New Jerusalem, the Fullness of God

Colossians 1:19 declares that in Christ “all the fullness was pleased to dwell.” This fullness is the expression of all the riches of God.* Colossians 2:9 says “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” By incarnation, all the fullness of the Godhead is in the God-man Jesus Christ.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:22-23 go further, saying that the church, the Body of Christ is “the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” Not only Christ Himself, but now in resurrection also the Body composed of all His believers, is the fullness. The corporate Body will become the corporate New Jerusalem, so New Jerusalem will be the fullness of God.

The Body is the fullness because “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Ephesians 1 is a prayer for revelation that we might see all that God has operated in Christ unto the church. This is somewhat objective. Receiving grace upon grace is definitely subjective. This grace constitutes the church as the fullness in reality, preparing us for New Jerusalem.

We receive grace and we minister grace to one another, that we may be “good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). For this ministry the members of the Body specially gifted by the Head (Eph. 4:11) labor to perfect all of us “unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ” (4:12). This building of the Body is also the preparation of the bride (in Eph. 5), which becomes New Jerusalem.

Our ministry (Eph. 4:12) results in all arriving at the practical oneness, “at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The goal of our Christian growth is the fullness of Christ, His Body now and New Jerusalem in the future.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

* See this footnote on Col. 1:19 in the Online Recovery Version NT.

New Jerusalem: Fullness of the Triune God

Colossians 2:9 proclaims that “in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Bodily refers to the man Jesus Christ with a human body. Fullness is not only the riches of the Godhead but the expression of these riches.*

New JerusalemThe riches of God are in Christ (1 2 3 4) and so is the expression, the fullness of these riches. Jesus Christ is on the throne in New Jerusalem, so the riches and fullness in Him fill New Jerusalem.

John 1:16 declares that “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” We have received not merely grace but grace upon grace that we may become one with Him in expressing the Triune God, starting now and advancing to New Jerusalem.

This corporate expression is presented in Ephesians 1:22-23, which says the church “is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” Through the enjoyment of Christ’s riches [Eph. 3:8], we become His fullness to express Him.**

Ephesians 3 presents an ascending path to this fullness. In answer to prayer, God strengthens us (v. 16), Christ makes His home in us (v. 17), we get rooted and grounded in love (v. 17), we apprehend Christ’s vastness (v. 18), we know His love (v. 19), and we are filled unto all the fullness of God (v. 19). The conclusion is glory to God forever (v. 21), which clearly points to New Jerusalem.

Besides our prayer according to the pattern in Ephesians 3, chapter 4 sets forth our practice. The ascended Christ gave gifted members (v. 8-11); we cooperate by receiving their ministry to be perfected (v. 12) so that we all can share in the work of the ministry for building up (v. 12) until we all arrive “at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Ephesians 4 is for now, so don’t passively wait until New Jerusalem.

* from footnote 1, Colossians 2:9NT Recovery Version Online; more from Col. 1:19
** from footnote 2, Ephesians 1:23.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

God’s Goal is New Jerusalem

Revelation 20:10: “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:14: “death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21:4: “death will be no more, nor sorrow or crying or pain anymore.”

New JerusalemAs human beings, we might be very happy and satisfied with these conditions. However, God is not satisfied. Why? Because these remove what is contrary to God’s purpose but these actions do not fulfill God’s purpose nor reach His goal.

God’s goal is to bring forth, by His life in human beings, a corporate expression of Himself. God’s goal is achieved with New Jerusalem “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God is the expression of God; this is the primary characteristic of New Jerusalem.

The expression of God is accomplished by God’s life maturing in us. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross removed all the barriers between us and God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ imparted Him as life into us (1 Peter 1:3).

The effects of the death and resurrection of Christ are seen in Romans 5:10, “if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life.” Reconciliation with God is a result of the death of Christ, and salvation in life is a result of the resurrection of Christ.

The “much more” salvation is the spreading, the increase, of Christ as life in us. The increase of life generates the increase of expression. A small green plant might be unidentifiable, but when the plant grows to full size and brings forth blossoms or fruit, then this expression surely will identify the plant. Likewise, when Christ grows in us to maturity, God will be expressed in full by all of us built together to be 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.

New Jerusalem has the Fullness of Christ

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is God’s consummation of everything positive in the Bible. Recently the Lord caused Ephesians 4:13 to rise up in me and I realized that its goals correspond with New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:11 says that the ascended Christ gave gifted members to His Body. In verse 12 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.” We all need perfecting so that we all participate in the ministry.

The proper ministry results in “the building up of the Body of Christ.” The consummation of this building up is New Jerusalem. Ephesians 4:13 gives us the goals of the building work,

“Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

At present we are still in the process of arriving at these goals. In contrast, New Jerusalem is the full expression of verse 13. New Jerusalem is in oneness, it is full-grown, and it has the full stature of Christ.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Love God to Partake of What He Prepared

Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God gained us as vessels to contain and display the riches of His glory. He also created us as His masterpiece in Christ Jesus to walk in the good works He had prepared beforehand. These steps are part of the preparation of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

New JerusalemGod has completed another preparation. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

These things are spiritual, not material. Rather, 1 Corinthians 2:6-14 shows that these things have the following three characteristics which relate them to New Jerusalem.

