The New Testament Crown

New JerusalemA few verses in the New Testament mention crowns of gold. However, we should not think that we will get a crown of physical gold. In New Jerusalem gold signifies the divine nature, the basic element of this city of resurrection life which shines with the glory of God.

Paul assures us that we who run the Christian race will receive an incorruptible crown (1 Cor. 9:25). You might think that gold is incorruptible, but 1 Peter tells us otherwise (v. 1:18).

The Lord Jesus was crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:7). Paul expected a crown of righteousness for himself and for all who have loved the Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:8). James says that through trials we will receive a crown of life (v. 1:12). The Lord promises the same to the suffering church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:10). Peter tells the shepherds among God’s flock that they will receive “the unfading crown of glory” (v. 5:4).

None of these crowns are physical but their spiritual natures all match New Jerusalem. The city will be on the new earth, “in which righteousness dwells.” New Jerusalem is a city of life with a river of life and tree of life. And it is a city of glory, the unfading glory mentioned by Peter.

New Jerusalem will be the consummation of our experience of Christ as our our righteousness and our life, resulting in glory. His attributes are becoming, and in eternity will be, our crown.

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New Jerusalem: Our Eternal Inheritance

Hebrews 9:15: Jesus Christ “is the Mediator of a new covenant, so that, death having taken place for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, those who have been called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” This eternal inheritance will be New Jerusalem with all that the Triune God is for us and to us.

New JerusalemIn the New Testament “inherit,” when used in a positive sense, is usually associated with eternal life and the kingdom. Both are characteristics of New Jerusalem. It is a city of life and it is the center of God’s eternal kingdom. In this kingdom we “will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

We are born into this kingdom by receiving the eternal life. Today we have this life and we are partakers of the inward reality of the kingdom, as John was even when in exile on Patmos (Rev. 1:9). As this life increases in us we “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Ultimately this life and kingdom are realized as New Jerusalem.

Besides eternal life and the kingdom, the New Testament speaks of our inheriting salvation, God’s promises, and blessing. All of these are what God in Christ has done for us, is doing in us, is to us and will be to us.

No blessing can compare with God Himself. We should not expect physical blessings in New Jerusalem. Rather, Christ being life to us in the fullest degree, unlimited in any way, will be our eternal blessing and inheritance.

Life and New Jerusalem
Eternal Life and New Jerusalem
New Jerusalem is a Living City, a City of Life

A City of Life, without Miracles

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is a city of life, a city in resurrection. From the throne at its center flows a river of water of life and beside the river grows the tree of life yielding its fruit every month. This life is the supply for every member of this city.

Miracles are of power, not of life. They are sometimes called works of power in the New Testament. These works might be done by a believer mature in the divine life, or by an immature believer. An example: the Corinthians did not lack in any gift (1 Cor. 1:7) but were babes in Christ (3:1), very immature in divine the life. Also love, which is of life, is contrasted with gifts and power in 1 Corinthians 13.

There are many miracles in the Gospels and Acts, but the Epistles which follow them turn the emphasis to growth in life for the manifestation of virtues of the Christian life. Paul speaks of growth in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Ephesians 4:13-16, Colossians 1:6, 10 and 2:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, and other verses, some of which include full grown. Peter speaks of growth in 1 Peter 2:2 and 2 Peter 3:18. John, in his epistles, speaks much about a life lived in righteousness, truth, and love.

The emphasis on Christ as our life, our growth in this life, and our living out its virtues prepares us for New Jerusalem. The city is full of life and manifests the life that Jesus manifested to us through His incarnation.

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New Creation: Now or Later?

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is on the new earth as the center of the new creation. As the outcome of God’s last judgments in Revelation 20, John tells us in 21:1, “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.”

One aspect of this new creation is revealed much earlier, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” And concerning our Christian life, Galatians 6:15 tells us, “a new creation is what matters.” This is inward, spiritual, a forerunner of the full new creation revealed at the end of Revelation.

The old creation is our old man in Adam (Eph. 4:22), our natural being by birth, without God’s life and the divine nature. The new creation is the new man in Christ (Eph. 4:24), our being that is regenerated by the Spirit (John 3:6), having God’s life and the divine nature wrought into it (John 3:36; 2 Pet. 1:4), having Christ as its constituent (Col. 3:10-11), and having become a new constitution….Although we are still the old creation, we experience the reality of the new creation when we walk according to the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25).*

Today we experience the inward new creation when we live in Spirit. When we reach Revelation 21, the entire creation, inwardly and around us, will be new with the full reality of New Jerusalem.


