II. CAUSING MAN TO BE REGENERATED—PEARL
What does the pearl signify? Although pearl is replaced with silver in 1 Corinthians because of the need for redemption, pearl was God’s original concept. When I was young, I did not know what the Bible meant by pearl. However, after passing through many experiences with the Lord, we now understand the meaning of pearl.
Consider how a pearl is formed. An oyster living in the sea is wounded by a piece of sand. The oyster secretes life juice around the grain of sand until the sand becomes a pearl. Christ is the oyster who lived in the ocean of this world. We are the grains of sand that wound Him and, after injuring Him, stay at His wound. His life secretes His life essence, enveloping us with it layer upon layer. Eventually, after becoming fully enclosed by this life-secretion, we become a pearl (Matt. 13:46). This is the experience of regeneration. Originally, we were small pieces of sand, but we became pearls as the life juice of Christ enveloped our being. Every gate of the New Jerusalem is a pearl, signifying the entrance into the kingdom of God (Rev. 21:21). The Lord Jesus said that unless we are born anew we cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5; cf. Titus 3:5). We all have been born again and can enter into the kingdom. Furthermore, by becoming pearls, we even become the entrance itself.
After entering the New Jerusalem through the gate of pearl, we find ourselves on the street of gold (Rev. 21:21). This means that we walk according to the divine nature and that the divine nature becomes our way. Regeneration is our gate; the divine nature is our way. Do not go to others to ask them what you should do. The Lord Jesus is your way (John 14:6). You simply need to walk according to the golden street, the divine nature within you. Brothers, do you get your haircut according to the divine nature? Sisters, do you shop according to the divine nature? I am quite sure that the golden way never leads to a movie theater. When you are going in the direction of the movies, you will find yourself on the way of clay. We all need to walk the golden way. To be on the street of gold is to touch the divine nature of God.
III. CAUSING MAN TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST—PRECIOUS STONE
Although we may have the gate of pearl and the street of gold, we do not yet have a wall built up to express the image of God. The wall of the New Jerusalem is not only an erected boundary that separates the holy from the common, but also a building that expresses the image of God. In Revelation 4:2-3, God sitting on the throne has the appearance of jasper. The wall of the New Jerusalem and the first foundation stone of the wall are also built with jasper (Rev. 21:18-19), bearing the same appearance as God. Although we have passed through the gate of pearl and are walking the golden way, I still expect to see around us a wall built up to include all godly things, to exclude all worldly things, and to express the image of God. This wall is built up by the way of transformation (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 12:2a; 1 Cor. 3:12a). The materials of the wall are all transformed precious stones (Rev. 21:11, 18a, 19-20). Only transformed people can be built together.
Where do precious stones come from? A precious stone is a transformed item. All precious stones originally were of other materials. Some of them were formed into igneous rocks by pressure and heat. Others were formed into sedimentary rocks by pressure and by the flowing of water. All became precious stones. Diamond (Exo. 28:18) is formed out of carbon by heat and pressure. Under extreme pressure and intense heat the carbon becomes a diamond. These are the principles of the transformation of precious stones. Oh, we need the burning, we need the flowing of the living water, and we need the pressure!
After entering the gate of pearl and walking the street of gold, you may think you are right with the Lord in every respect. As far as the gate and the street are concerned, you are right with Him. As you walk the golden way, you may have no problem with the Lord, but other difficulties will arise. For example, as a young brother you may expect to have a very good sister as your wife. Also, the sisters expect to have a fine young brother as their husband. However, married people can testify that while marriage is an enjoyment, it also causes suffering. Each husband is a source of suffering to the wife, and each wife is a source of suffering to the husband. Although you may provide enjoyment for your spouse, you also provide some suffering. We try our best to make our spouses happy, yet we cannot avoid making them suffer. Although marriage is a cause of suffering, we cannot do without marriage. Our marriage is not in our own hands; it is overruled by the sovereign Lord Himself according to His economy. Besides the suffering caused by marriage, there are many other sufferings. Along the golden way are many pains and piercing thorns.
In your kitchen you have many appliances. Among them is a stove with an oven. It is difficult to cook properly without a stove and oven. In one sense, the church is a garden. In another sense, the church is a dining room and a kitchen. Without the kitchen, the dining room is empty. The church kitchen has a big stove with many compartments. There is a place in that stove for every one of us. I can testify from my own experience that in the church we are truly burned for the sake of our transformation. The leading brothers burn one another constantly. The husbands burn the wives, and the wives burn the husbands. This is God’s burning for our transformation.
We were made earthen vessels. Although these vessels are useful, their material, which is clay, does not match the New Jerusalem. In the New Jerusalem there are no bricks, only transformed stones. We need a great amount of pressure and burning and flowing of life before we can be transformed into precious stones. The more pressure, burning, and flowing we experience, the more precious we become.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)