New Jerusalem: Dwell and Serve in God

New JerusalemThe New Testament has a living temple— God Himself and all His people. Eventually this temple will be New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament times, before our redemption and regeneration, this living temple was portrayed by a physical temple.

Revelation 7:14-15 says, “These are those who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits upon the throne will tabernacle over them.”

Revelation 7 is a view of life in the coming age and eternity. In this picture God’s redeemed people “serve Him day and night in His temple.” yet Revelation 21:22 tells us that John “saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

We who will serve in the temple will serve in God, the living temple. And we will dwell in Him. And be “before the throne” in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3), supplied to serve by the flow from this throne (22:1-2).

This is New Jerusalem: we dwell in God, God dwells in us, God supplies us, and we serve God in God! Very much like the Lord’s word in John 14:20-23—we are in Him, He is in us, we love Him, the Father loves us, and He and the Father make a dwelling with us. When we love Him we are surely willing to serve, and we serve Him while dwelling in Him, in the living temple.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Church: Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is the household of the living God and the Body of Christ. Both of these aspects of the church present to us the reality of New Jerusalem. The city is God’s eternal home in His millions of people, and these people are built together in His life just as the Body of Christ is one living entity.

Continuing to look at the nature of the church as a forerunner of New Jerusalem, we read, “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:1, 2 Thes. 1:1). The church is “the church of God” (multiple verses) and the church is also “of human beings.” However, these humans are not natural, in Adam, but regenerated, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonians, and all believers, are in God and the Lord by God’s action. “Of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:29-30). This is what the Lord promised earlier, in John 14. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (v. 20). “That day” is the day in which He became our life in resurrection (v. 19).

John 14:20 presents a coinherence: we are in God by being in Christ and God in Christ is in us. The church is both “of God” (as in Acts 20:28) and “of the believers” (as in 1 Thes. 1:1). Likewise New Jerusalem is composed of the Triune God in all His people and all His people in the Triune God.

New Jerusalem, like the church, is much higher, much more mysterious, much more marvelous than a physical city; it is a composition of the Triune God and His people living in oneness.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God

New JerusalemRevelation 21–22 presents a vision of the holy city, New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven to the new earth. Let’s look at descriptions of this holy city in other books of the Bible.

Hebrews 12:22 speaks of “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The living God desires a living city composed of all His redeemed and regenerated people.

When we are made alive with the divine life in regeneration, we become “sons of the living God” (Rom. 9:26) to be “the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:6) and “the house of God, the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). These consummate in New Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

Revelation 21:23 says of New Jerusalem, “the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” This combination of city and light reminds me of Matthew 5:14-16. Verse 14 says, “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” Although New Jerusalem is not said to be “upon a mountain,” it will be very prominent in the new creation, in no way hidden.

 Today the kingdom people, with Christ shining within us, are the light to the fallen world. In eternity we, built into the city with Christ continuing to shine within us, will enlighten the new creation.

Hebrews 12 presents the city of the living God. Hebrews 11 also speaks about New Jerusalem: “the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (v. 10) and “He [God] has prepared a city for them [the people of faith]” (v. 16).

Here are some prior posts about the God-prepared city in Hebrews 11.
We Enter New Jerusalem by Faith
Enter into What God Has Prepared
God Has Prepared the City, But …
God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   4-5 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe central theme of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. This wonderful One is seen throughout Revelation caring for God’s interests on earth. These posts look at aspects of His care which brings us to New Jerusalem.

Revelation 4–5 presents a vision of heaven. In 5:5 Jesus Christ is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” He is the victorious One who fought God’s enemies, to clear the way for our redemption, regeneration, and perfection.

In 5:6 He is “a Lamb standing as having just been slain.” He died to redeem us but now He is standing in resurrection with the life that we receive in regeneration, the life for New Jerusalem. He also has “the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” This intensified Spirit is for our “much more salvation in life” (Rom. 5:10) in this dark age.

A praise to the Lamb in 5:9 says, “You are worthy…for You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” By His death He purchased all of us out of every human distinction to be the one new man, who consummates in New Jerusalem. He is worthy!

In 5:10 the praise continues, echoing 1:6, that He has “made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.” The ultimate stage of the kingdom and our priesthood and reigning is New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3-5).

The praise continues in 5:11-14. We, with the heavenly host, can cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Very likely, in New Jerusalem this praise will continue: “Worthy is the Lamb.”

The Promise: New Creation, New Jerusalem

This post concludes our look at New Testament verses with the words according to God’s... These eternal characteristics of God bring forth New Jerusalem and constitute us into it.

New Jerusalem1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Regeneration is our first step into New Jerusalem. There is nothing we can do to qualify ourselves for regeneration; Jesus Christ has done it all and according to God’s great mercy we can receive what He has accomplished.

2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” The new creation, with New Jerusalem as its center, is not our uncertain human hope; it is according to God’s promise. New Jerusalem will be full of “eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the times of the ages” (Titus 1:2). God’s promises are from eternity to eternity. Thank Him!

