The Experience of Death and Resurrection

Revelation 21:21 describes New Jerusalem, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was, respectively, of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

New JerusalemOnce we go through the pearl gate, we immediately step onto the golden street in the city (v. 21). What is the meaning of this golden street?…We must realize the work of regeneration in our experience and day by day experience the wound of the oyster, the work of the cross in us. Then we will obtain the secretion from the oyster, the resurrection life in the Spirit….The more we experience the cross, the more we will realize the resurrection, the secretion of life. This is why we must daily experience the lessons of the cross. By the secretion of the resurrection life, we will experience a continuing on in the golden street, the divine nature.*

We might consider the cross as merely a physical object 2000 years ago. But Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Christ “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God.” The eternal Spirit is the effectiveness of the cross in us today. It is by the Spirit that we deny ourselves and experience the cross.

There will be no self, no natural life in New Jerusalem. We need to daily experience the death of Christ that we may daily experience the life of New Jerusalem, the resurrection life of Christ.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

The Gates of New Jerusalem in Luke 15

In Luke 15 the Lord told three parables. Verses 4 to 7 are about a shepherd, a picture of the Lord who is the real Shepherd (John 10:11). Verses 8 to 10 are about a woman with a lamp, a symbol of the Spirit, and verses 11 to 32 about a father, depicting the Father, whose son returned home. These three parables, corresponding to the three gates on each side of New Jerusalem, are for our entrance nto the city.

New JerusalemLuke 15 records three parables: the shepherd seeking the lost sheep, the woman seeking the lost coin, and the father waiting for his prodigal son. The Lord Jesus came as the shepherd to die on the cross to seek us and to redeem us. After Christ’s work, the Holy Spirit came as the woman to enlighten us, seeking within our hearts to bring us back. By the seeking work of the Holy Spirit, we repent and return to the Father, who gladly receives us. Then we have entered the gate. The three persons of the Godhead bring us into the very building.*

The three gates on each of the four sides of New Jerusalem represent the Triune God open to mankind in all directions. This openness is very practical in these three parables. Like the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the wayward son, we were apart from the Triune God. But He seeks us and causes us to return to Himself. This is our entrance into New Jerusalem!

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

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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.

God’s Building Work with Man (2)

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel” (which is translated, God with us)” (Matt. 1:23). From eternity Jesus Christ was God and from the time of Matthew 1 He was a man. Hence He became a God-man.

From the time of God’s incarnation as man, especially during a period of thirty-three and a half years, there was a man on this earth with God in Him. Jesus was a real man, a typical man, yet the Mighty God was wrought into Him. God had come to be a man, and God was brought into man. However, that is not all. The Lord Jesus also brought man into God. He accomplished this by His death and resurrection. Today in the heavens there is a man in God. By Christ’s incarnation God was brought into man, and by His death, resurrection, and ascension man has been brought into God.*

New JerusalemThrough His death and resurrection, and our response by believing, God has come into us and we have been brought into God. Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ is in us. He is God and He is in all the believers. Romans 6:11 speaks of our “living to God in Christ Jesus” and 8:1 of “those who are in Christ Jesus.” Even though our physical location is on earth, our spiritual location is in Christ Jesus.

God is in us and we are in Him. This is not static; it totally depends on His resurrection life. This life grows in us and brings our practical living into God. By this we are built together with other believers. This is God’s building work, of which New Jerusalem will be the peak.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

God’s Living Temple, Now to New Jerusalem

Recent posts are on growing and being built into New Jerusalem as God’s eternal habitation and expression. Revelation 3:12 says, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.”

The overcoming believers are built into God’s temple. What is the temple? In John 2 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Destroy refers to His death and raise it up refers to His resurrection. Jesus Himself is the replacement for the physical temple of the Old Testament!

New JerusalemGod’s intention is to have a living temple. Acts 17:24, “The God who made the world and all things in it, this One, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” New Jerusalem is the ultimate living temple.

In Old Testament times, prior to the redemption Jesus accomplished by His death, God could not enter man to be man’s life. In those days a temporary, symbolic, physical temple was present.

In the New Testament firstly Jesus Himself was the temple. Through death and resurrection He was enlarged to have all His believers as the many members of His spiritual Body. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). The one Body of Christ is the enlarged living temple. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

New Jerusalem is the final step of the enlargement of this living temple.

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New Jerusalem: the Conclusion of the Bible

In Revelation 21:1-2 John tells us, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem. This is the central part of the conclusion of the Bible.

