The Gold of New Jerusalem is Spiritual

When John saw New Jerusalem, “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18). “And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (21:21). When we see these verses, we might think of natural gold. However, New Jerusalem is a spiritual entity, a city in resurrection. It is not built with physical gold.

“We ought not to suppose that what is divine is like gold or silver or stone, like an engraving of art and thought of man.” (Acts 17:29). Is New Jerusalem “divine”? Yes, it “comes down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10). Therefore, we should not suppose that it is physical gold.

James 5:3 speaks of gold rusting, 1 Peter 1:7 says that gold perishes, and 1 Peter 1:18 likens gold to corruptible things. New Jerusalem is eternal and does not rust, perish, or get corrupted. These three verses make it clear that the gold of New Jerusalem is not physical.

Gold in Revelation 21 signifies the divine nature, which is the basic element of the city. Second Peter 1 speaks about God’s wonderful provisions for our Christian life. Verse 4 says, “He has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature.”

By prayer, singing, praising, calling on the Lord, and diligently receiving the living word of God (Eph. 6:17-18, Heb. 4:11-12), we partake of the divine nature. This makes us divinely golden, corresponding now with the eternal nature of New Jerusalem.

The Gospel of Grace and New Jerusalem

In Acts 20:24 Paul speaks of “the gospel of the grace of God.” Like aspects of the gospel in prior posts, this too is related to New Jerusalem. He continues in Acts 20:32, “I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who have been sanctified.”

God and the word of His grace can build us together. This is the building up of the Body of Christ now, the forerunner of New Jerusalem. God and the word of His grace also give us the inheritance. This is not “an inheritance” but “the inheritance,” unique, called “the eternal inheritance” in Hebrews 9:15. This also points to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemSimilarly, Titus 3:7 ties grace to God’s eternal salvation, saying that “having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Even more, 1 Peter 5:10 speaks of “the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus.” This eternal glory surely is New Jerusalem.

In addition, the inheritance in Acts 20:32 is “among all those who have been sanc-tified,” a sanctification which prepares us for the holy city, New Jerusalem.

This grace should operate in us to the extent it becomes visible. Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch and “when he arrived and saw the grace of God, rejoiced” (Acts 11:23). Grace certainly will be very visible through New Jerusalem and will cause great rejoicing.

Photo courtesy of NASA, JPL-Caltech, and U. of Arizona.

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm (2)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Lord’s redeeming work on the cross, the Lord’s sanctifying/purifying work now, and His glorifying work at His return.  We see New Jerusalem by being carried away in spirit (out of the natural realm) onto a great and high mountain (above the level of our ordinary living).

To consider Revelation 21–22 as something natural is to miss the reality presented here. This is to repeat the error common in John’s gospel—interpreting or trying to grasp the Lord’s spiritual presentation by natural understanding. Here are more examples of this.

New Jerusalem• In 6:51-55 no one understood how the Lord could give us His flesh to eat for eternal life. But He spoke of the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
• In 8:32-34 He spoke about being free from the slavery of sin but the hearers thought only about human slavery.
• In 8:51-53 the Lord spoke about keeping His word to overcome eternal death but the hearers could only think of physical death.
• In 11:11-14 the Lord used sleep as a picture of death; the disciples thought of physical sleep and could not comprehend His word.
• In 14:7-11 the Lord told the disciples that they had seen the Father manifested in His living and doing, but they only thought of physical seeing.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church as the Body of Christ, His fullness (Eph. 1:22-23). New Jerusalem is also the consummation of the new man created by Christ in Himself (Eph 2:15), the holy temple growing in Him (2:21), and the dwelling place of God in spirit (2:22). Surely this is not in the natural realm. Lord, carry me away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

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