God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (3)

God created the earth for His purpose. Through all His operation in time, God will gain the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity. But, God did not create the world and there will be no world in eternity!

In the Bible, we find both “earth” and “world.” We might use these two words interchangeably, but in the Bible they are different. A primary Biblical meaning of “world” is an evil system arranged systematically by Satan. All the things on the earth, especially those related to mankind have been systematized by Satan into his kingdom of darkness to occupy people and frustrate them from accomplishing the purpose of God.*

New JerusalemBecause the world is negative, it needs to be judged. Jesus, looking forward to His crucifixion, said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Therefore, we can boast in “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” and by His cross we have been separated from the world. But before believing and receiving Christ Jesus and all He accomplished, we “once walked according to the age of this world” and were people “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:2, 12).

But now, in Christ, we have God and we have hope, even the hope of glory, the hope of participating in New Jerusalem. Through His death and resurrection we have been transferred from the world to God’s purpose for the earth with New Jerusalem as the goal.

* Part of footnote 2 on John 12:31 in the Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry. More about the Biblical meanings of “world.”
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm (2)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Lord’s redeeming work on the cross, the Lord’s sanctifying/purifying work now, and His glorifying work at His return.  We see New Jerusalem by being carried away in spirit (out of the natural realm) onto a great and high mountain (above the level of our ordinary living).

To consider Revelation 21–22 as something natural is to miss the reality presented here. This is to repeat the error common in John’s gospel—interpreting or trying to grasp the Lord’s spiritual presentation by natural understanding. Here are more examples of this.

New Jerusalem• In 6:51-55 no one understood how the Lord could give us His flesh to eat for eternal life. But He spoke of the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
• In 8:32-34 He spoke about being free from the slavery of sin but the hearers thought only about human slavery.
• In 8:51-53 the Lord spoke about keeping His word to overcome eternal death but the hearers could only think of physical death.
• In 11:11-14 the Lord used sleep as a picture of death; the disciples thought of physical sleep and could not comprehend His word.
• In 14:7-11 the Lord told the disciples that they had seen the Father manifested in His living and doing, but they only thought of physical seeing.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church as the Body of Christ, His fullness (Eph. 1:22-23). New Jerusalem is also the consummation of the new man created by Christ in Himself (Eph 2:15), the holy temple growing in Him (2:21), and the dwelling place of God in spirit (2:22). Surely this is not in the natural realm. Lord, carry me away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The New Testament Temple is Living (2)

#NewJerusalemIn resurrection, all who believe into Jesus Christ are a corporate man with the Spirit dwelling in them and are the temple which will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem.

This corporate man, the new man, who is also the living temple, was created by Christ Jesus on the cross (Eph. 2:15) and here Christ is “all and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). Likewise, New Jerusalem springs forth from His crucifixion and resurrection, and in New Jerusalem Christ is all and in all.

First Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In this verse you is plural and temple is singular. This corporate temple, like the new man, is a characteristic of God’s people. Paul’s question to immature Christians, Do you not know?, indicates that we all should have the realization that we corporately are the temple and that the Spirit dwells in us. Second Corinthians 6:16, affirming, says, “we are the temple of the living God.”

Ephesians 2:20-21 continues: “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” The New Testament temple is in Christ Jesus (not in the physical realm) and is growing because it is a living building.

The consummation of the growth of the living temple, its maturity, is New Jerusalem. Like the temple in Ephesians, the entire city of New Jerusalem is a living building in Christ Jesus.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Church; Forerunner of New Jerusalem

#NewJerusalemThe one universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age and is the forerunner of New Jerusalem, which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages. Verses about the nature of the church give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:22-23 speaks of “the church, which is His Body.” Colossians 1:18 speaks about Christ as “the Head of the Body, the church.” The church is not merely a collection of believers, and it is not a bunch of individuals. Much more, these believers are members of His living Body. Thus, Romans 12:5 says, “we who are many are one Body in Christ.” And Ephesians 5:30, “we are members of His Body.”

The Body of Christ is a living composition of all of us who have believed into Him. First Corinthians 12:12-27 presents our human body, composed of many members, as a picture of Christ’s spiritual Body composed of His believers. Just as the physical members are grown together in life from inception, so the members of the Body of Christ are joined in His life from regeneration.

This joining in life is not a recent event; it comes from the resurrection of Christ. He is the Head and we are His Body, made alive and raised together with Him (Eph. 2:5-6).

