God’s NT Building is Living and Spiritual (9)

Ephesians presents much about our growth into Christ in all things, which matches His growth within us, and our being built together in Him. New Jerusalem, a living city, is the consummation of this growth and building.

New Jerusalem

Here are links to recent posts on God’s living New Testament building. The key verses in each post are listed.

Jesus Christ is the living Cornerstone of God’s NT building. Matt. 21:33-41; Acts 4:10-12
Jesus Christ is the Living Stone and we also are living stones. John 1:41-42; 1 Peter 2:2-7
Jesus Christ is the temple in resurrection, and all His believers are part of this temple.
John 1:14, 2:19-22, 14:2, 23; 2 Cor. 6:16

We are God’s cultivated land, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:1-16
In Christ Jesus all the building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. Eph. 2:19-22
We have been rooted and are being built up in Christ Jesus. Eph. 3:16-21; Col. 2:6-7

Our growth in life is for the building up of the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16
The growth of the Body is unto the building up of itself in love. Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19

Earlier posts about New Jerusalem as a city of life and God’s NT building in life:

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm
The Living House Becomes the Living City
New Jerusalem is a Living City

New Jerusalem is a Living City, a City of Life
New Jerusalem is a Living, Spiritual City
We are God’s Living House

God’s NT Building is Living and Spiritual (8)

Ephesians 4:11-16 focuses on God’s life being ministered for our growth in life and for furtherance of God’s New Testament building work. The growth and the building work are inseparably linked and both consummate in New Jerusalem.

By holding the Head, Christ, we “grow up into Him in all things” (v. 4:15). Then there is a flow out from Him which joins us together and knits us together. This flow is both through the gifted members (v. 4:11) and “through the operation in the measure of each one part” (v. 4:16). “Each one part” equals every believer in Christ, every member of the Body of Christ.

New JerusalemThis flow through all of us “causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love” (v. 4:16). The growth of the Body and the building up of the Body proceed together. This is God NT way which ultimately concludes with New Jerusalem.

Colossians 2:19 is parallel, “holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.” Our holding to Christ the Head allows a rich supply to flow out from Him for our knitting together and growth.

The whole Body, including all the members, “grows with the growth of God.” God was born into us at regeneration and is growing within us. New Jerusalem is the consummation of this growth; it is the manifestation of God in/through all His people built together.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s NT Building is Living and Spiritual (7)

God’s New Testament building comes forth from the growth of His life in us. New Jerusalem is the consummation of this growth and building up.

Ephesians 4:11-16 speaks much about growth and building. Verse 11 says that the ascended Christ gave some as particular gifted members to His spiritual Body. These gifted members are “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ” (v. 12).

The gifted members train all the members to minister Christ to one another. This ministering is a life supply which issues in the building up of the Body. The goal is that “we all arrive at the oneness of the faith…, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Here “full-grown man” clearly indicates our growth in the divine life.

New JerusalemOn the positive side growth brings building up, pointing toward New Jerusalem. On the negative side growth brings us away from spiritual childhood where we are subject to “winds of teaching” and other aspects of a “system of error” (v. 14).

For our growth, for our building up, we need the gifted members (v. 11). We all also need to hold to truth in love (v. 15). Jesus Christ Himself is the truth, the reality, as He declared in John 14:6. We hold to Him in love. One aspect of holding in love is to declare Lord Jesus, I love You.

This loving of Him certainly will intensify as we are prepared to be His bride, His wife, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9-10).

 

 

The River is from the Throne both Today and in New Jerusalem

In Revelation 22:1 the river of water of life flows out from the throne of God and the Lamb to supply the entire city for eternity. This flow is the Spirit. We also see this river in New Testament epistles for the preparation of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWhen Paul wrote Philippians he was in a Roman prison and he also describes another difficulty. Yet he says in 1:19, “I know that for me this [prison and difficulty] will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians begins, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The blessings from our Father and our Lord are realized in the bountiful supply which is the Spirit. This is the present realization of the river (the Spirit as the bountiful supply) from the throne of God and the Lamb.

The result of this flow is Paul’s expectation that “even now Christ will be magnified in my body.” The flow of the Spirit produces the expression/magnification of Christ just as the river in New Jerusalem maintains the expression/magnification of God by the city.

Similarly both Ephesians 4:15-16 and Colossians 2:19 speak of a rich supply flowing out from the Head, Christ, which results in the building up of His Body. The rich supply is the Spirit and the building up is the preparation of New Jerusalem. Lord, keep us in this rich supply of the Spirit to prepare us for New Jerusalem! 