In Revelation 21:1-8 we have a brief and clear presentation of biblical eschatology°. Here, in the new heaven and new earth [v. 1], we see the New Jerusalem [v. 2] composed of God’s sons [v. 5-7], the restored nations as the peoples [v. 3-4], and the lake of fire [v. 8]. The lake of fire will, in a negative way, show forth God’s righteousness, for all who are in it will suffer God’s righteous judgment. But the New Jerusalem will, in a positive way, show forth God’s holiness and shine with His glory. This is a clear picture of the eschatology in the New Testament.*

New JerusalemThese verses show us three conclusions. Surely we should choose New Jerusalem. Our choice is made now, not at the time the new heaven and new earth appear.

Our first step toward New Jerusalem is to believe into the Lord Jesus. He died to accomplish redemption. We respond by confessing that we are sinners and that we receive His forgiveness.

He rose from the dead to regenerate all who believe. This is His coming into the believing people to be their new life, their eternal life. This life grows in us to renew us and to develop in us a living that matches New Jerusalem. Choose Jesus Christ today!

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

° a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind,
__a definition from www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

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The Eternally Perfect Wall of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIn Revelation 21:15 an angel had a golden reed to measure New Jerusalem and its gates and its wall. In 21:17, “he measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.”

Twelve in the Bible indicates eternal perfection. In this verse the measure of the wall is twelve times twelve. It is perfectly and eternally perfect. This wall separates the city from everything else and protects the city. Nothing can cross over or go through this wall. But do not be discouraged. All who believe into Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Redeemer and Life enter the city through the gates.

The measure of the wall is both human and angelic. Humans and angels are distinct species but they are linked in one word of the Lord Jesus. In Matthew 22:30, answering a question from the Sadducees, He said “in the resurrection they [humans] neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

The measure of the wall being both human and angelic means that this measure is in resurrection. This matches the nature of New Jerusalem—the whole is a city in resurrection. The city has the nature of resurrection because it was brought forth through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the resurrection, and the city has entirely come out of Him, as portrayed by Eve being constituted solely out of Adam.

The gospel today brings resurrection life into us and us unto New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem has a Wall with Twelve Gates

Revelation 21:12 tells us that New Jerusalem “had a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names New Jerusalemof the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”

New Jerusalem has a great wall to clearly separate it from what is not part of it. But it also has gates so that we may enter the city! “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” (22:14).

To wash our robes is to receive the forgiveness brought forth by the death of Jesus on the cross with the shedding of His blood. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Jesus accomplished the redemption; we wash our robes (our conduct) by receiving what He did; the result is the forgiveness of our offenses.

Based on this forgiveness, we partake of Christ, portrayed by the tree of life, as our life and enter through the gates into New Jerusalem. The city has twelve gates, with twelve angels and twelve names inscribed. Twelve in the Bible signifies eternal perfectness. The gates through which we enter New Jerusalem are not temporary but are eternal.

The Lord’s shedding of His blood was in His death and our partaking of Him as life is in His resurrection. His death and resurrection are our entrance into New Jerusalem.

Sonship for New Jerusalem (4)

God has chosen us in eternity past unto sonship to the praise of the glory of His grace. This praise develops through this age and the next age until the eternal praise and glory of God in New Jerusalem.

The New Testament sonship includes all the believers in Jesus Christ. In addition, Romans 9 speaks about Israel; verse 4 says “whose are the sonship…” Although Israel had the sonship in some sense, they did not have the life of God because this is only for believers in the New Testament time, based upon the redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection of Jesus Christ.

New JerusalemWhatever the nature of Israel’s sonship, the Israelites faithful to God will be in New Jerusalem. This is indicated by Revelation 21:12 which says New Jerusalem, as seen by John, “had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”

Among all the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel, only the Lord knows who will be in New Jerusalem. He is “the Knower of the hearts” (Acts 1:24).

Surely the number of Israelites participating in New Jerusalem will include some from Old Testament times, some from New Testament times, and all who repent when they see the Lord, whom they pierced, coming in glory.

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Glorified with Christ for New Jerusalem (2)

First Corinthians 2:8 says that Jesus Christ, who was crucified, is “the Lord of glory.” He first revealed this glory on the mountain near Caesarea Philippi and will ultimately be glorious in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemColossians 3:4 declares, “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.” This is a promise. Colossians 3:1-3 show us how to reach this climax.

First, in 3:1 we “seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” These things “above” are the unseen, eternal things in Second Corinthians 4. We also set our mind on these things (3:2), including “the Jerusalem above” in Galatians 4:26.

In contrast, we do not set our mind “on the things which are on the earth” (3:2). This is parallel to Romans 8:6, “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” Flesh corresponds with things on the earth and spirit corresponds with things above.

How do we carry this out? Colossians 3:3 reminds us, “you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Our death with Christ and Christ as our life are facts. The experience of these facts is in spirit*.

