The Church, Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is both singular, universal and plural, in many cities. The universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age. As such, it is the forerunner of New Jerusalem which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages.

Here we look at verses about the nature of the church, which also give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem. First, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus speaks of “My church.” The church is His. Likewise, New Jerusalem is His. More specifically, it is His bride, His wife. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10).

New JerusalemIn Acts 20:28 (and 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Tim. 3:5, and other verses) is “the church of God.” The church, and New Jerusalem, are certainly of God as the source and of God as the element, the content (like “a table of wood” is made of wood).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” And, in Hebrews 12:22 is “the city of the living God.” Both the church, the house, and New Jerusalem, the city, have the living God as their source and their element. Both the church and New Jerusalem are alive with the life of God.

The church is not a physical structure. Rather, the church, and New Jerusalem, are “the household of God” (many translations of 1 Tim. 3:15), the people of God. God is the element of New Jerusalem and we, His people, are the living components containing this living element. God is living and both the church and New Jerusalem are living organisms.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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 Pillar of the Truth, unto New Jerusalem

Many verses show that God’s New Testament building is spiritual and not physical. New Jerusalem, as the consummation of this building, is also spiritual.

First Kings 7:15-22 describes the two physical pillars of the temple. In the New Testament there is a turn from physical to spiritual. Galatians 2:9 tells us that James and Cephas and John “were reputed to be pillars.” The church, the house of the living God, requires living persons to be its pillars.

New JerusalemIn 1 Timothy 3:15 the church of the living God is “the pillar and base of the truth.” This truth is God, Christ, all that Christ has accomplished through incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, all that Christ is for us, and all that He will do in us.

The church uploads this truth now (and New Jerusalem will do so in the future) by the living God living in all the members so that God may be manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16).

In Philippians 1:20-21 Paul says, “with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. For to me to live is Christ.” Paul’s magnifying is part of the church’s upholding, and takes place by Christ being his life.

Our need is for Christ, who is in us as life, to become our living – Christ in our driving, shopping, working, speaking, reading, sports, using the internet, and in everything else. Such a living of Christ in us is a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

 

Enlargement from Here to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThis is the summary of posts about the enlargement of God’s house, the church today, to God’s city, New Jerusalem. A link, a key sentence and a verse are presented for each post.

 First 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.

 The word church in the New Testament refers to the Lord’s corporate people, His mystical Body. In Ephesians 1:22-23 Christ is “Head over all things to the church, which is His Body.”

The church as the manifestation of God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16) is a foretaste of God manifest through New Jerusalem.

 The common New Testament Greek word for house means both the dwelling place and the dwellers; in 1 Peter 2:5, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house”—we are God’s dwelling place, His house.

 The convergence of house and household, dwelling place and dwellers, is the New Testament reality, both now in the church and eternally in New Jerusalem; in Ephesians 2:19 we are “members of the household of God.”

 The church as the house of God and New Jerusalem as the city of God are both living entities, the building together of God’s people; “you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16).

We are the living house of God; “Christ was faithful as a Son over His [God’s] house, whose house we are” (Heb. 3:6); in eternity we will be God’s city, New Jerusalem.

  New Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies, where God meets with His people and speaks with us face to face; this is a great enlargement from the Old Testament holy of holies.

 The enlargement of God’s house is by Christ’s growth in us. Colossians 2:19 tells us that by our holding the Head, Christ, His Body, which is also the living house of God, “grows with the growth of God.”

 In Colossians 2:16–3:4 the growth is by our experiencing Christ as the reality, by holding Him as our Head, by our mind set on things of Christ, by being governed by Christ Himself, and by letting Christ our life live in us.

The growth is also seen in Ephesians 3:16-19; Christ makes home in our hearts as we experience His death and resurrection.

 Ephesians 3:17-19 continues; as a result of Christ’s home-making, we are rooted and grounded in love, we together apprehend His vastness, and we are filled unto all the fullness of God.

Then in Ephesians 3:20-21 the growth and filling in the prior verses result in glory to God in the church and then in more glory to him in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10-11), all enabled by God in Christ as the power operating in us.

The New Testament tabernacle is God dwelling in humanity, first in Jesus Christ (John 1:14) and then greatly enlarged in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3).

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Christ’s Growth in Us (3)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the enlargement of the house of the living God. This enlargement is God’s growth, His increase, in us (Col. 2:19). This growth is seen in Ephesians 3:14-19.

First we are strengthened into our inner man. Second, Christ makes His home in our hearts. Third, together we apprehend, we take hold of, the vastness of Christ and we know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. Fourth, we are filled unto all the fullness of God. This is our journey toward New Jerusalem.

These four steps result in glory to God in the church (Eph. 3:21), God’s New Testament people. This will result in greater glory to God in New Jerusalem.