✽ These God-prepared things are of God’s wisdom, in a mystery, predestined for glory (v. 2:7). Both God’s wisdom and glory will be manifested through New Jerusalem.

✽ These God-prepared things are of the Spirit, revealed through the Spirit, known by the Spirit we received, and discerned spiritually (v. 10-12, 14). Like all of God’s New Testament building work, New Jerusalem is a spiritual city with the Spirit Himself flowing as the river of water of life to supply the city.

✽ These God-prepared things are spoken in words taught by the Spirit to full-grown spiritual men (v. 13, 6). New Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb, Christ and in Revelation 22:17 the Spirit and the bride speak together. Also, God’s New Testament building work is a matter of growth in life (Ephesians 2:21, 4:16); in New Jerusalem as the consummation of the New Testament all the believers are full grown.

These things are God-prepared “for those who love Him.” As the bride, New Jerusalem surely loves the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

New Jerusalem is a Living City, a City of Life

New JerusalemFrom Matthew to Jude God’s building is the Triune God as life working in His people to build us together. New Jerusalem, the consummation of this New Testament building, is the same; it is God and His people built together. It is not composed of physical materials. John tells us,

I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

An angel told John that the city coming down from God is

The bride, the wife of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:9-10)

This is the clearest word in Revelation that New Jerusalem is a living entity. The bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is not a material city. The Lamb’s bride is a living city to match Him who is life. Furthermore, in Revelation 19:7 and 22:17 we read,

Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
The Spirit and the bride say, Come! 

The wife of the Lamb has made herself ready and she speaks one with the Spirit. These also are clear statements that the wife, New Jerusalem, is a living entity, not a city constructed with physical materials.

Since New Jerusalem is a city built in life, let us give ourselves to Jesus Christ our life and to His growth in us. The apostle Paul was laboring intensively to present every Christian full grown in Christ (Col. 1:27-29). Through his epistles in a sense he is still laboring; let us labor with him. Our advance to full growth in Christ is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo of Ireland by Toby Shelton.

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.

Let’s Go On to Maturity for God’s Building

A scientific image based on motion of NASA's Fermi Space Telescope, NASA:DOE:Fermi LAT CollaborationFirst Corinthians 3 is the next stop on our look at God’s New Testament building work. The building is first mentioned in verse 9, and verses 1 to 9 show that this is a building in life. The life elements are:
infants (v. 1), with a need for growth
 milk and solid food (v. 2), the nourishment for growth
 planting and watering (v. 6-8), care for what is alive
 God giving growth (v. 6-7), the development of life
 God’s farm (v. 9), a commune of living things

First Corinthians 3:10-15 focus on the building, showing that:
 the foundation is Jesus Christ (v. 10-11)
 our building work must be upon this foundation (v. 12, 14)
 the materials we use will be tested and revealed by fire (v. 12-13)
 the proper work will remain and the improper work will be consumed (v. 14-15)

Verse 9 ties the life and growth to the building, saying that we are God’s farm/field/ husbandry and equally we are God’s building. Humanly, these are separate but God has a living building, an organism where growing is building.

(Although physical materials are listed in v. 12, these are symbols of the actual, spiritual building materials. This parallels milk and solid food as symbols of spiritual nourishment, and planting and watering as symbols of the gospel and care for new believers.)

Let us give ourselves to take both the milk of the word (1 Peter 2:2-3) and the solid food (Hebrews 5:13-14) so that we may grow with the growth given by God for His building.  Eventually we will all be mature and we will all be in New Jerusalem.

The image is a scientific graphic by a NASA-U.S. Dept. of Energy-Fermi LAT collaboration.

Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone

At the end of Matthew 21 is a parable. In verse 42 the Lord Jesus asked, quoting Psalm 118:22-23,

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”?

New Jerusalem is spiritualThe Lord did not explicitly identify Himself as this Stone. But, in Acts 4:10-12 Peter clearly tells us that Jesus Christ the Nazarene is this Stone. Paul confirms this in Ephesians 2:20 saying that Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone.

In the context of Ephesians 2:11-22 the Lord became Cornerstone to join His believers from the nations to His believers from among the Jews. Those of the nations had no hope and were apart from God (v. 11-12) but we were brought near by the blood Jesus shed on the cross (v. 13). Through His death, He became our peace and reconciled us all in one Body to God (v. 14-16).

Now peace is announced to the nations and to the Jews and “through Him we both have access in one Spirit unto the Father” (v. 17-18). Hence we are no longer strangers but members of the household of God (v. 19) and are being built together in Christ Jesus the Cornerstone (v. 20-22).

