The New Testament Temple is Living (2)

#NewJerusalemIn resurrection, all who believe into Jesus Christ are a corporate man with the Spirit dwelling in them and are the temple which will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem.

This corporate man, the new man, who is also the living temple, was created by Christ Jesus on the cross (Eph. 2:15) and here Christ is “all and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). Likewise, New Jerusalem springs forth from His crucifixion and resurrection, and in New Jerusalem Christ is all and in all.

First Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In this verse you is plural and temple is singular. This corporate temple, like the new man, is a characteristic of God’s people. Paul’s question to immature Christians, Do you not know?, indicates that we all should have the realization that we corporately are the temple and that the Spirit dwells in us. Second Corinthians 6:16, affirming, says, “we are the temple of the living God.”

Ephesians 2:20-21 continues: “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” The New Testament temple is in Christ Jesus (not in the physical realm) and is growing because it is a living building.

The consummation of the growth of the living temple, its maturity, is New Jerusalem. Like the temple in Ephesians, the entire city of New Jerusalem is a living building in Christ Jesus.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The New Testament Temple is Living

The Old Testament focuses on physical, material things and people, both of which typify/portray the New Testament reality. For example, in Matthew 12:42 the Lord Jesus told us that He is the greater Solomon, the real King and temple Builder typified by Solomon in the Old Testament.

Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem but it was destroyed by the Babylonians. A later temple is often mentioned in the Gospels and Acts. But, in John 2, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). The Jews could not understand this (v. 20), “but He spoke of the temple of His body” (v. 21).

New JerusalemThis is the first indication that the New Testament temple is a living entity. And it is in resurrection, as shown by the phrase “in three days I will raise it up.” The New Testament reality, including New Jerusalem, is not in the natural realm but in resurrection, something of eternal life, and it is not physical but spiritual.

Like this first indication, throughout the New Testament, God’s New Testament building is not natural, but in resurrection, and not material, but spiritual. This is true into eternity. New Jerusalem is a city in resurrection and is spiritual.

After John 2, the next mention of the New Testament temple is in 1 Corinthians 3:16. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In John, Jesus, a single man with the Spirit dwelling in Him, was the temple. After His resurrection, His believers, a corporate man with the Spirit dwelling in them, are the temple. From John 2 to 1 Corinthians 3 is a step along the way to New Jerusalem.

God and the Lamb are the Temple

John the apostle, speaking about New Jerusalem, tells us, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

New JerusalemThere is no physical temple, no material “house of worship,” no “going to church,” in New Jerusalem. In this wonderful city we will worship God in God and the Lamb. Our priestly service to God will be in God and the Lamb.

Worshipping and serving God in God and the Lamb is a principle in the entire New Testament. The Lord Jesus first revealed this in John 4. The Samaritan woman asked whether the mountain of Samaria or Jerusalem is the proper place to worship. The Lord answered “an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father” (v. 21).

He continued, “An hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truthfulness, for the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness” (v. 23-24).

“An hour is coming” points to the Lord’s resurrection. That “hour” is when the resurrected Lord breathed into His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). From that time we worship in spirit. And we will continue to do so in New Jerusalem.

Yes, Christians should gather together (in small or large numbers) for our priestly service to God. But the physical location is not important; it could be outside or in a home or in another building. The important matter is to worship in spirit. God is spirit and our worship in spirit is in oneness with Him.

In New Jerusalem we will all be together in resurrection and will have no need of a physical location. There we will all worship God and the Lamb in the city’s temple, the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

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, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 21 (2)

In Revelation 21 we see New Jerusalem in the new creation. Many prior posts addressed accomplishments by Jesus Christ to bring us here. Now we see the same wonderful Person as the center of the new creation.

In verse 21:6 He says “I am the Alpha and the Omega*, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him who thirsts from the spring of the water of life freely.” What He began in eternity past, and continued through His incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, has come to an eternal conclusion.

New JerusalemEven in New Jerusalem, He is not only our Omega and End but He is still our Alpha and our Beginning. And the water of life He freely gives flows out of His throne (22:1).

In verses 9-11 New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” and is seen, “having the glory of God.” The Lamb, Jesus Christ, is the Husband and He is also the glory of New Jerusalem. This “glory of Christ” first comes to us in the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4) and develops in us to His second coming (2 Thes. 1:10), consummating in the glory of New Jerusalem.

Verses 12 to 21 describe New Jerusalem. In verse 22 John says, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” God and Jesus Christ are the living temple of the city. There is no physical temple.

