Everything about New Jerusalem is of God

New Jerusalem has twelve foundations with the twelve names of the twelve apostles. The apostles represent six things about New Jerusalem and our current Christian and church life. These six will be reviewed beginning here.

The apostles signify that this new city [New Jerusalem]…is not of man but of God (Gal. 1:10-12). None of the apostles are of man; all are of God. This is the real testimony, and we must apply this principle to ourselves. In the church life everything must be of God; there must not be anything of man. The foundation of the church life must only be of God….If we initiate anything which is of man rather than completely of God, the foundation will not be strong. In every city we must allow the church life to be initiated only of God, not of ourselves.*

New JerusalemIn 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul asks them, “what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though not having received it?” What we have as Christians is not of ourselves; we received everything from God.

Our first birth was of the flesh; “that which is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:6). And “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). But we have been born again of the Spirit to inherit the kingdom of God, the church life today and New Jerusalem in the future.

Finally, John saw “New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”


The next post will be Monday, January 4.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Building Work with Man (7)

New Jerusalem is both a dwelling place and the ruling center of God’s kingdom. The church today, as the precursor of New Jerusalem, should be the same.

God our Father “delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). Today, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

New JerusalemThe church today must be the realm of God’s kingdom. The apostle Paul speaks of this vital principle in his writings. Romans 12 reveals the Body of Christ, but Romans 14 speaks of the kingdom. The proper church life is a realm, a sphere, where God may exercise His authority. Strictly speaking, the proper church life is the kingdom of God. The church life must be like the holy city, the New Jerusalem, a center where God may exercise His authority.*

Examples of obedience to God’s authority in the church today are seen in Hebrews: a warning against disobedience (2:2-3); exhortation not to harden our hearts to God’s voice (3:7–4:7); a desire that we be diligent and not sluggish (6:11-12); encouragements to come forward, hold fast, exhort one another (10:19-25); and accepting His discipline (12:5-11).

Today Christ is “the Head of the Body, the church” and should “have the first place in all things” (Col. 1:18). God desires that all things be headed up in Christ (Eph. 1:10), beginning with His believers. Eventually everything in the universe will be headed up by the throne in New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

God’s Building Work with Man (5)

Genesis 12:8 tells us that Abraham had a tent and built an altar to Jehovah. That tent was a pre-figure of God and man being built together into a mutual, eternal dwelling place, New Jerusalem.

In the early stages of history there was a little tent with a little altar. Through many generations that tent has increased until ultimately there is a large tabernacle. How significant it is that the New Jerusalem is still called the tabernacle of God (Rev. 21:3). This tabernacle is the total mingling of God with man.*

Revelation 21:2 records John’s seeing of New Jerusalem. Then in verse 3 “a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God.”

New JerusalemThis ultimate consummation of God’s work is not only a tent, a tabernacle, but also a city [Rev. 21:2, 10]. A tent is not very strong or permanent, but this tent is also a city. According to the scriptural meaning, a city is a center for the exercise of authority. Therefore, the city symbolizes the kingdom. The New Jerusalem is not only a tent as a dwelling place; it is also a city as the center of a kingdom.*

The entrance into this kingdom is being born again, of the Spirit in our human spirit (John 3:5-6). The reality of this kingdom today is the Spirit (Rom. 14:17) who is one with our reborn human spirit (Rom. 8:16). At the Lord’s second coming His kingdom will replace all the human kingdoms and bring peace to the whole earth (Rev. 11:15-18). New Jerusalem will be the center of God’s eternal kingdom.

* Excerpts from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

Dear Readers, in October we will resume three posts per week—Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

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.

Our Spirit, God’s Kingdom, New Jerusalem

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens
(Matt. 5:3). 

God created the heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man (Zech. 12:1). This human spirit, the center of our being, is made alive by the Spirit in regeneration (John 3:6). Our spirit is also the receptor of the Lord’s grace, as in Galatians 6:18, Philippians 4:23, and Philemon 25.

To be poor in spirit is not only to be humble, but also to be emptied in our spirit, in the depth of our being, not holding on to the old things….We need to be poor, emptied, unloaded, in this part of our being so that we may realize and possess the kingdom of the heavens. This implies that the kingdom of the heavens is a spiritual matter, not a material one.*

New JerusalemThe opposite of being “poor in spirit” is seen in the Lord’s warning to the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22). They said they were rich and had need of nothing but the Lord told them they were wretched, poor, and blind.

How does this relate to New Jerusalem? As stated above, in Matthew 5 the kingdom is a spiritual matter. Thus the ultimate stage of the kingdom, New Jerusalem, is also spiritual, not physical.

Therefore we must be poor/humble/ emptied in spirit to see more of God’s kingdom both today and with New Jerusalem.

* Life-Study of Matthew by Witness Lee, chap. 13

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.

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