Since the Lord Himself is the Stone, He is the strongest evidence that God’s New Testament building is a living building, not something physical. This living building grows until it reaches its final state in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Born into the Kingdom of Life

Limekiln St Park, CARevelation 22:1-2a says, “And 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. And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month.” The throne in New Jerusalem indicates that it is a kingdom, the ultimate manifestation of the kingdom of God.

We might have a mental image of a kingdom with commands and judgments coming from the throne. New Jerusalem is not like this—what issues from the throne is the river of water of life with the tree of life. This is a kingdom of life!

The way to enter this kingdom of life is by a new birth, a second birth (John 3:3, 5). Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The other side of this coin is, if one is born of water and the Spirit, he enters the kingdom of God.

By this birth we receive eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem. This birth is the enlivening of our human spirit, our innermost part, which had been dead, and this birth and new life is our entrance into the kingdom of God.

We should remember the picture of human life—birth is followed by growth and growth continues until maturity. Likewise we grow in the eternal life, being transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18) into the Lord’s image of glory. By such growth our being will match New Jerusalem. While we are growing, let us be thankful for our new birth.

Related posts:
Growing with the Growth of God
Growth in Life by Holding Fast the Word of God

ps: There are many verses about the kingdom in the New Testament. These verses touch many aspects of God’s kingdom and those touching other aspects (e.g. our responsibilities) do not negate the fact that the essence of the kingdom is life.

Positional and Dispositional Aspects of Christian Life

Christ is lifeBeginning from Genesis 3, God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness prevented man from receiving eternal life (symbolized by the tree of life). This exclusion persisted until Christ’s redemption. Now everyone who believes in Jesus Christ receives eternal life. With this life, we have God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness.

We have the divine attributes in two stages. The first is positional, accounted to us the instant we believe. The second is dispositional, worked into our being practically as we grow through our entire Christian life.

An example of these two stages is the army. A citizen who takes the oath of enlistment becomes a member of the army, a soldier. This happens in a minute and is positional. However, this person does not yet live, act, and think like a true soldier. Therefore, the person needs training and practice. These continue through the entire time the person is in the army; this is dispositional.

In the human realm we are born as babies and then have a long period of growing and developing. It is the same spiritually. When we believe in the Lord Jesus, we are born again (John 3:3) and become children of God (John 1:12). At that time we are babies, so 1 Peter 2:2 encourages us to drink the spiritual milk so that we may grow. Then we should grow until we are “full-grown in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). “Let us be brought on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1).

Regardless of how much anyone may have grown, even if to some degree “full-grown,” let us follow the example of Paul not to count ourselves to have laid hold but rather stretch forward to “pursue toward the goal” (Philippians 3:13-15).

As we grow in the divine life, as the divine life fills and saturates us, we are being constituted dispositionally with what is of God. In the next post we will consider our positional and dispositional experience of God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Sanctified for the Holy City, New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is “the holy city” (Revelation 21:2, 10) because God’s holy nature permeates it. Today our Father is disciplining us “that we might partake of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).  This  concludes a few posts with quotes, from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ, about New Jerusalem being holy.

New Jerusalem, holy city

God sanctifies us so that we may be established in His holy nature. God’s sanctifying us is a very important and particular item in God’s organic salvation. Not only is God Himself holy, but He also wants to make us holy. Eventually, He wants to make us the holy city, New Jerusalem. In the universe God is holiness; whenever people touch God, they touch holiness (cf. Isa. 6:2-3; Rev. 4:8). Hence, in His organic salvation God’s intention is to constitute us with His holy nature so that we may become the Body of Christ and ultimately be manifested as an established holy city, New Jerusalem. Since all the believers will be the components of the holy city, all of them should be sanctified to be as holy as the holy city. Unless we are made holy, we will not be qualified to be a part of the New Jerusalem. As the holy city, the New Jerusalem is composed of holy believers.

In order to sanctify us, God has put us “in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The three aspects of Christ as wisdom to us are reviewed in a note* on this verse.

Christ became wisdom to us from God as three vital things in God’s salvation: (1) righteousness (for our past), by which we have been justified by God, that we might be reborn in our spirit to receive the divine life (Rom. 5:18); (2) sanctification (for our present), by which we are being sanctified in our soul, i.e., transformed in our mind, emotion, and will, with His divine life (Rom. 6:19, 22); and (3) redemption (for our future), i.e., the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), by which we will be transfigured in our body with His divine life to have His glorious likeness (Phil. 3:21). It is of God that we participate in such a complete and perfect salvation, which makes our entire being — spirit, soul, and body — organically one with Christ and makes Christ everything to us. This is altogether of God, not of ourselves, that we may boast and glory in Him, not in ourselves.

Thank God for such a wonderful salvation for our whole being.

* In The NT Recovery Version Online, © 1997-2012 by LSM

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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