is a man of glory.*

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

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New Jerusalem: God Manifest in Glory

The tree of life and river of life in the garden of Eden and in New Jerusalem show that God will reach His goal by imparting Himself as life into man.

The two paradises in Genesis and Revelation are both dwelling places for man. They show the purpose and reason why God prepared them for man….God’s unique purpose in this universe is to work Himself into man so that man may have His life and nature and that through His life and nature man may be transformed inwardly (2 Pet. 1:3-4; 2 Cor. 3:18). Ultimately, God and man will be mingled together, and man will have the image of God (Rom. 8:29). The inward being of God will be the inward being of man, and God’s glorious, outward appearance will be man’s glorious appearance (cf. Rev. 4:3; 21:11).*

New JerusalemJesus Christ is the reality of the tree of life. He came to man as “the life” (John 14:6) and we may know today that we have this life (1 John 5:11-13). By our holding onto Christ, this life will increase in us day by day, as in Colossians 2:19.

As this life develops, Christ is formed in us, as Galatians 4 mentions, so that we may be conformed to the image of God’s firstborn Son. Eventually, “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). New Jerusalem is the ultimate stage of this glorious manifestation.

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place of God (2)

In Genesis 2 we read that “a river went forth from Eden to water the garden.” In New Jerusalem John was shown “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.”

We see that the dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning was a paradise and that the dwelling place God prepares for man in the end is also a paradise. Both are pleasant places, and their contents are also similar. The two paradises both have the tree of life and a river, and both have pure gold, pearl, and precious stones. This shows that the dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning is the same as the one He prepares for man at the end. The two places have almost the same contents. This shows that what God did in the beginning was related to His ultimate purpose, and God’s ultimate purpose is revealed in what He did in the beginning.*

New JerusalemThe materials in the garden and in New Jerusalem  are the same. However, in the garden the materials are present but not built together as they are in the city.

God’s building work is going on through human history. In Genesis 12 Abraham’s tent was a small symbol of the dwelling place God desires. Later, the tabernacle and temple were much larger symbols and included precious materials. Today we are being built in reality to be “a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

By “coming to Him, a living stone” we also “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). New Jerusalem is the consummation of this living building, a living composition of God and all His people.

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

Much more about the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem Has the Glory of God

John tells us that an angel “showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:10-11). In my recent reading of Romans, I was touched by a number of verses having the word glory. Here are some which have definite connection to New Jerusalem.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23*). Because sin has come to all men, we could not participate in God’s glory.  But we have been “justified out of faith” and hence through our Lord Jesus Christ “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast because of the hope of the glory of God” (5:1-2).

Through faith we receive grace and have solid hope to participate in God’s glory at the Lord’s visible return to earth and in New Jerusalem. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon New Jerusalemus” (8:18).

“In order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (9:23). The glory, even the riches of glory, will be upon us as individual vessels and upon us corporately as New Jerusalem.

“The creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (8:21). God’s glory will become our glory and this will bring forth a great change to the whole creation.

Romans concludes “To the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (16:27). Glory “forever and ever” is New Jerusalem “having the glory of God.”

* These verse numbers are in Romans.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem: God’s Eternal Display

Ephesians 2:7 speaks of God’s display in the ages to come. These ages are the millennium and eternity. In eternity New Jerusalem will display the riches of God’s 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) and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-7)

New JerusalemThe center of this display is “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us.” Yet this display should also include everything in the verses above (and more)—God’s rich mercy, His great love, His making us alive, His saving us, and His raising us and seating us in Christ.

New Jerusalem shines with the glory of God but this shining is not merely a bright light, although it will show that God is light and “in Him is no darkness.”

In New Jerusalem we will see God’s mercy, love, and grace. We will see God’s holiness because New Jerusalem is “the holy city.” We will also see God’s righteousness because it is the foundation of His throne (Psa. 89:14), and God’s purity in the clarity and transparency of the city. New Jerusalem will be a marvelous display of all that God is and all that He has accomplished.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

This display is not merely of God’s grace, but of the surpassing riches of His grace.
More about the riches: The Unsearchable Riches of Christ and New Jerusalem
_______________The Riches and Fullness of the Triune God

New Jerusalem: the Conclusion of the Bible

In Revelation 21:1-2 John tells us, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem. This is the central part of the conclusion of the Bible.

In Revelation 21:1-8 we have a brief and clear presentation of biblical eschatology°. Here, in the new heaven and new earth [v. 1], we see the New Jerusalem [v. 2] composed of God’s sons [v. 5-7], the restored nations as the peoples [v. 3-4], and the lake of fire [v. 8]. The lake of fire will, in a negative way, show forth God’s righteousness, for all who are in it will suffer God’s righteous judgment. But the New Jerusalem will, in a positive way, show forth God’s holiness and shine with His glory. This is a clear picture of the eschatology in the New Testament.*

New JerusalemThese verses show us three conclusions. Surely we should choose New Jerusalem. Our choice is made now, not at the time the new heaven and new earth appear.

