A Fourth Mystery Points to New Jerusalem

Christ is the mystery of God (Col. 2:2) and the church is the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4-11). Christ and the church, as Husband and wife, are the great mystery (Eph. 5:32) a predecessor of Christ the Lamb and New Jerusalem as Husband and wife (Rev. 21:10).

Colossians 1:26 speaks of the revelation of “the mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations but now has been manifested.” Verse 27 unveils this mystery, “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which [mystery] is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

New JerusalemToday Christ is life in every believer, as in Colossians 3:4. When He returns and is manifested in glory visibly, this life will also be manifested in glory (3:4). Hence, Christ our life today is also Christ as our hope of glory.

This is the glory which New Jerusalem has and which the city will radiate eternally (Rev. 21:11, 23). This glory is of God in Christ, not of us, but it is in us.

God’s intention is “that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23). It is God’s choice in His mercy that Christ has become our hope of glory. Thank Him!

Christ in us will be manifested in glory to express God in a corporate entity, the city New Jerusalem. This is the fulfillment of God’s desire and purpose to create man in His image to express Him.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem is the Holy City

In Revelation 21:1-2 the apostle John says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth will be the holy city, “the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). The designation “holy city” signifies that the New Jerusalem is a city sanctified and separated unto God for fulfilling His purpose. It is both sanctified and separated unto God positionally and sanctified and saturated with God dispositionally. It is holy both extrinsically and intrinsically. It is an entity, entirely and thoroughly holy, that fits in with God’s holy nature for God’s expression to fulfill His heart’s desire.*

New JerusalemWe are sanctified, separated positionally at the time we believe into Christ Jesus. An example is the believers in Corinth who had many problems but were “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:2). We are sanctified, saturated dispositionally by the Spirit’s working within us through our whole Christian life. We are “those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 2:11, 10:14).

This sanctification brings forth New Jerusalem as the holy city, a city without any spot or blemish, a city pure and clear shining with the glory of God.


* Conclusion of the New Testament, The, chapter 13, by Witness Lee

Photo courtesy of Burning Well.

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.

New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Prior posts speak of our transformation by the Spirit’s renewing to bring forth New Jerusalem as the full expression of the Triune God. Our transformation and renewing from men of dust in the old creation to living stones in the new creation is also a sanctification, a washing. Transformation, renewing, and washing are not separate actions but three views of the same action.

New JerusalemThere are two washings in our Christian life. One is the cleansing from sins by the blood of Jesus. That is a judicial matter. The other washing is living, by the flow of His life within us. This post is about the living washing.

Titus 3:5: “according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Regeneration, being born again, is a once for all matter. But regeneration brings eternal life into us and this life is a flowing life. This flow, portrayed by the river of water of life in New Jerusalem, washes us continually.

Ephesians 5:25-27 also speaks of our sanctification by this washing: “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things.”

On the cross Christ gave Himself to gain the church. Now He is “cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.” The goal of this washing is that the church, as the forerunner of New Jerusalem, be glorious, radiating the glory of God.

New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Revelation 4 says that God on the throne has the appearance of jasper and Revelation 21 says that New Jerusalem shines like a jasper stone. Thus New Jerusalem matches and fully expresses God.

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is like a jasper stone because all who have believed into Jesus Christ have not only been regenrated with Him as the eternal life but also have been transformed into His image. Second Corinthians 3:18 speaks of this.

“We all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.”

From regeneration we are gradually transformed “into the same image,” that is, into the image of our Lord.

This transformation is a renewing (Rom. 12:2) which brings our entire being out of the old creation and into the new creation to match New Jerusalem.

This transformation is also “from glory to glory” which prepares us for New Jerusalem, a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Transformation requires our cooperation. Second Corinthians 3:16-18 shows that transformation occurs as we turn our heart to the Lord. Likewise, the conformation to the image of God’s Son in Romans 8:29 takes place in “those who love God.”

May we all love the Lord and love His appearing thereby letting the Spirit transform us into His glorious image for New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Gold, Pearls, and Precious Stones of New Jerusalem Portray God

New JerusalemRevelation is a book of spiritual signs (1:1). For example, in 1:20 the Lord Jesus tells us that the seven lampstands are signs of the seven churches and the seven stars signify the messengers of the churches.

New Jerusalem, the conclusion of Revelation and of the whole Bible, is described in Revelation 21–22. The city has many spiritual signs, including those of its appearance, size, and materials. Here is something about the spiritual significance of the materials.