* Part of footnote 1 on Gal. 6:15 in the Recovery Version NT; footnotes written by Witness Lee.

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Christ Magnified, Now and New Jerusalem

“Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, you love” (1 Peter 1:8). He is unsearchable, unlimited. However, He needs us to magnify Him to people in the physical realm. This magnification is to make Him visible in our living, to live Him in a way that declares His greatness. Surely New Jerusalem will do this, but the Lord desires magnification through us in this age.

New JerusalemMary was the first New Testament person to magnify God. She said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). The people in the house of Cornelius, after receiving the Holy Spirit, “magnified God” (Acts 10:46). Later, in Ephesus, “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17).

Paul said that his earnest expectation was “in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (Phil. 1:20). He could magnify Christ in every situation because, as the next verse says, “For to me to live is Christ.” Christ lived in Paul and was magnified through Paul.

May such living and magnifying become our experience also! Contributors to this seen in Philippians are praying for one another to be bountifully supplied with the Spirit (1:19), counting all things loss because of the excellency of Christ (3:7-8), rejoicing in the Lord (4:4), and letting our requests be made known with thanksgiving so that we have no anxiety (4:6). This is our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem, 4

Here is the last verse of a song about Christ’s love for His wife, initially the church and eternally New Jerusalem. This part of the song begins with resurrection. Both the church and New Jerusalem are in resurrection because they exist solely in and with the resurrection life of Christ.

New Jerusalem“She beholds her Bridegroom…” This is like Hebrews 12:1-2, let us “run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” He is both the Initiator and the Completer. We are not capable of becoming the glorious church and city, but He will complete this process in us. Thank Him.

“His glory floods her heart.” This is happening today. In 2 Corinthians 3 we turn our hearts to the Lord and “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” (v. 18).

His open appearing in glory will be at His second coming: “they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). But His spiritual appearing is available to us now as we turn our hearts and look away to Him.

Eventually His bride will be raptured and then come down out of heaven, “the bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:9-11).

 

Christ Loves the Church & New Jerusalem

The graphic is the first verse of a song about Christ’s love for the church. His love is clearly stated in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Christ also New Jerusalemloved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her…that He might present the church to Himself glorious.”

This expression of love is in the context of human marriage, which is a pattern of Christ and the church. Christ and the church as Husband and wife eventually develops to Christ and New Jerusalem as Husband and wife (Rev. 21:9-10).

This song says, “Before the earth’s foundation His thoughts were filled with her.” This eternal thought is unveiled in Genesis 2. Man was created and then placed in front of the tree of life. With the tree of life is a river (of life) and out of these came Eve, the wife of Adam.

This is a picture of Christ desiring to become our life so that we match Him and can become His counterpart, His wife, first as the church, then as New Jerusalem.

In Genesis 3 man fell into sin which brought in death. But, as the song says, “His heart’s love is established, And nought can Him deter.” God cannot be defeated. We can delay Him but eventually He will win our hearts and bring forth New Jerusalem. Then we will join the multitude to declare:
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (Rev. 19:6-7)

Putting Off, Putting On, for New Jerusalem

We follow the Lord Jesus on the path to New Jerusalem by applying His death as we deny ourself, so that all our natural life is terminated. This opens the door for the divine life, the eternal life, the life we received in regeneration, the life of New Jerusalem, to spread in us and to be magnified in our living (Phil. 1:20-21).

New JerusalemThe exchange of the natural and divine living is presented in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man…and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality.”

Galatians 2:20 also shows this putting off and putting on: “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith…” This living one with Christ in me is the life of the new man and of New Jerusalem.

“It is no longer I who live” is because “I am crucified with Christ” and by the Spirit I am applying this every day. This is putting off the old living. This is to deny self and bear the cross daily. “Christ lives in me” to impart the resurrection power for this denying.

“I now live in faith.” This is putting on the new man who ultimately becomes New Jerusalem.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (4)

The Lord Jesus, by His death on the cross, terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released divine life, and created one new man. The Spirit makes this real to us.

Objectively, all that Christ accomplished has become real to us. We acknowledge and accept these things (even though full comprehension comes only with Christian growth) when we believe into Him and are baptized. An example is Romans 6:3, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Physically we were baptized in water but at the same time the Spirit of reality brought us into the fact of Christ’s death.

New JerusalemObjectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. An illustration: a positional move from one nation to another is quick, but to fully absorb and live according to the language, food, and culture takes years.

We are in Christ and are new objectively. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17). Now we are growing to absorb and live out the reality of His redemption, life, and the corporate new man. Thus we gradually reach “to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21)—Christ lives in me and expresses His virtues out through my living.

