We Are Being Built into New Jerusalem (2)

Ephesians 2:22 declares that we “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit,” Colossians 2:7 that we are “being built up in Him,” and 1 Peter 2:5 that we “are being built up as a spiritual house.” Each of these are God’s current building work in us wich ultimately brings forth New Jerusalem.

Our entering into the New Jerusalem is not simply an entering in. It is God’s working in us to the point that we have become mature and have been thoroughly dealt with to become pure gold and precious stone. At that time we will spontaneously be in the New Jerusalem. Do not think that God will one day put us in the New Jerusalem even if we have not been thoroughly worked on by God and are still men of clay with very little of God’s life, the pure gold, inside of us….The correct concept in the Bible is that God is working in us with His life. This requires our cooperation to allow His life to transform us inwardly so that we may be changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).*

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 15:52 does says, “in the twinkling of an eye…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.” This sudden change is in our mortal bodies. But God’s intention is that this change follow our life-long transfor-mation. This process, including our renewing, dispositional sanctification, and transformation is gradual. “Let us be brought on to maturity” (Heb. 6:1).

Paul certainly was active in seeking and cooperating with the Lord and letting the Lord work in him. Yet after about 30 years as a Christian he was still pursuing (Phil. 3:7-14). May we follow this example, always being active for God’s current work to build New Jerusalem into us.

* This post begins the second half of a series with excerpts from The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place and Bride

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.” The city is the bride and the Husband is Jesus Christ. This is the culmination of His redeeming and sanctifying the church “that He might present the church to Himself glorious” (Eph. 5:25-27).

The glorious church, the predecessor of New Jerusalem as the bride, is purified by the divine life that she be without “spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.”

One side of the Lord’s sanctifying, renewing, and transforming work in us is that all the natural elements (e.g. spots, wrinkles) are removed. The other side is that the divine life and nature fills us and transforms us to be golden and precious. This produces New Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God and the bride of Christ.

When we come to Revelation 21, a city of pure gold appears, and a wall of precious stones is manifested. The street of this city is pure gold, and the outward wall is composed of precious stones. This city is a sign with a twofold significance. On one hand, this city signifies a place, because it is a city. On the other hand, it signifies a person, because it is a bride, the wife of the Lamb. In other words, this city is the dwelling place of God and all the saints, and it is also the issue of God’s work in man throughout the ages. This city is a man of glory.*

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place of God (2)

In Genesis 2 we read that “a river went forth from Eden to water the garden.” In New Jerusalem John was shown “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.”

We see that the dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning was a paradise and that the dwelling place God prepares for man in the end is also a paradise. Both are pleasant places, and their contents are also similar. The two paradises both have the tree of life and a river, and both have pure gold, pearl, and precious stones. This shows that the dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning is the same as the one He prepares for man at the end. The two places have almost the same contents. This shows that what God did in the beginning was related to His ultimate purpose, and God’s ultimate purpose is revealed in what He did in the beginning.*

New JerusalemThe materials in the garden and in New Jerusalem  are the same. However, in the garden the materials are present but not built together as they are in the city.

God’s building work is going on through human history. In Genesis 12 Abraham’s tent was a small symbol of the dwelling place God desires. Later, the tabernacle and temple were much larger symbols and included precious materials. Today we are being built in reality to be “a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

By “coming to Him, a living stone” we also “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). New Jerusalem is the consummation of this living building, a living composition of God and all His people.


* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

Much more about the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

No Dust in New Jerusalem

Genesis 2:7—”Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

New Jerusalem“Dust of the ground” was the material used in the creation of Adam at the beginning of the Bible. But at the end of the Bible we see New Jerusalem composed of pure gold, like clear glass (Rev. 21:18), pearls (21:21), and precious stones (21:11, 18-20).

It is by the divine life, the eternal life, that man is transferred from dust of the ground to the precious city. In Genesis 2 this life is portrayed by the tree of life. In the New Testament this life is Jesus Christ (John 11:25, 14:6).

In eternity past we were foreknown and predestinated by God to this life (but we still need to cooperate in time to receive it). On the cross Jesus Christ accomplished redemption to solve all the problems which shut us out from the tree of life because of the fall of man (Gen. 3:22-24).

Now man can be regenerated, born in spirit with this life (John 3:6) to possess this life. Then, throughout our Christian life on earth, this life transforms us, renews us. This is clearly presented in Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, and Ephesians 4:23. This transformation changes our constitution from dust to precious material so that we match New Jerusalem.

