New Jerusalem: Now or Later?

In Revelation 21:2 John declares, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Two thousand years ago John saw New Jerusalem. This is God’s word.

In God’s eternal view, outside our temporal limitations, New Jerusalem exists, and in spirit the angel showed the city to John. In our time-limited view, New Jerusalem is in the future. Yet, God works in us through time to bring forth the city.

New JerusalemToday all believers are members of the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:5). This is our position. Now we need perfecting in our condition and function that we may grow into Christ for the building of the Body until we are full grown to match New Jerusalem. This is Ephesians 4:11-16.

Today we are also constituents of the new man created by Christ on the cross. This is another aspect of our position. Now we need the Spirit’s renewing (Eph. 4:23) to have a proper living in the new man.

By the Spirit’s work in us, the new man is “being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…where Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:10-11).

When Christ is everything in our living then the new man will fully express Him. Reaching this goal will bring us to New Jerusalem. Yes, John saw the city, but in our present human situation we still need the Lord’s mercy to respond to Him for our growth into Him.

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Characteristics Now and in New Jerusalem

Ephesians 4:12-24 contains many positives: perfecting, building, oneness, full-grown, fullness, truth, love, reality, righteousness, holiness. These characteristics do not refer to the natural realm or from natural effort.

New JerusalemThey all come from being in Christ, learning Christ, hearing Christ, and growing up into Him as the Head of the Body. Because these all are Christ and our experience of Him, they are also characteristics of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:12-24 also contains many negatives: sleight, craftiness, error, vanity, darkness, ignorance, hard-ness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, greediness, corruption, deceit.

These all result from mankind being alienated from the life of God. None of these will be in New Jerusalem nor anywhere in the new creation, except in the lake of fire.

In our daily living, the key for us as believers to get away from the negatives and into the positives is verse 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The Spirit has regenerated our spirit—this is John 3:6, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Now we are one spirit with the Lord—this is 1 Corinthians 6:17.

These two steps—regeneration and renewing—are also seen in Titus 3:5, “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” This renewing is not a change from bad behavior to good behavior. Rather, it is a change from living in the old humanity, the fallen humanity that is apart from God to living Christ and letting Him become the reality of our human virtues. This is a living that corresponds to New Jerusalem.

Redemption unto New Jerusalem (4)

When our Lord Jesus comes again in glory, He will redeem our mortal, corrupted body, transfiguring it to be like His body of glory (Phil. 3:21). This is a step on our path to New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God.”

The graphic is the last verse of a hymn about the redemption of our body. Once more, the New Jerusalemverse begins with Christ our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Then “He is our history.” We have believed “into Christ Jesus” and we are now in Him. Here He is our history.

He has become one with us and He is our life (Col. 3:4) for us to experience Him daily. Soon He will come again to transfigure our mortal bodies and bring us into His glorious liberty. This liberty will free our mortal bodies from sin, death, and all kinds of weaknesses and corruption unto the eternal, incorruptible New Jerusalem.

The freedom of glorification through the redemption of our mortal bodies will make even our physical bodies one with Him. We will be one with Him completely and forever.

Based on the redemption gained through Christ’s death and our believing, we have regeneration in our spirit. That began the renewing of the Holy Spirit in our soul (Titus 3:5), which will culminate with the redemption/transfiguration of our body. All of this prepares us to rejoice with Christ at the wedding feast and to live eternally as part of New Jerusalem. Thank Him for this wonderful, complete salvation!

Two Aspects of Redemption on Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

In Christ Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, through which we become sons of God. This redemption has been fully accomplished and is eternal. This is the first step on our path to New Jerusalem.

Based on redemption, we become sons of God by His life entering into us. This is the new birth, the regeneration, of our spirit. This life gradually spreads into our soul to renew and transform us*. Now, as Christians, “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).

New JerusalemWe already are sons of God, but we are in the initial stage of sonship. We eagerly await the full sonship, “the redemption of our body.” This is the second step of redemption on our path to New Jerusalem. This will transpire at the Lord’s second coming.

