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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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 Measurement of New Jerusalem’s Wall

An angel measured the wall of New Jerusalem  “a hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel” (Rev. 21:17).

Twelve signifies eternal completion; twelve times twelve (144) is this completion multiplied. God’s building work, a work fully dependent on His life in us, has already begun and will reach a marvelous climax in New Jerusalem.

The measurement of the wall is “according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel” (Rev. 21:17). This signifies that it is in the situation of man being like an angel. Luke 20:35-36 reveals that it is in resurrection that man will be the same as the angels. Therefore, the building of the wall is in resurrection. It is not of the natural life.

New JerusalemJohn 11:25, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life.” The Lord Jesus in us is the resurrection for God’s building work unto New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 16 Jesus said He will build the church. Now He is in all His believers and is building the church, forerunner of New Jerusalem, through the believers. Paul speaks about the building work in 1 Corinthians 3. Verse 9: “We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s cultivated land, God’s building.”

Fellow workers indicates we join in he building work with God, not apart from Him. Cultivated land, and growth in earlier verses, is a matter of life, resurrection life. God’s life forms us into God’s building. This work is for New Jerusalem, a city of human beings fully built together with God in the resurrection life.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

 

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.

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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.

No Corruption in New Jerusalem

There is no corruption in New Jerusalem because it is a city constituted with the life of resurrection.

Multiple verses couple resurrection with incorruptibility. First, related to the Lord Jesus:
• Acts 2:31, David “spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was He abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”
• Acts 13:37, “He whom God has raised did not see corruption.”

Second, verses related to all who believe into the Lord Jesus:
• 1 Cor. 15:42, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.”
• 1 Cor. 15:52, “…the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…”

New JerusalemCorruption is not merely ethical misconduct by some people in business or government. Corruption is sin and death dwelling in all men. Romans 5:12 tells us, “through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men.”

Resurrection is the answer. “When this corruptible [flesh and blood] will put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality, then the word which is written [in Isa. 25:8] will come to pass, Death has been swallowed up unto victory.” (1 Cor. 15:54)

New Jerusalem is a city purely of divine life, a city of resurrection. Sin and death, and their source the devil, were all terminated in Revelation 20. Hence New Jerusalem has no corruption and no possibility of corruption.

 

 

 

New Jerusalem: a Life in Resurrection

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 6:13 says, “Foods are for the stomach, and the stomach for foods; but God will bring to nought both it and them.” The verse also says that our physical body is for the Lord and the Lord for our body. Verse 14 continues, “And God has both raised up the Lord and will raise us up through His power.”

On one hand, both our stomach and physical foods will be brought to nothing. On the other hand, God will bring our entire being, including our physical body, into resurrection. In resurrection we match New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection.

First Corinthians 6 tells us that physical food will be of no significance in New Jerusalem. How is this possible? In resurrection!! Moses is a picture of this; Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 9:9, 18 tell us that he was on the mountain with God forty days and forty night and during this time he neither ate or drank. The Lord’s presence sustained his physical body.

It will be the same in New Jerusalem. The river of water of life and the fruits of the tree of life will be our spiritual food and in resurrection this food will sustain every part of our being. Yes, we will be able to eat physical food, as the Lord Jesus did (Luke 24:41-43) but it will not be necessary.

The resurrection life will be everything we need. Jesus Christ as the real tree of life and the Spirit as the real water of life will fully supply us in New Jerusalem.

God’s NT Building is Living and Spiritual (4)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s New Testament building work. This work is spiritual, accomplished in us by the resurrected Christ who has become our life.

First Corinthians 3 presents much about this living building process. The process begins with our regeneration. At that point we are “infants in Christ” (v. 1). We need milk to drink (v. 2) for our spiritual growth. In 1 Peter 2 the milk comes through the word of God; in this chapter the supply comes through the gifted members given for the building up.* But, although they supply us, “God causes the growth” (v. 6-7).

In verse 9 we “are God’s cultivated land, God’s building.” The cultivated land, God’s farm, is for our growth in His life. This growth is for God’s building. By the divine life within us,
New Jerusalemwe all participate in the building work (v. 10-12). Our participation in the building is our ministering of this life to one another; through this we are knit together and built together.*

The building work of each one of us will be tested. The work that is accomplished through the divine life will pass the test; that which is through our natural life will fail (v. 13-15). New Jerusalem is 100% built with the divine life in and through all of God’s people.

We “are the temple of God” and the Spirit dwells in us as the reality of the life for building (v. 16). This is for today and points toward New Jerusalem.

* More on this in a following post on Ephesians 4.