When the Lord Jesus returns He will transfigure “the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). The is our final step from dust to precious material for New Jerusalem.

More: Five Steps to New Jerusalem (1)  (2)  (3)

 

New Jerusalem, a Golden Mountain

New JerusalemRevelation 21 describes many aspects of New Jerusalem, including its materials and its dimensions. Because Revelation is a book of spiritual signs, many descriptors in it signify spiritual facts.

‘Twelve’ is a frequent number in the dimensions of New Jerusalem. In the Bible ‘seven’ indicates completeness in temporal matters and ‘twelve’ indicates completeness in eternal matters. ‘One thousand’ is a sign of fullness, plentifulness.

The New Jerusalem, the holy city, is a golden mountain (Rev. 21:16, 18). This mountain is twelve thousand stadia in length, breadth, and height (v. 16).…Such a high mountain has only one street which goes down spirally from the top of the mountain to reach all the twelve gates on the four sides of the city.

If this is a real [physical] city to lodge in, we must ask how all God’s redeemed through all the centuries will be able to lodge there….How could these people travel in a city with only one main street? For a physical city with only one main street to contain billions of people is impossible. The holy city is not a physical heavenly mansion, but a sign signifying the totality of all God’s chosen people.*

New Jerusalem is God dwelling with all His people. God is unlimited; in Him there is space for all His people. The one street of New Jerusalem is a picture of Jesus Christ as our way (John 14:6). He is “the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He has brought us into Himself as our spiritual street and He will bring us to completion, to New Jerusalem.

* The Divine Economy, chapter 15, by Witness Lee

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.

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.

The Three Materials of New Jerusalem Signify the Triune God.

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the eternal dwelling of the Triune God with His people. New Jerusalem is constructed with gold, pearls, and precious stones. These signify the Triune God and His operation for and in His people.

Revelation has many other aspects such as beasts, fightings, and judgements. However, none of these are the focus of God’s revelation. Rather, they show what God does to clear away the old creation, the creation corrupted by Satan, in order to bring forth the new heavens and new earth with New Jerusalem at their center.

The three sections of the New Jerusalem are constructed with three kinds of materials, or three kinds of elements. The number three is a particular number in the universe, signifying the Triune God. The Triune God is the number three. Every number in the Bible has its meaning, and three signifies the Triune God. Therefore, the three kinds of materials in the New Jerusalem no doubt signify the Triune God.*

The gold signifies the Father’s divine nature, the pearls signify the Son’s work through death and resurrection, and the precious stones signify the Spirit’s transformation of the believers. The Triune God and His operation for and in the believers is the intrinsic essence of New Jerusalem, and New Jerusalem is an eternal display of the Triune God.

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

The Gold, Pearls, and Precious Stones of New Jerusalem Portray God

New JerusalemRevelation is a book of spiritual signs (1:1). For example, in 1:20 the Lord Jesus tells us that the seven lampstands are signs of the seven churches and the seven stars signify the messengers of the churches.

New Jerusalem, the conclusion of Revelation and of the whole Bible, is described in Revelation 21–22. The city has many spiritual signs, including those of its appearance, size, and materials. Here is something about the spiritual significance of the materials.

The New Jerusalem has three sections. The city proper, or the city itself, is pure gold (21:18b). This means that the base of the city is gold. The second part of the city is its twelve gates, each of which is a pearl (vv. 12-13, 21). The third part of the city is the wall with its foundations, all of which are precious stones (vv. 14, 18a, 19-20). The entire wall is jasper, and the foundation of the wall has twelve layers. The first layer of the foundation also is jasper. Revelation 4:2-3a tells us that God’s appearance is like jasper. Thus, in appearance the city is exactly the same as God. God appears like jasper, and the city also appears like jasper.*

The base of New Jerusalem is the divine nature, portrayed by gold. Nothing natural, nothing of the old creation can support this marvelous city. On this base and with the jasper, New Jerusalem has the same appearance as God because the purpose of the city is to express God, to manifest His glory.

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


TO MY READERS:

Most of the posts in the coming months will include quotes from the website Excerpts from Books by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee by Living Stream Ministry. Each post will identify the specific source for the quotation.

This week my blog returns to three posts a week, ending the two posts a week which began in November.

