Conformed to the Image of God’s Son

New JerusalemIn Genesis 1:26 “God said, Let Us make man in Our image.” God’s goal is to have a corporate man as a expression of Himself. This is fully accomplished with New Jerusalem, which, identical to God, has an appearance “like a jasper stone” (God: Rev. 4:3, the city: 21:11).

Man was created in God’s image to be able to express God. This expression is not a theatrical performance; it requires man to receive God’s life. Adam failed to do this but today we have the redemption of Christ and the life-giving Spirit.

Romans 8:28 declares, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” What is the good here? Verse 29 answers: “Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.” All things work together not for our human profit or pleasure but for us to be conformed, by God’s Spirit operating in us, to the image of His Son.

The Spirit’s operation is clear in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “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.” But the Spirit requires our cooperation, to turn our heart to the Lord for our unveiling (3:16) and to behold the glory of the Lord (3:18).

This conforming work of the Spirit, with our cooperation, is the present development of New Jerusalem, the full and eternal corporate expression of God.

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God’s Corporate Expression

New JerusalemGenesis 1:26— “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion…” From eternity God’s purpose is to express Himself through a corporate man.

This mystery is unveiled beginning with the creation of man. In Genesis 1:26 God made “man” (singular) and gave “them” (plural) dominion, indicating a corporate man.

This corporate man is revealed much more in the New Testament. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). We “have put on the new man” out of many nations, social classes, and other human distinctions (Col. 3:10-11). Eventually the new man becomes the New Jerusalem.

Verse 1 [in Rev. 21] says, “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.” In eternity past God purposed to have a corporate expression that He might be fully expressed and glorified, and for this purpose He created the heavens, the earth, and mankind. After the millennium, the old heaven and old earth will pass away through fire and be renewed into the new heaven and new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13), into which the New Jerusalem will come for God’s eternal expression.*

In Revelation 21–22 New Jerusalem is a corporate composition of God and all His redeemed people. God’s expression through this corporate entity is the glory of God.

John saw New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven “having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” New Jerusalem’s light “like a jasper stone” is the eternal expression of God on the throne, who also is “like a jasper stone” (Rev. 4:3).

* The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © LSM

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A Fourth Mystery Points to New Jerusalem

Christ is the mystery of God (Col. 2:2) and the church is the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4-11). Christ and the church, as Husband and wife, are the great mystery (Eph. 5:32) a predecessor of Christ the Lamb and New Jerusalem as Husband and wife (Rev. 21:10).

Colossians 1:26 speaks of the revelation of “the mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations but now has been manifested.” Verse 27 unveils this mystery, “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which [mystery] is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

New JerusalemToday Christ is life in every believer, as in Colossians 3:4. When He returns and is manifested in glory visibly, this life will also be manifested in glory (3:4). Hence, Christ our life today is also Christ as our hope of glory.

This is the glory which New Jerusalem has and which the city will radiate eternally (Rev. 21:11, 23). This glory is of God in Christ, not of us, but it is in us.

God’s intention is “that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23). It is God’s choice in His mercy that Christ has become our hope of glory. Thank Him!

Christ in us will be manifested in glory to express God in a corporate entity, the city New Jerusalem. This is the fulfillment of God’s desire and purpose to create man in His image to express Him.

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New Jerusalem: Satisfaction in Love and Rest in Expression

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb,” Jesus Christ, and also “the tabernacle of God” (Rev. 21:2-3). These characteristics are not new at the conclusion of the Bible; they occur often throughout the Bible.

In both the Old and the New Testaments God likens His chosen people to a spouse (Isa. 54:6; Jer. 3:1; Ezek. 16:8; Hosea 2:19; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31-32) and a dwelling place for Himself (Exo. 29:45-46; Num. 5:3; Ezek. 43:7-9; Psa. 68:18; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Tim. 3:15). The spouse is for His satisfaction in love, and the dwelling place is for His rest in expression. Both aspects will be ultimately consummated in the New Jerusalem. In her, God will have the fullest satisfaction in love and the uttermost rest in expression for eternity.*

The love between God and His people is important throughout the Bible. The books of Moses are, on one hand, filled with laws, commands, and ordinances. On the other hand, they often speak about our heart and our loving God. The Lord Jesus repeated this in John 14:21, 23, coupling loving Him and keeping His commandments. Second John 6 says the same.