Ephesians 1 tells us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit “who is the pledge/ guarantee of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” God is our inheritance both today and in a fuller way when our body is redeemed.

We need to cooperate to reach this goal. Ephesians 4 cautions us, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Spirit is working in us to transform our soul, to prepare us for the redemption of our body and take us unto New Jerusalem. We hinder this work and grieve the Spirit when we disobey the Spirit and live according to the flesh.

* See verses (and footnotes) in Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 3:18, Eph. 4:23, Titus 3:5.

The Wife of the Lamb, New Jerusalem,  Made Herself Ready (2)

New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” “Let us rejoice and exult, New Jerusalemand let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

In Matthew 24 the Lord spoke to us about being ready. Three keys here are living contact with the Lord’s word, loving God, and watching in prayer. In Matthew 25 He continued with a parable about being ready for a wedding feast, which depicts the real wedding feast with Him, the feast tied to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 25:10: “The bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.” The key to readiness is being filled with the Spirit. signified in this parable by oil in the vessels.

God created man with spirit, soul, and body. Due to the fall of man, man’s spirit was deadened and his soul became the self. In regeneration the Spirit enlivened our spirit. Now there is a need to deny our self by exercising our spirit to take our cross daily so that the Spirit may spread from our spirit to saturate our soul. One aspect is Ephesians 4:23, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” a part of our soul.

To be ready, we need to deny our self in its ambitions, pride, pleasures, complaints, and many other things, and instead seek the Lord in His word, in prayer, in rejoicing, in singing, both alone and with other believers. This is our path to readiness on our way to the wedding feast and New Jerusalem.

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.

New Creation, Now and New Jerusalem (2)

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). That is an accomplished fact based on our faith in Jesus Christ. Now, through the renewing of the Holy Spirit, we are gradually becoming the reality of New Jerusalem.

Paul the apostle, writing about his Christian living, said, “a new creation is what matters” (Gal. 6:15).

The old creation is our old man in Adam (Eph. 4:22), our natural being by birth, without God’s life and the divine nature. The new creation is the new man in Christ (Eph. 4:24), our being that is regenerated by the Spirit (John 3:6), having God’s life and the divine nature wrought into it (John 3:36; 2 Pet. 1:4), having Christ as its constituent (Col. 3:10-11), and having become a new constitution.

The old creation was old because it did not have God’s element; the new creation is new because it has God as its element. Although we are still the old creation, we experience the reality of the new creation when we walk according to the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25). This new creation fulfills God’s eternal purpose, which is to express Himself in His sonship.*

New JerusalemNot only in New Jerusalem, but even now, “a new creation is what matters.” For this we need to take care of our regenerated spirit, the first part of our being to be made new by Christ’s salvation. This is the fulfillment of the promise in Ezekiel 36:26, ” I will also give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”

Today our spirit is life and the Spirit in our spirit is life to our whole being (Rom. 8:2-11). And our new heart loves the Lord and His word. This is our experience of the new creation and our foretaste of New Jerusalem.

* Part of Galatians 6:15, note 1, written by Witness Lee, in the online Recovery Version NT.

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New Creation, Now and New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:1 speaks about “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.” Recent posts looked at the path from the created earth to this new earth. This new earth, the site of New Jerusalem, combined with the new heaven, is a new creation.

We eagerly await to this new creation but should realize that it is already present spiritually. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This new creation is the result of the death and resurrection of Christ (5:14-15). We do not make ourselves new, but by faith God has put us into Christ. In Him we partake of the accomplishments of His death and resurrection.

New JerusalemIn Christ, our old man has been crucified (Rom. 6:6) and our spirit has been regenerated in resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). This makes us a new creation inwardly, even though we still need much renewing throughout our Christian life, as presented in Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:23, and Titus 3:5.