The Body of Christ is a wonderful living organism. God will not shrink back from this to something less for New Jerusalem. Like the Body, the whole city is one living organism, a single entity by birth in resurrection and growth in the divine, eternal life. New Jerusalem as a living organism is also a living person, the wife of the Lamb Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is the Consummation of the Spiritual Growth of God’s People

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s growth in His people and His people’s growth into Him.

Ephesians 2:21, “All the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Ephesians 4:15, “Holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:16, “…the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

Colossians 2:19, “All the Body, being richly supplied and knit together…grows with the growth of God.”

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Versionpublished and © by Living Stream MinistryAnaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.orgthis too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

New Jerusalem is Spiritual, not Physical

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s New Testament building. Unlike the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, God’s people today are
• • • growing in the divine life
• • • being built together in Christ Jesus
• • • becoming a dwelling place of God in spirit
This building is growing unto New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:19-22, “You are…being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

1 Peter 2:5, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Christ is the Chosen, Precious, Living Stone

New JerusalemIn the gospels, the Lord depicts Himself as a Stone. His words should cause us to realize that stones in the New Testament, including those in New Jerusalem, are not physical but are living people.

“Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the head of the corner. This was from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” By this word, spoken in Matthew 21:42, quoting Psalm 118,  the Lord tells us that He is the Cornerstone rejected by the Jewish leaders.

In Acts 4:10-12, Peter makes reference to this statement, telling the Jewish leaders that through death and resurrection, “This is the stone which was considered as nothing by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner.” Here Peter is speaking about “Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” He is the Cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:20-21 proclaims “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” Here the Cornerstone is not only part of God’s New Testament building but is even the realm in which the building exists and grows.

In 1 Peter 2:4-8 Peter tells us further that the Lord is to us “a living Stone” and “a Cornerstone, chosen and precious,” but to the unbelieving He is “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

Because New Jerusalem is a city in and of resurrection, everything brought forth in the Lord’s resurrection is in New Jerusalem. This includes Him as the Stone, in which the building, including New Jerusalem exists.

A House and a City Built Together in Christ

New Jerusalem

Revelation is a book of signs (1:1). New Jerusalem is the consummate sign in Revelation and in the Bible. It is God and all His redeemed people living in mutuality.

Here is an excerpt* about New Jerusalem from the ministry of Witness Lee.

The New Jerusalem is not an actual city just as the lampstands are not actual lampstands but signs of the churches [Rev. 1:20]. The New Jerusalem is a great sign of the totality of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people. The church today is a house, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). The house of God today is not an actual house but the totality of God’s people. The church today as God’s temple, God’s house, God’s building, is not an actual physical building but is a sign signifying that the church’s function is to be a house in which the Triune God can dwell.

Today the church is a house, and in eternity the church will be enlarged. When the church is enlarged, it becomes a city. The church as a house is not an actual physical house in the same way that the church enlarged to be the holy city will not be an actual physical city. The New Jerusalem is a city signifying the church’s function in eternity to be God’s dwelling place.

The church today, all the believers in Christ Jesus built together in Him, is a precursor of New Jerusalem. Many verses in the New Testament present this view, and no verse treats the church as a physical building.

Ephesians 2:19-20 declares that we are “members of the household of God, being built…” We, not a physical structure, get built together. Verse 21 continues, “In whom [Christ Jesus] all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” We are being built together in Him, not in a physical location. Also, this building is growing because its essence is the divine life.

First Peter 2:4-5 tells us that “coming to Him, a living Stone…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Very clear. This is the living house of the living God in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Other verses in the New Testament say the same: we are the materials being built together, the building process is growth in the divine life, and the building work is going on in Christ. These same characteristics are true of New Jerusalem, which is the consummation of all the building and growth in the Bible.

* Witness Lee, The Divine Economy, Chapter 15, published and © by Living Stream Ministry. Read more of this excerpt online. Many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

The Good News of the Riches of Christ

The apostle Paul received grace “to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8). These riches are for us to experience and express today and to be displayed by New Jerusalem.

The New Testament is filled with the gospel, the good news, of these riches. For example, in Matthew 9 Jesus Christ is our Physician, He is merciful to us, He is our Bridegroom, He is new wine for us, He raises us out of death, He heals our blindness and dumbness, He shepherds us, and He is the Lord of the harvest.

Another example: twenty riches of Christ in 1 Corinthians. Since the riches of Christ are “unsearchable,” for eternity in New Jerusalem we will explore and appreciate them.

This good news is conveyed by the chorus of a hymn by Witness Lee (words music):
New Jerusalem__O the riches, O the riches,
____Christ my Savior has for me!
____(or, Christ my Savior is to me!)
__How unsearchable their measure,
____Yet my full reality!

