The New Testament Temple is Living (2)

#NewJerusalemIn resurrection, all who believe into Jesus Christ are a corporate man with the Spirit dwelling in them and are the temple which will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem.

This corporate man, the new man, who is also the living temple, was created by Christ Jesus on the cross (Eph. 2:15) and here Christ is “all and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). Likewise, New Jerusalem springs forth from His crucifixion and resurrection, and in New Jerusalem Christ is all and in all.

First Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In this verse you is plural and temple is singular. This corporate temple, like the new man, is a characteristic of God’s people. Paul’s question to immature Christians, Do you not know?, indicates that we all should have the realization that we corporately are the temple and that the Spirit dwells in us. Second Corinthians 6:16, affirming, says, “we are the temple of the living God.”

Ephesians 2:20-21 continues: “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” The New Testament temple is in Christ Jesus (not in the physical realm) and is growing because it is a living building.

The consummation of the growth of the living temple, its maturity, is New Jerusalem. Like the temple in Ephesians, the entire city of New Jerusalem is a living building in Christ Jesus.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The New Testament Temple is Living

The Old Testament focuses on physical, material things and people, both of which typify/portray the New Testament reality. For example, in Matthew 12:42 the Lord Jesus told us that He is the greater Solomon, the real King and temple Builder typified by Solomon in the Old Testament.

Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem but it was destroyed by the Babylonians. A later temple is often mentioned in the Gospels and Acts. But, in John 2, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). The Jews could not understand this (v. 20), “but He spoke of the temple of His body” (v. 21).

New JerusalemThis is the first indication that the New Testament temple is a living entity. And it is in resurrection, as shown by the phrase “in three days I will raise it up.” The New Testament reality, including New Jerusalem, is not in the natural realm but in resurrection, something of eternal life, and it is not physical but spiritual.

Like this first indication, throughout the New Testament, God’s New Testament building is not natural, but in resurrection, and not material, but spiritual. This is true into eternity. New Jerusalem is a city in resurrection and is spiritual.

After John 2, the next mention of the New Testament temple is in 1 Corinthians 3:16. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In John, Jesus, a single man with the Spirit dwelling in Him, was the temple. After His resurrection, His believers, a corporate man with the Spirit dwelling in them, are the temple. From John 2 to 1 Corinthians 3 is a step along the way to New Jerusalem.

The Church, Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is both singular, universal and plural, in many cities. The universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age. As such, it is the forerunner of New Jerusalem which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages.

Here we look at verses about the nature of the church, which also give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem. First, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus speaks of “My church.” The church is His. Likewise, New Jerusalem is His. More specifically, it is His bride, His wife. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10).

New JerusalemIn Acts 20:28 (and 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Tim. 3:5, and other verses) is “the church of God.” The church, and New Jerusalem, are certainly of God as the source and of God as the element, the content (like “a table of wood” is made of wood).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” And, in Hebrews 12:22 is “the city of the living God.” Both the church, the house, and New Jerusalem, the city, have the living God as their source and their element. Both the church and New Jerusalem are alive with the life of God.

The church is not a physical structure. Rather, the church, and New Jerusalem, are “the household of God” (many translations of 1 Tim. 3:15), the people of God. God is the element of New Jerusalem and we, His people, are the living components containing this living element. God is living and both the church and New Jerusalem are living organisms.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem, a city of divine life, is mature in this life. We have received this life and are growing in it so that we match New Jerusalem. Our growing involves our perfecting, similar to proper human growth requiring many years of education. Here we continue looking at verses about our growth and perfection.

Ephesians 4:11 tells us that the ascended Christ gave gifted members to His Body. Verses 12-14a tell us that these members are, “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ, until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we may be no longer little children.”

New JerusalemThese verses speak about growing from little children to a full-grown man. This growth is a normal part of our Christian life. New Jerusalem will not be full of spiritual children but is composed of full-grown believers.

This growth also takes us from children (plural) to a full-grown man (singular). This is the building together of the Body of Christ as the precursor of New Jerusalem. In ourselves we are individuals, but in Christ we become the one new man. This is part of our Christian perfecting.

