The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (7)

A song couples the key characteristics in the garden of Eden with those of New Jerusalem. The garden presents God’s intention and the city shows His accomplishment. Verse 7 of the song:

’Tis for the city man is wrought upon,
Therefore regenerated and transformed
To purest gold, to pearls and precious stones,
As Christ’s own Body, to Himself conformed.

New Jerusalem is God’s goal. All of God’s creation, including man, is for this goal. New JerusalemAll the negatives among men and throughout the universe have root in Satan’s rebellion against God (Isaiah 14) and his corruption of the human race. But nothing can defeat God!!!

Ephesians 3 tells us that God “created all things, in order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

All the negative things are merely the black background to further manifest God’s wisdom. He will make this wisdom known now through the church and eternally in a fuller manner through New Jerusalem.

Humanity has fallen, but God came in Jesus Christ to redeem and to regenerate mankind. By regeneration we receive the divine, eternal, incorruptible life. As this life grows and spreads within us, we are transformed (Rom. 12:2), to be the precious materials for the building of the Body of Christ, which will consummate in New Jerusalem.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (3)

A hymn coupling the garden of Eden with New Jerusalem is based on many Bible verses. Verse 3:

Both in the garden and the city bright
Three kinds of precious substances are found;
There are the gold, the pearls, and precious stones
Which for the building work of God abound.

Genesis 2:12 speaks about gold, bdellium (a pearl-like material from the resin of a tree), and onyx stone coming out of the flow of the river of life. Revelation 21:18-21 presents the materials of New Jerusalem—gold, pearl, precious stones. Between these two ends, 1 Corinthians 3 tells us that the church, God’s building, is built with gold, silver, and New Jerusalemprecious stones.

These descriptions are not about physical materials. Gold signifies the divine nature of God the Father, of which we partake now as part of our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-4).

The pearl and silver refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son, through which we receive salvation and enter New Jerusalem. The twelve gates of the city are twelve pearls, three on each side. This depicts the Triune God facing every direction on earth to welcome us into the city.

The precious stones portray the work of the Spirit in us (2 Cor. 3:18), to transform us from our natural fallen condition to a precious condition matching New Jerusalem.

The song says these materials abound for God’s building. This is because the materials in reality are the unlimited Triune God who is working in us to bring forth His building now for the ultimate producing of New Jerusalem.

The Foundations of New Jerusalem’s Wall

Revelation 21:19-20, describing New Jerusalem, says, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: the 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.”

New JerusalemAs with the gold of New Jerusalem, so also the stones are not physical. They portray the Spirit’s work in us.

Precious stones are not created but are formed through a process in the earth. In the Bible, precious stones portray the Spirit’s transforming work in all the believers. This is 2 Corinthians 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.”

Our transformation happens by our beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord, and transforms us into His image of glory. Ultimately this is the glory of New Jerusalem.

As with all the other “twelves” in New Jerusalem, the twelve stones proclaim eternal perfection. The variety of the stones portray the variety of the attributes of Christ constituted into us by the Spirit’s transforming work.

We all have a portion of our Lord’s love, faithfulness, boldness, patience, holiness, wisdom, meekness, etc., but some may have one of these in a greater degree than others. But we all are one Body in Christ and now and one New Jerusalem to come.

The Great and High Wall of New Jerusalem

The first descriptions of New Jerusalem are in Revelation 21:2, 9-11. Here the city is the bride, the wife of the Lamb, is from God, and has the glory of God. The city is also holy, heavenly, and bright. Since these characteristics are presented first, they must be the most important, but Revelation 21 goes on to reveal much more about New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemVerse 12: “It 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.”

The great and high wall clearly defines what is within New Jerusalem and what is not. Every member of New Jerusalem was chosen by God in eternity past, has partaken of Christ’s redemption, has been regenerated, and has completely experienced a process of renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification.