The New Jerusalem has three sections. The city proper, or the city itself, is pure gold (21:18b). This means that the base of the city is gold. The second part of the city is its twelve gates, each of which is a pearl (vv. 12-13, 21). The third part of the city is the wall with its foundations, all of which are precious stones (vv. 14, 18a, 19-20). The entire wall is jasper, and the foundation of the wall has twelve layers. The first layer of the foundation also is jasper. Revelation 4:2-3a tells us that God’s appearance is like jasper. Thus, in appearance the city is exactly the same as God. God appears like jasper, and the city also appears like jasper.*

The base of New Jerusalem is the divine nature, portrayed by gold. Nothing natural, nothing of the old creation can support this marvelous city. On this base and with the jasper, New Jerusalem has the same appearance as God because the purpose of the city is to express God, to manifest His glory.

* The Organic Union in God’s Relationship with Man, chapter 6, by Witness Lee.


TO MY READERS:

Most of the posts in the coming months will include quotes from the website Excerpts from Books by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee by Living Stream Ministry. Each post will identify the specific source for the quotation.

This week my blog returns to three posts a week, ending the two posts a week which began in November.

The Gospel of the Glory of God is for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem comes down out of heaven “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The city has the glory to manifest, to display God’s fullness. New Jerusalem first comes to us in “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

The gospel is God’s good news to us. When this good news first comes to us the emphasis is that we receive forgiveness of sins and gain eternal life. Yet, the goal of the gospel is to bring us into glory.

First Timothy 1:15-17 speaks of this: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Verse 16 says we “are to believe on Him [Jesus Christ] unto eternal life.” Then verse 17, “to the King of the ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.” The salvation of sinners points to honor and glory to God forever, which certainly involves New Jerusalem.

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy tell the Thessalonians that God called them to salvation “through our gospel unto the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 2:14). All who believe into Jesus Christ obtain glory. And all become constituents of New Jerusalem.

What we obtain in our initial experience of salvation still needs to be worked into our entire being. For this we behold the Lord so that the Lord Spirit can transform us “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). At the Lord’s return our body of humiliation will be transfigured to “be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21).

The steps of initial salvation, transformation, and transfiguration all prepare us for New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of BurningWell.

New Jerusalem, the City of the Great King

Psalm 48:1-2: “Great is Jehovah, and much to be praised in the city of our God, In His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” In reading the Psalms, I appreciated the parallels between these verses and New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe greatness of the Lord is proclaimed in this Psalm, related to Jerusalem of the Psalmist’s time. The Lord’s greatness will be fully manifested and praised in New Jerusalem, the eternal city of the great King.

The Psalmist considered Jerusalem of his time to be beautiful and a joy of the whole earth. Much more New Jerusalem will have these characteristics. Jerusalem was “beautiful in elevation” and New Jerusalem will be elevated even more on the new earth.

Psalm 50:2 continues this praise of Jerusalem: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.” Zion is the peak of the current Jerusalem, the place where the temple was built and will be rebuilt. These Psalmists loved and appreciated God in every way. Therefore they had God’s view and declared that Zion is “the perfection of beauty.” Even more, this will be true of New Jerusalem, the eternal Zion.

The Psalmist realized God’s shining from Zion of old. Much more New Jerusalem will shine with the glory of God (Rev. 21:23) and will be the ultimate manifestation of what is in these verses.

Enter through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

We continue with the contrasts of physical shadows and spiritual realities in Hebrews. The realities match characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 9:1 is about the first covenant, the shadows. Its sanctuary was of “this world,” of the old creation, in contrast to New Jerusalem which is of the new creation. 

New JerusalemVerses 3 to 5 present the gold and the glory of the Holy of Holies. The gold is the nature of God and the glory is the expression of God. Both gold and glory are characteristics of New Jerusalem, and the city is a cube, the eternal Holy of Holies.

In contrast, verse 2 mentions the table and the lampstand in the holy place but does not say that they are of gold. This omission emphasizes that the shadows of the old creation do not compare with New Jerusalem.

Verses 6 to 8 show us that the entrance into the reality is only possible based upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is our entrance into New Jerusalem, and today we come forward to the heavenly Holy of Holies.

Verses 9 and 10 (and 10:1) tell us that the shadows are temporary and that they cannot perfect those who hold to that form of worship. But 10:14 tells us that Christ “has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” This perfection has New Jerusalem as its goal.