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

Characteristics Now and in New Jerusalem

Ephesians 4:12-24 contains many positives: perfecting, building, oneness, full-grown, fullness, truth, love, reality, righteousness, holiness. These characteristics do not refer to the natural realm or from natural effort.

New JerusalemThey all come from being in Christ, learning Christ, hearing Christ, and growing up into Him as the Head of the Body. Because these all are Christ and our experience of Him, they are also characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:12-24 also contains many negatives: sleight, craftiness, error, vanity, darkness, ignorance, hard-ness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, greediness, corruption, deceit.

These all result from mankind being alienated from the life of God. None of these will be in New Jerusalem nor anywhere in the new creation, except in the lake of fire.

In our daily living, the key for us as believers to get away from the negatives and into the positives is verse 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The Spirit has regenerated our spirit—this is John 3:6, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Now we are one spirit with the Lord—this is 1 Corinthians 6:17.

These two steps—regeneration and renewing—are also seen in Titus 3:5, “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” This renewing is not a change from bad behavior to good behavior. Rather, it is a change from living in the old humanity, the fallen humanity that is apart from God to living Christ and letting Him become the reality of our human virtues. This is a living that corresponds to New Jerusalem.

Two Aspects of Redemption on Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

In Christ Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, through which we become sons of God. This redemption has been fully accomplished and is eternal. This is the first step on our path to New Jerusalem.

Based on redemption, we become sons of God by His life entering into us. This is the new birth, the regeneration, of our spirit. This life gradually spreads into our soul to renew and transform us*. Now, as Christians, “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).

New JerusalemWe already are sons of God, but we are in the initial stage of sonship. We eagerly await the full sonship, “the redemption of our body.” This is the second step of redemption on our path to New Jerusalem. This will transpire at the Lord’s second coming.

Ephesians 1 tells us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit “who is the pledge/ guarantee of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” God is our inheritance both today and in a fuller way when our body is redeemed.

We need to cooperate to reach this goal. Ephesians 4 cautions us, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Spirit is working in us to transform our soul, to prepare us for the redemption of our body and take us unto New Jerusalem. We hinder this work and grieve the Spirit when we disobey the Spirit and live according to the flesh.

* See verses (and footnotes) in Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 3:18, Eph. 4:23, Titus 3:5.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and New Jerusalem

The gospel brings us to God’s redemption that we may receive His eternal life and partake of His salvation throughout our Christian life. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

“The gospel of Jesus,” “the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and “the gospel of Christ” are mentioned in about 30 New Testament verses. Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel and He will be the center of New Jerusalem. He is the same yesterday, today, and eternally (Heb. 13:8).

The first name and the last name (Rev. 22:21) in the New Testament is Jesus, proving that Jesus Christ is the subject and content of the New Testament.*

New JerusalemOn the cross Christ created one new man, composed of all the people He redeemed and reconciled to God, thus making peace (Eph. 2:14-16). In this one new man, the stepping stone to New Jerusalem, He is all and in all, and in Him our racial, social, cultural, and national distinctions have been eliminated (Col. 3:11). 

Now our need is to “be renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Eph. 4:23). By this renewing, which is day by day, not once for all, we practically put off the old man—our old ways of thinking and living—and put on the new man so that Christ is expressed. 

This renewing prepares us for New Jerusalem which is fully new in Christ and fully expresses Him. This is the goal of the gospel and the goal of Christ’s human living, death, resurrection, and ascension.

* Part of footnote 1 on Matt. 1:1 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 4

Ephesians presents the eternal love of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and His wife, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). Ephesians 1 and 2 focus on God’s love to us. Chapter 3 begins to set forth our experience of this love.

New JerusalemChapter 4 begins with an exhortation to walk worthily of God’s calling (4:1*). The first step in this walk is “with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love” (4:2). This is not our own love. Instead, as stated in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” This love maintains us in the oneness (4:3).

To no longer be tossed about as children (4:14) we need to grow into Christ in everything by holding Him, the reality, in love (4:15). As we grow into Him, a rich supply flows out from Him for “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love” (4:16).

The building up of the body of Christ, in love and by the rich supply flowing out from the Head, is part of the preparation of the bride of Christ. Both the body and the bride are living compositions of all His believers. By the rich supply we are not only “joined together” but even more “knit together” (4:16).

In New Jerusalem we will be “no longer little children,” nor “tossed about,” but fully knit together, grown to maturity, and built up in love.

*Verse numbers without a book name are in Ephesians.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Putting Off, Putting On, for New Jerusalem

We follow the Lord Jesus on the path to New Jerusalem by applying His death as we deny ourself, so that all our natural life is terminated. This opens the door for the divine life, the eternal life, the life we received in regeneration, the life of New Jerusalem, to spread in us and to be magnified in our living (Phil. 1:20-21).

