Conformed to the Image of God’s Son

New JerusalemIn Genesis 1:26 “God said, Let Us make man in Our image.” God’s goal is to have a corporate man as a expression of Himself. This is fully accomplished with New Jerusalem, which, identical to God, has an appearance “like a jasper stone” (God: Rev. 4:3, the city: 21:11).

Man was created in God’s image to be able to express God. This expression is not a theatrical performance; it requires man to receive God’s life. Adam failed to do this but today we have the redemption of Christ and the life-giving Spirit.

Romans 8:28 declares, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” What is the good here? Verse 29 answers: “Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.” All things work together not for our human profit or pleasure but for us to be conformed, by God’s Spirit operating in us, to the image of His Son.

The Spirit’s operation is clear in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “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.” But the Spirit requires our cooperation, to turn our heart to the Lord for our unveiling (3:16) and to behold the glory of the Lord (3:18).

This conforming work of the Spirit, with our cooperation, is the present development of New Jerusalem, the full and eternal corporate expression of God.

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God’s Corporate Expression

New JerusalemGenesis 1:26— “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion…” From eternity God’s purpose is to express Himself through a corporate man.

This mystery is unveiled beginning with the creation of man. In Genesis 1:26 God made “man” (singular) and gave “them” (plural) dominion, indicating a corporate man.

This corporate man is revealed much more in the New Testament. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). We “have put on the new man” out of many nations, social classes, and other human distinctions (Col. 3:10-11). Eventually the new man becomes the New Jerusalem.

Verse 1 [in Rev. 21] 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.” In eternity past God purposed to have a corporate expression that He might be fully expressed and glorified, and for this purpose He created the heavens, the earth, and mankind. After the millennium, the old heaven and old earth will pass away through fire and be renewed into the new heaven and new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13), into which the New Jerusalem will come for God’s eternal expression.*

In Revelation 21–22 New Jerusalem is a corporate composition of God and all His redeemed people. God’s expression through this corporate entity is the glory of God.

John saw New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven “having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” New Jerusalem’s light “like a jasper stone” is the eternal expression of God on the throne, who also is “like a jasper stone” (Rev. 4:3).

* The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © LSM

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New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Both God on the throne (Rev. 4:3) and New Jerusalem (21:11) have the appearance of jasper. In this way, New Jerusalem is the expression of God.

New Jerusalem is a composition of the Triune God and all His people. We were created from dust but through regeneration and transformation, we gain God’s nature and appearance. This makes New Jerusalem the expression of God. Transformation brings our entire being from the old creation to the new creation where New Jerusalem is.

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. This renewing is accomplished by the Spirit who dwells within us from our regeneration all the way into New Jerusalem.

Titus 3:4-5: “When the kindness and the love to man of our Savior God appeared, not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

We were dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1) but the Spirit has regenerated us, making our Spirit alive. John 3:6b “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The Spirit does not merely make us alive and then leave. Rather, the Spirit dwells within us forever. This indwelling Spirit renews us by spreading from our spirit to our mind, the leading part of our soul, our psychological being.

The renewal by the Spirit’s spreading is actually the Spirit Himself as the newness. He guides us “into all the reality” (John 16:13). Thus we gain the Triune God’s newness for His expression by New Jerusalem.

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New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Revelation declares “He who was sitting [on the throne] was like a jasper stone” (4:3), “her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone” (21:11), and “the building work of its wall was jasper” (21:18). The first quote refers to God, the other two to New Jerusalem.

God’s appearance is like jasper (4:3), and the entire city has the appearance of jasper. This means that the entire New Jerusalem looks like God, which is the fulfillment of Genesis 1:26. God made man in His image to express Himself. When the New Jerusalem comes, all of God’s people will bear God’s expression, God’s image, God’s appearance. All of God’s people will be fully transformed for the full expression of the Triune God.*

New JerusalemGod created man from the dust of the ground. But in regeneration His life enters into us and begins a process of transformation. This gradually changes us from clay to precious stones, of which jasper is foremost in the description of New Jerusalem.