None of the four steps in Ephesians 3:16-19 are possible in ourselves. Likewise glory to God in the church and in New Jerusalem is not possible in ourselves. But, the glory in Ephesians 3:21 is “to Him who is able to do superabundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power which operates in us” (v. 20)

We are not able, but God in Christ in us is able. What He will do is not merely a little beyond us, but “superabundantly above/immeasurably more than/exceeding abundantly above/infinitely more than* all that we ask or think.” This is possible because God in Christ is the power operating in us.

Our need is to cooperate, to give ourselves for the four steps in Ephesians 3:16-19, to ask the Lord to work all these matters in us. He is able, but He will not do it without our cooperation. Lord, make Your home in me, bring me on through all the steps in Ephesians 3. Gain the glory now and bring us onward to New Jerusalem.

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 online; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

*Various translations, thanks to biblehub.com. _____Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, the Growth of God’s House

New Jerusalem

The church is the living house of the living God and is God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16). New Jerusalem is the enlargement, the expansion of the church with God’s Old Testament people.

The prior post focused on Colossians 2:19—the church’s growth (increase) to New Jerusalem is by the growth (increase) of God—God in Christ spreading and increasing in us. In Colossians 2:16–3:4 this growth is by our experiencing Christ as the reality of every positive thing, by holding Him as our Head, by our mind being set on things of Christ above, by being governed by Christ Himself rather than by outward ordinances, and by letting Christ our life live in us.

All of these contributors to growth characterize New Jerusalem. In New Jerusalem we will be full grown with Christ as the reality of everything, we will be fully occupied with the things of Christ, we will be governed by God and the Lamb on the throne, and He will be our life and our living.

Lord, keep us with Yourself every day that You may grow in us unto New Jerusalem!

New Jerusalem: God’s House Enlarged

Revelation 21:16 tells us that when an angel measured New Jerusalem—”the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.” New Jerusalem, as a cube, is the eternal holy of holies. This is a great enlargement from the Old Testament, where the dimension of the holy of holies was ten cubits in the tabernacle (Exo. 26) and twenty cubits in the temple (1 Kings 6:20).

New JerusalemThis principle of enlargement applies through the New Testament. Recent posts have many verses (including 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5) on the church as the house of the living God. This house is being enlarged to New Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

The holy of holies is where God meets with His people and speaks with us face to face (Ex. 25:22). Thus, in New Jerusalem, the eternal holy of holies, we have God’s eternal presence and His speaking.

God in Himself is unchanging. The enlarging of the holy of holies from the tabernacle to the temple to the church to New Jerusalem shows that God has more ground in His people. It also indicates that God’s people have more opportunity to be in His presence and more capacity to hear His speaking.

The enlargement of the holy of holies, which is the enlargement of our experience of God in it, results in the enlarged expression of God. The tabernacle and temple were pictures of the expression of God. The church as the house of God is the manifestation of God in the flesh. New Jerusalem will be the ultimate expression of God in redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified humanity. This is New Jerusalem, having the glory of God (Rev. 21:11).

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (3)

New JerusalemIn 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is the living house of the living God. Then we read “great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (v. 16*). This describes a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The first manifestation of God in the flesh was in the incarnation of Jesus. “The Word was God….the Word became flesh….No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1, 14, 18).

Today the living church as the dwelling place of the living God is “God manifest in the flesh.” We, the members of the church, the Body of Christ, are outwardly men of flesh but God dwells in us. Today our proper Christian living results in God manifested in the flesh. This is a mystery of godliness.

This living mystery, the manifestation of God in the flesh, continues until “taken up in glory.” This will be our glorification (Rom. 8:17, 30). This glory will be strengthened and expanded to be the glory of New Jerusalem.

In eternity there will be no more flesh for we will have been fully conformed to Christ and glorified with Him. Therefore we should not say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in the flesh but we could say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in those who were flesh or that New Jerusalem is God manifested in redeemed, regenerated, and glorified humanity.

* Originally the New Testament had no chapter and no verse separations. The text continued from one sentence to the next with no break. Thus there is a strong connection between the house of the living God and the mystery of godliness. Look at 1 Timothy 3 in a fourth century Bible.

Photo by Dave Herr, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (2)

New JerusalemFirst Timothy 3:15 tells us “the house of God is the church of the living God.” This house is being enlarged to be the city of God, New Jerusalem. The believers in Jesus Christ 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 Lord’s corporate people, His mystical Body. More examples:
• Ephesians 1:22-23, Christ is “Head over all things to the church, which is His Body”
• Ephesians 5:25, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”
• Ephesians 5:29, Christ nourishes and cherishes the church
• Colossians 1:18, Christ is “the Head of the Body, the church”
• 1 Thessalonians 1:1, “to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace”
• Revelation 2:7, “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Today the church, the house of the living God, is in the Lord Jesus Christ and in God our Father. This is the fact in the Bible. It is not confirmable with our physical senses but it is substantiated by faith and experienced in spirit.

The church is being enlarged to become the city of the living God, New Jerusalem. Like the church today, New Jerusalem in eternity will not be physical. It will be a living composition of all God’s people and it will be in God our Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. As grace and peace are to the church in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, grace and peace will flow even more in New Jerusalem. What a wonderful living city this is!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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.

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