We Serve as Priests, Now & New Jerusalem

Revelation 22:3 is part of the description of life in New Jerusalem. “And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him.” Here “serve” means “serve as priests.”

New JerusalemThrough the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, God purchased us. We “were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). Thus, we are God’s slaves, both now and in New Jerusalem. As His slaves we serve Him as priests.

The first NT mention of this serving is the Lord’s speaking to Satan in Matthew 4:10 (quoting Deut. 6:13), “Then Jesus said to him, Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'”

In Romans 1:9 Paul tells us, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son.” His serving in the gospel was a foretaste of his (and our) serving in New Jerusalem. Paul served “in spirit,” that is, by a living in his human spirit. (In John 4:23-24 our worship, tied to our service in Matthew 4, should also be in spirit.)

We all were bought by God to “serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). Being trained by the Spirit to serve today prepares us for our eternal serving in New Jerusalem.


To serve as a priest does not involve seminary or ordination or special robes. It depends on regeneration with a life of loving God, receiving fellowship from Him, and offering thanksgiving and praise to Him.

The Book of Life for the City of Life

The Bible certainly is a book of life, presenting God in Christ as life to man. This presentation is 1) in the Old testament in allegories/pictures beginning with the tree of life in Genesis 2, and 2) in the New Testament in reality. “Christ our life” (Col. 3:4).

Philippians 4:3 and six verses in Revelation speak of “the book of life.” This book does not refer directly to the Bible but rather to a book of names of everyone chosen to participate in the blessings on the new earth, including New Jerusalem. These blessings come from the eternal life flowing out of the throne of God and the Lamb; hence to be named in this book is a matter of life.

New JerusalemToday we participate in the blessings of the eternal life. These blessings will increase in the coming kingdom age and reach their peak in New Jerusalem.

In eternity all whose names are written in the book of life will be either constituents of New Jerusalem (e.g. those referred to in Phil. 4:3) or citizens of the nations around New Jerusalem (e.g. those referred to in Rev. 13:8).

In contrast, those not named in this book will marvel when they see the beast that was killed and resuscitated (Rev. 17:8). Finally, “if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

Today the door is open to turn our heart to receive the Lord Jesus as life. Lord, come into me, live in and through me daily, and prepare me for New Jerusalem.

The River is from the Throne both Today and in New Jerusalem

In Revelation 22:1 the river of water of life flows out from the throne of God and the Lamb to supply the entire city for eternity. This flow is the Spirit. We also see this river in New Testament epistles for the preparation of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWhen Paul wrote Philippians he was in a Roman prison and he also describes another difficulty. Yet he says in 1:19, “I know that for me this [prison and difficulty] will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians begins, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The blessings from our Father and our Lord are realized in the bountiful supply which is the Spirit. This is the present realization of the river (the Spirit as the bountiful supply) from the throne of God and the Lamb.

The result of this flow is Paul’s expectation that “even now Christ will be magnified in my body.” The flow of the Spirit produces the expression/magnification of Christ just as the river in New Jerusalem maintains the expression/magnification of God by the city.

Similarly both Ephesians 4:15-16 and Colossians 2:19 speak of a rich supply flowing out from the Head, Christ, which results in the building up of His Body. The rich supply is the Spirit and the building up is the preparation of New Jerusalem. Lord, keep us in this rich supply of the Spirit to prepare us for New Jerusalem! 

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

The Glory of God Illuminates the City

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem has no need of natural light because “the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

New Jerusalem is a city completely constituted with eternal life, and this life is the light of the city. The light is the glory of God and this light is in the Lamb, Jesus Christ, the lamp of the city.

God, the light, is in Christ, the lamp. This matches John, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (14:10). The Father sent the Son and the Son lived because of the Father (6:57) and expressed the Father through His living (14:9,11). What is described in the Gospel of John is what will be in New Jerusalem, except that it will be enlarged to the Father in the Son in all God’s people.

Even today we as children of God should be “without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2). We shine, not because of ourselves, but because God in Christ is in us as the light of life.

The Greek word translated luminaries in Philippians 2 occurs only one other time in the New Testament, which is in the description of New Jerusalem having the brilliance/ radiance from the glory of God (Rev. 21:11). Thus, what we should be today according to Philippians 2 is a miniature of New Jerusalem. God in Christ is the light in the lamp in both our Christian life and New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, Clear as Crystal

Revelation 21:11 says about New Jerusalem, “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” The light of New Jerusalem, the light which is Jesus Christ as the shining life in every member of this corporate city, is most precious to God New Jerusalemand expresses Him fully.

This precious shining of New Jerusalem is like a jasper stone, matching God sitting on the throne. This shining jasper stone is “clear as crystal” or, as others translate, “bright as crystal.” The clear-ness allows the brightness to shine out.

The words clear, pure, and transparent are all used in Revelation 21 to describe New Jerusalem. These show that the city has no mixture, no contaminant. no pollution. It is as pure and clear as God Himself because God saturates the whole city.

God chose us in eternity past “to be holy and without blemish before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). His desire is that, by experiencing Christ day by day, we “may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

God desires that we shine today like New Jerusalem will shine eternally. We should not wait. Christ living in us will make us blameless, without blemish, and shining. This is for us today as a foretaste of the clear and bright shining of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the Foundation of Peace

New JerusalemAnother aspect of the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:2 is the name Jerusalem. The Hebrew word means foundation of peace.

Salem in Hebrew means peace. In Hebrews 7:1 Melchisedec is the king of Salem, and Hebrews 7:2 interprets this as king of Peace. This Melchisedec is a figure of Christ Himself (see Heb. 5:5-10). New Jerusalem is founded in peace because it is of God, who is the God of peace, as He is named in Philippians 4:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

This God of peace became incarnated in Christ. He said to us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In Christ we have peace! In the world—that is, in politics, business, education, legal affairs, our community, etc.—we should not expect nor hunt for peace.

