Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemOur Christian life is a time for our growth and perfecting in this life so that we may match New Jerusalem.

In Luke 6 the Lord spoke quite a while about the proper living standard of His disciples. In verse 40 He said, “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who has been perfected will be like his teacher.” He is indicating that He expects us to be perfected.

We must be perfected to match the perfection of New Jerusalem, but how? Part of the answer is in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The divine life of our heavenly Father, growing in us, enables us to be perfected.

Similarly, the Lord prayed in John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” He is “the life” and He is in all His believers. This is how we can be “perfected into one” and perfected in any other way. Thank You Lord that You have become our life to work in us and perfect us.

This perfection into one is also the oneness in Ephesians 4:13, the oneness of New Jerusalem. This eternal city has one throne, one street, one river, one light; it is the perfection of oneness, the final answer to the Lord’s prayer in John 17.

Second Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Here it seems that we are doing the perfecting work. However, in ourselves we cannot do it, but “the fear of God” indicates our cooperation with Jesus Christ as the perfecting life in us. This perfecting causes us to match New Jerusalem, the holy city (Rev. 21:2, 10).

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Pursue Peace and Oneness

New Jerusalem is a city of peace and a city of oneness. Besides Colossians 3:15 and Ephesians 2:14-15, here are other verses which couple peace and oneness in our current Christian life and point toward New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRomans 14:19 urges us to “pursue the things of peace and the things for building up one another.” We cannot find “oneness” here, but building up is certainly in oneness.

Romans 14 reminds us not to judge or despise any brother in outward Christian practice, “for God has received him” and “we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14). Today this is an exercise for us but in New Jerusalem all outward behavior will be past and we will eternally enjoy God’s receiving and Christ’s Lordship.

Ephesians 4:3 entreats us to be “diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” Our oneness is spiritual; it is “of the Spirit” just as New Jerusalem is spiritual. The uniting bond of peace is the practical safeguard of this oneness.

Whether we have a deep inner peace or not testifies whether we are keeping the oneness. The question is settled not by whether I think I am right or another Christian is (in my view) wrong, nor by whether I am happy with a situation or not; the peace of Christ is the determinant.

In Colossians 3, “forgiving one another, if anyone should have a complaint against anyone; even as the Lord forgave you, so also should you forgive” (v. 13) is a key to “let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts” (v. 15). Complaints do not guide us to peace but forgiveness does. Thank the Lord that He has forgiven us and is ready to forgive any sin we confess.

Lord Jesus, supply us daily to live in Your peace and to be full of forgiveness. This will be our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem

For more on the sense of peace,see chapter 11 in Basic Lessons on Life.

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, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Gathered into One for New Jerusalem

This is a supplement to a series of posts on New Jerusalem as the consummation of the New Testament oneness. The one flock, one Body, and one new man all point toward the one city, New Jerusalem.

The end of John 11 records Jewish leaders discussing how to limit the influence of Jesus. During this time it was of God that the high priest prophesied that Jesus would die. John tells us, “he prophesied that Jesus was to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (v. 51-52). New Jerusalem is the ultimate result of this gathering.

New JerusalemThrough His death and resurrection the Lord redeemed His chosen people from among the Jews and Gentiles, regen-erated us, and formed us into His Body, the one new man. This is the initial step of gathering the children of God into oneness. This step of formation is complete. Praise Him for this!

Based on Christ’s completed work, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks…” (1 Cor. 12:13). This was our entrance into what Christ accomplished. Now we participate by drinking the same one Spirit. This drinking continues eternally—the Spirit flows as the river of life in New Jerusalem.

While we are drinking, we are kept in the practical oneness by the peace of Christ (Col. 3:15). This peace of Christ is Christ Himself: “He Himself is our peace, He who has made both one” (Eph. 2:14). This verse, like Colossians 3:15 (and more verses in the next post), puts peace and oneness together. This is New Jerusalem: a city of peace and a city of oneness. New Jerusalem is the final outcome of John 11: the Lord’s “gathering into one the children of God.”