The new creation in the center of our being and our daily renewing are a foretaste of the full new creation with New Jerusalem. First the Lord wants to make us new in every way. Then He will carry out His promise “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

On one hand, we expect the new creation and New Jerusalem revealed in Revelation 21 to be a very big change. On the other hand, we need to realize that the new creation and New Jerusalem is already present in a limited way in everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. We can pray, Lord, thank You for the renewing of the Holy Spirit in me; grant me more cooperation!

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Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 exhorts us “be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This good, well pleasing, and perfect will is ultimately to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Romans 12:1 shows us that a base for our transformation is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”

This consecration comes out of the foregoing chapters of Romans—realizing that we, as fallen, natural men, cannot please God but need His life in us to enable us to be people for His purpose.

We cannot transform ourselves. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord; He is the source! Ephesians 4:23 says we should “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” Our transformation is by renewing and our renewing is accomplished by the Spirit in our spirit.

The first verse of a hymn (music) by Witness Lee speaks of God’s intention, His will, and our consequent need for transformation (see graphic in this post). The fourth verse of the hymn, based on 2 Corinthians 3:18, presents something of God’s goal.
__By the power of His Spirit
____In His pattern He transforms;
__From His glory to His glory
____To His image He conforms.
New Jerusalem, radiating the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), is the fulfillment of God’s will.

The chorus is a good prayer for each of us.
__Lord, transform us to Thine image
____In emotion, mind, and will;
__Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
____All our being wholly fill.

The hymn is © 2001 by Living Stream Ministry, used by permission.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 19 Brings Us to New Jerusalem (3)

Revelation 19 has much to say about Jesus Christ Himself and His accomplishments to end this age, bring in the next age, and open the door for New Jerusalem to come down out of heaven.

In verse 19:14, “The armies which are in heaven followed Him on white horses, dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” The white and clean garments indicate that these believers are approved by the Lord. These garments are not merely gifts to them. Rather, the garments manifest the believers inward condition and daily living.

This clean living includes the cleansing of our sins, and also the transformation of our inner being. The first is the forgiveness by Christ’s redemption (Eph. 1:7). The second is accomplished by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) and also the purifying of our souls by our obedience (1 Peter 1:22).

New JerusalemThe garments qualify us 1) to attend the marriage dinner of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9), 2) to be part of His victorious army, and 3) to participate in New Jerusalem.

Forgiveness of sins is a necessary step in becoming part of New Jerusalem, but it is not the only step. We also need the renewing of our inner being to match the newness of New Jerusalem. This is the renewing of our mind by the Spirit in our spirit (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:23).

Those who are wearing white garments are on white horses. These match the white horse on which the Lord sits (v. 11). By the Spirit’s renewing, we are being renewed according to the Lord’s image (Col. 3:10), thus matching Him in many ways. We thereby become His expression now as the new man (Col. 3:10-11) and eternally as New Jerusalem.

Christ as the Riches in Christian Life

God’s unsearchable riches will be displayed through New Jerusalem. These riches are not only for New Jerusalem; they are for us to experience in our Christian life now.

New JerusalemGod’s rich mercy and kindness brought salvation to us. And the Holy Spirit has been “poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). By this Spirit in us we have a daily renewing.

As the Spirit imparts the riches of Christ into us, our hearts are “being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the full knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ” (Col. 2:2). Like prior verses, here we see that there is no separating the riches from the Person of Christ.

We can also “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). This dwelling helps, and is helped by, “singing with grace in your hearts to God.” Even in New Jerusalem, Christ, the living Word, will be dwelling in us. I believe that in New Jerusalem we will still be singing with grace to God. Besides singing now, it is also good to pray and praise with the word.

Furthermore, we can call on the name of the Lord. Whether almost silently or very loudly, we can call O Lord Jesus. “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).

All these Christian practices keep us holding our Head, Christ, and growing up into Him. This bring us to the building up of the Body of Christ by the rich supply out from Him (Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19). This present, living building up is for New Jerusalem, God’s eternal building.

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 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 pixabay.com.

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.

 

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