The Shadow of the Living Temple

#NewJerusalemThe previous posts are about the living temple, first Jesus alone (John 2) and then all His believers (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem.

This living temple is the reality. But in the Old Testament, and lingering into New Testament times, there was a material, physical temple, a shadow, a figure, a portrait of the reality.

Hebrews 10:1 says that the law has “a shadow of the good things to come.” The physical tabernacle came with the law in Exodus. But it was only a shadow, indicating that something “good” was to follow.

Hebrews 8:5  says that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” “The good things to come”—in this case the living temple—is heavenly. Hence it is spiritual, not earthly and physicaL We are too accustomed to seeing and living among earthly things, but in God’s eyes only the heavenly, spiritual things are really “good.” This of course includes New Jerusalem, which is heavenly even though it comes down out of heaven from God.

More specifically, Colossians 2:16-17, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.” The “body” which casts the shadow is Christ Himself. All the positive people, things, and activities in the Old Testament are shadows of Christ Himself or Christ enlarged in His Body, composed of all His believers.

In light of Colossians 2, let us turn away from all the shadows, instead (2:19) “holding the Head” Christ, “out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied…grows with the growth of God.” His rich supply causes us to grow in Him and in His Body, growing unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

The New Testament Temple is Living (5)

New Testament worship is in spirit (John 4:24). It is not dependent on a physical location nor a material building. The New Testament temple is a living temple, from the Lord’s incarnation onward to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn John 2, Jesus is the temple, in 1 and 2 Corinthians and Ephesians we are the temple, and in Revelation 21 the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple. Is this living temple the Triune God or His people? Both!

This corresponds with the Lord’s word in John 14:20. We are in the Triune God and the Triune God is in us. Thus the Triune God is the temple and we also are the temple.

This also corresponds with the epistles: we are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1, 1 Cor. 1:30) and He is in us (Rom. 8:10, Col. 1:27). We are one with Him in life, so we are one with Him to be the living temple and to be New Jerusalem.

In New Testament Greek two words are translated “temple.” In the verses in these “living temple” posts, the Greek word means the inner temple, the holy place and holy of holies, not including the surrounding structures and courtyards. This inner area is only for the priests, and today we are priests. “Jesus Christ…loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

We are priests serving in spirit, in the living temple, fulfilling the Lord’s word in John 4:24. We will be the same in New Jerusalem. Revelation 22:3 says, “His slaves will serve Him.” The word “serve” means to serve as priests. In New Jerusalem God and the Lamb are the living temple and we are the priests serving God and the Lamb.

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

The New Testament Temple is Living (4)

New JerusalemIn various centuries, physical temples were built in earthly Jerusalem. But in the New Testament Jesus is the reality; He is the living temple. In resurrection He brought all His believers into this reality, this living temple.

In Revelation 21:22 John says, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Certainly this is a living temple! We do not need an earthly, physical temple, for today and in New Jerusalem we worship God in God.

This is not a new idea; in John 4:19-24 the Lord was asked which physical place is the proper location for worship. He answered. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”

Worship is no longer defined by a physical building. To worship in our human spirit, born of God the Spirit, is to worship in the living temple. In resurrection, as regenerated people, we are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Our worship of God in spirit, in the living temple, is in the Person of God, who is Spirit.

The regeneration of our human spirit and the Lord being with us in our spirit, distinguish the New Testament from the Old Testament. In the New Testament reality the location is spirit instead of the physical Jerusalem. In the New Testament reality the temple is living and the worship is living. This pattern will continue into New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The New Testament Temple is Living (3)

The Old Testament had a physical temple in Jerusalem which persisted into the New Testament age. However, the individual Jesus was the reality of this temple; He was the living temple in John 2. In resurrection He brought all His believers into this reality, this living temple. Now, this temple is growing in the Lord (Eph. 2:20-21) to the maturity of New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemIn Revelation 3:12 the Lord promises, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.” This is another verse showing us that the New Testament temple is a living building. Here is one who not only is “being fitted together” in the temple but even becomes a vital component in the temple.

Besides the promise to make the over-comer a pillar, the Lord also promises to write on him the name of His God, the name of the city of His God, the New Jerusalem, and His new name. This shows that the believer who is fully built in is possessed by God, by New Jerusalem, and by the Lord.

Becoming a pillar and being possessed by the Triune God and New Jerusalem has a base in keeping “the word of My endurance” (Rev. 3:10). This is to be a “fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). “In Jesus” is all we need. Let’s “hold fast” (3:11) all that we have in Him.

Verses in Revelation 7, 11, 14, 15, and 16 speak about the temple in heaven. This is clearly not an earthly, physical temple. Near the end of this age a new physical temple will be built in earthly Jerusalem. But it will not be eternal, for the Bible does not include it in the description of the new creation and New Jerusalem, where only the living temple will be present.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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).

 

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