The Book of Life for the City of Life

The Bible certainly is a book of life, presenting God in Christ as life to man. This presentation is 1) in the Old testament in allegories/pictures beginning with the tree of life in Genesis 2, and 2) in the New Testament in reality. “Christ our life” (Col. 3:4).

Philippians 4:3 and six verses in Revelation speak of “the book of life.” This book does not refer directly to the Bible but rather to a book of names of everyone chosen to participate in the blessings on the new earth, including New Jerusalem. These blessings come from the eternal life flowing out of the throne of God and the Lamb; hence to be named in this book is a matter of life.

New JerusalemToday we participate in the blessings of the eternal life. These blessings will increase in the coming kingdom age and reach their peak in New Jerusalem.

In eternity all whose names are written in the book of life will be either constituents of New Jerusalem (e.g. those referred to in Phil. 4:3) or citizens of the nations around New Jerusalem (e.g. those referred to in Rev. 13:8).

In contrast, those not named in this book will marvel when they see the beast that was killed and resuscitated (Rev. 17:8). Finally, “if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

Today the door is open to turn our heart to receive the Lord Jesus as life. Lord, come into me, live in and through me daily, and prepare me for New Jerusalem.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (6)

Genesis 1–2 presents many pictures. The reality of these is in the New Testament and their consummation is New Jerusalem. A song couples these two ends of the Bible. Verse 5 of the song is about the tree of life in the garden of Eden but outside of man. Verse 6:

But in the city glorious the tree
Within the corporate “man” doth grow, thereby
Revealing Christ Himself as life divine
New JerusalemBeing to man his inward life supply.

In New Jerusalem is “the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month” (Rev. 22:2). This is Jesus Christ, who is “the life” to become, through death and resurrection, “our life” (Col. 3:4).

As the reality of the bread of life, He is our daily nourishment that we may “live because of Him.” We, like Paul, should be able to declare “for me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

The song says the tree grows within the “corporate man.” This is a reference to New Jerusalem, the culmination of all God’s building work. This work builds all the believers together. One reference to this is in Ephesians 2:22, “you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.” New Jerusalem is God’s dwelling place.

In Romans 12, “we who are many are one Body in Christ.” This is our position from the time we believe. Now, by Christ as our life supply, we grow in His life for the building up of the one Body, the “corporate man” which becomes New Jerusalem.

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.

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The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (5)

Genesis 1–2 presents many pictures which are fulfilled in New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. A song couples these two ends of the Bible. Here is the fifth verse of the song and the Bible verses underlying it.

New JerusalemMan in the garden of the clay was formed,
In nature as the Lord created him;
The tree of life was then without the man,
Not having yet become his life within.

Genesis 2:7 says, “God formed man with the dust of the ground.” Then 2:9 says, “out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

The tree of life symbolizes Christ, who is “the life,” to be our life, the life that brings us into God’s building and builds us together as New Jerusalem.

God told Adam that he could eat from every tree except that he should not eat the tree of knowledge. This is God’s first commandment to man. However, man violated that command, ate from that tree, and was shut out from the garden with no access to the tree of life.

But God’s purpose cannot be stopped by this failure. God came in Christ, redeemed us, and regenerated us with Himself as life, the reality of the tree of life, the life of New Jerusalem.

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Revelation 21:2, a Song

Revelation 21:2, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city because the holy God is the element constituting the city. God in Christ as the Spirit has been wrought into every one of His believers to be their holiness and to make them members of holy New Jerusalem.

The new creation in Revelation 21:1 is composed of new heaven and new earth. This holy city comes down “out of heaven” to be on the new earth.

The city is a corporate living person, a bride to marry her Husband, Jesus Christ, the Lamb. This is the fullest blossoming of the church as the wife of Christ in Ephesians 5. Jesus Christ is life, he has become our life, and New Jerusalem is a city of life.

Here are the words of Revelation 21:2 to sing with this music.

And I saw the holy city,
New Jerusalem,
Coming down out of heaven from God,
Prepared as a bride
Adorned for her husband,
Coming down out of heaven from God.

Lord Jesus, gain our full cooperation and accomplish all the preparation of Your bride!


Revelation 21:2 begins And. “And” Points to New Jerusalem
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The Tree of Life is Here Today and in New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem has “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. And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month (Rev. 22:1-2).

New JerusalemThe words tree of life appear only in Revelation. This tree with its fruits portrays Christ as our life supply for us to live a proper Christian life now, in the coming age, and in New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ is the reality of the tree of life.

In John 6 Jesus told everyone, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall by no means hunger.” We eat Him today as our bread of life, the fruit of the tree of life. This bread gives us eternal life and the supply to live this life daily. Jesus said, “he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”

This eating is spiritual. Further speaking by Jesus in John 6: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” With an open heart and exercised spirit we touch the Spirit through the words of the Bible.

Revelation 22:14, speaking to us today, says “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city.” We confess our sins that we may eat the bread of life, the tree of life, and enter into the present reality of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ, Adorned with Christ

in Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ is a corporate person, composed of all the believers.

This bride is adorned, not with physical jewels and fancy clothing, but with the virtues of Christ lived out through the believers. An example is 1 Timothy 2:9, “women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Our real modesty and sobriety come from Christ living in us.

New JerusalemSimilarly Titus 2:10 speaks of “all good faithfulness” adorning “the teaching of our Savior God.” And 1 Peter 3:3-4 says that adorning should not be outward things but “the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God.”