By the time of Revelation 21 every chosen person has fully passed through all of this and is inside New Jerusalem as an integral part of the city. By this time there are no unprepared people, no partially prepared people, and no almost ready people.

Besides establishing the boundary of New Jerusalem, the wall, great and high, also protects God’s interests within the city.

Later verses in Revelation 21 show that the wall is built with the Spirit’s transformation work in the believers and that the wall, of jasper, expresses God. By believing into Jesus Christ we are inside the wall as part of New Jerusalem, and by the Spirit’s transforming we are the stones which build the wall.

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.

New Jerusalem, a Bride Adorned (3)

New Jerusalem is “a bride adorned for her husband.” And, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:19.

The prior posts present verses from Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, and Peter, in 1 Peter 3, showing that Christian adornment is not outward. It is not anything like the world with its fancy clothes, jewelry, and makeup. Rather, in God’s view, the proper adornment is Himself wrought into and radiating from our inner being. The worldly things are corruptible and will be consumed, but God in our hearts is our incorruptible adornment. This “is very costly in the sight of God.”

If we love the worldly things, we would be very disappointed with New Jerusalem. But God will turn our hearts to Him to love His ways.

The adorning of the foundations of the wall of New Jerusalem follow the divine principle of God’s operation in our being. These precious stones, precious to God, are believers who have been transformed by the Spirit’s work in them throughout their human lives. This adorning testifies both the riches of God New Jerusalemand the complete cooperation of these believers with the Spirit.

For this, we can to declare our love for the Lord, which saves us from love for the world. We may also pray with the words of a hymn,
___Lord, transform us to Thine image
_____In emotion, mind, and will;
___Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
_____All our being wholly fill.

This is our path to New Jerusalem and its adornment.

New Jerusalem, a Bride Adorned

John declares in Revelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” New Jerusalem is a corporate person, the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

This bride is adorned. Let us use the Bible to determine what this adorning is and is not. Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:9 exhorts “that women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Here the genuine Christian adorning is not outward decoration but proper virtues*.

New JerusalemWe should apply this to our expectations for New Jerusalem. The gold of the city is not physical gold but a sign (Revelation is a book of signs) of the divine nature which saturates the city. Likewise the pearl gates are not physical but portray the death and resurrection of Christ through which we enter the city.

Additionally, the precious stones are not something of human jewelry but display the transforming work of the Spirit in all the believers. This work causes the city to have the appearance of jasper (Rev. 21:11) which is also the appearance of God on the throne (Rev. 4:3).

The adorning of New Jerusalem is the Triune God Himself wrought into all believers and shining out through them. By partaking of the divine nature, the gold (2 Pet. 1:4), experiencing the death and resurrection of Christ as our pearl (Phil. 3:10), and participating in the transforming by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18) to make us precious stones, we become constituted and adorned to be New Jerusalem to manifest the Triune God.

* More on this in the next post.

Our Path to New Jerusalem (2)

New Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb, is composed of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified people. God’s choosing determined that we are on the path to New Jerusalem. Although we were among fallen men, Christ’s redemption brought us back to God and regeneration gives us God’s eternal life, the life of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemTRANSFORMED: Regeneration is to be born of the Spirit in our spirit, as the Lord spoke in John 3. Transformation is the spreading of divine life into our soul to renew our mind. This renewing is also our transformation (Rom. 12:2).

This is based on our consecration (Rom. 12:1) and is accomplished by our cooperation with the Spirit’s work in us and is “unto glory” that is, unto New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

GLORIFIED: Transformation develops God’s glory within us. However, transformation is in our soul and the expression of glory is still constrained by the body of our humiliation (Phil. 3:21). Glorification, transfiguration, is the divine life saturating our mortal body so that it will “be conformed to the body of His glory.” This is “the redemption of our body” which is the full sonship.

This glorification will occur when the Lord returns, “When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). This, our glorification, is “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8) whose glory we “behold and reflect” (2 Cor. 3:18) throughout our transformation, saturating our entire being and radiating through us that all may behold.

