To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever (2)

The phrase “Glory to our God and Father forever and ever,” found in many New Testament books, points to the eternal New Jerusalem which has the glory of God. The prior post looked at Paul’s epistles and Revelation 1.

New JerusalemFirst Peter twice ascribes both glory and might to God. In both portions Peter links present grace with eternal glory.

First Peter 4:10-11: “Each one, as he has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves as good stewards of the varied grace of God….that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.”

Here Peter reminds us that every believer has been gifted. Each gift is a manifestation of the Spirit who regenerated us and is now operating within us. Based on this inner moving, we should minister the Spirit to one another for the building up of the Body of Christ. The Body, as the forerunner of New Jerusalem, is New Jerusalem’s precursor in glorifying God.

First Peter 5:10-11: “The God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you. To Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.

Here Peter tells us that the God of all grace has called us into His eternal glory; that is, He has called us into New Jerusalem. Now He is gracing us in our sufferings to perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground us that His glory may be displayed through us.

To the God of all grace be the glory and the might now and in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Ephesians 4:16 also speaks about the functioning of every believer for building up.

God Builds Through Us

Hebrews 11:10, speaking of Abraham and his descendants looking toward New Jerusalem, says it is

“The city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God”

Since God is the Builder, what part (if any) do we have in the preparation of New Jerusalem? To answer this, let’s look at Matthew 16:18, where Jesus declares, “I will build My church.”

New JerusalemThe Lord is building His church, but He is not doing it directly from the heavens. Rather, He works through the many members of His Body. This is clearly seen in Ephesians 4:15b-16, “the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

In this verse (and the parallel Colossians 2:19), the rich supply for building comes out of the Head, Christ, yet it also comes through the joints of supply and through the operation in each member. The result is the building up of the Body of Christ.

The same principle applies to what God is doing to build New Jerusalem. God is the Builder of the city! Yet He is not acting alone. Rather, He is building through His people. Christ’s building of His Body through the gifted joints of supply and through His operation in every member is part of God’s building of New Jerusalem. Lord, keep me open to Your operation so that You can build through me.

In Christ Jesus We Are Being Built Together

Colorado, Blancco Wetlands, US BLMIn Old Testament times God’s people built the ark, the tabernacle, and the temple, and rebuilt the temple after their captivity. All of these were physical buildings, symbols of the real building. Now, as God’s New Testament people, we are building the church, the Body of Christ. This is a spiritual building. The materials are the Triune God Himself and the Triune God deposited in and worked into humanity.

Here is a list of recent posts about the New Testament building with a few words from, and a link to, each one.

Jesus Said, I Will Build – In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church.” All the following verses in this chapter are related to this declaration.
Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone – In Matthew 21 Jesus quoted Psalm 118 referring to Himself as the cornerstone for God’s building. Acts 4, Ephesians 2, and 1 Peter 2 also speak of JEsus Christ as the cornerstone.
We Are Living Stones for God’s Building – In John 1 Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, meaning “a stone.” In his first epistle, Peter said that all of us are living stones for God’s building.
The Resurrected Jesus is the Temple – In John 2 the Lord told the Jews that His physical body, which they would “destroy” by crucifixion and He would “raise up” in resurrection, was the replacement for the Old Testament temple.

Jesus Invites Us: Come to Me to Have Life – Acts 20:32 tells us that the word of God’s grace is able to build us up. This is Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, who became flesh full of grace and reality for us to receive (John 1:1, 14, 16).
The Grace of Jesus Christ is with Your Spirit – The word of God’s grace is able to build us up and our spirit is the organ by which we receive and apply this grace. Philippians 4:23 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Receive the Word of God by Prayer – The word of God’s grace is able to build us up; we receive this word by our praying, giving thanks, singing, and praising.

Let Us Pursue the Things for Building Up – This exhortation is Romans 14:19 and is related to our serving in the Holy Spirit (v. 17-18).
We Are Growing and Being Built Together – In 1 Corinthians 3 we find milk and solid food for growth in life, with building up coming out of the growth.
Knowledge Puffs Up, But Love Builds Up – This is 1 Corinthians 8:1. Building up in love is also in Ephesians 4:16 and Jude 20.
We Prophecy for Building Up the Church – In 1 Corinthians 14 he who prophesies builds up the church. This prophesying supplies Christ as life and it is this life which builds us together.
Receive Grace and Give to Those Who Hear – In Ephesians 4:29 our words should be good for building up by supplying grace to those who hear.

