God is Manifested in the Church and in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemFirst Timothy 3:15 speaks of “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” In the New Testament the house is also the household, the family, as in 1 Corinthians 1:16. The church is not a physical structure but a composition of all God’s New Testament people.

Likewise, New Jerusalem is not a physical city but the composition of God with all His Old and New Testament people.

In 1 Timothy 3:16 the church is involved in the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh.* This manifestation is for today and will be greatly enlarged with New Jerusalem.

Today the manifestation is spiritual; when Christ returns the manifestation will be enlarged and much more evident. Colossians 3:4 speaks of this: “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.”

Today the church, as the manifestation of God in the flesh, is the house of God, whereas in the new heaven and new earth the New Jerusalem, as the manifestation of God in the new creation, will be the city of God. The city is much bigger than the house, signifying that the New Jerusalem, as the manifestation of God in His new creation, will be the enlargement and consummation of the church to express God in eternity.

As the old Jerusalem was the center and capital of God’s kingdom in the nation of Israel, the New Jerusalem will be the administrative center of the eternal kingdom of God in the new universe for the manifestation of God for the ages to come.**


* See Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, last half chap. 6, by Witness Lee

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

Redeemed, Regenerated for New Jerusalem

Revelation is a book composed with many spiritual signs (1:1). Many aspects of New Jerusalem are signs, including the three types of materials which represent the Triune God and His work for, on, and in His believers.

The first material is gold, which constitutes the city proper and forms the base of the city. In the Bible gold refers to God the Father as the base, the fountain, the source. The second material is pearl. Pearls are produced by oysters, and oysters live in the sea, signifying the death water….Christ is the living “oyster.” He lived in the death water, the world. …Through His death we were redeemed, and His death also released His divine life (John 12:24).

Through Christ’s resurrection we were regenerated (1 Pet. 1:3), and regeneration is the very entrance into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). In the New Jerusalem God the Father is signified by the gold, and God the Son, by the pearls.*

New JerusalemIn John 3:5 the Lord Jesus tells us, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

The converse is that everyone born of water (signifying a baptism of repentance) and of the Spirit (who imparts eternal life into us) enters the kingdom of God. New Jerusalem is the ultimate stage of this kingdom’s development.

Regeneration brings us into the kingdom of God. It also initiates a work of washing and renewing within us. This work gradually makes our entire being new, so that we match New Jerusalem not only in the word but in reality.

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

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

New Jerusalem is the City of the Great King

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

New Jerusalem is a city but Revelation is a book of signs. As a sign, the city represents the ultimate stage of the kingdom of God. The kingdom exists today as a hidden, spiritual reality which will be manifested in the kingdom age and in eternity.

Matthew 5:35 says “Jerusalem…is the city of the great King.” This is a quote from Psalm 48:2, ” Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion, the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” Surely New Jerusalem will be the most beautiful city and it will be the joy of the whole new earth.

New Jerusalem is composed of the great King and all His people. A view of the city concerning its people is in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” New Jerusalem is full of divine light; “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” (Rev. 21:23).

As a city, New Jerusalem portrays the kingdom of God brightly shining with the glory of God to illuminate the whole earth.

 

Through Suffering to the City of Glory

The Lord will shine with great glory from His return to eternity in New Jerusalem. Today we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5) and “shine as luminaries, holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2).

Romans 8:16-17 say, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.” Here are several facts: we are children of God, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and we will suffer with Him to be glorified with Him. To be glorified with Him is preparation for the city of glory, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWe are told that our path to glory involves suffering. All humans have troubles in areas such as family, health, work, and housing. In our suffering we should be “with Him” always turning our heart to the Lord.

In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas labored, “Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.”

God’s kingdom and glory are linked; for example, “God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thes. 2:12).

Eternally, in New Jerusalem there will be no more suffering but we will participate in the fullness of God’s kingdom and His glory.

The Righteous Will Shine Forth

New JerusalemOn the mountain the Lord Jesus shone like the sun (Matt. 17). He will come again with great glory. After His coming, when judging the nations, He will sit on the throne of His glory (Matt 25:31). We expect Him to be with great glory on the throne of New Jerusalem.

The Lord Jesus will shine very brightly in His return and afterwards. What about us? Today we “are the light of the world” and should “let your light shine before men” (Matt. 5:14-16). We also should “shine as luminaries in the world” “in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation” (Phil. 2:15).