The Spirit works within us for this transformation, and God also uses our outward environment. Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.”

The “good” toward which everything works is our conformation to the image of God’s Son. At the completion of this work, New Jerusalem, with all God’s transformed-conformed people builded together, will be the full expression of the Triune God.

* The Divine Economy, chapter 15, by Witness Lee

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 Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (4)

A hymn presents characteristics of New Jerusalem which are seen figuratively in the garden of Eden. Here is the first part of verse 3 with verse 4 of this hymn:

New JerusalemBoth in the garden and the city bright
Three kinds of precious substances are found;

But in the garden all these precious things
Are just materials lying in the earth,
Yet in the city all are builded up
And form that dwelling of transcendent worth.

Genesis 2 presents to us gold, bdellium (a pearl-like material from a tree resin), and onyx stones. As the song says, these are precious substances but merely lying around. In New Jerusalem the street is of gold, the twelve gates are pearls, the wall is built of jasper, and the foundations of the wall are adorned with twelve types of precious stones (Rev. 21:12-21).

New Jerusalem being builded up is the culmination of God’s spiritual building work throughout the New Testament. In Matthew 16 Jesus said “I will build my church.” Jesus is the Stone which became the Cornerstone for this building (Mark 12:10, Eph. 2:20).

The building work involves all of us, as in 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2 and 4. In Ephesians 4:15-16 holding in love to Christ as the truth, we grow up into Him in all things. Then a rich supply flows out from Him through the gifted members and also “through the operation in the measure of each one part.” The result is “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

The ultimate issue of the building work is New Jerusalem, built with the three kinds of precious substances.

New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:9-20

Revelation 21:9-11: “Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.

Here are the recent posts from Revelation 21 with the main verse for each.

21:9, God’s Final Judgments, then New Jerusalem
21:9, The Bride, the Wife, New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem21:10, Carried Away in Spirit to See New Jerusalem
21:10, On a High Mountain, See New Jerusalem
21:10, Heavenly Jerusalem is on Earth from God

21:11, New Jerusalem Has the Glory of God
21:11, New Jerusalem’s Precious Light
21:11, New Jerusalem, Clear as Crystal

21:12, The Great and High Wall of New Jerusalem
21:12, New Jerusalem has a Wall with Twelve Gates
21:12, The City has 12 Gates, 12 Angels, 12 Names

21:13, We Enter by the Gates into New Jerusalem

21:14, New Jerusalem’s Wall has 12 Foundations

21:15, New Jerusalem is Divinity in Humanity

21:16, New Jerusalem is the Eternal Holy of Holies
21:16, Holy of Holies: Come Forward, Don’t Wait

21:17, The Eternally Perfect Wall of New Jerusalem

21:18, The Jasper Wall Expresses God                                               New Jerusalem
21:18, New Jerusalem is Pure Gold                                                       in Revelation
21:18, New Jerusalem is Divine, Eternal Gold                                          21:1-8

21:19-20, The Foundations of New Jerusalem’s Wall

Many older posts about Revelation 21:9-11.
Many older posts about Revelation 21:12-21.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Foundations of New Jerusalem’s Wall

Revelation 21:19-20, describing New Jerusalem, says, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: the first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.”

New JerusalemAs with the gold of New Jerusalem, so also the stones are not physical. They portray the Spirit’s work in us.

Precious stones are not created but are formed through a process in the earth. In the Bible, precious stones portray the Spirit’s transforming work in all the believers. This is 2 Corinthians 3:18, “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.”

Our transformation happens by our beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord, and transforms us into His image of glory. Ultimately this is the glory of New Jerusalem.

As with all the other “twelves” in New Jerusalem, the twelve stones proclaim eternal perfection. The variety of the stones portray the variety of the attributes of Christ constituted into us by the Spirit’s transforming work.

We all have a portion of our Lord’s love, faithfulness, boldness, patience, holiness, wisdom, meekness, etc., but some may have one of these in a greater degree than others. But we all are one Body in Christ and now and one New Jerusalem to come.