We Are The Temple of The Living God – This is the proclamation in 2 Corinthians 6:16. God makes home in us and lives through us.
We Grow into Christ for His Building – Life and building are inseparable. Christ is our life, and growth in life is Christ being formed in us (Galatians 4:19).
We Are Growing and Being Built Together – Jesus Christ is the cornerstone for God’s building. In Him we are growing and being built together (Ephesians 2:19-22).
We Cooperate with Jesus Christ the Builder – The Lord Jesus said that He will build the church. He does this by working in and through each member; in Ephesians 4:12 we are being perfected for participating in His building work.
Holding Christ, We Grow unto Building Up – Ephesians 4:15-16 tells us that, as we hold to truth in love, we grow up into Christ our Head, out from whom comes a rich supply for building His Body.
The Rich Supply for Our Building Up – Ephesians 4:16 tells us that a rich supply from the Head, Christ, coupled with His operation in every Christian, causes the growth of His Body unto the building up of itself in love.

We Have the Life Supply for the NT Building – In Colossians 2:6 we have been rooted in Christ (for the life supply) and we are being built up (by this life).
Tasting & Coming to Jesus, We Are Built Up – In 1 Peter 2 we taste the Lord by receiving the spiritual milk, then we come to Him as a living stone. The result is that we, as living stones, are built up to be a spiritual house.
Freed from Self for God’s Building Work – In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said “I will build My church.” In verse 24 He told us to deny ourself, take up our cross, and follow Him.

How good it is for the Lord to give each of us a spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17) to see life and building.

For online reading of more about life and building, select any of these titles in this list.
• The Building Up of the Body of Christ
The Building Work of God
• Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

We Prophecy for Building Up the Church

The New Testament building work is spiritual, consummating in New Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus is the real Builder (Matthew 16:18), building through believers who cooperate with Him. First Corinthians 14:3-4, 12, 26 say,

He who prophesies speaks building up and encouragement and consolation to men….he who prophesies builds up the church….seek that you may excel for the building up of the church….Let all things be done for building up.

New JerusalemTo prophesy is not mainly to predict; it is much more to be one with God in speaking to the present situation of God’s people. Some examples: The law prophesied (Matthew 11:13). John the Baptist was a prophet (Matthew 21:26). Jesus referred to Himself as a prophet (Matthew 13:57) and so did the crowd who witnessed Him resurrecting a dead boy (Luke 7:16).

In 1 Corinthians the prophesying which builds comes out of our calling on the Lord’s name (1:2), being in fellowship with Him (1:9), being attuned in the same mind (1:10), taking Him as our Passover and eating Him as our unleavened bread (5:7-8), drinking the Spirit (12:13) and much more.

This prophesying supplies Christ as life to the believers and it is this life which builds us together. It is not merely our words which do the building, even if our words are about Christ. In ourselves we cannot build. Rather, it is Christ as our life, ministered in our speaking, who builds. This ministry is of the Spirit and it is the Spirit who imparts Christ into the hearers (2 Corinthians 3:3-6).

Related post: We All Participate in the Ministry of Life for Building

Receive Grace and Give to Those Who Hear

New JerusalemThe New Testament building work is spiritual, not material, in nature. It culminates in New Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus is the real Builder, and He is building through believers who cooperate with Him.

Ephesians 4:29 says our words can build up. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, according to the need, that it may give grace to those who hear.” According to this verse, words which convey grace to the hearers are good for building up.

John 1:1 and 14 tell us that the eternal Word, who is God, became flesh and was “full of grace and reality.” Verse 16 continues, “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”

Grace is what we receive from Jesus Christ, especially through opening to Him as the living Word of God when we open the Bible, the written word of God. We in turn convey this grace to others by speaking to them.

This receiving and distributing is like the Lord’s feeding of the multitudes. He blessed and broke the bread and gave it to the disciples; they distributed to the multitudes what they had received from Him. This also parallels John’s words, “we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:2). Whatever the Lord manifests or gives to us, we can report to others.

Let us continue to receive and speak grace to others for our building up. Lord Jesus, thank You that You are grace to us. Attract us to Yourself and Your word every day that we may continue to receive and to share with others.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

We Cooperate with Jesus Christ the Builder

New JerusalemIn Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build My church.” In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul said, “as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds upon it.” In Ephesians 4:8-12 the ascended Christ gave some gifted members of His Body “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ.”