Christ expressed in our living is the precursor of New Jerusalem. This city is not physical, it is a living composition of God in Christ in all His people. He lives in us and He lives out through us to be expressed through us; this is New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work, a corporate composition of all His people to glorify Him and to reign with Him. This fulfills God’s intention in Genesis 1:26 in creating man in His image and giving man dominion.

However, the devil tempted man, man fell into sin and death. God called Israel as an outward picture of what He wants to do, but the reality was hidden until God came in the man Jesus. In Him God was incarnated to live a God-man life, to die on the cross, and to be resurrected.

New JerusalemThe death of Christ on the cross has four aspects:
Terminating all negative things, such as the flesh, the old man, the world, the ruler of the world (Rom. 6:6; John 12:31; Heb. 2:14; and many other verses)
Redeeming and reconciling us to God, with forgiveness of sins (Rom. 3:24, 5:10; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; and other verses)
Releasing the divine life (Luke 12:49-50)
Creating the new man (Eph. 2:15)

Briefly, the four outcomes are:
• All that was terminated will eventually be in the lake of fire. This includes the fallen part of our being. The terminated things have no place in God’s purpose and will not be in New Jerusalem. (Rev. 20)
• All God’s people were redeemed; this qualifies us to receive the divine life (Gal. 4:5)
• In resurrection the released divine life was imparted into us for regeneration (1 Peter 1:3)
• The new man, the corporate composition of God in Christ with all His chosen, redeemed, and regenerated people is the forerunner of New Jerusalem. (Col. 3:10-11)

The Lord’s death on the cross and His resurrection are crucial accomplishments not only for our present Christian life but also for us to get to New Jerusalem.

A Bountiful Supply, Now and New Jerusalem

After the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, verse 22:1 says, “And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.”

New JerusalemThe prior posts are about what comes out of Christ will be presented to Him. Those posts focused on the pattern in Genesis 2. Then I began to consider New Testament verses about what comes out of Christ. These correspond with the river flowing out of the throne in New Jerusalem.

Galatians 3:5 speaks of “He who bountifully supplies to you the Spirit.” This bountiful supply is today’s equivalent of the river of life in New Jerusalem. That river is the Spirit flowing from God and Christ—the Triune God as our bountiful supply for eternity. We receive this “out of the hearing of faith” (Gal. 3:5).

In Philippians 1:19 Paul says, “I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Paul was in prison and some were preaching Christ out of envy and strife to trouble him. Even within such a negative environment, he expected salvation by the bountiful supply of the Spirit, the same Spirit flowing out of the throne in New Jerusalem.

This salvation was not escape from prison nor punishment to those afflicting Paul. Rather, salvation was his daily living and magnifying Christ in every situation (Phil. 1:20-21). Ultimately in New Jerusalem we will all live and magnify Christ 100 percent of the time. This wonderful salvation comes based on the petition of believers for one another.

Lord, remind us to pray for one another that we may experience the bountiful supply and thereby live and magnify You day by day.

Out from Christ to be Presented to Christ (2)

In Genesis 2 God built the rib, which He had taken from Adam, into Eve and brought her to Adam. No other creature could be Adam’s counterpart, but Adam welcomed Eve as his counterpart. This is a picture that the church, growing into New Jerusalem, is built with Christ to be presented to Him as His wife.

New JerusalemGod took the rib from Adam while he was in “a deep sleep.” Sleep here signifies death, as in John 11:11-13 and 1 Thessa-lonians 4:13-16. Then Adam was awake, signifying resurrection, and Eve was brought to him. Like Eve, both the church and New Jerusalem come forth through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Through death Christ both redeemed us and released His divine life, which was imparted into us in resurrection. Now “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4). Christ our life, not our natural life (which must be denied), is the life of the church and of New Jerusalem. It is by this life that the bride of Christ is prepared.

This life is imparted by the Spirit. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). “The Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). However, this Spirit is not separate from Christ. He, as the Spirit, enters into our human spirit; as a result, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit* is life because of righteousness” (Rom. 8:10).

Christ our life energizes us to deny our natural life, our self, and Christ our life grows until in the church, the new man, “Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). By His being all and in all His members, He can present the church to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:27). In the new creation and New Jerusalem there will be no self left to deny and absolutely Christ will be all and in all.

For more about the church, the precursor of New Jerusalem, coming out of Christ to be presented to Christ, see chapter 2 in The Glorious Church by Watchman Nee. It can be freely downloaded from Bibles for America (English) or Rhema Literature (30 languages).

* This is our human spirit because 1) it is contrasted with our human body and 2) the divine Spirit is life whether Christ is in us or not.

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