New Jerusalem, a Mutual Dwelling Place

New JerusalemThe idea of a mutual dwelling—we in God and God in us—is first clearly presented in John’s gospel. In John 14:20 Jesus said, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” That day is the day of resurrection after the Lord accomplished redemption and when He as the Spirit could enter into us.

According to the Lord’s word, this mutual dwelling is true today. Lord, cause us all to know that we are in You and You in us! This mutual dwelling will continue into New Jerusalem.

The holy city is also the dwelling place of God (v. 3). God and Christ dwell in this city. On one hand, They are the temple in which we dwell, and on the other hand, They are also the Dwellers within the city. This means that the New Jerusalem is a mutual habitation. God dwells in us, and we dwell in God. The church today is a habitation where God may dwell (Eph. 2:22), and God is the home where we may dwell (Psa. 90:1). This is not a new concept. Christ said in John 15, “Abide in me and I in you” (v. 4). He is saying in essence, “I am your abode, and you are My abode.”*

We might be concerned about our physical dwelling, but the Lord is much more concerned about our mutual spiritual dwelling. It is the reality, no matter where we are physically. For example, Paul experienced the spiritual reality while he was in a Roman prison. Mutual indwelling today is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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 Building of New Jerusalem’s Wall

New Jerusalem is “pure gold, like clear glass” and “the building work of its wall was jasper” (Rev. 21:18). The building of the wall is an important part of the city’s expression because, in Revelation 21:11, “Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.”

The city, which is all of gold, signifies the divine nature, and this nature does not involve much building. All the gates of the city are pearls, which do indicate some amount of building. The wall, however, is the main part of the building of the city. As we have seen, this wall as the separating and protecting factor, is in the likeness of God. It is one hundred forty-four cubits high, that is, twelve times twelve, which signifies completion in completion. The wall is indeed high….We must have a wall one hundred forty-four cubits high to keep out everything common, and this wall must be built with precious stones.*

God’s building with precious stones is presented in 1 Peter 2:4-5 which says that we, “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 into a holy priesthood.”

Peter shows us that we participate in the building work by first being regenerated by the living word of God (1:23), by drinking the milk of this word so that we may grow in this life (2:2), by always coming to the Lord (2:4), and by serving with others in the corporate priesthood (2:5). This is our participation in the building work for New Jerusalem.

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

Our Priesthood, Now & New Jerusalem (3)

Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests to serve God. This is for now and for New Jerusalem. There, eternally, we, as God’s slaves, will serve Him as priests (Rev. 22:3).

Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:10 both speak of Jesus Christ making us priests. Hebrews 9:14 says the same: “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, [will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” To serve in this verse is to serve as priests.

New JerusalemIt is important to realize that we are priests because of what Christ has done. In the New Testament to become a priest is not the result of seminary graduation or ordination nor is a NT priest a person who wears a special robe. Jesus Christ “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6).

The One who made us priests “loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood” (Rev. 1:5). Every believer (male and female), everyone who has touched the Lord’s love and received His forgiveness of sins, is a priest to serve God from today unto New Jerusalem.

First Peter says the same. We have been regenerated (1:3, 23) and take the milk of God’s word to grow (2:2). Now, daily “coming to Him” our Lord, we “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (2:4-5). The conclusion of this spiritual building is our eternal priesthood in New Jerusalem with the eternal sacrifices acceptable through Jesus Christ!

Our Spirit, God’s Kingdom, New Jerusalem

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens
(Matt. 5:3). 

God created the heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man (Zech. 12:1). This human spirit, the center of our being, is made alive by the Spirit in regeneration (John 3:6). Our spirit is also the receptor of the Lord’s grace, as in Galatians 6:18, Philippians 4:23, and Philemon 25.

To be poor in spirit is not only to be humble, but also to be emptied in our spirit, in the depth of our being, not holding on to the old things….We need to be poor, emptied, unloaded, in this part of our being so that we may realize and possess the kingdom of the heavens. This implies that the kingdom of the heavens is a spiritual matter, not a material one.*

New JerusalemThe opposite of being “poor in spirit” is seen in the Lord’s warning to the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22). They said they were rich and had need of nothing but the Lord told them they were wretched, poor, and blind.

How does this relate to New Jerusalem? As stated above, in Matthew 5 the kingdom is a spiritual matter. Thus the ultimate stage of the kingdom, New Jerusalem, is also spiritual, not physical.

Therefore we must be poor/humble/ emptied in spirit to see more of God’s kingdom both today and with New Jerusalem.

* Life-Study of Matthew by Witness Lee, chap. 13

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.

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