We Are Members of the Body of Christ

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: New Jerusalemthe first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst” (Rev. 21:19-20).

Prior posts considered God’s initiation, mercygrace, faithfulness, and transformation work as seen in the apostles whose names are on these stones.

Sixth, the twelve foundations of the city are composed of twelve kinds of precious stones (Rev. 21:19-20). This signifies oneness in variety. Not one stone is the same: Peter is one color, and John is another. Altogether there are twelve colors seen in the apostles—a real variety. Yet there is also oneness in this variety….Can we respect someone else whose ministry is totally different from ours? We must. We must hate narrow-mindedness and the urge to convince and convert others to be like ourselves. Never forget that Peter is Peter and John is John. The Lord Jesus is very great and wonderful. He needs many different persons to express Himself; one individual Christian is not sufficient.*

We are many members in the one Body of Christ, “and all the members do not have the same function” (Rom. 12:4). “There are distinctions of ministries, yet the same Lord” (1 Cor. 12:4-11). And we cannot say to others, I have no need of you (12:18-21).

In and of Christ today we are one Body. The same will be true in New Jerusalem, the city built by God on twelve foundations.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

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The Foundations of New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:14 says about New Jerusalem, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

New JerusalemEphesians 2:20 says that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. But in the New Jerusalem there are no prophets. We must realize that at the time of the letter to the Ephesians some things were still not fulfilled; hence, prophecy was required. But when the New Jerusalem descends out of heaven, everything will be completed. There will no longer be a need for prophets who foretell the things of God. Therefore, we should not place too much importance on such prophets. On the other hand, all the apostles abide forever, for on the twelve foundations of the city are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14).*

The number twelve indicates eternal perfection and completeness. The Bible does not tell us which names are on the foundation and we should not speculate. Nor does the Bible tell us if the number here is literal or symbolic; again, we should not speculate.

The apostles are the foundation of the city but 1 Corinthians 3:12 says, “if anyone builds upon the foundation…” We all are qualified to build on the foundation of Christ that has been laid by the apostles. This is for the building up of the Body of Christ.

This divine building work requires “the operation in the measure of each one part” (Eph. 4:16); each of us a a part and each should participate in the building work. New Jerusalem is the consummation of this building of God with man upon the foundation of the apostles.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies

The size of New Jerusalem is in Revelation 21:16, “the city lies square, and its length is as great as the breadth. And he [an angel] measured the city with the reed to a length of twelve thousand stadia; the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”

This city has three equal dimensions (Rev. 21:16). In the entire Bible the only other structure that is equal in all three dimensions is the Holy of Holies. Whether in the tabernacle or in the temple, the Holy of Holies was always in three equal dimensions. In the tabernacle it was ten by ten by ten cubits, and in the temple it was twenty by twenty by twenty cubits (1 Kings 6:20). The entire city of the New Jerusalem is in three equal dimensions. This proves that the whole city is the Holy of Holies.*

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the eternal holy of holies. How great is the increase in size from the Old Testament shadows! This shows how much God desires to expand His building work within man.

The expansion of God’s building depends on the rich supply flowing out from Christ the Head for the building of His Body in this age. For this flow to be applied we need to hold to Christ (Col. 2:19) dropping all other concerns, and to grow out of ourselves and into Him (Eph. 4:15-16).

The path to the manifestation of New Jerusalem is by His growth in us. It is not by merely waiting for the city to pop out of heaven. Christ needs to have His unlimited magnitude grow in all of us to bring forth New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

The Measurement of New Jerusalem’s Wall

An angel measured the wall of New Jerusalem  “a hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel” (Rev. 21:17).

Twelve signifies eternal completion; twelve times twelve (144) is this completion multiplied. God’s building work, a work fully dependent on His life in us, has already begun and will reach a marvelous climax in New Jerusalem.

The measurement of the wall is “according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel” (Rev. 21:17). This signifies that it is in the situation of man being like an angel. Luke 20:35-36 reveals that it is in resurrection that man will be the same as the angels. Therefore, the building of the wall is in resurrection. It is not of the natural life.

New JerusalemJohn 11:25, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life.” The Lord Jesus in us is the resurrection for God’s building work unto New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 16 Jesus said He will build the church. Now He is in all His believers and is building the church, forerunner of New Jerusalem, through the believers. Paul speaks about the building work in 1 Corinthians 3. Verse 9: “We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s cultivated land, God’s building.”

