We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

In the New Testament there are several dozen verses which include Greek words translated complete/completion, perfect/perfection, or mature/maturity/full grown. These words all point toward New Jerusalem because every believer will mature in their Christian life to participate in this wonderful/complete/perfect city.

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description.
See: Numbers in the Bible
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

This post begins a look at some verses containing these words, including their relationship to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48 is a good beginning, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our Christian perfection comes not from ourselves but from the Father’s life within us. His life is perfect and when it matures in us, we will be perfect.

Our Christian life begins with our new birth, as in John 3:5-6 and 1 Peter 1:23. A birth is the beginning. Now we need to grow for a considerable period of time. The beginning of this growth is by the milk of God’s word, just as newborn babies drink milk to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But New Jerusalem is not a city of babies; it is mature and complete.

We should heed the words in Hebrews: “everyone who partakes of milk is inexperienced in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant; but solid food is for the full-grown” (5:13-14). This requires spiritual exercise (5:14). So, “let us be brought on to maturity” (6:1). Lord, I am willing; bring me and my Christian companions on to maturity. Give us solid food so that we can grow!

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

Living, Precious Stones for New Jerusalem

Here is a summary of recent posts on Christ as the chosen, living, and precious Stone and His believers as living, precious stones. These stones are for God’s building today and for New Jerusalem.

Christ is the Chosen, Precious, Living Stone – In 1 Peter 2:4-8 Christ is a chosen, precious, living Stone. In Acts 4 and Eph. 2 He is the Cornerstone in whom we are built together.

We All are Living Stones for New Jerusalem – The Lord is the living Stone. By coming to Him, we become living stones for the building of God’s house today (1 Peter 2:4-5) which will grow into New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem Like a Precious Jasper Stone – God on the throne in Revelation 4 has the appearance of a jasper stone, and the whole city has the same appearance. New Jerusalem is the corporate expression of God on the throne.

Precious Faith Brings Forth Precious Stones for New Jerusalem – The precious faith we have received enables us to lay hold of the precious promises given to us by God (2 Peter 1:1, 4). By these we are constituted precious stones.

New Jerusalem Displays the Beauty of Christ – The twelve precious stones on the foundations of New Jerusalem, and the appearance of the whole city as a most precious jasper stone, display the beauty of the unsearchable riches of Christ.

New Jerusalem

Here are links to some older posts about the precious stones of New Jerusalem:

Precious Stones Adorn New Jerusalem – The preciousness is not external but is by the Spirit’s working within us.

Transformation Produces Precious Stones – The Spirit’s working within us transforms us so that the preciousness of Christ may be expressed through us.

Precious Stones on the Foundations – The twelve foundations each correspond to one precious stone; these declare the eternal perfection and fullness of the wall.

The Stones Express God – The whole of New Jerusalem, its wall, and its first foundation are all jasper, expressing the God who sits on the throne.

We All are Living Stones for New Jerusalem

In the New Testament, stones signify living persons. Jesus Christ is a living and precious Stone. God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, is in Him, the Cornerstone in resurrection (Eph. 2:20-21).

New Jerusalem In the natural realm, human beings are vessels of clay (Rom 9:21), earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7). In contrast, New Jerusalem has no clay, no dirt, only precious materials. How then can men of clay participate in New Jerusalem?

The answer is that in regeneration, in resurrection, the Lord makes us stones. When the Lord Jesus first met Simon, He told Him, “You are Simon, the son of John; you shall be called Cephas (which is interpreted, Peter).” Both Cephas (Aramaic*) and Peter (Greek) mean “stone.”

This change of name indicates a change of person, a change of constitution. In God’s salvation, the Lord transforms men of clay into stones for His building.

Peter tells us “Coming to Him, a living stone, rejected by men but with God chosen and precious, you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). This house will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem. We become living stones by coming to Jesus Christ mot only once but by coming to Him continually.

As we come to Him, he infuses us with His stone nature, reconstituting us from clay to stone. This builds us together as God’s spiritual house and prepares us for New Jerusalem, God’s eternal dwelling. In the context of Peter’s epistle, our “coming to Him” involves putting away evil things (2:1) and holding to His living and abiding word (1:22-25, 2:2-3). This is our path to New Jerusalem.