New Jerusalem, the Consummate Oneness

During His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus spoke about one flock with one Shepherd (John 17). Before His death He prayed for our being perfected into one (John 17). On the cross He created one new man (Eph. 2:12-15). Verses from Romans 12 to Colossians 3 also speak of our being one Body in Christ. All of this culminates in the one city, New Jerusalem, as the center of the new creation to express the one God.

New Jerusalem

This post has a highlight and verse from this series of posts on New Jerusalem as the consummation of the New Testament oneness in Christ. The first two words of each highlight is a link to the post.

❖ The first definite word in the New Testament about our spiritual oneness is “there shall be one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:16).

❖ In His death on the cross, Christ created one new man in Himself (Eph. 2:14-15).

❖ Our oneness is at the level of the Triune God’s oneness; Jesus asked the Father, to keep us, His disciples, “that they may be one even as We are” (John 17:11).

Jesus prayed again for us to have the divine oneness; “That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (John 17:17, 21).

Thirdly, Jesus prayed “that they may be one, even as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one” (John 17:23).

Jesus prayed that our oneness would be perfected so that we can be a testimony that “the Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29).

Because of what the Lord has accomplished, Romans 12:5 proclaims, “we who are many are one Body in Christ.”

The Spirit is our entrance into and our participation in the One Body. “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body…and were all given to drink one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

Our participation is also by partaking of Christ in His death and resurrection. “We who are many are one Body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).

❖ In Christ Jesus, both now and in New Jerusalem, all the natural distinctions which divide fallen man are annulled. We “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

The oneness in the Triune God (John 17) has, through death and resurrection, become oneness in Christ, the embodiment of the Triune God (Col. 2:9). Today we are experiencing what is in these verses. When New Jerusalem appears His prayer in John 17 will be fully answered and we will arrive at the peak of oneness.

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Partake of One Bread, One Body, One City

Pictures of the oneness of New Jerusalem include the one flock, the one new man, and the one Body. Another picture is in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, “The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ? Seeing that there is one bread, we who are many are one Body; for we all partake of the one bread.”

The breaking portrays the death of Christ and the partaking implies His resurrection. By His death and resurrection, we have all become one in Him. This is the oneness of His Body, of the one new man, and of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemPartaking of the bread makes us one. This is not the physical bread on the table, which is only a symbol. Remember John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” Jesus Christ is the real bread, the living bread, as testified in all of John 6. Today our eating/partaking must be by exercising our spirit to contact the Spirit.

The most solid way to partake is with the Word and Spirit together. Ephesians 6:17-18 encourages us to receive “the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit.”

The word in verse 17 is “the instant word spoken at the moment by the Spirit in any situation. The sword, the Spirit, and the word are one. When the constant word in the Bible becomes the instant word, that word is the Spirit as the sword that kills the enemy.*”

The spirit in verse 18 is “our regenerated spirit, indwelt by the Spirit of God. It may be considered the mingled spirit — the spirit that is our spirit mingled with God’s Spirit. In praying, the main faculty that we should use is this spirit.**”

Receiving the word in spirit energizes us to participate in the one Body as the foretaste of New Jerusalem.

*Note 4 on Ephesians 6:17 and **note 3 on Ephesians 6:18 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version © by Living Stream Ministry

The Goal of Oneness, Now & New Jerusalem, is to Express the One Unique God

New JerusalemRecent posts have touched the one flock with one Shepherd (John 10); the one new man created on the cross (Eph. 2); and our oneness in the Father’s name and life, through the sanctifying word of reality, and in the divine glory (John 17).

John 17 emphasizes that our oneness is in the Triune God. This is both for our Christian life today and for New Jerusalem.

We are not one in ourselves, as the daily news from around the world strongly testifies. We can only be truly one in the Triune God. Some key phrases from John 17:
• They may be one even as We are (v. 11)
• That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You,
__that they also may be in Us (v. 21)
• I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one (v. 23)
• The love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them (v. 26).

Why this emphasis on oneness? Jesus spoke an answer in Mark 12:29 (quoting Deut 6), “Hear, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” The Lord our God is ONE.