Our death with Christ saves us from earthly things. Christ as our life supplies us to seek the eternal things above. Living in the spirit is the path to being manifested with Christ in glory and being prepared for New Jerusalem. Lord, grant me more living in spirit to experience You more.

* See Key to Experiencing Christ–the Human Spirit, The.

The Gospel of Resurrection and New Jerusalem

The gospel of glory, of peace, and of the kingdom are all linked to New Jerusalem. So also is “announcing Jesus and the resurrection as the gospel” in Acts 17:18.

The resurrection of Jesus is a historic event recorded in the gospels and proclaimed in Acts. It is also a present reality for us to experience.  

New JerusalemThe incarnation, human living, and death of the man Jesus are all vital steps for our redemption and reconciliation. Based on this, God “has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

Today we partake of the Lord’s death and His resurrection to walk in the “newness of life” in Romans 6:4. This life is Christ Himself who is “the resurrection” and who is “our life.” This life grows in us unto maturity to bring us into and fully matched to New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is a city of glory, a city in resurrection. In Luke 24 the Lord spoke interchangeably about resurrection and glorification. The measuring of the wall of the city in Revelation 21 also shows that it is in resurrection. And the multiple aspects of the glories of the Lord in 1 Peter 1 match characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Therefore, Paul’s “announcing Jesus and the resurrection as the gospel” is both for our present believing (Acts 17:34) and to point us toward New Jerusalem. 

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The Narrow Way of Bearing the Cross and Denying the Self unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 16:24-25, “Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it.” These words are followed by the Son of Man coming in His glory and in His kingdom, both of which point to New Jerusalem. This is the constricted way the Lord spoke about in Matthew 7.

New Jerusalem

This subject seems negative, BUT remember, the death of our natural life manifests the resurrection life, the only life present in New Jerusalem. “Always bearing about the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” (2 Cor. 4:10).

Here is one key point or verse from each post in this series, with a link to the post.

The death of Christ terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released the divine life, and created the new man.

We were crucified with Christ and also raised with Him (Rom. 6:6, Col. 3:1).

Christ offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). In this Spirit His death and His life are available to us.

Objectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. Galatians 2:20 is about our experience.

Christian growth in life is gradual (Gal. 4:19). To deny ourself is the key to growth.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, begin in Matthew 10:38, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

Luke adds a word not in Matthew, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 14: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own soul-life, he cannot be My disciple.” If we are not disciples, how will we be in New Jerusalem?

Denying and losing the soul life is our responsibility, yet self cannot deny self. We apply the death of Christ in Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, “by the Spirit you put to death…”

The Lord told us to deny ourself, and He did this. An example: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26).

In John 7 and 8 the Lord declared that He did not seek His own glory.

To deny ourself is to deny our opinions, preferences, like and dislikes, complaints, and vain talking. Perhaps none are evil, but they are self and will not be in New Jerusalem.

Denying and losing the self seems negative, but death is followed by resurrection. We are being put to death that the life of Jesus may be manifested (2 Cor. 4:10-12).

The word of the cross is…to us who are being saved…the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

We boast in Christ Jesus and long “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:3, 10).

To deny the self requires constant exercise, empowered by His resurrection with a longing for the fuller resurrection at His return and the fullest in New Jerusalem.

Looking away unto Jesus” enlivens us to be delivered unto death and to deny ourself.

The denial of our soul life is presented in Ephesians 4:22: “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man. Then we put on the new man who continues into New Jerusalem.

To deny our self and lose our soul life is to take the constricted way which leads to life (Matt. 7:14), eventually to the city of life, 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, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Narrow Way unto New Jerusalem

Matthew 7:14: “Narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life.” We have this life today through regeneration. We take the narrow, constricted way now to New Jerusalemthe fuller joy of this life in the mani­­festation of the kingdom and to the fullest joy in New Jerusalem.

The narrowness and the constriction correspond with taking up our cross daily and denying our self, our soul life. The narrow, constricted way does not accommodate self-indulgence, selfishness, selfish ambition, self-love, self-will, seeking gain through base means, seeking our own things (even if good), nor apparently good things like self-chosen lowliness.*

In contrast, a walk on the constricted way is to “flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteous­ness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Our fleeing is our denying. Righteousness, faith, love, and peace are all Christ Himself supplying us to bear our cross on the constricted way.

Similarly 1 Timothy 6 speaks of things that cannot come through the narrow gate, such as pride, contentiousness, envy, strife, slanders, and love of money. Verse 6:11 then tells us that to be “a man of God” on the constricted way, we need to flee all the selfish things “and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness.” All of these virtues are Christ Himself as our life in resurrection and all will continue on the constricted way unto New Jerusalem.

*All these “self” characteristics are from New Testament verses.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

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