*The common language in Judea and Galilee in the first century.

Christ is the Chosen, Precious, Living Stone

New JerusalemIn the gospels, the Lord depicts Himself as a Stone. His words should cause us to realize that stones in the New Testament, including those in New Jerusalem, are not physical but are living people.

“Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the head of the corner. This was from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” By this word, spoken in Matthew 21:42, quoting Psalm 118,  the Lord tells us that He is the Cornerstone rejected by the Jewish leaders.

In Acts 4:10-12, Peter makes reference to this statement, telling the Jewish leaders that through death and resurrection, “This is the stone which was considered as nothing by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner.” Here Peter is speaking about “Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” He is the Cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:20-21 proclaims “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” Here the Cornerstone is not only part of God’s New Testament building but is even the realm in which the building exists and grows.

In 1 Peter 2:4-8 Peter tells us further that the Lord is to us “a living Stone” and “a Cornerstone, chosen and precious,” but to the unbelieving He is “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

Because New Jerusalem is a city in and of resurrection, everything brought forth in the Lord’s resurrection is in New Jerusalem. This includes Him as the Stone, in which the building, including New Jerusalem exists.

A House and a City Built Together in Christ

New Jerusalem

Revelation is a book of signs (1:1). New Jerusalem is the consummate sign in Revelation and in the Bible. It is God and all His redeemed people living in mutuality.

Here is an excerpt* about New Jerusalem from the ministry of Witness Lee.

The New Jerusalem is not an actual city just as the lampstands are not actual lampstands but signs of the churches [Rev. 1:20]. The New Jerusalem is a great sign of the totality of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people. The church today is a house, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). The house of God today is not an actual house but the totality of God’s people. The church today as God’s temple, God’s house, God’s building, is not an actual physical building but is a sign signifying that the church’s function is to be a house in which the Triune God can dwell.

Today the church is a house, and in eternity the church will be enlarged. When the church is enlarged, it becomes a city. The church as a house is not an actual physical house in the same way that the church enlarged to be the holy city will not be an actual physical city. The New Jerusalem is a city signifying the church’s function in eternity to be God’s dwelling place.

The church today, all the believers in Christ Jesus built together in Him, is a precursor of New Jerusalem. Many verses in the New Testament present this view, and no verse treats the church as a physical building.

Ephesians 2:19-20 declares that we are “members of the household of God, being built…” We, not a physical structure, get built together. Verse 21 continues, “In whom [Christ Jesus] all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” We are being built together in Him, not in a physical location. Also, this building is growing because its essence is the divine life.

First Peter 2:4-5 tells us that “coming to Him, a living Stone…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Very clear. This is the living house of the living God in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Other verses in the New Testament say the same: we are the materials being built together, the building process is growth in the divine life, and the building work is going on in Christ. These same characteristics are true of New Jerusalem, which is the consummation of all the building and growth in the Bible.

* Witness Lee, The Divine Economy, Chapter 15, published and © by Living Stream Ministry. Read more of this excerpt online. Many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

New Jerusalem Declares God’s Excellencies

First Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The choosing is of God, not of us.  The acquiring is of God and the possession is God’s. Becoming a royal priesthood is through the death of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:5-6). The calling is of God.

The telling out, proclaiming, declaring, making known the virtues, the excellencies, of God is our function today and unto eternity in New Jerusalem.

This telling out is not merely with human words. It is based on and firmly related to God’s calling us “out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Our proclaiming of God’s virtues, His excellencies, is our shining Him forth. This shining will consummate with New Jerusalem radiating the glory of God.

New JerusalemHere are some verses related to our present shining:
• “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” “Let your light shine before men” (Matt. 5:14, 16)
• “Children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world.” (Phil. 2:15)
• “You…are now light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” (Eph. 5:8)

We should shine now, and we will certainly shine as constituents of New Jerusalem. However, our present proclaiming of God’s excellency is not only by an abstract shining. It is also a “telling out” with human words filled with divine life. Philippians 2:15-16 say we are “shine as luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life.”

God has called us to tell out, to proclaim, to declare, His excellent virtues. This is a call to participate now in this prefigure of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem Proclaims the Excellencies of God

New Jerusalem First Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Other translations* of “tell out the virtues” include “proclaim/ declare/show forth/make known the excellence/excellencies/praises.”