Enter through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

We continue with the contrasts of physical shadows and spiritual realities in Hebrews. The realities match characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 9:1 is about the first covenant, the shadows. Its sanctuary was of “this world,” of the old creation, in contrast to New Jerusalem which is of the new creation. 

New JerusalemVerses 3 to 5 present the gold and the glory of the Holy of Holies. The gold is the nature of God and the glory is the expression of God. Both gold and glory are characteristics of New Jerusalem, and the city is a cube, the eternal Holy of Holies.

In contrast, verse 2 mentions the table and the lampstand in the holy place but does not say that they are of gold. This omission emphasizes that the shadows of the old creation do not compare with New Jerusalem.

Verses 6 to 8 show us that the entrance into the reality is only possible based upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is our entrance into New Jerusalem, and today we come forward to the heavenly Holy of Holies.

Verses 9 and 10 (and 10:1) tell us that the shadows are temporary and that they cannot perfect those who hold to that form of worship. But 10:14 tells us that Christ “has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” This perfection has New Jerusalem as its goal.

Eternal Redemption; Serve the Living God

Hebrews 9:12 declares that Jesus, “through His own blood, entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, obtaining an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:14 declares further that “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

How does that relate to New Jerusalem? Revelation 22:3, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.”

New JerusalemThe eternal redemption accomplished once for all by Jesus Christ is for us to serve God now and in New Jerusalem. His redemption, and the forgiveness and purifying it affords us, is always available because it was done “through the eternal Spirit.”

Redemption opens the door for us to receive eternal life, and eternal life (John 3:15-16) brings us into the bride of Christ (3:29-30) which ultimately is New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

The purifying presented in Hebrews 9:14 is necessary for us to receive eternal life and because “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18). New Jerusalem has no spots, no darkness, no obscurity. Every aspect of the city is pure and transparent.

We are experiencing the purifying in Hebrews 9 along with the inward washing of our being presented in Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5. This brings us to the purity of New Jerusalem and to our eternal service to the living God.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (4)

A hymn presents characteristics of New Jerusalem which are seen figuratively in the garden of Eden. Here is the first part of verse 3 with verse 4 of this hymn:

New JerusalemBoth in the garden and the city bright
Three kinds of precious substances are found;

But in the garden all these precious things
Are just materials lying in the earth,
Yet in the city all are builded up
And form that dwelling of transcendent worth.

Genesis 2 presents to us gold, bdellium (a pearl-like material from a tree resin), and onyx stones. As the song says, these are precious substances but merely lying around. In New Jerusalem the street is of gold, the twelve gates are pearls, the wall is built of jasper, and the foundations of the wall are adorned with twelve types of precious stones (Rev. 21:12-21).

New Jerusalem being builded up is the culmination of God’s spiritual building work throughout the New Testament. In Matthew 16 Jesus said “I will build my church.” Jesus is the Stone which became the Cornerstone for this building (Mark 12:10, Eph. 2:20).

The building work involves all of us, as in 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2 and 4. In Ephesians 4:15-16 holding in love to Christ as the truth, we grow up into Him in all things. Then a rich supply flows out from Him through the gifted members and also “through the operation in the measure of each one part.” The result is “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

The ultimate issue of the building work is New Jerusalem, built with the three kinds of precious substances.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (3)

A hymn coupling the garden of Eden with New Jerusalem is based on many Bible verses. Verse 3:

Both in the garden and the city bright
Three kinds of precious substances are found;
There are the gold, the pearls, and precious stones
Which for the building work of God abound.

Genesis 2:12 speaks about gold, bdellium (a pearl-like material from the resin of a tree), and onyx stone coming out of the flow of the river of life. Revelation 21:18-21 presents the materials of New Jerusalem—gold, pearl, precious stones. Between these two ends, 1 Corinthians 3 tells us that the church, God’s building, is built with gold, silver, and New Jerusalemprecious stones.

These descriptions are not about physical materials. Gold signifies the divine nature of God the Father, of which we partake now as part of our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-4).

The pearl and silver refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son, through which we receive salvation and enter New Jerusalem. The twelve gates of the city are twelve pearls, three on each side. This depicts the Triune God facing every direction on earth to welcome us into the city.

The precious stones portray the work of the Spirit in us (2 Cor. 3:18), to transform us from our natural fallen condition to a precious condition matching New Jerusalem.

The song says these materials abound for God’s building. This is because the materials in reality are the unlimited Triune God who is working in us to bring forth His building now for the ultimate producing of New Jerusalem.

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