In the verses in this and four prior posts (1 2 3 4) we see God’s eternal plan carried out according to His great mercy, good pleasure, will, purpose, counsel, promise, riches of glory, riches of grace, and the operation of the might of His strength.

All of these divine characteristics are eternal. They are manifested in His actions in eternity past (e.g. predestinating in Eph. 1:5), now (e.g. making known to us the mystery of His will in Eph. 1:9), and at His second coming (e.g. conforming our body of humiliation to His body of glory in Phil. 3:21).

These characteristics and the actions carried out through them have eternal results in New Jerusalem, where we will forever enjoy the riches of His grace and proclaim the riches of His glory.

To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever

The conclusion of Romans is “Now to Him…to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (16:25-27) This anticipates New Jerusalem, a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

In its conclusion this book [Romans] …gives glory to the wise God. This unveils that all the matters discussed in this book, such as how God selects us, how He saves us from sin and death, how He redeems us and justifies us, how He makes us, sinners who were dead through and through, His divine sons, how He transfers us out of Adam into Christ, how He sanctifies and transforms us in Christ, how He makes us the members of Christ for the constituting of the Body of Christ, and how He causes us to be the local churches appearing in different localities as the expressions of the Body of Christ on the earth in this age — all these matters are planned, managed, and accomplished by God’s wisdom, in order that He, the unlimitedly rich Triune God, may be glorified, that is, that His incomparable glory may be completely and fully expressed through us.*

New JerusalemRomans 3:23 says that sin separated us from the glory of God. Nevertheless, God has worked in Christ to incorporate us with His glory.

This work, described in the excerpt above, includes redemption, regeneration, transfer from Adam to Christ, sanctification, transformation, conformation, and participation in the Body of Christ. These all conclude with glory to God in Romans 16:25-27, pointing to the glory of New Jerusalem.

This work is God “leading many sons into glory” (Heb. 2:10). However, glory is not only a realm into which we enter. Second Corinthians 3:18 says we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” and 2 Thessalonians 1:10 says our Lord Jesus Christ “comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” God’s operation in us today is bringing forth New Jerusalem’s glory.

*From the footnote on Romans 16:27 in NT Recovery Version Online.

Photo courtesy of NASA and JPL-Caltech.

A House and a City Built Together in Christ

New Jerusalem

Revelation is a book of signs (1:1). New Jerusalem is the consummate sign in Revelation and in the Bible. It is God and all His redeemed people living in mutuality.

Here is an excerpt* about New Jerusalem from the ministry of Witness Lee.

The New Jerusalem is not an actual city just as the lampstands are not actual lampstands but signs of the churches [Rev. 1:20]. The New Jerusalem is a great sign of the totality of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people. The church today is a house, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). The house of God today is not an actual house but the totality of God’s people. The church today as God’s temple, God’s house, God’s building, is not an actual physical building but is a sign signifying that the church’s function is to be a house in which the Triune God can dwell.

Today the church is a house, and in eternity the church will be enlarged. When the church is enlarged, it becomes a city. The church as a house is not an actual physical house in the same way that the church enlarged to be the holy city will not be an actual physical city. The New Jerusalem is a city signifying the church’s function in eternity to be God’s dwelling place.

The church today, all the believers in Christ Jesus built together in Him, is a precursor of New Jerusalem. Many verses in the New Testament present this view, and no verse treats the church as a physical building.

Ephesians 2:19-20 declares that we are “members of the household of God, being built…” We, not a physical structure, get built together. Verse 21 continues, “In whom [Christ Jesus] all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” We are being built together in Him, not in a physical location. Also, this building is growing because its essence is the divine life.

First Peter 2:4-5 tells us that “coming to Him, a living Stone…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Very clear. This is the living house of the living God in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Other verses in the New Testament say the same: we are the materials being built together, the building process is growth in the divine life, and the building work is going on in Christ. These same characteristics are true of New Jerusalem, which is the consummation of all the building and growth in the Bible.

* Witness Lee, The Divine Economy, Chapter 15, published and © by Living Stream Ministry. Read more of this excerpt online. Many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

New Jerusalem Proclaims the Excellencies of God

New Jerusalem First Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Other translations* of “tell out the virtues” include “proclaim/ declare/show forth/make known the excellence/excellencies/praises.”

This telling out/proclaiming/declaring begins now and will be magnified in New Jerusalem. The initial step is regeneration by the incorruptible seed of the word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

The next step is the guileless milk of the word for our growth and our tasting the goodness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:2-3). Then we continually come to the Lord, the living Stone, to be built together into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). This house is also a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.

All of these steps are related to New Jerusalem. Regeneration is our entrance. Although we will be full grown in New Jerusalem and not need the milk for newborn babes, eternally we will have the river of life and tree of life to sustain and satisfy us (Rev. 22:1-2). Our being built together also points toward New Jerusalem, which is a spiritual building.

The holy priesthood of 1 Peter 2:5 and the royal priesthood of 2:9 will continue in New Jerusalem. God’s “slaves will serve Him” (Rev. 22:3). The Greek word translated serve means serve as priests. And we “will reign forever and ever” (22:5).