This telling out/proclaiming/declaring begins now and will be magnified in New Jerusalem. The initial step is regeneration by the incorruptible seed of the word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

The next step is the guileless milk of the word for our growth and our tasting the goodness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:2-3). Then we continually come to the Lord, the living Stone, to be built together into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). This house is also a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.

All of these steps are related to New Jerusalem. Regeneration is our entrance. Although we will be full grown in New Jerusalem and not need the milk for newborn babes, eternally we will have the river of life and tree of life to sustain and satisfy us (Rev. 22:1-2). Our being built together also points toward New Jerusalem, which is a spiritual building.

The holy priesthood of 1 Peter 2:5 and the royal priesthood of 2:9 will continue in New Jerusalem. God’s “slaves will serve Him” (Rev. 22:3). The Greek word translated serve means serve as priests. And we “will reign forever and ever” (22:5).

Based on our regeneration, growth, being built together, and serving in the priesthood, we proclaim the excellencies of our God. The proclaiming begins now and amplifies with our growth, building, and serving unto the fullness of New Jerusalem.

* Thanks to biblehub.com.

Shadows of New Jerusalem, Psalms 135-147

Christ brings us to God’s house, which is enlarged to be His city Jerusalem on the mount of Zion, a blessing to the whole earth. This is one of the last looks at verses in Psalms which present something to be fulfilled in New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem and the new heaven and new earth are eternal. Eternity is mentioned in many Psalms including these:
Psalm 135:13 ” O Jehovah, Your name is forever; O Jehovah, Your memorial is from generation to generation.”
New JerusalemPsalm 136 “His lovingkindness is forever” (in each of the 26 verses)
Psalm 145:13 “Your kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and Your dominion is throughout all generations.”
Psalm 145:21b, “all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”
Psalm 146:10 Jehovah will reign forever, your God, O Zion, forever and ever. Hallelujah!

In New Jerusalem we will be in God’s kingdom and we will be partaking of His lovingkindness forever. Hence, we will bless God forever.

Psalm 142:5, “I cried to You, O Jehovah; I said, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” God Himself, not a physical location, is our real refuge. Today in Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and in eternity the entire universe will be a new creation (Rev. 21:1-2).

Psalm 147:2a, “Jehovah builds up Jerusalem.” And He builds up New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ said, “I will build.” He builds by operating in and through the members of His Body. By living one with Christ, Paul could say that he was “a wise master builder” (1 Cor. 3:10). We all, by continually coming to the Lord “are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). This current building of the Body of Christ is the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NOAA/U.S. Department of Commerce.

Precious Stones Adorn New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is adorned as a bride prepared for her Husband, Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:2). This adorning is not outward. Rather, it is accomplished by the Spirit working within us and Christ living through us.

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:19 tells us, “The foundations of the wall of the city [New Jerusalem] were adorned with every precious stone.” Twelve stones are named. To understand this, we need to consider what is precious to God, not what is precious to society.

In 2 Peter 1:1 the faith allotted to us by God is precious and in 1 Peter 1:7 the proving of our faith is “much more precious than of gold which perishes.” This faith does not originate with us but is from God (Rom. 3:22). This faith is precious when it becomes our initial ability to believe into Jesus Christ. It is also precious as it holds us through trials in our Christian life.

In 1 Peter 1:19 the blood Jesus shed to redeem us is precious. In 1 Peter 2 the Lord is a living Stone (v. 4) and the Cornerstone (v. 6); both are “with God chosen and precious.” Peter shows us that Christ, what He did for us, and what He is to us, are precious to God.

Christ is the precious Stone. He is uniquely one, but the stones adorning New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 are many, not one. They signify various aspects of the unique Christ experienced by His many members, so that we, as living stones (1 Peter 2:5), become preciously constituted with Christ.

The twelve stones on the foundations of New Jerusalem are not literally twelve in number but are the unsearchably rich Christ formed into many believers. This process displays in New Jerusalem the eternal richness and perfection of Jesus Christ in His believers.

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, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Photo courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center.

New Jerusalem Prepared, Adorned (2)

In Revelation 21:2 John tells us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Verses in the prior post clearly show that this adorning is not outward.