The Water of Life, Now and New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:6 concludes, “I will give to him who thirsts from the spring of the
New Jerusalemwater of life freely
.”

In 21:6, God is the Beginning and the End. In His eternal view He has fulfilled all that He planned. In our limited view, He is still working, and while we are on the bridge of time between eternity past and eternity future, we should cooperate with what God is doing in us.

While God is working in us to apply His eternal accomplishments in us, He is also fully willing to satisfy us with Himself. This satisfaction is “the spring of the water of life” which comes to us “freely.”

This spring is not only in New Jerusalem in eternity. The Lord Jesus offers it to us today. John 4:10 has His promise, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Verse 14 continues, “the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water gushing up into eternal life.”

The woman in John 4 drank the living water and we drink today. We have all “been given to drink one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). This water is available to everyone; “the Spirit and the bride say, let him who is thirsty come; let him who wills take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). Lord, bring many to drink living water now!

And eternally in New Jerusalem is the “river of water of life, bright as crystal.”

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New Jerusalem is Heavenly, On Earth

In Revelation 21:2 John tells us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” The fifth matter we consider in this verse is coming down out of heaven.

New Jerusalem comes out of heaven because it is heavenly in nature. In Hebrews 12:22 it is called “the heavenly Jerusalem” and in Galatians 4:26 “the Jerusalem above.”

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 15:45-49 presents a contrast between heavenly and earthly. All that is of fallen Adam is earthly; all that is of Christ is heavenly. Verse 49: “even as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”

We were born into Adam but we have been reborn into Christ; hence we will bear the image of Him as the heavenly man, and corporately New Jerusalem as the heavenly city will bear the same image.

New Jerusalem is in the new creation of Revelation 21:1. This creation consists of heaven and earth. New Jerusalem is heavenly in nature but it comes down out of heaven. It is no longer in heaven; its location is on the new earth.

New Jerusalem on earth fulfills God’s goal in creating man—to have a corporate man on earth to express Him by being constituted with Him to bear His image. This is in progress now; “the new man, which is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him [Christ] who created him” (Col. 3:10). The consummation of this renewal is New Jerusalem bearing a heavenly image on earth.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

New Jerusalem is Holy with God’s Holiness

Revelation 21:2: “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

New Jerusalem is holy because God is holy (Lev. 11:44 quoted in 1 Peter 1:16) and the city is saturated with God’s holiness. This God, who is Triune, operates on us and in us to make us holy to match New Jerusalem.
1 Corinthians 1:2 – those “who have been sanctified* in Christ Jesus”
Romans 15:16 – “sanctified in the Holy Spirit”

These verses speak of our sanctification, our being made holy, in position. This occurs, and is complete, when we first believe in the Lord. This is Acts 26:18 – “those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” And Hebrews 10:10 – “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

New JerusalemTo match New Jerusalem’s purity and transparency, it is not enough to be holy in position. After our initial, positional sanctification we also need to be saturated with God’s holiness.

Hebrews 10:14 refers to the process of being saturated: “those who are being sanctified.” Ephesians 5:26 tells us how this is accomplished: “He [Christ] might sanctify her [the church, including every believer], cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.”

The goal of this washing is that Christ, at His second coming, “might present the church to Himself glorious…holy and without blemish” (5:27). This holy and glorious condition, without any spot or wrinkle or blemish matches the holy city, New Jerusalem.


* The English words holy/holiness and sanctify/sanctification are translations of closely related New Testament Greek words. They seem very different because holy came into English from an Anglo-Saxon root and sanctification came from a Latin root.

Call on the Lord’s Name and Drink the Spirit

In my Bible reading, I came to 1 Corinthians 12. Verse 13 tells us, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all given to drink one Spirit.” This drinking is frequent, as portrayed by our drinking of physical water.

This one Spirit which we drink is depicted by the river of water of life flowing from the throne in New Jerusalem. For eternity we will drink the Spirit.

Isaiah 12:3-5 says, “Therefore you will draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation, and you will say in that day, give thanks to Jehovah; call upon His name! Make His deeds known among the peoples….Sing psalms to Jehovah.” To draw this water is to drink. We can drink the Spirit by rejoicing, giving thanks, calling on the Lord’s name, declaring to others what the Lord has done, and singing to Him.

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians is written to the church in Corinth “with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place.” Isaiah 12 ties the calling in chapter 1 to the drinking in chapter 12.

Calling on the name of the Lord began in Genesis 4 and continued through the Old Testament. Peter spoke about it in his first message in Acts 2. Saul identified Christians by their (obviously audible) calling (Acts 9:14).

In New Jerusalem we will drink the Spirit flowing from the throne and I believe that we will also be calling on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

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