In verse 23, “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” God in Jesus Christ is the light of the city. There is no need for physical light. God in Christ as the real light is first seen in Matthew 4:13-16 and is consummated in illuminating New Jerusalem.

*The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

 

Shadows of New Jerusalem in Psalms 22-27

Here is another group of verses from Psalms, verses which in some way point toward Christ, house, city, earth and thereby are previews of New Jerusalem.

Psalm 22:1-21 speaks of the death of Christ; several verses are quoted in the New Testament. Through His death we have been redeemed and through His resurrection we have been regenerated; these steps together bring us into New Jerusalem.

Psalm 22:26, “Those who seek after Jehovah will praise Him—may your hearts live forever!” Let us seek Him today!
Psalm 22:27-28, “All the ends of the earth will remember and return to Jehovah…for the kingdom is Jehovah’s, and He rules among the nations.” Surely this points to all the nations surrounding New Jerusalem.

Psalm 23:1, “Jehovah is my Shepherd; I will lack nothing.” Christ is shepherding us now.

Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of Jehovah for the length of my days.” Surely goodness and lovingkindness will be in New Jerusalem and we will dwell there for eternity.

New JerusalemPsalm 24:1, “The earth is Jehovah’s, and its fullness, the habitable land and those who dwell in it.” This will be visible in the kingdom and in eternity on the new earth.
Psalm 24:10, “Who is this King of glory? Jehovah of hosts – He is the King of glory!” The King of glory fills New Jerusalem; “the glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem]” (Rev. 21:23).

Psalm 26:8, “O Jehovah, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory abides.” I love God and I love New Jerusalem as God’s house and city, where His glory abides.

Psalm 27:4, “One thing I have asked from Jehovah; that do I seek: to dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to inquire in His temple.” In the church today and in New Jerusalem eternally we dwell in Jehovah’s house and behold His beauty.

 

A Pillar in the Temple with the Name of God, New Jerusalem, and the Lord

New JerusalemIn Revelation 3:12 the Lord Jesus promises, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall by no means go out anymore, and I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”

The pillars in God’s temple are living persons, people closely identified with God, New Jerusalem, and the Lord Jesus.

This, like many other verses (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:9, Eph. 2:21-22, 4:15-16, 1 Peter 2:5) show that God’s New Testament building is spiritual. God’s building of Himself into His people and His building His people together has replaced the physical buildings of the Old Testament.

We will not merely be in New Jerusalem (with the possibility of going out) but built into it so that we “shall by no means go out anymore.” This city is a living building joined/fitted/knit together in life, as are the members of our physical body.

Revelation 21:22 tells us that the Triune God is the temple of New Jerusalem—“the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” And the overcomers are being built into this living building as pillars during this age and fully in the coming kingdom age. Nothing physical about this. In eternity all God’s people will be built into New Jerusalem and into the temple.

Lord Jesus, grant us grace every day that we may cooperate with You to overcome. Build us into Your building and write Yourself and New Jerusalem on us. 

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God

New JerusalemFirst Timothy 3:15 tells us “the house of God is the church of the living God.” This house will be enlarged to be the city of God, New Jerusalem.

At Timothy’s time, the word church did not denote a physical building. The word referred to God’s people. The believers in Timothy’s time were the house of God. Today we are the house of God. In eternity all God’s people will be His city, New Jerusalem.

The word church in the New Testament refers not to a physical building, but to the corporate people who believe in Jesus Christ. Examples:
• Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church”
• Matthew 18:17, “tell it to the church”
• Acts 11:22, “the ears of the church”
• Acts 12:5, “prayer was being made fervently by the church”
• Acts 20:28, “shepherd the church of God”
• Romans 16:5, “greet the church”
Many more examples can be seen in the following books of the New Testament.

The tabernacle and temple as the house of God in the Old Testament were pictures of what God desires. Jesus Christ is the reality (John 2:19, 21). Through death and resurrection we have been brought into Him to be the enlarged reality of the temple (1 Cor. 3:16).

This house, this temple, grows with “the growth of God” (Col. 2:19) through the New Testament. The full growth of this “house-temple” will be the “city-temple” New Jerusalem. The characteristics of New Jerusalem will be the same as the house of the living God except much greater in quantity, much richer in expression, and without the present distractions of our fallen nature.