Is the builder of the church the Lord, the apostles, or all the believers? All three. The Lord Jesus is the real Builder but He does not build directly. He builds by living in and through His members, working in and through each of them, whether apostles or not.

Paul is a pattern for all believers (Philippians 3:17). Regarding his building work, he says “I labored more abundantly than all of them, yet not I but the grace of God which is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). He also says, “I labor, struggling according to His operation which operates in me in power” (Colossians 1:29). Paul was a builder by cooperating with the One operating in him.

Today we too should participate in God’s building work by cooperating with the One who operates in us. He might not operate in us to the extent that He operated in Paul, but He is in us and wants to operate through us. In Romans 16:12 Paul mentioned three believers, otherwise unnamed in the Bible, who labored in the Lord. Let us follow their example. Let us build toward New Jerusalem.

Lord Jesus, I thank You that You are my life and You are operating in me. I am willing to labor with You. Grant me mercy to cooperate with You in Your building work.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and copyrighted by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is copyrighted by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

We Have the Life Supply for the NT Building

New JerusalemThe Body of Christ is a living organism being built by our growth in life. This growth is Christ (our life) increasing, spreading, being formed, and making home in us. In the New Testament growth and building are intimately tied; they cannot be separated.

Prior posts presented growth and building from Ephesians chapters 2 and 4. Ephesians 4:16 speaks of “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” Colossians 2:6-7 also speaks of growth with building:

As therefore you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, having been rooted and being built up in Him, and being established in the faith even as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Being rooted enables us to receive the supply of life for our growth. As a result of our believing, we have been put into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) and grafted into Christ. Romans 11:17 tells us that by this grafting, we “became a fellow partaker of the root of fatness of the olive tree.”

We have been positioned to partake. The more we actually partake, the more we are supplied to walk/live/behave in Christ Jesus. While we are walking in Him, the supply from the root flows with two results in Colossians 2:7: we are being built up in Him and we are being established in the faith.

This New Testament building of life, consummates in the city of life, New Jerusalem, which is kept in life by the river of water of life and the tree of life (Revelation 22:1-2).

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Holding Christ, We Grow unto Building Up

We are in a series of posts on God’s New Testament building. The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation all declare that this building is spiritual, not material. The Triune God, and the Triune God in all who believe in Jesus Christ, are the builder and building materials. Ephesians 4:15-16 say:

Holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.

New Jerusalem“Holding to truth” is not merely holding to correct teaching. Much more, it is holding to the Person who declared “I am the truth” (John 14:6). By this holding we grow up into Him. Then, from Him there is an outflow to His whole Body.

By the riches of the life that flow out of Christ, we are joined together and knit together. “Being joined” and “being knit” indicate that this is an ongoing process as part of the building of the Body of Christ.

The outflow from Christ the Head needs some who are “joints of the rich supply” as well as “each one part” (each member of the Body). The result is “the growth of the Body unto the building up.”

Truth, love, growth into Christ, Christ the Head, the rich supply, and the operation in the measure of each one all show that the Body of Christ is a living building which grows. The completion of this growing, building process will usher in New Jerusalem, God’s eternal living building.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Jesus Said, I Will Build

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God, said,

“I will build my church”

New JerusalemThis building work is not in the material realm. Rather, it is to produce “a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). Matthew 16 is the context of Jesus’ word about building. There are many factors here which indicate that the building of the church is spiritual, not physical. Consider:

We must be men of faith, taking the Lord’s word as our bread and being watchful not to take impure teaching, which is leaven (v. 5-12).
Peter received a heavenly revelation from the Father (v. 16-17).
There is spiritual warfare around the building work (v. 18).
Prayer is necessary (v. 19).
The Lord must pass through death and enter into resurrection (v. 21).
We need to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord (v. 24).
We need to lose our soul life (v. 25-26).

Jesus said, “I will build.” He alone did the initial work by His ministry recorded in the gospels and by His death and resurrection. Now He builds the church, which is His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23), by working through all His members. Since the building of the church is spiritual rather than physical we should realize that its successor and magnification, New Jerusalem, is also spiritual rather than physical.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and copyrighted by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is copyrighted by Living Stream Ministry.