Fellow workers indicates we join in he building work with God, not apart from Him. Cultivated land, and growth in earlier verses, is a matter of life, resurrection life. God’s life forms us into God’s building. This work is for New Jerusalem, a city of human beings fully built together with God in the resurrection life.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

 

The Appearance of New Jerusalem’s Wall

Revelation 21:18 says about New Jerusalem, “the building work of its wall was jasper.” Revelation 4:2-3 describe God on the throne, “there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance.”

New JerusalemThe wall surrounds the city. The wall’s appearance is jasper (Rev. 21:18), the same as the description of God’s appearance in Revelation 4:3. This means that the wall of the city expresses God’s likeness, God’s appearance.

The purpose of this wall is to separate that which is holy from that which is common, to separate that which belongs to God from that which does not belong to God. Such a separating wall is also a protection. The wall of the holy city is a real separation: everything within this wall is holy, and everything without is common. This wall also affords full protection to all within the city.*

New Jerusalem is spiritual, not physical. Hence, the separation is also spiritual. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul tells them that “God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”

We experience two stages of separation/sanctification. The first is positional; at the time of our initial salvation God declares us to be holy. The second is dispositional, occurring gradually as our whole being is saturated with God as our holiness. This causes us to match the holy city New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

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The Experience of Death and Resurrection

Revelation 21:21 describes New Jerusalem, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was, respectively, of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

New JerusalemOnce we go through the pearl gate, we immediately step onto the golden street in the city (v. 21). What is the meaning of this golden street?…We must realize the work of regeneration in our experience and day by day experience the wound of the oyster, the work of the cross in us. Then we will obtain the secretion from the oyster, the resurrection life in the Spirit….The more we experience the cross, the more we will realize the resurrection, the secretion of life. This is why we must daily experience the lessons of the cross. By the secretion of the resurrection life, we will experience a continuing on in the golden street, the divine nature.*

We might consider the cross as merely a physical object 2000 years ago. But Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Christ “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God.” The eternal Spirit is the effectiveness of the cross in us today. It is by the Spirit that we deny ourselves and experience the cross.

There will be no self, no natural life in New Jerusalem. We need to daily experience the death of Christ that we may daily experience the life of New Jerusalem, the resurrection life of Christ.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

The Twelve Gates of New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem “had a great and high wall and had twelve gates….on the east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west three gates (Rev. 21:12-13).

In the city there are three gates on each of its four sides, covering every direction: north, south, east, and west (Rev. 21:12-13). The number four always represents creation or the creature. Revelation 4 reveals four living creatures, which represent all creation. The number three signifies the three persons of the Godhead. This means that the three persons of the Godhead are the very entrance for all people from all four directions of the earth. Wherever we are, the three persons of the Godhead can reach us.*

Access to New Jerusalem is easy. The city has a high wall enclosing it but in this wall are twelve gates. Today these gates are the gospel, the good news. Whenever someone believes in the Lord Jesus and asks Him to forgive them, they are forgiven and as a result also receive eternal life.

This is not by our effort. The Lord came to declare this good news, and, since He ascended to the heavens, He has sent all His believers to declare it. He is seeking us and we only need to respond to Him.

The eternal life we receive is the Lord Jesus Himself. John 14:6, “I am the life.” This life is the life of New Jerusalem. To be forgiven and to receive eternal life is the beginning of a journey into New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

The Golden Street of New Jerusalem

The river of water of life flows in the middle of the street of New Jerusalem. “And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (Rev. 21:21).

New JerusalemThis one street is all of gold (21:21). This signifies that the way of life is in the nature of God. The spiritual way must always be the way of life with God’s nature. Whenever you feel that you must do something in a certain way, that way must contain the nature of God. If you would do anything in a way that is contrary to God’s nature, then that is not the right way. The right way is the way of the golden street, the way of the nature of God. When you are in the flow of life, you have the way, and this way always has the nature of God.*

How can we walk according to God’s nature? The answer is “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). So, we walk “according to the spirit” (Rom. 8:4); we “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16). This is the divine Spirit in our human spirit to lead us in life. This leading always has the nature of God.

God’s desire is to train us now to walk in spirit, not by our self or our preferences or our natural abilities. In this way New Jerusalem is developed in our being.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17, © LSM

Twelves in the New Testament

The number twelve appears frequently in the description of New Jerusalem. Twelve indicates what is eternally perfect in quality, eternally complete in quantity, and eternally rich in composition; this is God’s perfection, God’s abundance, and God’s richness.

All the twelves in the Bible point to New Jerusalem in some way. In the OT Israel was composed of twelve tribes. The city has “a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of
New Jerusalemthe sons of Israel” (Rev. 21:12).

The focus in this post is the NT. A well-known twelve is the twelve apostles appointed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10. The wall of New Jerusalem has “twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names* of the twelve apostles  the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

The Lord Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and fed 5000 people. Afterwards, upon the Lord’s instruction, the disciples “took up twelve full handbaskets of the broken pieces of bread and of the fish.” And all four gospels include full. This portrays the Lord’s eternal, bountiful supply for us in New Jerusalem.

In John 6:9, 13 the five loaves are specifically barley loaves. Barley is the first-ripe grain in the Bible’s record, signifying resurrection. The bountiful supply in New Jerusalem is (and must be) resurrection because the entire New Jerusalem is a city in resurrection.


Numbers in the Bible (1,2,3,4) (7,8,10,12,144)

*In 2016 I was asked, Who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem? The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But Revelation 21:14 specifically says twelves names and twelve apostles indicating eternal perfection, which is a characteristic of the Triune God and of New Jerusalem. A quote from New Jerusalem’s Wall has 12 Foundations.

New Jerusalem: the Triune God and God’s Redeemed People

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2 – “I saw the holy city,
New Jerusalem, coming down out of
heaven from God.”
Revelation 21:12 – “It [New Jerusalem] had a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”
Revelation 21:14 – “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Many things are mentioned in the Bible, but eventually, at the end of the Bible, there is only one consummation, and this consummation is the New Jerusalem. In this consummation, we can see God (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit) and God’s redeemed humanity. We can see Israel because the New Jerusalem bears the names of the twelve tribes representing saved Israel (Rev. 21:12). We can see the believers because the holy city bears the names of the twelve apostles representing all the New Testament believers (v. 14). The New Jerusalem is the consummation of God and man.*

The verses above show that God’s people from both the Old Testament and the New Testament are constituted into New Jerusalem.

Revelation 22:1 shows God in New Jerusalem—the throne of God, the Father, and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, with the river of water of life flowing out of the throne. As in John 7:38-39, the river here signifies the Spirit flowing to reach man with the divine supply for eternity.

Practical Points Concerning Blending, chapter 3, by Witness Lee, © LSM

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: the Full Expression of God

Revelation declares “He who was sitting [on the throne] was like a jasper stone” (4:3), “her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone” (21:11), and “the building work of its wall was jasper” (21:18). The first quote refers to God, the other two to New Jerusalem.

God’s appearance is like jasper (4:3), and the entire city has the appearance of jasper. This means that the entire New Jerusalem looks like God, which is the fulfillment of Genesis 1:26. God made man in His image to express Himself. When the New Jerusalem comes, all of God’s people will bear God’s expression, God’s image, God’s appearance. All of God’s people will be fully transformed for the full expression of the Triune God.*

New JerusalemGod created man from the dust of the ground. But in regeneration His life enters into us and begins a process of transformation. This gradually changes us from clay to precious stones, of which jasper is foremost in the description of New Jerusalem.

The Spirit works within us for this transformation, and God also uses our outward environment. Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.”

The “good” toward which everything works is our conformation to the image of God’s Son. At the completion of this work, New Jerusalem, with all God’s transformed-conformed people builded together, will be the full expression of the Triune God.

* The Divine Economy, chapter 15, by Witness Lee

The Triune God, our Entrance to New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:12-13 tells us that New Jerusalem has “twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel: on the east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.”

The three gates on each side signify that the Triune God—the Father, Son, and Spirit—works together to bring people into the holy city. This is indicated by the three parables in Luke 15….In order for a sinner to be brought to the Father’s house, there is the need of the Son, the Shepherd, to bring back the lost sheep; there is the need of the Spirit to enlighten people’s hearts that they may repent; and there is the need of the Father to receive the returned and repentant prodigal son. Hence the Triune God is the entrance to the New Jerusalem.*

New JerusalemWe were all sinners. Romans 5:19 says “through the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners.” We were also dead. In Luke 15:24 the Father said “this son of mine was dead and lives again.” But through the operation of the Triune God we have come back to life and to the Father’s house!

The Father’s house develops and enlarges through the Bible in many stages. Luke 15 is a portrait of one stage of this development. New Jerusalem is the ultimate stage of this development. We have been brought back to life and to the Father’s house to be in New Jerusalem.

* The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, chapter 11, by Witness Lee

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