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.

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

Characteristics Now and in New Jerusalem

Ephesians 4:12-24 contains many positives: perfecting, building, oneness, full-grown, fullness, truth, love, reality, righteousness, holiness. These characteristics do not refer to the natural realm or from natural effort.

New JerusalemThey all come from being in Christ, learning Christ, hearing Christ, and growing up into Him as the Head of the Body. Because these all are Christ and our experience of Him, they are also characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:12-24 also contains many negatives: sleight, craftiness, error, vanity, darkness, ignorance, hard-ness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, greediness, corruption, deceit.

These all result from mankind being alienated from the life of God. None of these will be in New Jerusalem nor anywhere in the new creation, except in the lake of fire.

In our daily living, the key for us as believers to get away from the negatives and into the positives is verse 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The Spirit has regenerated our spirit—this is John 3:6, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Now we are one spirit with the Lord—this is 1 Corinthians 6:17.

These two steps—regeneration and renewing—are also seen in Titus 3:5, “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” This renewing is not a change from bad behavior to good behavior. Rather, it is a change from living in the old humanity, the fallen humanity that is apart from God to living Christ and letting Him become the reality of our human virtues. This is a living that corresponds to New Jerusalem.

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