Our first step toward New Jerusalem is to believe into the Lord Jesus. He died to accomplish redemption. We respond by confessing that we are sinners and that we receive His forgiveness.

He rose from the dead to regenerate all who believe. This is His coming into the believing people to be their new life, their eternal life. This life grows in us to renew us and to develop in us a living that matches New Jerusalem. Choose Jesus Christ today!

The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © LSM

° a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind,
__a definition from www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

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New Jerusalem is the Totality of the Divine Sonship

New JerusalemIn Revelation 21:5-7 “He who sits on the throne said…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him who thirsts from the spring of the water of life freely. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be God to him, and he will be a son to Me.”

Revelation 21:3-4 are God’s blessings to the nations on the new earth around New Jerusalem. Verses 5 to 7 are God’s blessings on His sons who are constituted into New Jerusalem.

Verse 7 tells us that the sons of God will inherit “these things.” These things are the spring and the water of life mentioned in verse 6. The spring and the water of life will be our inheritance for our eternal enjoyment. The sons of God are the components of the New Jerusalem. As such, they are a different category from the peoples, the restored nations.

In 21:7 we have the conclusion of the entire revelation in the New Testament concerning the divine sonship. Ephesians 1:5 says that we were predestinated unto sonship; Romans 8:29, that we are being conformed to the image of God’s firstborn Son; and Hebrews 2:10, that God is leading many sons into glory. Hence, the New Testament reveals that God’s intention is to produce sons and that the New Jerusalem is the totality of the divine sonship.*

New Jerusalem as the totality of the divine sonship is a corporate man mingled with the Triune God to be His expression as the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.

* The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © 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.

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The Peoples on the New Earth

“I heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them. And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain—they shall be no more; for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4)

Revelation 21:3 and 4 speak not of the New Jerusalem but of the peoples on the new earth….The [plural] word peoples in verse 3 indicates that these verses apply not to the saints but to the restored nations on the new earth. As God’s redeemed, we are His unique [singular] people (1 Pet. 2:9; Titus 2:14), whereas the restored nations are His peoples, those for whom the kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34) but not before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4)….Therefore, we should not misapply these verses in Revelation 21 by applying them to the saints in the New Jerusalem. Verse 4 refers not to the blessings we will enjoy in the New Jerusalem but to the blessings to be enjoyed by the restored nations on the new earth.*

New JerusalemAll Scripture is God-breathed. Even small differences, such as people or peoples, are significant. Likewise, the time difference between Matthew 25 and Ephesians 1 is significant.

New Jerusalem is composed of God and His redeemed, regenerated, and glorified people. These nations are composed of unregenerated people who cared for the Lord’s believers during the tribulation (Matt. 25:31-40) and did not follow Satan in the last rebellion (Rev. 20:8-9). These peoples will dwell around but are separate from New Jerusalem.

* The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © LSM

More about the peoples: Built Into or Living Around New Jerusalem

Conformed to the Image of God’s Son

New JerusalemIn Genesis 1:26 “God said, Let Us make man in Our image.” God’s goal is to have a corporate man as a expression of Himself. This is fully accomplished with New Jerusalem, which, identical to God, has an appearance “like a jasper stone” (God: Rev. 4:3, the city: 21:11).

Man was created in God’s image to be able to express God. This expression is not a theatrical performance; it requires man to receive God’s life. Adam failed to do this but today we have the redemption of Christ and the life-giving Spirit.

Romans 8:28 declares, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” What is the good here? Verse 29 answers: “Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.” All things work together not for our human profit or pleasure but for us to be conformed, by God’s Spirit operating in us, to the image of His Son.

The Spirit’s operation is clear in 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.” But the Spirit requires our cooperation, to turn our heart to the Lord for our unveiling (3:16) and to behold the glory of the Lord (3:18).

This conforming work of the Spirit, with our cooperation, is the present development of New Jerusalem, the full and eternal corporate expression of God.

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God’s Corporate Expression

New JerusalemGenesis 1:26— “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion…” From eternity God’s purpose is to express Himself through a corporate man.

This mystery is unveiled beginning with the creation of man. In Genesis 1:26 God made “man” (singular) and gave “them” (plural) dominion, indicating a corporate man.

This corporate man is revealed much more in the New Testament. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). We “have put on the new man” out of many nations, social classes, and other human distinctions (Col. 3:10-11). Eventually the new man becomes the New Jerusalem.

Verse 1 [in Rev. 21] says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more.” In eternity past God purposed to have a corporate expression that He might be fully expressed and glorified, and for this purpose He created the heavens, the earth, and mankind. After the millennium, the old heaven and old earth will pass away through fire and be renewed into the new heaven and new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13), into which the New Jerusalem will come for God’s eternal expression.*

In Revelation 21–22 New Jerusalem is a corporate composition of God and all His redeemed people. God’s expression through this corporate entity is the glory of God.

John saw New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven “having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” New Jerusalem’s light “like a jasper stone” is the eternal expression of God on the throne, who also is “like a jasper stone” (Rev. 4:3).

* The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © LSM

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