Peter also tells us that even gold and silver are corruptible in the eyes of God. Jesus Christ is longing for a bride adorned with incorruptible beauty which can only come from Himself.

Revelation 21:19 records “The foundations of the wall of the city [New Jerusalem] were adorned with every precious stone.” In 1 Peter 2:4-7 Christ Himself is the living Stone who is precious to God. The wall of the city (which is not physical because it is a living bride) is not adorned with physical jewels but with the precious Christ wrought into us through transformation.

The adorning of New Jerusalem as the bride is Christ Himself lived out through all His members. This is the highest beauty in the universe.

New Jerusalem is Divinely New

Revelation 21–22 present New Jerusalem to us. It is new compared to the Jerusalem from King David’s time to now, but in what way is it new?

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is new because it is entirely in God and of God. This is the divine definition of new—everything in God is new but everything outside of God is old. Everything around us is old because the first creation has fallen away from God.

The clearest presentation of this divine definition of new is in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Galatians 6:15 also speaks of this new creation. A small portion of a footnote on the new creation in the Recovery Version NT says,

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.

The old creation was old because it did not have God’s element; the new creation is new because it has God as its element. 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).

New Jerusalem is unchangingly new because it is constituted entirely with God’s life and nature wrought into our redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified humanity.

Sonship for New Jerusalem (2)

God has chosen and predestinated us unto sonship according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:4-5). Then verse 6 says that this is “to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He graced us in the Beloved.” God’s choosing, predestinating, good pleasure, His will, His grace, and the praise of His glory all climax in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemGod’s choosing and predestinating are eternal, but man fell into sin and death and was under the condemnation of the law. We could not do anything but “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law, that He might redeem those under law that we might receive the sonship” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Through the death of Jesus Christ we were redeemed and through His resurrection we were regenerated (1 Peter 1:3) and “receive the sonship.” Redemption is needed for fallen humanity but life brings forth the praise of His glory now and in New Jerusalem.

For this sonship, Romans 8:15 tells us that we “have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba, Father!” This is the divine Spirit who gives birth to our human spirit and then dwells in our human spirit. In this spirit we have the reality of sonship. To cry “Abba, Father” releases the spirit deep within us to testify that we are children of God, born of God (v. 16).

From regeneration we are children of God. Now we are growing in this life to be mature sons to be fully prepared for New Jerusalem.

 

Sonship for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemFour verses in the New Testament include the word “sonship” in reference to New Testament believers and one verse in reference to Israel. The goal of this sonship is New Jerusalem.

The Greek word in these five verses is sometimes translated “adoption.” However, the overall revelation of the NT is that our relationship with God is one of birth and life. John 3:3-8 speaks firmly of our new birth. First Peter 1:23 speaks of our regeneration and four verses later we are “newborn babes.”

A great number of verses speak of our receiving and having eternal life. This life is not a position (as an adopted child) but much more it is Christ Himself, who is “the life” living in us. Some verses about this are Romans 6:23 and 8:10, Philippians 1:20-21, Colossians 3:3-4, and 1 John 5:11-12, “God gave to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life.”

New Jerusalem is a city of eternal life; the divine, eternal life we received is bringing us to this wonderful city.

Our sonship is eternal. Ephesians 1:4-5 tell us that God chose us in Christ “predestinat-ing us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” God’s choosing and predestinating are eternal, matching the eternal nature of New Jerusalem.

Likewise, God’s good pleasure culminates with New Jerusalem. The sonship to which God predestinated us is “to Himself,” the essence and center of this marvelous city.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Glorified with Christ for New Jerusalem

Jesus Christ will come again in glory and sit on the throne of His glory. Everything of glory points to New Jerusalem and eternally the throne of glory will be the center of New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

It is God’s intention to glorify us with Christ. Verses we have looked at recently:
• Romans 8:29-30: glorification is the goal of our being called and justified.
• Romans 8:17: we suffer with Christ to be glorified with Him.
• 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: our temporary afflictions work out an eternal weight of glory.
• 2 Thessalonians 1:10: the Lord is coming to be glorified in His saints.

New JerusalemColossians 3 is parallel to these: “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.” Christ will be manifested to the entire earth in His second coming. And we will be manifested with Him.

Our manifestation in glory is not merely that we will be in a glory surrounding us. Instead, the glory will shine out from within us. This is certain because “Christ our life” (inside of us) is coupled with “manifested with Him in glory.”

The Christ who is living and spreading within us now will shine forth as glory. He, as the glorious expression of God, will radiate through every mature believer. Ultimately, God in Christ will saturate New Jerusalem and radiate through the entire city.

The glory will radiate unhindered because New Jerusalem is “pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18).

Through Suffering to the City of Glory

The Lord will shine with great glory from His return to eternity in New Jerusalem. Today we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5) and “shine as luminaries, holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2).

Romans 8:16-17 say, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.” Here are several facts: we are children of God, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and we will suffer with Him to be glorified with Him. To be glorified with Him is preparation for the city of glory, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWe are told that our path to glory involves suffering. All humans have troubles in areas such as family, health, work, and housing. In our suffering we should be “with Him” always turning our heart to the Lord.

In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas labored, “Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.”

God’s kingdom and glory are linked; for example, “God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thes. 2:12).

Eternally, in New Jerusalem there will be no more suffering but we will participate in the fullness of God’s kingdom and His glory.

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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