New JerusalemThe exchange of the natural and divine living is presented in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man…and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality.”

Galatians 2:20 also shows this putting off and putting on: “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith…” This living one with Christ in me is the life of the new man and of New Jerusalem.

“It is no longer I who live” is because “I am crucified with Christ” and by the Spirit I am applying this every day. This is putting off the old living. This is to deny self and bear the cross daily. “Christ lives in me” to impart the resurrection power for this denying.

“I now live in faith.” This is putting on the new man who ultimately becomes New Jerusalem.

A Rich Supply, Now and New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:1: “He showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.” We continue with verses about the rich/bountiful supply flowing to us today just as the water of life will flow to us in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 4:15-16 exhorts us to hold to truth (which is Christ) in love that we may grow up into Him in everything. These verses then tell us a rich supply flows out from Him for the building of His Body in love. This love is not our love but is His love in us (1 John 4).

The rich supply out from Christ the Head results in the building up of His Body for His purpose. Paralleling Genesis 2, this shows us Christ’s corporate Body comes out from Him and is unto Him.

Colossians 2:19 is a companion verse to Ephesians 4. Here, by holding the Head (Christ, the truth) His Body “being richly supplied and knit together” by what He supplies through His members, “grows with the growth of God.” God in Himself is perfect and does not grow, but the rich supply of the Spirit results in the increase/growth of God in us, which is very necessary. The maturity of this growth brings us to New Jerusalem.

Peter tells us that our ministering should be “out of the strength which God supplies; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Again, the supply comes out from God and the glory returns to Him.

Peter also tells us that by applying all that he presents in 2 Peter 1:3-10, “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly and bountifully supplied to you” (1:11). The spiritual reality of the eternal kingdom is here today, as in Romans 14:17. New Jerusalem is the eternal manifestation of this kingdom, the eternal product of this rich, bountiful supply.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Living Water Flows to, in New Jerusalem (5)

The “river of water of life” flowing from the throne in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1) is the eternal continuation of the living water the Lord Jesus promised in John’s gospel and of the bountiful supply of the Spirit in Philippians 1.

The river of living water is also the rich supply which comes to us from Jesus Christ.
Col. 2:19: “the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied…grows”
Eph. 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…the growth of the Body…”

New JerusalemThe rich supply from the Head, Christ, to His whole Body, is the gushing fountain in John 4 and the river in Revelation 22. We receive this rich supply by holding Christ as our Head and by growing up into Him in all things. This growth is to be headed up by Him in all details of our lives, so that Christ, not our natural preferences and desires, is in charge.

The rich supply results from our holding Christ. It also comes through the joints, gifted members given by the Head for the growth, the building up of His Body. The rich supply is not for our individual Christian progress; rather, it is for the knitting together of us as members of His Body.

This rich supply is God Himself flowing to us. Remember that “rivers of living water” in John 7:38 are “the Spirit” in 7:39. This is the flow in New Jerusalem; the Spirit flows out from the throne of God and the Lamb. By this flow “all the Body, being richly supplied…grows with the growth of God” (Col. 2:19).

God in Himself is perfect but He does need to grow, to increase, to spread in us. This is for Christ’s Body today and for New Jerusalem eternally.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (6)

Being perfected and growing to maturity are two closely related aspects of our Christian life. When we become mature and are perfected, we match New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemIn 1 Corinthians 3:1-3  Paul expresses concern about the Corinthians remaining “infants in Christ.” He desired that they grow. Likewise, Hebrews 5:12 expresses concern (sadness?) that the believers were spiritually young children. Then 6:1 urges, “let us be brought on to maturity.” Let us grow until we match New Jerusalem.

Likewise, the desire in Ephesians 4:14-15 is that “we may be no longer little children” but that “we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.” We grow up into Christ. This implies that we grow out of our self, out of our culture, and out of everything natural. We grow out of the old creation to match New Jerusalem in the new creation.

In Colossians 1:27 Christ is in us as our hope of glory, our hope of participating in the glory of New Jerusalem. In 1:28 Paul tells us that his announcing of the indwelling Christ has the goal to “present every man full-grown in Christ.” Sooner or later every believer will be full grown in Christ and will share in New Jerusalem.

This growth is not anything outward. Spiritual growth is not measured by physical years as a Christian, not measured by quantity of activities, not measured by knowledge or eloquence. Rather, as members of the Body of Christ, we “grow with the growth of God” (Col. 2:19).

God, in Himself, is perfect; He does not grow. But in us God needs more room, more flexibility, to grow, to spread, especially in our thinking, our emotions, and our decisions. Lord, increase in these aspects of my being!

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

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.* 

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