Ministry of Life for the Wall of the City

Here is more about the foundation of the wall of New Jerusalem from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM (details). To read this online select the last volume here.

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:14 tells us, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

That the wall is built upon the foundations of the apostles of the Lamb also means that the wall is built upon the Christ who is brought to us by the apostles. The apostles of the Lamb are the bearers of Christ. They are the transformed transmitting agents of Christ. This simply means that the wall is built upon the Christ who is brought to us through the apostles as the transmitting agents. The children of Israel are the entrances, but the apostles of the Lamb are the foundations because they have Christ, and they brought Christ to us. This is a picture of the church. The church is built upon nothing other than the Christ brought and taught to us by the apostles.

The apostles as “transmitting agents of Christ” minister Christ to us, as in 1 Corinthians 3:5—“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Ministers through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one of them.” What the Lord gave to them and what they minister to us is of life because the next verse speaks of planting, watering, and growth.

The transmission by the apostles, which is their ministry, is of the Spirit, of life, of righteousness, and abounds in glory (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). The apostles also train us for this same ministry, which we all should carry out with the same essence as the apostles although not to the same extent as they. This ministry by all the members of Christ results in the building up of the Body of Christ which is the path to the building up of New Jerusalem (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Photo of aspen trees in Yellowstone National Park by Jim Peaco, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

We Consecrate, Build, and Feast

New JerusalemWe continue looking at Old Testament pictures of our New Testament spiritual eating. In 1 Kings 8 Solomon led all Israel in bringing the ark into the new temple. He then spoke to Israel and prayed to God. They concluded dedication of the temple with sacrifices (v. 62-64) and a feast. Verse 65 says, “And Solomon held a feast at that time and all Israel with him…before Jehovah our God, seven days and seven more days, fourteen days in all.”

Ezra records the effort, by Jews who returned to Jerusalem, to rebuild the temple. In Ezra 6 the work was completed and they had a dedication with sacrifices (v. 16-17) and with the feast of Passover (v. 19-22). Verses 21-22 say that they “…ate the passover and held the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for Jehovah had made them joyful…”

In both of these records the feasting follows the sacrifices and celebrates the completion of the building. No doubt there will also be a feast celebrating the completion of the New Testament building. But let’s not wait until then.

Let us thank the Lord that He sacrificed Himself for us (as the reality of the Old Testament sacrifices) and consecrate ourselves again (1 John 3:16). Then we pursue the building up with one another. As the issue of our consecration and building, we will have a spiritual feast. Eventually New Jerusalem will be completed and we will have an eternal feast.

Here, very briefly, are ways to participate in the New Testament building work:
• coming to the Lord (in prayer, praise, thanksgiving, consecration, etc.) – 1 Peter 2:4-5
• taking Christ as our foundation and cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20
• speaking the Lord to one another (prophesying) – 1 Corinthians 14:3-4
• holding to Christ as the truth in an atmosphere of love – Ephesians 4:15-16
• receiving from Him through both the gifted members and each one – Ephesians 4:15-16
• praying with others – Jude 20

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Two Aspects of Glorification for New Jerusalem

Glorification for New JerusalemNew Jerusalem possesses the glory of God—“the holy city, Jerusalem…having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:10-11) and “the glory of God illumined it” [New Jerusalem] (v. 21:23). This glory is surely of the Triune God. However, this glory is not limited to the Triune God. Rather, God has brought all His people into participation in this glory. There are two aspects to our participation.

First, Hebrews 2:10 declares that God through Christ is “leading many sons into glory.” He is leading us into New Jerusalem, an eternal realm of glory. Second, He is developing this glory within us. Second Thessalonians 1:8-10 declares that our Lord Jesus Christ is coming “to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” The Lord’s glory will have developed in us to such an extent by the time of His return that it will become visible through us to unbelievers. The end of Philippians 3 says that at our Lord’s return, our fallen physical body will be transfigured “to be conformed to the body of His glory.” This transfiguration is resurrection life overcoming all the sin and death in our bodies.

All God’s people in New Jerusalem will be in the realm of glory. In addition, the glory will be expressed through us corporately. The glory of the Triune God will radiate from the throne and also from His presence in every person constituted into New Jerusalem. This will be the ultimate realization of His being glorified in His saints.

%d bloggers like this: