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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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: 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

Our Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator

God created us for Himself but Satan stole us and corrupted us. But God is able! The Triune God brought us back to Himself as life and into His house, as seen in the three parables in Luke 15. Our return to God put us on the path to New Jerusalem.

First, God the Father is the Creator (Eph. 3:9). He created all things, including you and me. If He did not create us, we would not exist. So we must thank Him for being the creating God. Second, the Son as the Lamb is our Redeemer (John 1:29; Eph. 1:7). He shed His blood for our sins that we might be redeemed back to God….So we must praise Him, our redeeming Lamb! Finally, the Spirit, shown by the river of life, is our Regenerator (John 3:6). The Spirit regenerated us so that we are born of God….We should greatly appreciate such a three-one God for our threefold existence; He is our Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator.*

New JerusalemGod created man. Then man became fallen and dead spiritually. But Christ redeemed us and the Spirit regenerated us. Our regeneration was a spiritual birth. Now we are growing in this life. This grow requires milk, then solid food, plus exercise (Heb. 5:14).

Hebrews 6:1 encourages us, “Let us be bought on to maturity.” Paul and his companions were laboring and praying “we may present every man full-grown in Christ.” May this also be our aspiration. Let us be brought on to maturity, to New Jerusalem.

* The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, chapter 11, by Witness Lee

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, the Eternal City

New Jerusalem is an eternal city. All the positive eternal things in the New Testament point toward this city. This is the first of a few posts looking at these eternal things.

Romans 16:26 speaks about “the eternal God.” And Ephesians 3:11 says that this God has an eternal purpose. God has a definite purpose underlying His creation of the universe. This purpose is to gain a corporate humanity for a wonderful expression of Himself.

God’s purpose is first indicated in Genesis 1:26, where man was made in the image of God. This man fell away from God but God’s purpose is eternal. God came in the man Jesus and through death created a new man (Eph. 2:15). This new man fulfills God’s purpose and expresses God here on earth now and becomes New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemThe new man expresses the eternal God by having the eternal life. This eternal life is emphasized in John and 1 John and is also touched in about 20 other verses in multiple New Testament books.

This eternal life comes to us through “the eternal redemption” accomplished by Christ shedding blood on the cross and bringing it into the heavenly holy of holies (Heb. 9:12) as the reality of Leviticus 16.

The Lamb of God on the throne of New Jerusalem reminds us of the eternal redemption, and the river of water of life is the eternal life flowing to supply the entire city, the city of life, for eternity.

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.

God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (2)

God created all things, in order that now His multifarious wisdom might be made known through the church (Eph. 3:9-11) and in eternity through New Jerusalem. This is God’s eternal purpose.

New JerusalemZechariah 12:1 gives more insight into God’s intention in creation: “Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” Here the heavens are for the earth and the focus of earth is man with a human spirit. Man has a spirit to receive God, who is Spirit.

Zechariah tells us that man with a spirit is the key for God to accomplish the purpose presented in Ephesians 3. It is in our human spirit that we are born of God to have His life and be one with Him, without which we cannot be His expression.
• “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6b)
• “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17)
• “the Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22)

With this base, when we walk according to spirit, as described in Romans 8 and Galatians 5, the Lord can express Himself through our living. At the same time, the Lord spreads within un to renew our entire being, and thereby enhance His expression through us.

One example is Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). First her spirit exulted with joy, then her soul expressed that joy. Another example is Paul who spoke of the bountiful supply of the Spirit so that “with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (Phil. 1:20).

These are individual examples, but God’s goal as expressed in Ephesians 3 is to be magnified in the church today to prepare the way for a richer expression in New Jerusalem.

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Created for the Glory of New Jerusalem

In Isaiah 43 God speaks of gathering His scattered people, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created, formed, and even made for My glory” (v. 7).

The words create, form, and make all appear in Genesis 1–2 (e.g. 1:1, 26; 2:4, 7-8). The declaration in Isaiah 43:7 shows us that all God’s work from the beginning of creation has a goal—His glory. God created us not merely to live a good human life. God put man in the garden of Eden with the tree of life. This is a picture of God wanting to be life to us.

New JerusalemThis picture in Genesis 2 is before sin, before death, before the curse, before rebellion against God. God being life to us is not a reaction to these negatives. God wants His life to be received by us, to be in us for His glory.

The tree of life is also in New Jerusalem. Christ has become life to all His believers and is our life eternally. This life operates in us to transform us and build us together to be His corporate Body in this age and to be the city of New Jerusalem in eternity.