New JerusalemLet us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife [New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:2] has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” (Rev. 19:7-8)

Here the fine linen is not fancy physical clothing; it is “righteousnesses.” The plural word indicates that it is not Christ as our righteousness (singular) as part of our initial salvation, but Christ lived out of us in many righteous acts (more). By living Christ we are making ourselves ready for the wedding, we are adorning ourselves.

“The foundations of the wall of the city [New Jerusalem] were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:19). Gold and diamonds are precious to humans, but not to God. In His eyes all these things are corruptible.

The stones on the foundations of New Jerusalem are not natural but represent the Spirit’s transforming work in us to make us living stones for God’s building (1 Peter 2:5); see posts below. Like the fine linen, these stones illustrate God’s work in us, our cooperation with His work, and our living according to God’s operation within. This is the adorning of New Jerusalem.

Three Precious Materials
Gold, Pearls, and Precious Stones
New Jerusalem is Built with the Triune God

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

 

The Lord’s Shepherding to New Jerusalem

The Lord Jesus is the good Shepherd. He came to lead all God’s people, both of the Jews and of the nations, to be His one flock (John 10). This one flock is also His one Body with many members and ultimately the one city, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAt the Lord’s birth He was spoken of as a Shepherd (Matt. 2:6, quoting Micah 5:2). At His death, He was also a Shepherd (Matt.  26:31 quoting Zech. 13:7). In resurrection He is also the Shepherd (Heb. 13:20) to care for us in the eternal (including New Jerusalem) covenant.

How is the Lord shepherding us today? On one hand, He as the resurrection life within us is “the Shepherd of our souls” (1 Peter 2:5). On the other hand He shepherds through other members of His one Body.

The shepherding through His members  is seen in Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:11-12, and 1 Peter 5:2. In Ephesians, the gifted members as shepherds (v. 11) perfect all the members of the Body (v. 12) to do the same. Hence, the shepherding is not carried out by a special class, but by every believer. All of this is carried out under the headship of the Lord, who is “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4).

The shepherding of the flock in Acts and 1 Peter emphasizes our life in Christ; Ephesians emphasizes  the building of His Body. The two are inseparable, as in 1 Corinthians 3:9 and the last phrase of Ephesians 4:16. Both are for New Jerusalem, which is both a city of life and a city of building.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Pursue Now, unto New Jerusalem

New JerusalemA recent post encourages us to
Pursue the Incorruptible New Jerusalem
I am convinced that we should do this, although this phrase is not explicitly in the Bible.

While praying on the phone with a brother, he touched 2 Timothy 2:22, which is about pursuing. That motivated me to look at New Testament verses on pursuing and how the objectives pursed relate to New Jerusalem. Here are the verses which touched me.

Romans 14:19 exhorts us to “pursue the things of peace and the things for building up one another.” First Peter 3:11 also urges us to pursue peace. Pursuing peace is certainly related to New Jerusalem because the name Jerusalem means “foundation of peace” (one two). Building up is a central feature of the New Testament (e.g. 1 Cor 3:6-12, Eph. 2:19-22, 4:15-16, 1 Peter 2:4-5) and New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s NT building.

First Corinthians 14:1 charges us to “pursue love, and desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Love is not mentioned in the description of New Jerusalem but the God who is love is on the throne at the center of the city. How does prophesying relate? He who prophesies builds up (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12).

In Philippians 3:12, 14 Paul tells us that he was pursuing toward the goal. He was such an advanced Christian by that time, yet he still pursued because there is always more of the unlimited Christ to be gained. His goal was to gain Christ, be found in Christ, know Christ experientially, to attain to the out-resurrection, and to lay hold of Christ (3:9-12). New Jerusalem will be the fulness of all these aspirations.

Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to “pursue peace with all men and sanctification.” Peace is as in Romans 14:19.  The ultimate stage of *sanctification is the “holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2, 10).

Lord, draw us to pursue You every day as our peace, our love, our building up, our sanctification, our goal all the way to New Jerusalem.

* The Greek words translated sanctification and holy are very similar. The apparent difference in English is that one word comes from a Latin root and the other from an Anglo-Saxon root.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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