Related post: The Living House Becomes the Living City

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

New Jerusalem is the Consummation of All the New Testament Blessings

New Jerusalem

At a recent college students’ conference in Texas the general topic was The Overview of God’s Economy. The last message was
___The New Jerusalem as the Ultimate Consummation of God’s Purpose.
In the conference, we saw that the New Jerusalem is NOT a physical, material city.
• Revelation 1:1, “The revelation of Jesus Christ….He made it known by signs.”
Revelation has many signs—the lampstands, the Lamb, the Lion of Judah, the universal woman, the dragon, etc. The New Jerusalem is a sign. This wonderful city IS:

1. The consummation of the Divine Romance in the Bible*
• Isa. 54:5a, “For your Maker is your husband; Jehovah of hosts is His name.”
• Rev. 21:2,  “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
According to the entire Bible, God the creator is male and His chosen, redeemed, transformed, glorified people are female, and there is a divine romance between them. At the end of the Revelation, God is the husband and His people are the wife to match God.

2. The consummation of God’s Building (Tabernacle and Temple)
• 1 Cor 3:16a, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God?”
• Rev 21:22, “And I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
Revelation tells us that the New Jerusalem is the tabernacle of God (21:3) and the temple of God (21:22). In the eternity future, our habitation is God Himself. To God the city is the tabernacle and to us it is the temple.

3. The consummation of Mutual Abiding of God and His Redeemed
• John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, 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 17:21, “That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
We will not live in a mansion; we will live in God and God will live in us. This mutual abiding is the New Jerusalem. The eternal God becomes our eternal habitation.

4. The consummation of Believers’ Transformation and Glorification
• 2 Cor. 3:18, “We all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.”
• Rev 21:10b-11, “The holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.”
All believers were created as clay, yet in the New Jerusalem all believers are regenerated and transformed into precious stone and glorified for God’s eternal expression in His eternal building.

5. The consummation of God as the Life Supply to us
• Rev 22:1-2a “And he showed me 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. And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month.”
When we believed in the Lord Jesus, we received the eternal life. Today, we drink one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), and in the New Jerusalem, the Triune God is life for our enjoyment for eternity—He is our light of life, tree of life, and water of life!

6. The consummation of the Bible and all the NT Blessings and Realities
• Revelation 21–22 “New heaven, new earth…holy city, New Jerusalem…it had a great and high wall and had twelve gates…there will be no night there…no longer be a curse…His slaves will serve Him…they will reign for ever and ever.”
All of us will be new in the New Jerusalem, and we will reign with Christ for eternity. Oh Lord, make me match the New Jerusalem today in every way!

Thanks!! to Deborah who wrote this post from her college conference notes.

* For each point we have presented a few verses. Here are more verses for each topic.
1. Jer. 3:14; John 3:29a; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25, 27a.
2. John 1:14; 2:16b, 19b, 21; 1 Cor. 3:9b, 12a; Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Tim. 3:15b; 1 Peter 2:5a; Rev. 21:3a, 18-19, 21a.
3. John 14:2-3, 20; 17:22-23a.
4. Rev. 21:18-19a, 23-24a.
5. John 7:37-39; 1 Cor. 12:13.

New Jerusalem is Living and Spiritual

New JerusalemToday we begin some excerpts from “The New Jerusalem—the Consummation of the Divine Economy according to the High Peak of the Divine Revelation,” by Ron Kangas. This article is in the Fall 2010 issue of Affirmation & Critique*.

A common concept is that New Jerusalem is a physical city. However, a thorough reading of the Bible reveals otherwise. In the New Testament all God’s building work is spiritual, not physical. As the consummation of this, New Jerusalem is a living, spiritual building of the Triune God and all His people. This article begins,

Due to religious darkness, theological ignorance concerning God’s will, good pleasure, purpose, counsel, and economy, traditions that nullify the word of God, and the subtle work of the god of this age in blinding and deceiving the believers, an erroneous teaching concerning the New Jerusalem has been circulating for centuries—the idea that the New Jerusalem unveiled in Revelation 21 and 22 is a literal, physical, material city.

Revelation 21–22 reveal much about New Jerusalem. Therefore,

[the New Jerusalem] must be understood according to the governing principle of the book of Revelation. This principle is that the “revelation of Jesus Christ” is made “known by signs,” that is, by symbols with spiritual significance (Rev. 1:1).

Some verses in Revelation which describe New Jerusalem as a living, spiritual building:
• 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” As a bride, New Jerusalem is a living person, matched to her Husband, the Lamb (21:9).
• 21:22, “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” and 3:12, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.”  Both the temple itself and the pillars are living persons.

As a living city, New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s New Testament building work, which is “in the Lord” and “in spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22).

* Affirmation & Critique (A&C) is a Christian Journal published twice a year, © Living Stream Ministry. A&C presents Bible truths in a scholarly manner, with references to and citations from a variety of publications over the entire Christian era. A&C exhibits much appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ and our life with Him. The Fall 2010 issue.

