GOD IS EVERYTHING IN THE NEW JERUSALEM
Our seventh thought concerns the matter of light in the New Jerusalem. The sun and the moon exist in the new heaven and new earth, but they are not needed in the holy city. We can illustrate this by pointing out that the moon does shine in the daytime, although it can barely be seen. However, it is not needed, for the sun is far brighter. Even so, we will not need the sun or the moon in the holy city, because God is there (Rev. 21:23; 22:5). The light of God is the brightest of all lights.
Nighttime will still exist in the new heaven and new earth. This means that day and night will continue. But because God is always brightly shining in the holy city, there is no need of the sun or the moon; so there will be no night there (Rev. 21:25).
These points reveal the basic principle that all natural things, such as food, water, clothing, sun and moon, are merely figures of what God is to us. All the redeemed ones enjoy God Himself; the unbelievers enjoy only the natural things. In the New Jerusalem we will have God as our sun, our light. We will not require any natural thing, for God will be everything to us. This also means that today, when we are redeemed and take God as our life, He is everything to us. We need nothing apart from God. This thought is quite deep. When we do not have God in Christ, we need many other things; but if we have God in Christ, we need nothing more. May this become clear to us.
THE INHABITANTS OF THE NEW JERUSALEM
Our eighth and final thought concerns the inhabitants of the holy city. We are not clearly told who the inhabitants are. Logically, we could say that God must be the inhabitant, since the New Jerusalem is the tabernacle of God. However, look again at John 1:14. The Word, who was God, was made flesh to tabernacle among us. This means that the tabernacle itself dwelt among us. But who was the dweller of the tabernacle mentioned in the Gospel of John? We know that Jesus was that tabernacle and that Jesus was the mingling of God with man. Hence, the dwellers of that tabernacle were God and man. That tabernacle was composed of the dwellers, and there were no dwellers in that tabernacle except those who composed it—God and man. The same principle is found in Revelation 21. In eternity, those composing the New Jerusalem will be the very dwellers of that city. God will be the dweller, and the redeemed ones will be dwellers as well. All the redeemed with God Himself are the very elements of which the New Jerusalem is composed. Thus, the dwellers are the city itself.
Here then is a very practical question: Of what is the church composed? The church, as we have seen, is the house of God, the mingling of God and man. But who are the dwellers within this house? It is clear: they are the very components of the house. Apart from the house itself, there are no dwellers. The dwellers are the house, and the house itself is the composition of the dwellers. Praise the Lord!
So many are not clear concerning the matter of the church. They conceive of the church as a material building in which the saints gather. They imagine the saints coming into the house as the dwellers. Likewise, many consider the New Jerusalem as something other than the saints. They believe it to be a heavenly mansion with some of the saints put into it as the dwellers. This seems quite logical; however, when we study the Scriptures deeply, we discover that the New Jerusalem is just like the church today. It is all the saints composed together as the city. We must be clear that the dwellers composed together are the very dwelling-place. The dwellers dwell within themselves. We are the church, yet we dwell in the church. This means that we dwell in ourselves. This is all very subjective. God works upon us because we are the dwelling-place. If we are just the inhabitants within the dwelling, there would be no need for God to build us up. We could simply wait for the building to be completed and then enter into it to dwell there. However, the dwellers constitute the dwelling-place. Thus, all Christians must be built up together wherever they are. We cannot get away from the building. If we would share in the church life, we must be built up in it. You cannot say, “I will wait until the building is accomplished; then I will go to dwell in it.” No! You can only be built into the dwelling. If you are not willing to be built into it, you will never be in it. The dweller is the very component of the building. This matter is exceedingly deep. Some even say that it is a heresy to speak of the New Jerusalem as a living composition of all the saints and not to consider it as the heavenly mansion. One day we will all be clear. Unless we are built into the New Jerusalem, we will have no share in it. This is not a matter of prophecy, but of experience. Until we are built into the church, we can never have a practical share in the church life.
Christianity today is so shallow! Whoever you are, you may just come and be a member of the “church.” In one sense, that is correct. But in actuality, until we are built into the church, we can never have the reality of the church life.
Some Christians are told that just as long as they believe in the Lord Jesus, someday they will go to the New Jerusalem. In a sense, that is also correct, because we may all share in the New Jerusalem by the redemption of Christ. Yet, there is still another aspect. We must be built into that city. The Apostle Peter was built into it, for the name of one of the precious foundation stones is Peter (Rev. 21:14). There is a principle here which is quite easily misunderstood. Some may ask, “Are you saying that the redemption of Christ is not sufficient? Do we need something in addition to the redemption of Christ?” One day we will all be there, and then we will be very clear. But that day may be too late as far as you are concerned. After redemption, we need the work of transformation (Rom. 12:2) and building (Eph. 2:22; 1 Pet. 2:5).
Let us consider a typical case of a new convert. Last week he was an unbeliever; but a few days ago he believed, and yesterday he was baptized. On one hand, as long as he has believed in the Lord Jesus, he has become a member of the church. But, until the day that he is practically built into the church, he will not share the church life in experience. Beginning from the time of his regeneration, he must be transformed and built together with all the saints. Then he will have a practical share in the church life.
Why has the New Jerusalem not yet come? The Lord Jesus has ascended into heaven and has been there for nearly two thousand years; yet the New Jerusalem has not yet appeared. The question is, How many redeemed ones have been transformed and built into this holy city? Do we realize that in this city everything is composed of gold, pearl and precious stones? There is no clay there. Perhaps you have been saved for ten years, but have you been fully transformed yet from a piece of clay to a precious stone? Are we really fit for the New Jerusalem? Frankly speaking, even if the Lord should put us there, we would have to say, “No, no; we do not fit here.” Do you see now that there is more required than just the work of redemption? There must also be the work of transformation and building. Today’s church must have the work of transformation and building. The Apostle Paul clearly tells us that we must be careful to build up the building of God with gold, silver and precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12). Immediately after we are saved, we are not pure gold, pearl, silver, or precious stones. We are like an uncut diamond—just so much rock. How much transformation and building up we need! The situation today is very poor. It is too objective. People say, “Our church is wonderful. Come and join us.” No! All the dwellers of the church are the components of the church. You must be built into the church; otherwise, you can never be in the church in a practical way.
All of these eight thoughts are indeed deep, yet they are very basic. The main point is that we all must be worked upon, transformed, and built up together; then there will be the new city. All the dwellers of the New Jerusalem are the very components of which the city is built.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)