Based on our regeneration, growth, being built together, and serving in the priesthood, we proclaim the excellencies of our God. The proclaiming begins now and amplifies with our growth, building, and serving unto the fullness of New Jerusalem.

* Thanks to biblehub.com.

All Fall Short of the Glory of New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem

Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” While reading Romans 3 I was touched with the paraphrase in the subject line of this post. New Jerusalem is the ultimate display of God’s glory, so to fall short of the glory is to fall short of New Jerusalem.

The holy city Jerusalem…having the glory of God
Revelation 21:10-11
The glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem]
Revelation 21:23

Sin separated man from God and man was shut out of the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24). Thus man had no access to the tree of life. In New Testament terms, man had no access to eternal life, hence no way to express God’s glory.

The real expression of every living being is the demonstration of the life within that being. An apple tree bears apple blossoms and fruit because of its life. A dog sniffs and barks because of its life. Unsaved human beings express both good (from created life) and evil (from indwelling sin).

Regenerated human beings should exhibit, from eternal life within, the glory of God in a limited way now and in a full way in New Jerusalem. However, regeneration is not sufficient. The life of regeneration must spread and expand in us. This is “much more to be saved in His life” (Rom. 5:10). “Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

May we all long for the much more life and receive the abundance of grace until we are reigning in this life and the glory is brought forth. Lord, cause me to participate in the much more salvation of Your life. Spread life in me so that Your glory can be expressed through me. Lord, bring forth the glory of New Jerusalem now!

NO Physical Gold in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemFirst Peter 1:18-19 says, “Knowing that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were redeemed from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.”

This shows us that in God’s eyes gold and silver are corruptible, of little value, and not precious. Hence, we will not see physical gold or silver or pearls or precious stones in New Jerusalem.

Gold, pearls, and precious stones are all mentioned in Revelation 21’s description of New Jerusalem. But, they are not physical, corruptible materials. Rather, they are symbols of the Triune God—divine nature of God the Father, the redemption of Jesus Christ, and the transforming work in us by the Spirit. The Triune God in us is the incorruptible substance of New Jerusalem. Three Precious MaterialsGold, Pearls, and Precious Stones.

Our participation in this wonderful, incorruptible New Jerusalem begins with our regeneration. Our Walk on the Golden Street of New Jerusalem Begins at Regeneration First Peter 1:23 says that we have been “regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.”

We have an incorruptible seed which brings forth the growth of incorruptible life in us for our participation in the incorruptible New Jerusalem. Thank God our Father for this!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

 

Your Choice for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRecent posts have compared the nations living outside, around New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3, 24) with the redeemed and regenerated people constituted into New Jerusalem. The peoples, the nations around New Jerusalem are plural. The people constituted into New Jerusalem are one in Christ.

To be on the new earth around New Jerusalem will be very good but it will be a much greater blessing to participate in the eternal life of the city.

The choice to be in New Jerusalem is yours. This choice must be made while you are alive and before the Lord Jesus returns physically from heaven to earth. The choice is, will you believe into Jesus Christ and receive Him into you? John 1:12 says, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name.” And verse 13 says that these believers, these receivers, are born of God.

The result of receiving Jesus Christ is that we are born again with the eternal life in addition to our human life. It is this eternal life which brings us into New Jerusalem and grows us into this city of life.

In John 14:1 the Lord Jesus said, “believe into God, believe also into Me.” In the rest of this chapter He speaks about God dwelling in us and us dwelling in God. This mutual indwelling is the reality of New Jerusalem. It all comes forth from our believing/receiving (the two are synonyms in the New Testament).

If you have already believed and have assurance of eternal life, then assuredly you will be part of New Jerusalem. If not, choose Jesus Christ. Choose eternal life. This is also to choose participation in New Jerusalem. Simply say to Him, Lord Jesus, I receive You. I want to be a child of God. Cleanse me of all my sins and failures, and give me eternal life. For more, watch these two videos (each about 2½ minutes) about Jesus and human life.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (4)

New Jerusalem is composed the Triune God and the people who are one with God, who have God in Christ as their life and everything. Other peoples, the nations, live around New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3, 24-26).

Revelation 21:3 has the declaration, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” This is a wonderful verse, but it also highlights a difference between the people constituted into New Jerusalem and the peoples living around it.

The difference is “God.” God is both the God of people built into New Jerusalem and the God of the peoples around the city. In contrast, God is the Father of those in New Jerusalem but not the Father of those around it.

New JerusalemIn the Lord’s resurrection, we were regenerated (1 Peter 1:3) and received the divine life. Thus our God became our Father. This is why on the day of resurrection (John 20:17) the Lord could say, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”

Jesus, speaking about resurrection, also said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him” (John 14:23). And, “because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6).

Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. Also, the second verse of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians speak of “our Father.” God is our Father and His divine and eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem, is our life. By and in this life we are part of, rather than around New Jerusalem.

 

 

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