These verses also speak about our being perfected for our participation in the work of the ministry which causes the building up of the Body of Christ. We all have a share in the building up of His Body, which is the building up of New Jerusalem. Lord, cause me to be perfected for this!

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem is the Consummation of the Spiritual Growth of God’s People

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s growth in His people and His people’s growth into Him.

Ephesians 2:21, “All the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Ephesians 4:15, “Holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:16, “…the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

Colossians 2:19, “All the Body, being richly supplied and knit together…grows with the growth of God.”

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Versionpublished and © by Living Stream MinistryAnaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.orgthis too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

New Jerusalem is Spiritual, not Physical

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s New Testament building. Unlike the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, God’s people today are
• • • growing in the divine life
• • • being built together in Christ Jesus
• • • becoming a dwelling place of God in spirit
This building is growing unto New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:19-22, “You are…being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 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.”

1 Peter 2:5, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem: God Mingled with Man

A hymn on God’s eternal purpose proceeds from creation in Genesis 1–2 to New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. Verse 3 of the hymn is about our Christian life today and verse 4 goes on to New Jerusalem. Here they are:New Jerusalem

Verse 3 begins with the rich flowing of God’s life. This flow is portrayed by the river in Genesis 2; the reality is the Spirit as rivers of living water in John 7; and the consum-mation is the Spirit as the river from the throne in New Jerusalem in Revelation 22.

This flow of eternal life transforms us into precious stones and conforms us to Christ for God’s building today and for New Jerusalem.

Verse 4 of the hymn speaks of God mingling with man, making His home in us, and becoming our content so that we can share His glory and express Him. Here is one New Testament verse touching each of these points.
“My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19)
“That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17a)
“You may be filled unto all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19b)
“If indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:17b)
“With all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body” (Phil 1:20b)

It is by Christ as life in us that we become God’s expression, both in this age and in New Jerusalem. God created man to express Him in life. He is not looking for a static expression like a work of art. We are living stones to be the house, the temple, of the living God (2 Cor. 6:16) to serve Him by His life. The Christ we live becomes the Christ we express, today in some limited degree and in New Jerusalem in full.

New Jerusalem Like a Precious Jasper Stone

In God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, stones are living persons. Jesus Christ is a living and precious Stone. By coming to Him, we too are living stones for God’s building.

New Jerusalem has the glory of God and “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” (Rev. 21:11). We know that this precious jasper stone is not physical because John saw “a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance” (Rev. 4:2-3).

New JerusalemGod on the throne is like a jasper stone and a sardius stone. The light of New Jerusalem is like a jasper stone because God Himself is the light of the city. “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:18). Because these foundations are plural, they are not Christ Himself. Rather, they are the apostles because, “the wall of the city had twelve founda-tions, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

A recent inquiry asked who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem. The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But we do know that there are twelve foundations and that twelve signifies eternal completion and perfection. The ministry of the apostles in this age is for our transformation from clay to living stones and for our being built together now, to prepare the bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

 

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.

Christ as the Riches in Christian Life

God’s unsearchable riches will be displayed through New Jerusalem. These riches are not only for New Jerusalem; they are for us to experience in our Christian life now.

New JerusalemGod’s rich mercy and kindness brought salvation to us. And the Holy Spirit has been “poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). By this Spirit in us we have a daily renewing.

As the Spirit imparts the riches of Christ into us, our hearts are “being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the full knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ” (Col. 2:2). Like prior verses, here we see that there is no separating the riches from the Person of Christ.

We can also “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). This dwelling helps, and is helped by, “singing with grace in your hearts to God.” Even in New Jerusalem, Christ, the living Word, will be dwelling in us. I believe that in New Jerusalem we will still be singing with grace to God. Besides singing now, it is also good to pray and praise with the word.

Furthermore, we can call on the name of the Lord. Whether almost silently or very loudly, we can call O Lord Jesus. “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).

All these Christian practices keep us holding our Head, Christ, and growing up into Him. This bring us to the building up of the Body of Christ by the rich supply out from Him (Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19). This present, living building up is for New Jerusalem, God’s eternal building.

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 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 pixabay.com.

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