A Spiritual House Grows to New Jerusalem

Both the tabernacle and the temple are pictures of the church as the New Testament dwelling of God and of New Jerusalem as the eternal dwelling of God.

Acts 7:47 mentions David, Solomon, and building the temple. Verse 48 refers to the prophet Isaiah and verse 49 quotes Isaiah, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is a footstool for My feet. What kind of house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest?” A note by Witness Lee on Acts 7* says,

This quotation from Isa. 66:1-2 indicates that the Lord was seeking a spiritual habitation in man’s spirit. This is proved by the unquoted part of Isa. 66:2 that says, “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit.”

In Old Testament times, God had a dwelling among His people. Yet even then He was longing for a dwelling in His people. This indwelling is realized now in the church as the precursor of New Jerusalem. Christ is in us and the Spirit is dwelling in us (Rom. 8:9-11). Thus, we are the reality of what was symbolized by the Old Testament temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17) and we are experiencing a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe spiritual nature of the New Testament building is also seen in Ephesians 2:22, we “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” and in 1 Peter 2:5, we “ourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.”

This spiritual building will progress on to New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem will be a spiritual city with Christ as the Living Stone and all of us a living stones and with the Spirit dwelling in each one of us.

* Acts 7:49, footnote 1, in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003.

Washed by the Water in the Word to be Holy

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the holy city. Jesus Christ has accomplished and God has given Him to us as our holiness objectively. Thus, in position, in status, we match the holy city. Throughout our Christian life we gradually enter the subjective experience of this holiness.

First Corinthians 3:17 says, “the temple of God is holy, and such are you.” This is an objective fact. God put the Corinthian believers into Christ and made Christ their sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:29-30). Because of God’s action, Paul could say that the Corinthians were the holy temple of God.

However, consider their condition as described in 1 Corinthians: divisions, fornication, lawsuits, denying resurrection, etc. They were sorely lacking in experience of the fact that God had given them. They were fleshy and infants in Christ (v. 3:1).

Ephesians 2:21 says that in Christ “all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” “Being fitted together” and “growing” indicate a subjective, on-going experience. This experience will bring us into the reality of the “holy temple in the Lord” a temple which has the same constitution as the holy city.

To match New Jerusalem, we need the daily renewing of the Holy Spirit, the renewing which began from our regeneration (Titus 3:5). Ephesians 5:25 says that Christ gave Himself for the church. Verses 26-27 tell us that He is working to “sanctify* her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious…holy and without blemish.”

Lord, grant us the daily renewing and the washing of the water in Your word. Infuse us with Yourself that we may be holy and without blemish to match New Jerusalem.

* Reminder from a prior post: although the English words holy/holiness (from Anglo-Saxon) and sanctify/sanctification (from Latin) seem very different, they are translations of closely related New Testament Greek words.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory

New Jerusalem is the living conclusion of everything positive in the Bible. Four recent posts identified some key elements in this conclusion, then three posts focused on New Jerusalem as the conclusion of all the newness in the Bible.

New JerusalemIn reading John 17, I was stirred to look at New Jerusalem as the consummate glory in the Bible. Historically, the first clear reference to glory seems to be in Acts 7:2—the God of glory appeared to Abraham. Lord, appear to us and attract us to follow You as Abraham did.

God’s glory is praised in Exodus 15, after Israel crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was drowned. This indicates that the redemption of the Passover, along with our exodus from the world and its power, releases the glory of God. In New Jerusalem we will still celebrate redemption, praising the Lamb on the throne. And we will be separated from the world and its power which are in the lake of fire. Lord, thank You for Your redemption and for bringing us out of the world.

God’s glory appears several times in Exodus. At the end of Exodus, when the tabernacle was completed, the glory filled it. When Solomon’s temple was inaugurated (1 Kings 8), the glory filled it. The glory also filled the restored house in Ezekiel 43. In Haggai 2 it is prophesied that the latter glory will exceed the former. How much more will the glory fill New Jerusalem! Lord, operate in us to complete Your New Testament building work.

God’s glory appeared to all the people when the priestly service was initiated in Leviticus 9. How much more when all God’s people serve as priests in New Jerusalem!

Psalm 8 is a praise and a prophecy about Jesus; both involve God’s glory. Psalm 24 also praises the Lord as the King of glory. Other verses also mention the glory.

The visions in Ezekiel 1 conclude with an open heaven, a throne, and a man on the throne. He tells us that this is the appearance of the glory of the Lord. Eternally, in New Jerusalem, we will see an open heaven, the throne of God and of the Lamb, and the glory of God.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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