The New Testament Temple is Living (4)

New JerusalemIn various centuries, physical temples were built in earthly Jerusalem. But in the New Testament Jesus is the reality; He is the living temple. In resurrection He brought all His believers into this reality, this living temple.

In Revelation 21:22 John says, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Certainly this is a living temple! We do not need an earthly, physical temple, for today and in New Jerusalem we worship God in God.

This is not a new idea; in John 4:19-24 the Lord was asked which physical place is the proper location for worship. He answered. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”

Worship is no longer defined by a physical building. To worship in our human spirit, born of God the Spirit, is to worship in the living temple. In resurrection, as regenerated people, we are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Our worship of God in spirit, in the living temple, is in the Person of God, who is Spirit.

The regeneration of our human spirit and the Lord being with us in our spirit, distinguish the New Testament from the Old Testament. In the New Testament reality the location is spirit instead of the physical Jerusalem. In the New Testament reality the temple is living and the worship is living. This pattern will continue into New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Peace of Christ in our Hearts

New JerusalemPrior posts have presented oneness in John 10 and 17, Ephesians 2, and 1 Corinthians 10 and 12. All of these point to the unique New Jerusalem as the unique city in the new creation which fully expresses the one God.

Galatians 3:28 parallels other verses: “There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there cannot be slave nor free man, there cannot be male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Christ Jesus, both now and in New Jerusalem, all the natural distinctions which divide fallen man are annulled. Outside the natural realm and in the mystical realm in Him we are one.

The oneness in Christ is a fact for which we must care so that it can be our experience and our appearance. Ephesians 4:1-3 beseeches us “to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love, being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”

These virtues—lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, love, diligence, peace—are all not of ourselves but are the fruit of the Spirit in us. When we are walking according to the Spirit we experience His supply which enables us to keep the oneness.

Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts, to which also you were called in one Body; and be thankful.” We were called to peace in one Body but now we need to let this peace preside/rule/control/govern* within us. Again, this is a matter of the Spirit within us, and is often contrary to our natural preference, desire, or habit. “The mind set on the spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).

Lord, I don’t want to wait for New Jerusalem; I want to learn Your ruling peace now so that I can be in the reality of one Body.

*Various translations, thanks to biblehub.com.

The Spirit and the Bride Say Come

New JerusalemIn Revelation 22 the Lord Jesus says three times, “I come quickly” (verses 7, 12, 20). In 22:17 we read the response: “the Spirit and the bride say, Come!” This cry, Come, is in the present age; it is a cry for the visible coming of the Lord Jesus, which will end this age.

The bride here is New Jerusalem, as clearly stated in Revelation 21:2, 9-10. In verse 22:17 the Spirit and the bride speak together, showing that they are one. The Spirit has not only regenerated the members of this corporate bride (John 3:6) but has also transformed them (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Now the members of the bride live in the reality of one spirit with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). This oneness in living is demonstrated by the oneness in speaking with the Spirit.

In [Revelation] chs. 2 and 3 it was the Spirit speaking to the churches; here, at the end of the book, it is the Spirit and the bride, the church, speaking together as one. This indicates that the church’s experience of the Spirit has improved to the extent that she has become one with the Spirit, who is the ultimate consummation of the Triune God.*

Reaching such oneness with the Spirit is the completion of preparation of the bride for the marriage of the Lamb. This oneness will be a characteristic of New Jerusalem. To grow into this living oneness, we need the rich supply from our Head, Jesus Christ. This supply comes through our dropping all distracting involvements and holding Him as our reality, as in Colossians 2:16–3:4.

We can pray, Lord, I love You and I open to You. Save me from my outward formalities so that I may experience You as my reality and receive Your rich supply for me to live one with You. This is the preparation of the bride and the path to New Jerusalem.

* See Revelation 22:17 in this online NT (© LSM).

Renewed to Match New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)  This is a positional change and has been fully accomplished. However, the New Testament still exhorts us, who are in Christ, to “be renewed.” This is dispo-sitional, a change in our constitution, our thinking, our way of living.

We “have put on the new man, which is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Colossians 3:10)

To put on the new man is positional, by God’s action in response to our believing. Yet, this new man is in the process of “being renewed.” This is the same as Ephesians 4:22-24 where we have put off the old man and put on the new man but still need to “renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

In regeneration our human spirit is born of the Holy Spirit. John 3:5b tells us, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Thus we are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him as 1 Corinthians 6:17 says. Now this spirit needs to spread into our mind to be one with our mind, to accomplish the “renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2).

Our renewing, especially the renewing of our mind by the spirit, is dispositional. We know that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, yet we have to admit that not all of our living is according to His living. Too often we complain, or are anxious rather than experiencing the Lord’s peace (Philippians 4:6-7), or cannot “think the same thing in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2). This shows our need of inward renewing. Hopefully each incident motivates us to pray, Lord, renew me more today.

The consummation of this renewing is the brightness, transparency, and newness of New Jerusalem.

The One Street of New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:21b says, “And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Prior posts have considered the golden street as the divine nature in which we walk beginning from our regeneration. Now we should look at “the street.” In New Jerusalem there is only one street, in contrast to modern man-made cities which have thousands of streets. The one street in New Jerusalem indicates that we do not have options; we have only the way of the divine nature and this one way is more than sufficient for all of God’s people.