Philippians 4:6-7: “In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”

When we present every request to the God of peace, we experience the peace of God and are saved from unpeaceful anxiety. This inward reality is our foretaste of the eternal and universal peace of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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

Full Sonship, the Redemption of Our Body

New JerusalemWe have presented two steps of redemption on our path to New Jerusalem. The first is our justification through the forgiveness of our sins, accomplished by the Lord’s death. The second is the redemption of our body, to be accomplished at the Lord’s second coming.

In Luke 21 the Lord Jesus speaks about events before His second coming. Then He tells us, “when these things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” This is “the redemption of our body” in Romans 8.

What is “the redemption of our body”? Philippians 3:20-21 says, “we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory.” The Lord will come in glory, He will transfigure us to be conformed to His glory, and He will present the church to Himself glorious. This will be a big step toward the glory of New Jerusalem!

The transfiguration of our body will be instantaneous, but it will be the consummation of the renewing and transforming work of the Spirit throughout our Christian life. Therefore, we cannot be lazy and passively wait for the Lord’s second coming. We need to be the faithful and prudent slaves, being filled with oil and doing the Lord’s business regularly.

We should be on guard and grow in grace and the full knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Lord, grant us Your mercy day by day that we may live and grow for You.

Christ Magnified, Now and New Jerusalem

“Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, you love” (1 Peter 1:8). He is unsearchable, unlimited. However, He needs us to magnify Him to people in the physical realm. This magnification is to make Him visible in our living, to live Him in a way that declares His greatness. Surely New Jerusalem will do this, but the Lord desires magnification through us in this age.

New JerusalemMary was the first New Testament person to magnify God. She said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). The people in the house of Cornelius, after receiving the Holy Spirit, “magnified God” (Acts 10:46). Later, in Ephesus, “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17).

Paul said that his earnest expectation was “in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death” (Phil. 1:20). He could magnify Christ in every situation because, as the next verse says, “For to me to live is Christ.” Christ lived in Paul and was magnified through Paul.

May such living and magnifying become our experience also! Contributors to this seen in Philippians are praying for one another to be bountifully supplied with the Spirit (1:19), counting all things loss because of the excellency of Christ (3:7-8), rejoicing in the Lord (4:4), and letting our requests be made known with thanksgiving so that we have no anxiety (4:6). This is our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Not Loving the Soul Life – Examples

Revelation 12:11 speaks of those who “overcame him [the Devil] because of the blood* of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their soul-life even unto death” (Rev. 12:11). Not loving the soul life equals denying it, fulfilling the Lord’s command in the gospels. This denying, and the losing of our soul life, are to follow the Lord, to be His disciples, and to participate in His glory and kingdom, both of which consummate in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Acts 7 Stephen boldly testified for the Lord. Then, while dying, he unselfishly prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

In Acts 15 the apostles and elders in Jerusalem recommended Barnabas and Paul as “Men who have risked their [soul] lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:26).

In Acts 20:24 Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, where he was arrested. He declares, “I consider my [soul] life of no account as if precious to myself, in order that I may finish my course and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus.”

In Philippians 2:25-30 Paul commends Epaphroditus. “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy, and hold such in honor, because for the work of Christ he drew near unto death, risking his [soul] life…” (v. 29-30).

Lord, have compassion on me that I may love You completely. For Your ministry now and for New Jerusalem, make me one who risks my own soul life, not counting it precious.

* Notes 2, 3, 4 on Rev. 12:11 are about the blood, the word of testimony, and not loving.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (8)

New JerusalemThe Lord Jesus denied himself, living the Father’s life on earth and finally going through death and entering into resurrection.

We follow Him on this path to New Jerusalem by denying ourself to apply His death to all our natural life so that His eternal life can flourish in us.

To deny the self requires constant exercise. Even toward the end of Paul’s Christian life, he was exercised to gain and know more of Christ and to be conformed to His death. The enabler for this lifelong exercise is “the power of His resurrection.”

 With Christ, the sufferings and death came first, followed by the resurrection; with us, the power of His resurrection comes first, followed by the participation in His sufferings and conformity to His death. We first receive the power of His resurrection; then by this power we are enabled to participate in His sufferings and live a crucified life in conformity to His death.*

Lord Jesus, keep me daily in the power of Your resurrection so that I may be conformed to Your death.

The conformity to the death of Christ (Phil. 3:10) is followed by the longing for the participation in the resurrection at the Lord’s return (3:11). This will bring our entire being—spirit, soul, and body—into resurrection to participate in the kingdom age and onward to New Jerusalem. To reach this goal requires our cooperation, our pursuing (3:12-14).

Part of footnote 3 on Phil. 3:10 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (7)

The Lord Jesus told us to deny ourself, take up our cross, and lose our soul life for His sake. Such denying, taking up, and losing is a continual part of our Christian life, applying the once-for-all death of Christ on the cross to our old man. In this way we put on the reality of the one new man created on the cross as we advance to New Jerusalem.

“For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3). This circumcision is not in the flesh as practiced by the Jews; rather, we “were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11).

New Jerusalem“The circumcision of Christ” is His once-for-all death on the cross, made available to us by the Spirit, and applied by us daily. Whenever we boast in ourselves or have confidence in ourselves, we have strayed from the cross and from the path to New Jerusalem.

Boasting in Christ Jesus and denying self-confidence is a continual exercise. This exercise is also seen in Paul’s desire to gain Christ and be found in Him “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:8-10).

Before we reach New Jerusalem we need the Lord and His resurrection power through sufferings to conform us to “His death”!

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