The Jasper Wall Expresses God

The wall of New Jerusalem is perfect and eternal. The wall separates and protects the city while the gates let us enter. The building work of the wall is jasper (Rev. 21:18a).

John saw God sitting on the throne in heaven and He was like a jasper stone in appearance (Rev. 4:2-3). The wall has the appearance of God. The wall, the outer limit of New Jerusalem, is jasper because the entire city is jasper. “Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11).

New JerusalemThe wall and the whole city having the appearance of God fulfills God’s intention in His creation of man. “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). God created man in His image so that man could express God.

Created man fell into sin and death and can no longer fulfill God’s intention. God came in Jesus Christ to redeem man, to re-open the door for man to receive God’s life and thereby be enabled to express God.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all that God accomplished. The city is full of the divine, eternal life, which flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb who redeemed us (Rev. 22:1).

The jasper city and the jasper wall were produced and are maintained by the flow of life to express the jasper God on the throne.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Eternally Perfect Wall of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIn Revelation 21:15 an angel had a golden reed to measure New Jerusalem and its gates and its wall. In 21:17, “he measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.”

Twelve in the Bible indicates eternal perfection. In this verse the measure of the wall is twelve times twelve. It is perfectly and eternally perfect. This wall separates the city from everything else and protects the city. Nothing can cross over or go through this wall. But do not be discouraged. All who believe into Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Redeemer and Life enter the city through the gates.

The measure of the wall is both human and angelic. Humans and angels are distinct species but they are linked in one word of the Lord Jesus. In Matthew 22:30, answering a question from the Sadducees, He said “in the resurrection they [humans] neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

The measure of the wall being both human and angelic means that this measure is in resurrection. This matches the nature of New Jerusalem—the whole is a city in resurrection. The city has the nature of resurrection because it was brought forth through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the resurrection, and the city has entirely come out of Him, as portrayed by Eve being constituted solely out of Adam.

The gospel today brings resurrection life into us and us unto New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem’s Wall has 12 Foundations

New JerusalemWhen John saw New Jerusalem, “It had a great and high wall….And the wall of the city had twelve foun-dations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:12, 14).

The wall of New Jerusalem, which separates the city and protects God’s interests in the city, has twelve foundations. Twelve signifies eternal completion. Nothing can shake this wall; it stands eternally.

First Corinthians 3:11 tells us that Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which we all build. Because “the mystery of Christ” was revealed to the apostles in spirit, they are the people who convey the foundation to us. Hence, Ephesians 2:20 says that we are “being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.”

The names of the apostles on the foundations of the wall of New Jerusalem corresponds with Ephesians 2:20. In late 2016 I was asked, Who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem? The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But Revelation 21:14 specifically says twelves names and twelve apostles indicating eternal perfection, which is a characteristic of the Triune God and of New Jerusalem.

The Great and High Wall of New Jerusalem

The first descriptions of New Jerusalem are in Revelation 21:2, 9-11. Here the city is the bride, the wife of the Lamb, is from God, and has the glory of God. The city is also holy, heavenly, and bright. Since these characteristics are presented first, they must be the most important, but Revelation 21 goes on to reveal much more about New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemVerse 12: “It had a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”

The great and high wall clearly defines what is within New Jerusalem and what is not. Every member of New Jerusalem was chosen by God in eternity past, has partaken of Christ’s redemption, has been regenerated, and has completely experienced a process of renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification.

By the time of Revelation 21 every chosen person has fully passed through all of this and is inside New Jerusalem as an integral part of the city. By this time there are no unprepared people, no partially prepared people, and no almost ready people.

Besides establishing the boundary of New Jerusalem, the wall, great and high, also protects God’s interests within the city.

Later verses in Revelation 21 show that the wall is built with the Spirit’s transformation work in the believers and that the wall, of jasper, expresses God. By believing into Jesus Christ we are inside the wall as part of New Jerusalem, and by the Spirit’s transforming we are the stones which build the wall.

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