These words about shining are for this age. Proverbs 4:18 declares “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” Matthew says we shine today, Proverbs says our shining will increase, and in Matthew 13:43 the Lord tells us that upon His return, after the judgment, which will be the full day in Proverbs 4, “the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

Daniel 12:3 is similar to Matthew 13: “Those who have insight will shine like the shining of the heavenly expanse, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars, forever and ever.”

As the outcome of these stages of shining, we should expect to shine in New Jerusalem. However, this shining is not from our natural being nor based on our natural capabilities nor attainments. The shining now and in New Jerusalem is our transparency to allow Christ to shine through us.

More about this shining:
The Light of the World, A City
Working Out Salvation to Shine with Christ
Shine…Holding Forth the Word of Life

A Reward: Inherit Eternal Life

New JerusalemThe prior two posts (one two) are about our rich inheritance from God and God’s inheritance of His riches in us. All of this inheritance, whether now or in the next age, points to New Jerusalem.

A big part of this inheritance is eternal life. The Lord Jesus says, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My name’s sake shall receive a hundred times as much and shall inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29).

In John 3 we receive eternal life and are born again. How (or why) do we inherit eternal life when we already have it from our new birth? Here is an answer from Life-Study of Matthew (chap. 54, sec. 2) by Witness Lee:

To inherit eternal life is to be rewarded in the coming age (Luke 18:29-30) with the enjoyment of the divine life in the manifestation of the kingdom of the heavens.

And more from Life-Study of Matthew (chap. 53, sec. 3):

To have eternal life in John is to be saved with God’s uncreated life that man may live by this life today and for eternity, whereas to have eternal life in Matthew is to participate in the reality of the kingdom of the heavens in this age and to share in its manifestation in the coming age.

Eventually this eternal life brings us to New Jerusalem that we may live this life and reign with God and the Lamb for eternity (Rev. 22:3-5).

New Jerusalem: Our Eternal Inheritance

Hebrews 9:15: Jesus Christ “is the Mediator of a new covenant, so that, death having taken place for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, those who have been called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” This eternal inheritance will be New Jerusalem with all that the Triune God is for us and to us.

New JerusalemIn the New Testament “inherit,” when used in a positive sense, is usually associated with eternal life and the kingdom. Both are characteristics of New Jerusalem. It is a city of life and it is the center of God’s eternal kingdom. In this kingdom we “will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

We are born into this kingdom by receiving the eternal life. Today we have this life and we are partakers of the inward reality of the kingdom, as John was even when in exile on Patmos (Rev. 1:9). As this life increases in us we “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Ultimately this life and kingdom are realized as New Jerusalem.

Besides eternal life and the kingdom, the New Testament speaks of our inheriting salvation, God’s promises, and blessing. All of these are what God in Christ has done for us, is doing in us, is to us and will be to us.

No blessing can compare with God Himself. We should not expect physical blessings in New Jerusalem. Rather, Christ being life to us in the fullest degree, unlimited in any way, will be our eternal blessing and inheritance.

Life and New Jerusalem
Eternal Life and New Jerusalem
New Jerusalem is a Living City, a City of Life

The Two Ends of Our Christian Life

New JerusalemThe New Testament begins with repentance and ends with New Jerusalem. These are the two ends of our Christian life.

The New Testament begins with a call to repent “for the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 3:2), “and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and “for forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3). When we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven and we also receive eternal life. These two steps bring us into the kingdom.

The New Testament ends with New Jerusalem; at the center of this city is the throne of God and the Lamb from which the river of water of life flows. Here the Lamb is a memorial of our forgiveness, the river is the divine life supply, and the throne indicates the kingdom.

Everyone who has been regenerated has had the initial experience of repentance. As we go through our Christian life, we might need more times of repentance. For example, Simon had believed and been baptized (Acts 8:13) but Peter exhorted him to repent. And Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians brought forth repentance among them (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord charges us to repent. This is to return to our best love to Him (2:5), to turn from false teachings and immoral actions (2:16, 22), and to rise out of deadness and lukewarmness (3:3, 19). These needs, or other actions which keep us from the Lord, require our repentance. This is part of our journey from initial repentance to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Life and Incorruption through the Gospel

Second Timothy 1:10 speaks of “the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel.” This life is the eternal life of God, the only life present in New Jerusalem. 