This thanksgiving and praise is our song now and will be our song in New Jerusalem. Regarding now, may the last verse of the hymn be our longing:
__May I know these boundless riches,
____Christ experience in full;
__And with others may I share them
____In their content bountiful.

As an application of this longing, consider Ephesians 2:4-6—God’s rich mercy and great love for us, and His enlivening, raising up, and seating us with Christ. May we experience each of these and share our appreciation with others. These are so that (2:7) God “might display in the ages to come (including New Jerusalem) the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Shadows of New Jerusalem in Psalm 118 (2)

Four crucial matters in the Psalms are Christ, house, city, earth. Christ is prophesied in many Psalms. Our experience of Christ brings us into God’s house, which enlarges to become God’s city for His reign over the whole earth. The climax of these four matters is New Jerusalem on the new earth (Rev. 21:1-2).

We resume looking at prophecies and shadows in Psalms about Christ, God’s house, city, and the earth. The prior Psalms post ended at 118:19, “Open to me the gates of righteous-ness: I will enter in.” Christ and His death are the New Testament gate; let’s all enter.

Psalm 118:22, quoted in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, and 1 Peter, says:

New Jerusalem

Ephesians 2:20-22 tells us that Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone*, in whom all of God’s building is fitted together, growing, and being built. God’s house and God’s city exist in Christ, who is the Cornerstone joining us all together. Ultimately New Jerusalem is in Christ.

Christ is the Cornerstone. In ourselves, our nationalities, cultures, and races, we are all separated, but we are one Body in Christ (Rom. 12:5) and in Christ we are growing together! The maturity of our growth is New Jerusalem.

The Jewish leaders rejected Christ Jesus and asked the Romans to crucify Him. Peter, speaking of this, says that they crucified Jesus Christ but God raised Him from the dead. He continues by quoting Psalm 118, “This is the stone which was considered as nothing by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner” (Acts 4:10-11).

Peter says that in resurrection Christ Jesus became the Cornerstone. This matches the nature of New Jerusalem, a city in resurrection. Psalm 118:23 says, “This is from Jehovah; it is wonderful in our sight.” Surely resurrection is from God and is wonderful to us.

* In the New Testament cornerstone and head of the corner are equivalent.

From One New Man unto New Jerusalem

The one flock in John 10 is the first definite word in the New Testament about our spiritual oneness; the description of New Jerusalem is the last. In John 10 the Lord said that He would lay down His human life in death to produce His one flock. His death to produce the oneness God desires is also seen in Ephesians 2:14-16:

New JerusalemHe Himself is our peace, He who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of partition, the enmity, abolishing in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, so making peace, and might reconcile both in  one Body to God through the cross, having slain the enmity by it.

While the Lord was dying on the cross He was also creating one new man—an amazing accomplishment! This creating is coupled with reconciling us to God in one Body. Both the creating and the reconciling produce “one” out of “two.”

The “two” are the Jews and the Gentiles (all the non-Jewish peoples). These are identical to the two groups of sheep in John 10 which the Lord made into one flock.

In making the “two” into “one” He not only made peace but also He became our peace. The oneness of the new man in Christ is full of peace—a stark contrast to the divisions, arguments, and angry actions in the world. Like the one flock, this one new man, the one spiritual Body of Christ, consummates in the one New Jerusalem and our peace in Christ also points to New Jerusalem since “Jerusalem” means “foundation of peace.”

A Pillar in the Temple with the Name of God, New Jerusalem, and the Lord

New JerusalemIn Revelation 3:12 the Lord Jesus promises, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall by no means go out anymore, and I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”

The pillars in God’s temple are living persons, people closely identified with God, New Jerusalem, and the Lord Jesus.

This, like many other verses (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:9, Eph. 2:21-22, 4:15-16, 1 Peter 2:5) show that God’s New Testament building is spiritual. God’s building of Himself into His people and His building His people together has replaced the physical buildings of the Old Testament.

We will not merely be in New Jerusalem (with the possibility of going out) but built into it so that we “shall by no means go out anymore.” This city is a living building joined/fitted/knit together in life, as are the members of our physical body.

Revelation 21:22 tells us that the Triune God is the temple of New Jerusalem—“the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” And the overcomers are being built into this living building as pillars during this age and fully in the coming kingdom age. Nothing physical about this. In eternity all God’s people will be built into New Jerusalem and into the temple.

Lord Jesus, grant us grace every day that we may cooperate with You to overcome. Build us into Your building and write Yourself and New Jerusalem on us. 

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