The unique God desires that His expression will match Him. Therefore, through death and resurrection He has opened the door to bring us into Himself because only in Him (out of the natural, fallen man) is the place, atmosphere, and life supply for us to be one today and unto eternity.

New Jerusalem is one city to express the one God. Although the city is full of twelves to express the perfect fullness of God, it is still one city. The unique God has the unique New Jerusalem as His corporate expression for eternity.

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Perfected into One unto New Jerusalem

In John 17 the Lord Jesus prayed for our oneness in the Triune God. This prayer includes three stages of oneness—in the Father’s name (one), sanctification in the word of reality (two), and in glory (this post). Three stages in one hymn.

New JerusalemIn John 17:22-23 the Lord prayed, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one…” The glory is the expression of God.

Because we have all received the divine life and divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), we have this glory. The extent to which we live by the divine life and divine nature determines the magnitude of glory expressed. New Jerusalem will be the fullest expression.

As before, oneness in the divine glory is not outward, not man-made, not by adherence to a creed, not by following a set of rules. The real oneness, now and unto New Jerusalem, is as “We [the Triune God] are one.” Nothing less, nothing lower. Our oneness is God in Christ in us and we in Him. This matches what the Lord told the disciples, “you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

In the Triune God, with the Triune God in us, we “may be perfected into one.” Perfection is a quality of God, not of men. For us to be perfected into one is to be perfected in our living in and because of the Triune God. At times we fail, but we confess our sins and receive His forgiveness. Eventually we will mature in the divine life and come to the reality, the perfection, of New Jerusalem.

As in verse 17:21, so in verse 23 the result of the oneness today is “that the world may know.” The perfection in glory is not only for New Jerusalem but even for today.

See also Glorification and Oneness in the Triune God.

Sanctified into One unto New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIn John 10 the Lord spoke about one flock; on the cross He created one new man; in John 17 He prayed that we all may be one. This oneness extends from the cross through today to New Jerusalem.

The first stage of His prayer in John 17 was for us to be kept in the oneness in the Father’s name, implying also in the Father’s divine life. In the second stage He prayed “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth….That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (John 17:17, 21).

Externally, we are in the world as the early disciples were (17:18). Thus we need to be sanctified from the world all the way to the holy (sanctified) city of New Jerusalem.

To be sanctified (Eph. 5:261 Thes. 5:23) is to be separated from the world and its usurpation unto God and His purpose, not only positionally (Matt. 23:1719) but also dispositionally (Rom. 6:1922). God’s living word works in the believers to separate them from anything worldly. This is to be sanctified in God’s word, which is the truth, the reality.*

Our oneness is not trivial. Christian oneness now, and in New Jerusalem, is “even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You.” This is realized through His prayer that “they also may be in Us.” Our oneness is our being in and living in the Triune God. Lord, we want to experience this!

Such oneness in the Triune God expresses the Triune God. Today the result is “that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:21). Ultimately the result is New Jerusalem shining with the glory of God to the whole universe.

*Note 1 on John 17:17 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, www.recoveryversion.org, © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.
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Kept in Oneness unto New Jerusalem

On the cross the Lord created two peoples—Jews and Gentiles— “in Himself into one new man, so making peace” (Eph. 2:15). This oneness consummates in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn John 17 the Lord Jesus prayed for the practical outworking of this oneness. His prayer includes three stages. The foundation for this prayer is in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one” because “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (14:10). The oneness is neither an outward association nor a mental agreement; this oneness is by mutual indwelling.

In John 17:11 Jesus asked the Father, “keep them [all His disciples] in Your name, which You have given to Me, that they may be one even as We are.” The oneness for which the Lord prayed is at the same standard and in the same manner as His oneness with the Father. This is the oneness which He longs for today and which will characterize New Jerusalem.

To be kept in the Father’s name is to be kept by His life, because only those who are born of the Father and have the Father’s life can participate in the Father’s name.* When we are kept in the Father’s divine life, we are one. This is how the new man, the Body of Christ, and New Jerusalem are one.

Father, keep me in Your name and in Your life day by day to be one with You and with all other Christians.