This glory developed in us began with regeneration, continues through transformation, and is concluded by glorification. This causes us to match New Jerusalem, the city which “has the glory of God.”

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory

The Shadow of the Living Temple (2)

Jesus alone (John 2), then all His believers (2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem, is the living temple. The Bible also has a material, physical temple, a shadow, a portrait of this reality. This shadow shows us the good, heavenly things to come in Christ. But what need was there for that shadow?

Because of the fall of man, in Genesis 3 man was shut out from the reality. As a result, before Christ came, there was a need of shadows. Then, through incarnation, the reality came to man. John 1:17 speaks of this contrast: “the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came [literally become, came into existence] through Jesus Christ.”

#NewJerusalemThe reality came, and through His redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection we can participate in this reality. We have no more need for shadows!

The shadows came because of the fall, but we can receive some spiritual vision from them. This is somewhat like the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. The physical tabernacle and temple, the shadows, show us something about the living temple including New Jerusalem.

One thing we see is that the Old Testament temple was constructed with gold, wood, and stone. This is a picture of God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, built with the divine nature, the humanity of Jesus, and the transformed members of His Body.

The dimensions of the tabernacle and temple show us that the Holy of Holies, their innermost chamber, is a cube. These cubes demonstrate that New Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies. Furthermore, the fact that the whole of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies tells us that we all have been fully brought into God’s presence. Wonderful!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)

While we are growing in our Christian life we are also being perfected. Our maturity in life and our perfection (Matt. 5:48) match New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemOur perfection includes transformation. Romans 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.”

The result of transformation is that we corporately show forth the will of God. This will is good, in God’s sight, as is New Jerusalem. However, there may be outward events which help our transformation, which are not “good” according to our understanding.

In the same way, Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Again, this is God’s view of “good” and it applies to those who love God, those who are foreknown and predestinated by Him in eternity past to go through a process in order to be glorified (8:29-30). This glory ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Our transformation, the renewing of our mind, includes a change in our concept of “good.” God’s view of “good” is that we be transformed, conformed to the image of His Son (8:29), and glorified for New Jerusalem. This is far beyond a good job, a good, car, a good vacation, good food, etc.

Paul was pursuing God’s “good” (Phil. 3:12-14). Hence, in physical things he was content to abound or to be abased (Phil. 4:11-12).

The will of God in Romans 12 is well pleasing to Him, and to us when we are one with Him. God has predestinated us from eternity for His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5). And His good pleasure consummates in eternity with New Jerusalem. The will of God, including New Jerusalem, is perfect since God is perfect.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem is Heavenly on Earth

New Jerusalem is heavenly in nature but in position it is on earth. John saw New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2, 10). The phrase “out of heaven,” twice in Revelation 21, means it is no longer in heaven.

Matthew has multiple verses speaking of the “heavenly Father.” New Jerusalem is heavenly because the Father, the source of life, is heavenly. Through regeneration we received this heavenly life so that we can grow up to be the heavenly members of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemBelieving in Jesus Christ for our new birth is our response to the “heavenly calling” which has come to us and of which we are now partakers (Heb. 3:1) . We are called to Jesus Christ, to God the Father, and to the heavenly city Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that due to God’s rich mercy He made us alive with Christ. Then verse 6, “and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” We were made alive with the divine life, the heavenly life, then seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Physically we are on earth but spiritually we are in a heavenly position

First Corinthians 15:49 declares, “even as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” We have the earthly image because, as human beings, we have an earthly life. Now we have been reborn of a heavenly Father, and are being transformed into His image.

This transformation is presented in 2 Corinthians 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.” As we behold the Lord, His glory is infused into us to develop this glorious, heavenly image in us. This matches New Jerusalem, which “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Photo courtesy of Heather Martin.

%d bloggers like this: