The Gospel of Jesus Christ and New Jerusalem

The gospel brings us to God’s redemption that we may receive His eternal life and partake of His salvation throughout our Christian life. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

“The gospel of Jesus,” “the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and “the gospel of Christ” are mentioned in about 30 New Testament verses. Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel and He will be the center of New Jerusalem. He is the same yesterday, today, and eternally (Heb. 13:8).

The first name and the last name (Rev. 22:21) in the New Testament is Jesus, proving that Jesus Christ is the subject and content of the New Testament.*

New JerusalemOn the cross Christ created one new man, composed of all the people He redeemed and reconciled to God, thus making peace (Eph. 2:14-16). In this one new man, the stepping stone to New Jerusalem, He is all and in all, and in Him our racial, social, cultural, and national distinctions have been eliminated (Col. 3:11). 

Now our need is to “be renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Eph. 4:23). By this renewing, which is day by day, not once for all, we practically put off the old man—our old ways of thinking and living—and put on the new man so that Christ is expressed. 

This renewing prepares us for New Jerusalem which is fully new in Christ and fully expresses Him. This is the goal of the gospel and the goal of Christ’s human living, death, resurrection, and ascension.

* Part of footnote 1 on Matt. 1:1 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

Putting Off, Putting On, for New Jerusalem

We follow the Lord Jesus on the path to New Jerusalem by applying His death as we deny ourself, so that all our natural life is terminated. This opens the door for the divine life, the eternal life, the life we received in regeneration, the life of New Jerusalem, to spread in us and to be magnified in our living (Phil. 1:20-21).

New JerusalemThe exchange of the natural and divine living is presented in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man…and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality.”

Galatians 2:20 also shows this putting off and putting on: “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith…” This living one with Christ in me is the life of the new man and of New Jerusalem.

“It is no longer I who live” is because “I am crucified with Christ” and by the Spirit I am applying this every day. This is putting off the old living. This is to deny self and bear the cross daily. “Christ lives in me” to impart the resurrection power for this denying.

“I now live in faith.” This is putting on the new man who ultimately becomes New Jerusalem.

The Word of the Cross for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThrough the cross our natural life, our fallen life, our soul life, is put away. This opens the door for the increase and spread of Christ, our new life, our resurrection life, in us. This life, not our old life, is the life of New Jerusalem.

First Corinthians 1 speaks about the cross, which delivers us from our old life.. Verse 18: “The word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. If we think speaking about the cross is foolishness, then we are in the wrong realm.

Verses 23-24: “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Christ crucified, to release the resurrection life, is God’s wisdom and God’s way.

Now the cross is being applied within us, making us new and living for New Jerusalem. Because of this wonderful result, Paul boasted in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14).

The believers in Christ have been crucified (terminated) with Him (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6). After being organically united with Him through faith, they should remain on the cross, keeping their old man under the termination of the cross (cf. Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:20-21). This is to carry their own cross.*

Remember that the purpose of the cross is not suffering; the purpose is to kill the old man so hat the new man can come forth in reality for New Jerusalem.

Part of the footnote on Luke 14:27 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee,

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (6)

New JerusalemThe Lord Jesus, as a man on earth, did not seek His own will nor His own glory. He is a pattern to us and asks us to follow Him, denying ourself and not loving our soul life. so that His eternal life can spread in us to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

Besides self-will and self glory, other aspects of self to be denied are opinions, preferences, complaints, vain talking, and the ways I like to do things. Perhaps none of these are evil, but they are self. The Lord tells us to deny our self, good or bad, to follow Him and be worthy of Him.

If we don’t deny ourself, we will be like those in Philippians 2:21, “all seek their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus.”

Our self is our old man, the man of God’s creation who was corrupted by Satan. The denying of the self is the putting off of the old man, which is necessary to put on the new man of God’s new creation, the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Christ first carried the cross and then was crucified. But the believers in Him are first crucified and then carry the cross that they may remain in the termination of their old man, thus experiencing and enjoying Christ as their life and life supply.*

Although the Lord had a physical cross, He also bore the cross internally throughout His ministry. We also bear an internal cross, “by the Spirit putting to death.” The life released through the cross brings us to New Jerusalem.

Part of the footnote on Luke 14:27 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee,

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Oneness with Christ for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemPrior posts showed that our oneness with Christ and oneness in Christ distinguish us from the nations around New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24).

One verse about this is Colossians 3:10-11 which says that in the new man “there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all and in all.” Assuredly, in New Jerusalem Christ will be everything.

First Corinthians 1:30 declares that it is of God that we are in Christ Jesus. This is our position, which is unchangeable. But, is our daily living always, sometimes, or rarely in Christ Jesus? To what extent can we honestly say “for me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21)?

If our daily living is according to our upbringing, or is unconscious habit, or is governed by our culture, or is because “everyone does it this way,” then we are not living Christ. Those ways of living might not be bad, but the source is the old creation rather than Christ in us.

Or, we might try to explain our living by “that’s the way I am” or “I was born that way.” Again, these ways might not be bad, but they are not Christ and hence cannot correspond with New Jerusalem.

Our need is expressed in Colossians 3:10. It says we “have put on the new man” and now the new man “is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” Lord, we open to be renewed to match Your image. Renew us into the reality of the new man in our daily living. Conform us to New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

 

Christ has the First Place in New Jerusalem

Paul’s seeing of the Body of Christ and the New Man reveal much about New Jerusalem. Following Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians, we come to Colossians.

New Jerusalem• “He is the Head of the Body, the church; He is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that He Himself might have the first place in all things.” (1:18) Let us give Him first place in us!
• Paul rejoiced “in my sufferings on your behalf and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body.” (1:24) The sufferings for the Body are also part of the preparation of New Jerusalem, but in eternity there will be no sufferings.
• We are “holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.” (2:19) This, parallel to Ephesians 4:15-16, is related to the preparation of New Jerusalem.
• We “have put off the old man” and “have put on the new man.” (3:10-11). This matches Ephesians 4:22, 24.
• “Let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts, to which also you were called in one Body; and be thankful.” (3:15) Peace is of Christ and He is making home in our hearts. Thank Him!

As in the prior books, all of these characteristics of the Body and New Man seen in Colossians apply to New Jerusalem. Christ has the first place in the city and He is its peace. The city is absolutely of the new man, with nothing of the old man. Finally, New Jerusalem is full grown, mature, in Christ.

Build His Body, Prepare New Jerusalem 

Paul’s seeing of the Body of Christ and the New Man show us much about New Jerusalem. The prior post touched verses in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Now Ephesians.

New Jerusalem• “The church which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” (1:22b-23). The Body now, and New Jerusalem eternally, is the fullness, the enlarged expression of the Christ who fills everything.
• Christ died to create diverse peoples “in Himself into one new man” and to “reconcile both in one Body to God through the cross.” (2:15-16) The doing is His and the realm is in Him.
• We all are “fellow heirs and fellow members of the Body and fellow partakers of the promise.” (3:6) Everything in Christ is shared among us all.

• “One Body and one Spirit.” (4:4) The Spirit is indispensable for the reality of the Body.
• All of us participate in “the building up of the Body of Christ.” (4:12)
• By holding the Head we grow up into Him; as a result, by the supply flowing out from the Head “all the Body…causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” (4:15-16) Ephesians 4 shows that all of us participate in the building up which is the preparation of New Jerusalem.
• We have “put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man” and “put on the new man.” (4:22, 24)

All of these characteristics of the Body and New Man apply to New Jerusalem—the city is the fullness of Christ, coming out of His death and resurrection, we are all one in Him, we all share in all the blessings, and we all participate in the preparation.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

More Seeing and Entering New Jerusalem

We should all desire to be “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). The seeing requires us to be “in spirit” and to have completed a spiritual journey (described in prior posts) to a high mountain.

According to John 3:3 and 3:5, when we see, we enter. Both depend on our new birth. The extent of our seeing and entering New Jerusalem matches the extent to which we let the new birth operate in us. This is like a human—birth brings the baby into humanity but the baby requires many years of development to fully see and enter into human life.

John 3:5: Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

New JerusalemIn John 3:5 being born anew has two aspects: water and Spirit. Being born of water is the termination of our old life. How much will we cooperate with the Spirit to apply this termination to our old habits, our old amusements, our old attitudes, and our old goals? This is the denial of our self spoken by the Lord in the gospels (e.g. Matt. 16:24) by cooperating with the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

Being born of the Spirit is the enlivening of our human spirit and the joining of the Spirit with our spirit. How much will we live and walk according to this spirit? This is not separate from the first aspect of being born anew. In Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live”—the first aspect, “but it is Christ who lives in me”—the second aspect. The more Christ lives in us the more we see and enter New Jerusalem.

Christ living in us is a matter of faith. Galatians 2:20 continues to say “I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God.” Lord, fill me with Yourself as my faith so that You may live through me. Lord, bring me more into New Jerusalem.

The New Man is in Christ Jesus

New JerusalemWe are all one in Christ Jesus, in the Body of Christ, and in the new man. This oneness will continue into New Jerusalem. In Christ there is oneness without any national, cultural, ethnic, or social distinctions.

God created man on the sixth day and said “very good” (Genesis 1:26, 31). Soon afterwards man sinned and became the old man, old meaning separated from God. In Christ we are saved from the old man.

In Christ we are in the new man. Through His death on the cross Jesus Christ terminated all the partitions between different peoples and created one new man. He has slain all the enmity and has reconciled us in one body to God (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Because of what Jesus Christ did, there is a praise to Him in Revelation 5:9, saying, “You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” As a result, in Revelation 7:9 John saw “a great multitude which no one could number, out of every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands.”

In these verses out of signifies that the believers are no longer in their nations or tribes or peoples. Rather, we are all in Christ and in the new man, having been purchased by the Lamb out of the old man.

In the reality of baptism, we not only put off the old man; we also put on the new man (Colossians 3:10). Now we can experience the inward renewing to live in the reality of the new man. This living is a foretaste of a living that will be much sweeter and more joyous in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Janet Ward, NOAA HPCC, courtesy of NOAA (U.S. Dept. of Commerce).

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