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

God’s Building Work with Man (2)

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel” (which is translated, God with us)” (Matt. 1:23). From eternity Jesus Christ was God and from the time of Matthew 1 He was a man. Hence He became a God-man.

From the time of God’s incarnation as man, especially during a period of thirty-three and a half years, there was a man on this earth with God in Him. Jesus was a real man, a typical man, yet the Mighty God was wrought into Him. God had come to be a man, and God was brought into man. However, that is not all. The Lord Jesus also brought man into God. He accomplished this by His death and resurrection. Today in the heavens there is a man in God. By Christ’s incarnation God was brought into man, and by His death, resurrection, and ascension man has been brought into God.*

New JerusalemThrough His death and resurrection, and our response by believing, God has come into us and we have been brought into God. Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ is in us. He is God and He is in all the believers. Romans 6:11 speaks of our “living to God in Christ Jesus” and 8:1 of “those who are in Christ Jesus.” Even though our physical location is on earth, our spiritual location is in Christ Jesus.

God is in us and we are in Him. This is not static; it totally depends on His resurrection life. This life grows in us and brings our practical living into God. By this we are built together with other believers. This is God’s building work, of which New Jerusalem will be the peak.

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

God’s Building Work with Man

New Jerusalem John 1:1. 14 tell us, “The Word was God….And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality.” This God-man tabernacle was the beginning of God’s building work.

Then in John 2 the Lord Jesus told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Here, “He spoke of the temple of His body” (v. 19, 21). He replaced the Old Testament shadows and began the reality of God’s building which brings us to New Jerusalem.

When the Word of God, God Himself, became incarnated as a man, this was…a real mingling of God with man. Before this time God was God and man was man. But at the time of incarnation and since that time, something has happened on this earth—God has mingled Himself with man. Most Christians are familiar with Isaiah 9:6, yet few have been impressed that a child was born on this earth whose name was called Mighty God. If this were not recorded in the Scriptures, no one would believe that a child could be called Mighty God. This child was both the tabernacle and the temple, the very building of God (John 1:14; 2:19). Divinity had been mingled with humanity—this is the real definition of God’s building.*

Through His death and resurrection all the believers were brought into this mingled divine-human building work, but not into the Godhead. Christ is now making His home in our hearts (Eph. 3) and we are growing up into Him (Eph. 4). This is the mingling process which “causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” The consummation of the building work is at the end of the Bible—New Jerusalem!

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17
Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Creation Work and Building Work

In Revelation 21:1-2, John the apostle tells us, “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. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Heaven and earth represent God’s work of creation, but the New Jerusalem represents God’s work of building….Genesis 1 and 2 record God’s creation work, but from Genesis 3 to the end of the Scriptures God is continually working for His building.*

The Old Testament has pictures of God’s building, including Abraham’s tent, the tabernacle, and the temple. The New Testament has the reality, including what is presented in Matthew 16, 1 Corinthians 3 and 14, Ephesians 2 and 4, 1 Peter 2, and mentioned in additional chapters.

New JerusalemLet us recall the vital meaning of God’s building; it is that God is building Himself into man and building man into Himself. It is the very mingling of God and man. Throughout all generations God has been working along this line for this purpose. The Scriptures mainly reveal that God’s whole work since creation has been to mingle° Himself and man together as one.*

One passage about God built into man is Galatians 4:19, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you,” Man built into God is seen in Ephesians 2:20-22, “…Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

God and man built into one another is not within our natural concept but it is in God’s heart and presented through many verses in the New Testament. New Jerusalem is the conclusion and full display of this building work.

* Excerpts from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17
° Mingle: man participates in God’s life and nature (2 Peter 1:4) but NOT in His Godhead.

Built Together in Christ for New Jerusalem

God’s New Testament building is a living temple built together in Christ Jesus by God’s life in us. The culmination of this building is a living city, New Jerusalem.

Revelation 3:12 includes the promise, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.” A person as a pillar in the temple is a further indication that God’s New Testament building is living. The overcomer was not merely born again but has grown from an infant in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1) to a mature and solid member in the Body of Christ.

Finally, in Revelation 21:22 John tells us, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Thus, to be built into God’s building, God’s temple, is to be built into God Himself

To be built into God may seem a strange expression but consider these Bible phrases:
Rom. 12:5: we “are one Body in Christ
Eph. 2:21: “in whom [Christ Jesus] all the building…is growing into a holy temple in the Lord
Col. 2:7: “having been rooted and being built up in Him
plus other verses in the prior three blog posts.

New Jerusalem, as the conclusion of all God’s work through the ages, is a living city, a living temple in the Lord. The whole city is a living building composed of God’s people built into God. New Jerusalem is the ultimate issue of the Lord’s word in John 14:20, “you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

God’s Living Temple, Now to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod’s New Testament temple is living.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). God had only a symbolic physical temple in Old Testament times because the Spirit was not yet able to dwell in the believers.

Through Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s regeneration, the Spirit now dwells in us. Thus, “we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16).

At the time of our believing in Jesus Christ we are immediately brought into this living temple. However, we still need to grow into the reality of this temple. This can be illustrated by a civilian who takes an oath to enter military service. Instantly this person’s status changes from civilian to military. But much training and practice is needed for this person to develop as a properly functioning member of the military.

In Christ we are growing and we all as His building “being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:20-21). The fact that we are “growing into a holy temple” is further proof that the temple is living.

After all His building work through the New Testament, God will not go back to a physical temple in eternity. New Jerusalem will be the ultimate living temple built together in life with God and all His people. By God’s life spreading within us we are being built into New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Living Temple, Now to New Jerusalem

Recent posts are on growing and being built into New Jerusalem as God’s eternal habitation and expression. Revelation 3:12 says, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.”

The overcoming believers are built into God’s temple. What is the temple? In John 2 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Destroy refers to His death and raise it up refers to His resurrection. Jesus Himself is the replacement for the physical temple of the Old Testament!

New JerusalemGod’s intention is to have a living temple. Acts 17:24, “The God who made the world and all things in it, this One, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” New Jerusalem is the ultimate living temple.

In Old Testament times, prior to the redemption Jesus accomplished by His death, God could not enter man to be man’s life. In those days a temporary, symbolic, physical temple was present.

In the New Testament firstly Jesus Himself was the temple. Through death and resurrection He was enlarged to have all His believers as the many members of His spiritual Body. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). The one Body of Christ is the enlarged living temple. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

New Jerusalem is the final step of the enlargement of this living temple.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem is a Living Building

Growth in the divine life and building bring us into New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament God had physical symbols of His building but in the New Testament He becomes life in His believers and gains a living building.

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is th consummation of God’s living building. Because the building is living, growth in life and the building work are not separate but two aspects of one process. Here are verses about the coupling of these two.

“You are God’s cultivated land, God’s building.” This is 1 Corinthians 3:9, a transition from nourishment and growth (v. 1-8) to matters of building (v. 10-16). The growth on God’s cultivated land is for God’s building.

Ephesians 4:12 speaks of “the building up of the Body of Christ.” Verse 13 says this building work is “until we all arrive…at a full-grown man.” For us corporately (man is singular) to be full grown is the completion of God’s building work, preparing the way for New Jerusalem to appear.

Ephesians 4:15 is about our growing up into Christ our Head in all things. Then in verse 16 a rich supply flows out from Him through all His members. This flow “causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” Again, growth and building are inseparably linked.

We walk in Christ Jesus, “having been rooted and being built up in Him” (Col. 2:6-7). Roots bring us the life supply for the building up.

New Jerusalem is the conclusion of the Bible and is the final and fullest step in the development of God’s living building.

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