This is “for God’s glory.” New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God illuminates New Jerusalem (21:23). And, because the city is like clear, transparent glass (21:11, 18, 21), God’s illuminating glory will shine out through the city.

In these verses we see three steps. First, God created, formed, and made us. Second, God in Christ became life to us. Third, the result is God’s glory. These three steps cover the entire Bible, from creation to New Jerusalem.

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No Beasts in or near New Jerusalem

Revelation 13 says much about two beasts. Chapter 14 has a heavenly warning about the beasts, 15 shows those who were victorious over the beasts, 16 has judgement on them, 17 introduces another beast and presents much beastly activity, and 19 has their terminations in the lake of fire.

New JerusalemThese beasts are all opposed to New Jerusalem because they oppose the accomplishing of God’s purpose on earth. This purpose is first revealed in Genesis 1:26 where the Triune God created man in His image and let man have dominion over the earth.

God’s purpose is also revealed in Zechariah 12:1 which speaks of God “who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” The heavens contain the earth and earth is a dwelling place for man, who has a human spirit to contact God who is Spirit (John 4:24).

By contacting God, man receives the life of God, portrayed by the tree of life in Genesis 2. As a result of this contact, man’s spirit is born of God’s Spirit. This birth with God’s life enables man to express God and to rule the earth for God.

Genesis 1–2 is the beginning of God’s purpose; Revelation 21–22 is the consummation. In this consummation, man is beholding God constantly (Rev. 22:4). Man is continually supplied with God’s life by the river of life with the tree of life (22:1-2). God in this corporate man is fully expressed through New Jerusalem which radiates the glory of God (21:11). God and the Lamb on the throne (22:1) reign and man reigns with them (22:5).

Praise God that New Jerusalem is the eternal fulfillment of God’s purpose and that the opposing beasts are gone.

This post is in my list of what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

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Created in God’s Image for New Jerusalem

This post begins a look at a hymn about God’s eternal purpose, consummating in New Jerusalem. This hymn was authored by Witness Lee. Here are words and music and a post, Who is Witness Lee?

Verse 1 of the hymn is an overview of God’s purpose and verse 2 speaks about creation.New Jerusalem

In Genesis 1:26 the Triune God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” Man is in God’s image so that man can express God. However, even though man has the image, like a photograph, man still needs the life of God to be God’s living expression.

The created man was set in the garden of Eden with the tree of life (Gen. 2). But man fell into sin and was ejected from the garden (Gen. 3). Through the redemption accomplished by the death of Jesus and the life released in His resurrection, man can now be freed from sin and be born again.

Jesus Christ “the life” (John 14:6) is the reality of the tree of life to become our life. This life is not static, but is a continuous, eternal supply, seen in New Jerusalem as the “river of water of life” (Rev. 22:1) and “the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month” (22:2).

It is by this life that man can express God and thereby cooperate in accomplishing God’s purpose. Examples of the expression of God now are to magnify Christ (Phil. 1:20) and having an excellent manner of life among the unbelievers (1 Peter 2:12).

New Jerusalem, having the glory of God and light like a most precious stone (Rev. 21:11), is the eternal expression of God by means of His life in His redeemed humanity.

New Jerusalem—Magnification of Christ

God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26) so that man could contain and express God*. In the types in Genesis 2, man could receive God as His content by eating of the tree of life. Man fell and was shut out from the tree of life (Gen. 3). Later Jesus Christ came to redeem mankind and thereby reopen the way to Himself as the real tree of life.

New JerusalemNow, by believing in Jesus, man can receive God in Christ as his content. Gradually, God contained in us is expressed through us. This expression will intensify unto New Jerusalem.

The apostle Paul had a strong desire for this expression. He tells us his “earnest expectation and hope that 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).

In the apostle’s suffering in his body, Christ was magnified, i.e., shown or declared to be great (without limitation), exalted, and extolled. The apostle’s sufferings afforded him opportunity to express Christ in His unlimited greatness.**

For Paul, to magnify Christ was his earnest expectation and to not magnify Christ was to be put to shame. Lord, grant me the same “earnest expectation” You put in Paul.

If Christ can be magnified by one believer, how much richer and larger will His magnification be in New Jerusalem? Lord, fill me with the desire to magnify You now as a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* See footnotes on Gen. 1:26 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version.
** From footnote on Phil 1:20 in NT Recovery Version Online.
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