*An extract from note 2 on John 17:11 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, www.recoveryversion.org, © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.

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From One New Man unto New Jerusalem

The one flock in John 10 is the first definite word in the New Testament about our spiritual oneness; the description of New Jerusalem is the last. In John 10 the Lord said that He would lay down His human life in death to produce His one flock. His death to produce the oneness God desires is also seen in Ephesians 2:14-16:

New JerusalemHe Himself is our peace, He who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of partition, the enmity, abolishing in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, so making peace, and might reconcile both in  one Body to God through the cross, having slain the enmity by it.

While the Lord was dying on the cross He was also creating one new man—an amazing accomplishment! This creating is coupled with reconciling us to God in one Body. Both the creating and the reconciling produce “one” out of “two.”

The “two” are the Jews and the Gentiles (all the non-Jewish peoples). These are identical to the two groups of sheep in John 10 which the Lord made into one flock.

In making the “two” into “one” He not only made peace but also He became our peace. The oneness of the new man in Christ is full of peace—a stark contrast to the divisions, arguments, and angry actions in the world. Like the one flock, this one new man, the one spiritual Body of Christ, consummates in the one New Jerusalem and our peace in Christ also points to New Jerusalem since “Jerusalem” means “foundation of peace.”

One Flock, One Shepherd, One City

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the consummation of every positive quality in the Bible. Jesus told us, “there shall be one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:16). This is the first definite word in the New Testament about our spiritual oneness. This oneness develops through the one Body, the one new man (upcoming posts), to the one New Jerusalem.

In John 9 the Lord gave sight to a man blind from birth. This man, viewed as a disciple of Jesus (John 9:28), was cast out of the Jewish fellowship in the synagogue (John 9:22, 34, 35). From the religious Jews’ viewpoint, he was cast out. However, from Jesus’ viewpoint, he was a sheep and Jesus led him out of the sheepfold to find pasture that he might have eternal life (John 10:9-10).

The sheepfold represents the law which guarded the Jewish people until Christ came. Galatians 3:23-24 speaks of this guarding— “But before faith came we were guarded under law, being shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed. So then the law has become our child-conductor unto Christ that we might be justified out of faith.”

In John 10:16 the Lord says, “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must lead them also.” These sheep are from the nations. Then He said that from these sheep and from those of the sheepfold, “there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.”

The Lord also says He laid down His soul life, His human life, to accomplish redemption for His sheep (vv. 1517-18) that they may share His zoe life, His divine life (v. 10b), the eternal life (v. 28), by which they can be formed into one flock under Himself as the one Shepherd.* This eternal life makes us one and brings us all the way to New Jerusalem.

* An extract from the note on John 10:11 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, www.recoveryversion.org, published and © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.
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The Nations around New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the mingling of God with His chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and matured people. The city is this organic union of God and His people. Around the city are the peoples (Rev. 21:3), the nations (Rev. 21:24). These peoples/nations are not New Jerusalem because they, being plural, do not have the oneness of New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:3 says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them.”

* The “peoples” in this verse will be “the nations” in verse 24. There will be several peoples, and each corporate people will be a nation on the new earth. These nations which will surround the New Jerusalem will be restored, but they will not be regenerated….As the restored and purged nations, they will live outside the New Jerusalem and they will enjoy the common blessings in the new heaven and the new earth.
These common blessings are mentioned in verse 4: “And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain—they shall be no more; for the former things have passed away.”

These peoples will be God’s peoples, belonging to Him. However, they are not His sons born of His life. Without this life they cannot participate in the oneness of New Jerusalem.

These peoples enjoy the blessings of the new earth but do not partake of the special blessings in New Jerusalem. For example, the peoples/nations will not eat the fruit of the tree of life (Christ). Their portion will only be the healing of the leaves of the tree of life (Rev. 22:2). They will receive this blessing out of New Jerusalem, but it is far better to partake of Christ as our tree of life both today and in New Jerusalem.

* An excerpt from Life-study of Revelation, message 58, by Witness Lee, published and © by Living Stream Ministry. This and many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

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