New JerusalemThe incorruption is the result of long-term operation of this life in all the believers. Our present thoughts are corrupt at various times and our body’s corruption is shown by illnesses, weaknesses, and pains. 

First Corinthians 15 is a chapter of resurrection. The concluding verses are about our current corruption being changed to incorruption. This chapter quotes Isaiah, “the word which is written will come to pass, ‘Death has been swallowed up unto victory.’” 

This incorruption in our being and this victory will be manifested first in the kingdom age and more fully in the new creation. Since this incorruption comes to light through the gospel, the gospel points to the kingdom and to the new creation including New Jerusalem.

We should keep in mind that it is “our Savior Christ Jesus” who accomplished everything presented in 2 Timothy 1:10. And He brought these things to light through the gospel. Ephesians 2:17 tells us “coming, He announced peace as the gospel to you who were far off [the non-Jews], and peace to those who were near [the Jews].” The gospel is presented to us not merely by believers but by our Savior’s coming through these believers. His coming brings to us now the life that will bring us to incorruption and to New Jerusalem.

Additional posts about incorruption:
Pursue the Incorruptible New Jerusalem
Resurrection is the Incorruptible Answer
New Jerusalem: Incorruptible Inheritance

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Gospel of the Kingdom and New Jerusalem

The gospel is of glory and of peace; both link New Jerusalem to the gospel. The gospel is also “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23). This is another link between the gospel and the eternal kingdom of God which is the new creation with God’s throne at its center, New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Matthew 24:14 the Lord Jesus says, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” 

The gospel to every nation is based on the Lord’s accomplishment on the cross, as declared in the song of praise to Him in Revelation 5:9, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.”

Through death the Lord purchased some from every nation and made us all priests to God. Now the gospel goes out to every nation to proclaim this accomplishment. This gospel brings us into the priesthood now (1 Peter 2:5, 9) and in New Jerusalem.

The priesthood purchased out of every nation is also a kingdom. Like the priesthood, the kingdom is both now and eternally in New Jerusalem. This is the eternal goal of the gospel of the kingdom.

Additional verses about the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel to the nations include Mark 13:10, Luke 4:43, 16:16, Acts 8:12, and Gal. 3:8.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (6)

Continuing from Matthew 10 and 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9 also have the Lord’s words about denying the self, taking up the cross, and losing the soul life. Luke 9 adds one word not in Matthew and Mark: daily. “He said to them all, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (v. 23). Verses 24 and 25 are about losing the soul life for the Lord’s sake.

New JerusalemVerse 26 continues, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of this one will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Lord, save me from any shame about You and Your words.

In Matthew 16, Mark 8, and Luke 9 the portion about denying the self is immediately followed by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, which He describes as “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” This coming, in glory, foreshadows the coming age which leads to New Jerusalem.

The path to New Jerusalem includes the cross now, the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age, and then New Jerusalem itself. To be on this path, we must apply the cross of Christ to our soul life. The cross is available to us through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). Thus, it is by the Spirit, not by natural effort, that we go through the cross toward New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Serve God as Priests

Revelation 22:3 says about New Jerusalem, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him.” In what way will we serve as slaves in New Jerusalem? The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and includes three different words translated “serve.” The word in Revelation 22:3 means serve as a priest, or serve in New Jerusalemworship.*

How do we get into this eternal priestly service? The praise in Revelation 1:5b-6 says, “To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.” The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ released us from sins and made us a kingdom of priests!

Becoming priests is not by our choice nor by our effort. And we should not question or doubt our qualification for this service. It does not depend on us—He “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” This declaration in 1:5-6 is confirmed by the same word in Revelation 5:9-10.

He made us priests and He is our High Priest. As such He is “merciful and faithful” (Heb. 2:17), “great” (4:14), “holy, guileless, undefiled, higher than the heavens” (7:26), and perfected forever” (7:28).

Jesus Christ is so much, and we, always coming to Him (1 Peter 2:4), “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (2:5). We are not merely individual priests, but are being built together as a priesthood. As such we are “priests of God and of Christ” now, in the coming age (Rev. 20:6), and in New Jerusalem eternally.

* Some other verses with this word for serve are Matt. 4:10, Luke 2:37, Rom. 1:9, 2 Tim. 1:3.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

 

 

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