We find the one street, the one way, in Jesus Christ. He declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Our unique walk on the one way in Jesus Christ is described variously in the New Testament:
__Romans 6:4  “walk in newness of life”—the life which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
__Romans 8:4  “walk…according to the spirit”—where we are one with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17).
__Ephesians 5:2  “walk in love”—the love which is God who abides in us (1 John 4:16).
__1 John 1:7  “walk in the light as He is in the light”—the light is God (1 John 1:5) in Jesus Christ, who is the light of life (John 8:12).
__3 John 1:3  “you walk in truth”—the truth which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Colossians 2:6  “As therefore you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in Him.” We have received Him, believing into Him, and now we walk in Him. He is our one way and we walk in Him. This walk will continue into New Jerusalem and for eternity.

The Spirit with Our Spirit

Having been born again of the Spirit in our spirit (John 3:6, 8 – see the prior post), we are in the condition described in Romans 8:16, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.” When we receive Jesus, He makes us children of God, born of God (John 1:12). This is the fact. Outwardly we have the Bible confirming this fact to us. Inwardly the Spirit witnesses with our spirit to confirm this fact. It is not that our spirit and the Spirit each witness separately but that they witness together as one. This is 1 Corinthians 6:17, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”

There are many verses in the epistles that include the word “spirit.” In some of these verses the word clearly refers to our human spirit and in some it clearly refers to the Holy Spirit. An example is Romans 8:16, quoted above. However, in other verses we cannot say clearly that the reference is to the divine spirit or to our human spirit. This is because the Spirit is one with our spirit. Romans 8:4 is such a verse saying, “walk according to the spirit.” Our walk is not solely in our human spirit nor solely in the divine Spirit. Instead, we walk according to the Spirit who is one with our spirit. This is the case in Revelation 21:10: to be “carried away in spirit” to see New Jerusalem is to be carried away in the Spirit mingled with our human spirit.

(English New Testaments almost always use capital S for the divine Spirit and small s for our human spirit. Which to use in is the translators’ decision because when the New Testament was written, and for at least seven centuries afterwards, Greek writing was all capitals.) 

God’s New Testament Building is Spiritual

God’s New Testament building is God Himself with His people. Although today we often refer to a building with a steeple or a cross as a “church building,” in the New Testament a physical building is not God’s building, God’s dwelling place.

God’s building with His people is in spirit. In Ephesians 2:22 we “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.” Here God’s dwelling place is our human spirit. This matches 2 Timothy 4:22, “The Lord be with your spirit.” A number of English Bible translations end verse 2:22, “in the Spirit.” We should remember that the Spirit is one with our human spirit. In John 3:6 the Spirit causes our spirit to be born anew by imparting the divine life into our spirit. In Romans 8:11 the Spirit dwells in us, specifically in our spirit where the two witness together that we are children of God (v. 16). Therefore, we can say that God’s building is in our spirit mingled with the Spirit.

First Peter 2:4-5 declare that our Lord is a living stone and that by coming to Him we also, “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” We, built together with the Lord, are the spiritual house.

Revelation 21:3 tells us that New Jerusalem is “the tabernacle of God.” This tabernacle is the dwelling place of God, the consummation of the spiritual house. Because the city is spiritual, John says in Revelation 21:10 that he was carried away in spirit (or in the Spirit) to see New Jerusalem.

Coinherence

In a previous post I touched the matter of coinherence—two persons, each dwelling in the other. This is not possible in the physical realm but is a reality in the spiritual realm. Here I present more about coinherence as a base for future posts about New Jerusalem.

Coinherence is an attribute of the Triune God. God is one God yet also three. We know this from the Bible and we say “amen” to this fact despite our lack of comprehension. In John 14:10 the Lord Jesus told us, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” This is coinherence. He repeated this in the following verse, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” His exhortation to us is to believe. Thus, it possible for us to believe (and He has not required us to comprehend).

The coinherence among the three of the Godhead has been extended to the believers. John 14:19-20 says, “Yet a little while and the world beholds Me no longer, but you behold Me; because I live, you also shall live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” We believers know that we are in Christ and Christ in us from the day we began to live because of Him. This means from the day of His resurrection, after His “little while” in the grave.

Again, the Lord tells us in John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me and I in you….I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit…” Both chapter 14 and chapter 15 speak about location yet even more they speak about life and living. The knowing in 14:20 comes out of the living in 14:19, and the abiding in 15:4-5 is illustrated by a living organism. In chapter 15 The Amplified Bible has “Dwell in Me and I will dwell in you.—Live in Me and I will live in you….Whoever lives in Me and I in him.”

Romans 8:1-2 state that we are in Christ Jesus and verse 10 states that Christ is in us. This again is something of life and living, which are often mentioned in the first half of this chapter. Colossians 1:27 speaks about Christ in us and verse 1:28 about us full-grown (again, a life matter) in Christ.

The Spirit is the reality (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) of the coinherent life we have with Christ. This Spirit is the reality of all that Christ is to us and all aspects of our Christian life. In 1 John 5:6 the Spirit of reality testifies and in verses 11 to 13 this testimony is about the eternal life that God has given to us in His Son.

The Spirit is within us. It testifies in oneness with our human spirit (Romans 8:16). These two spirits are one. “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). How wonderful that we are joined to the Lord, Jesus Christ, and are one spirit with Him. In this one spirit we have the reality of Christ in us and the reality of our being in Christ.

The scripture quotation from The Amplified Bible is copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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