New JerusalemIn Ephesians 3:17 we are “being rooted and grounded in love.” And 4:16 has “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” The building up of the Body of Christ in love is the preparation of New Jerusalem to be His loving bride. Likewise in Colossians 2:2 we are “knit together in love.”

Lord, increase our loving You daily. Make us those who “who have loved Your appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Bring us onward to New Jerusalem

* Conclusion of the New Testament, The, chapter 13, by Witness Lee

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Prior posts speak of our transformation by the Spirit’s renewing to bring forth New Jerusalem as the full expression of the Triune God. Our transformation and renewing from men of dust in the old creation to living stones in the new creation is also a sanctification, a washing. Transformation, renewing, and washing are not separate actions but three views of the same action.

New JerusalemThere are two washings in our Christian life. One is the cleansing from sins by the blood of Jesus. That is a judicial matter. The other washing is living, by the flow of His life within us. This post is about the living washing.

Titus 3:5: “according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Regeneration, being born again, is a once for all matter. But regeneration brings eternal life into us and this life is a flowing life. This flow, portrayed by the river of water of life in New Jerusalem, washes us continually.

Ephesians 5:25-27 also speaks of our sanctification by this washing: “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things.”

On the cross Christ gave Himself to gain the church. Now He is “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” The goal of this washing is that the church, as the forerunner of New Jerusalem, be glorious, radiating the glory of God.

New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Both God on the throne (Rev. 4:3) and New Jerusalem (21:11) have the appearance of jasper. In this way, New Jerusalem is the expression of God.

New Jerusalem is a composition of the Triune God and all His people. We were created from dust but through regeneration and transformation, we gain God’s nature and appearance. This makes New Jerusalem the expression of God. Transformation brings our entire being from the old creation to the new creation where New Jerusalem is.

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. This renewing is accomplished by the Spirit who dwells within us from our regeneration all the way into New Jerusalem.

Titus 3:4-5: “When the kindness and the love to man of our Savior God appeared, not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

We were dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1) but the Spirit has regenerated us, making our Spirit alive. John 3:6b “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The Spirit does not merely make us alive and then leave. Rather, the Spirit dwells within us forever. This indwelling Spirit renews us by spreading from our spirit to our mind, the leading part of our soul, our psychological being.

The renewal by the Spirit’s spreading is actually the Spirit Himself as the newness. He guides us “into all the reality” (John 16:13). Thus we gain the Triune God’s newness for His expression by New Jerusalem.

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New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Revelation declares “He who was sitting [on the throne] was like a jasper stone” (4:3), “her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone” (21:11), and “the building work of its wall was jasper” (21:18). The first quote refers to God, the other two to New Jerusalem.

God’s appearance is like jasper (4:3), and the entire city has the appearance of jasper. This means that the entire New Jerusalem looks like God, which is the fulfillment of Genesis 1:26. God made man in His image to express Himself. When the New Jerusalem comes, all of God’s people will bear God’s expression, God’s image, God’s appearance. All of God’s people will be fully transformed for the full expression of the Triune God.*

New JerusalemGod created man from the dust of the ground. But in regeneration His life enters into us and begins a process of transformation. This gradually changes us from clay to precious stones, of which jasper is foremost in the description of New Jerusalem.

The Spirit works within us for this transformation, and God also uses our outward environment. Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.”

The “good” toward which everything works is our conformation to the image of God’s Son. At the completion of this work, New Jerusalem, with all God’s transformed-conformed people builded together, will be the full expression of the Triune God.

* The Divine Economy, chapter 15, by Witness Lee

God’s Eternal Purpose in Song (7)

New Jerusalem is the goal of God’s eternal purpose made in eternity past. It is also the goal of all God’s work in time. This post concludes linking a song* about God’s purpose for New Jerusalem with verses in the Bible. The last verse of the song is:

New JerusalemGod in man and man in God
Mutual dwelling thus possess;
God the content is to man,
And the man doth God express.

The mutual dwelling of God and man is not a new thought in Revelation. Rather, in John 14 the Lord Jesus said to the disciples, “In that day [His soon-coming resurrection] you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Then in 15:4 He said further, “Abide in Me and I in you” with more in 15:5 and 15:7.

God as our content is also not a new thought in Revelation. Multiple verses speak of God in Christ as our life, our righteousness, our wisdom, our grace, our peace, our empowering, our hope of glory, our boast, and much more. He is unsearchably rich.

Man as the expression of God is seen in Acts 19:17, Ephesians 3:10 and 3:21, and in Philippians 1:21. The expression of God in man depends on the development of eternal life in man. We cooperate with Him now for this growth so that He may be expressed to the world today. This same expression, but much richer and stronger, will shine forth through New Jerusalem.

——
* music (composer unknown), words by Witness Lee

God’s Eternal Purpose in Song (2)

God is eternal. He created time and the universe because He has a plan and a goal. The center of His goal, in Revelation 21–22, is New Jerusalem, His eternal expression.

New JerusalemA song (musicwords by Witness Lee) presents highlights of God’s actions to accomplish His purpose, to arrive at New Jerusalem. Here are the second part of verses 1 and 2:

He to man is everything
That He might fulfill His plan.

God as life that he may take
And with Him have oneness true.

In the first verse God wants to be everything to man, but how? The second verse answers—God wants to be life to man. This is symbolized by the tree of life shown to Adam in Genesis 2 and plainly spoken by the Lord Jesus in John 3:15-16 and many verses in John 6. By His resurrection life, we can be in Him and He in us (John 14:20); this is God being one with man as the song states.

To believe into Jesus Christ is to receive Him as our eternal life and to become one with Him. “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) Christ is our life today and He will appear in glory. Then we will be glorified with Him.

He and we will be a corporate expression of God’s glory. This is New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Photo in Germany by Jenny Grosh.

Jesus Testifies for the Churches

I Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)

New JerusalemThe Lord testified the things in Revelation “for the churches.” He was not speaking to individual believers but to believers functioning as members of His Body and coordinating with other members.

This is the church life in the beginning: breaking bread from house to house; praying in houses; giving hospitality to strangers; sharing letters; and knowing, greeting, and visiting one another across great distances despite limited transportation.

This corporate Christian living is the preparation for New Jerusalem, which is a single corporate bride for Christ and home for God. New Jerusalem, God’s goal, is the corporate expression of all that God is. It includes all His people, but without any individualism. Let us live in the churches to receive His words which are “for the churches.”

Jesus is the Root, the divine source, and the Offspring, the human descendant, of David. This is mainly in His relationship to the Jews, who are described in Revelation 14:12 as “those who keep the commandments of God.”

Jesus is also the bright morning star for His loving New Testament seekers, those who overcome the world (Rev. 2:28) and hold to His words as a shining lamp (2 Peter 1:19).

 

The Jasper Wall Expresses God

The wall of New Jerusalem is perfect and eternal. The wall separates and protects the city while the gates let us enter. The building work of the wall is jasper (Rev. 21:18a).

John saw God sitting on the throne in heaven and He was like a jasper stone in appearance (Rev. 4:2-3). The wall has the appearance of God. The wall, the outer limit of New Jerusalem, is jasper because the entire city is jasper. “Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemThe wall and the whole city having the appearance of God fulfills God’s intention in His creation of man. “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). God created man in His image so that man could express God.

Created man fell into sin and death and can no longer fulfill God’s intention. God came in Jesus Christ to redeem man, to re-open the door for man to receive God’s life and thereby be enabled to express God.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all that God accomplished. The city is full of the divine, eternal life, which flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb who redeemed us (Rev. 22:1).

The jasper city and the jasper wall were produced and are maintained by the flow of life to express the jasper God on the throne.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem, Clear as Crystal

Revelation 21:11 says about New Jerusalem, “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” The light of New Jerusalem, the light which is Jesus Christ as the shining life in every member of this corporate city, is most precious to God New Jerusalemand expresses Him fully.

This precious shining of New Jerusalem is like a jasper stone, matching God sitting on the throne. This shining jasper stone is “clear as crystal” or, as others translate, “bright as crystal.” The clear-ness allows the brightness to shine out.

The words clear, pure, and transparent are all used in Revelation 21 to describe New Jerusalem. These show that the city has no mixture, no contaminant. no pollution. It is as pure and clear as God Himself because God saturates the whole city.

God chose us in eternity past “to be holy and without blemish before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). His desire is that, by experiencing Christ day by day, we “may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

God desires that we shine today like New Jerusalem will shine eternally. We should not wait. Christ living in us will make us blameless, without blemish, and shining. This is for us today as a foretaste of the clear and bright shining of New Jerusalem.

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