New Jerusalem is a Spiritual Blessing

Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” Verses 4 to 14 present some details of these spiritual blessings. New Jerusalem is the consummation of all these blessings.

The blessings are from the Triune God. Ephesians 1:4-6 speaks about the Father’s selection and predestination. Verses 7-12 speak of the Son’s redemption for the accomplishing of God’s eternal purpose. Verses 13-14 speak of the Spirit”s applying to us what the Son accomplished.

New JerusalemEach of these three sections leads to the praise of God’s glory. Ultimately New Jerusalem will have and display God’s glory and praises will go to God for this glory.

First Corinthians 10:16 tells us that “the cup of blessing which we bless” is the fellowship of the blood of Christ. This too is a spiritual blessing.

Galatians 3:13-14 proclaim that “Christ has redeemed us…in order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Here the blessing we receive is the Spirit. This is an eternal blessing based on God’s promise to Abraham.

Jesus told us that our heavenly Father will care for our outward needs. This is true but God’s highest desire is to bless us with Himself.  The blessing of New Jerusalem is not outward but it is to live in and with the Triune God for eternity.

God’s Multifarious Wisdom Made Known

Ephesians 3 tells us that God wants to enlighten us concerning His eternal purpose. God “created all things, in order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

New JerusalemGod’s purpose is to display His magnificent wisdom now through the church and much more to display it through New Jerusalem for eternity.

New Jerusalem shines with the glory of God. This is not merely a brightness but a display of all that God is and has accomplished.

God has forgiven our sins but that is not His goal. Forgiveness cleanses us to receive His eternal life. But that is not the goal. Eternal life is in us to grow and build us together as the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), the church, through which God is manifested in humanity.

Today the world is full of corruption, wars, murders, deceit, homelessness, and many more problems. All these negative things are the dark background for the manifestation of God’s infinite wisdom. If the entire human situation were simple, smooth, and clean, such wisdom would not be needed.

God has allowed Satan some freedom to work in humanity but eventually all Satan will be able to do is to provide the opportunity for God to manifest His wisdom. God wants this today in the church and will fully realize it in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Eternal Purpose in Song (6)

God’s eternal purpose is to become one with His people to dwell with them eternally as New Jerusalem and to manifest His glory through the city.

We have followed a song* about God’s purpose from creation to the flow of eternal life for the building up of God’s dwelling to the throne, river of life, and tree of life which characterize New Jerusalem. The song’s
New Jerusalemnext verse is:

God in Christ, the glorious light,
Thru the city brightly shines,
Scattering all the deathly night
With its light of life divine.

This corresponds with words in Revelation. In 21:11 New Jerusalem has “the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.”

And in 21:23, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” In 22:5 we read, “And night will be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them.”

God shines in Christ and through Christ to enlighten the entire city. This glorious light radiates further to enlighten the new creation. This is the ultimate manifestation of Jesus Christ as the “light of life” (John 1:4; 8:12).

In New Jerusalem “night will be no more” because every member of the city will be fully in resurrection with no need for sleep. God in Christ is our eternal day in New Jerusalem.

——
* music (composer unknown), words by Witness Lee

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Eternal Purpose in Song (3)

A song* about God’s purpose begins with God in Christ becoming life to man so that God and man can be united for God’s eternal glory, expressed through New Jerusalem. The third verse:

New JerusalemBy the flow of life divine,
Man becomes a precious stone
Fit for building God’s abode,
That His glory might be known.

Through His redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection (1 Peter 1:3), Jesus Christ has become our life. Now, as the song says, this life wants to flow, as pictured by the river of life in Genesis 2.

The flow of life transforms us (2 Cor. 3:18) to become precious stones. This is seen in Old Testament symbolism by the gold, bdellium, and onyx stone brought forth by the river in Genesis 2. We who believe into Him are the real stones for God’s living building. As Peter tells us, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).

This verse in Peter matches, and undergirds, the second and third lines of the song’s verse above. Peter goes on to say we were chosen and acquired so that “you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (v. 2:9). This is to glorify God now (and much more in New Jerusalem).

The purpose of becoming stones is the building and the goal of the building work is that God’s glory might be known. Ephesians speaks much about building and 3:21 says, “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever.” Glory to God forever is New Jerusalem “having the glory of God.”

——
* music (composer unknown), words by Witness Lee

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