THE GATES OF THE CITY
In the previous chapters we have covered eight points concerning the New Jerusalem as a picture of the church. Now we come to the ninth point, the gates. A gate is an entrance, an opening, through which one can have a share with something inside a building. If we are going to have a share in this divine building, we have to enter through the gates. What are the gates? Revelation 21:21 says, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was, respectively, of one pearl.” The city itself is pure gold (v. 18), but the gates are pearls, each gate being of one pearl. In the types of the Scriptures, gold is something which is different, distinct, from all other things. It represents the holy nature of God, which is a nature of separation, a separating nature. What then is the meaning of the pearl? Pearls are produced by oysters. When an oyster is wounded by a grain of sand, it secretes its life-juice around the grain of sand and makes it into a precious pearl. This signifies how Christ as the living One came into the death water and was wounded by us on the cross. After we wounded Him, we stayed at His wound to receive what He accomplished on the cross and to receive the divine secretion of the divine life, the resurrection life. The resurrected Lord secretes His divine life-juice around us all the time until we, the worthless grains of sand, become the precious pearls. We were created as grains of sand, but we were regenerated as pearls. It is by regeneration that we obtain an entrance into the divine things. In John 3:5 the Lord told us, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Once we are regenerated, we have the entrance into the things in the divine realm. This means we have the gates of pearl.
The holy city, New Jerusalem, has twelve gates (Rev. 21:12, 21), with three gates on each of its four sides (v. 13). Three is the number representing the Triune God. That there are three gates on each side signifies that the three of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—work together to bring people into the holy city. This is indicated in the three parables in Luke 15. In the first parable we have God the Son finding the sinners as the shepherd looking for the lost sheep (vv. 4-7). In the second parable we have God the Spirit finding the sinners as the woman seeking her lost coin (vv. 8-10). And in the third parable we have God the Father receiving the repenting and returned sons as the father receiving his prodigal son (vv. 11-32). Thus, the three of the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit—work together to bring sinners back and to bring sinners in, in order to have a share of the divine things.
In Revelation 21, four represents the four directions of the earth—the east, the north, the south, and the west. The gates on the four sides facing the four directions of the earth signifies that the gospel is preached to all the directions of the inhabited earth and that the entrance into the holy city is available to all the peoples on earth. Furthermore, the number four signifies the creatures, because in Revelation 4:6 we are told that there are four living creatures around the throne of God. That there are three gates on each of the four sides, three times four being twelve, implies that the Triune God, the Creator, is mingled with man, the creature. The New Jerusalem is the mingling of God and man.
From which direction did you come in? I came in from the east, while many of you came in from the west. The brothers from South America and Africa can say that they came in from the south, and many Russians and Eskimos will say that they came in from the north. Praise the Lord that regardless of which direction you and I came in, we all came in through the gates; that is, we all came in through the same Triune God, through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. On every side, the three gates are the same. The directions are different, but the gates are the same. By the mercy of the Lord I have traveled to many places, to Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Canada. When I was young, I thought that, as a Chinese believer, I would be different from the Japanese believers, the German believers, the American believers, and many others. Later on, however, I discovered that I was wrong. When I went to Japan, I met a group of Japanese believers who are exactly the same as I am. When I went to Southeast Asia, I met some Filipino believers and I found that they also are exactly the same as I am. Everywhere I went, whether Denmark, England, Italy, or the United States, I found that everyone who is a believer in Christ is the same as I am. Why is this? It is because we all came in through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Because we all came in through the same Triune God, we all are the same. When I went to Japan, I could not speak Japanese, and they could not speak Chinese, yet we could speak by Christ with one another. I could say amen to them, and they could say hallelujah to me. When we knelt down to pray, we could pray together wonderfully. I could not understand what they prayed in Japanese, but I could say amen! They could not understand what I prayed in Chinese, but they could say amen! This shows that we all came through the same gates, the same Triune God.
Not only so, after you enter through the gates, no matter from which direction you enter, once you walk on the street, you will be one with all the others. There is only one street. When we come in, we are all one. Unlike Los Angeles which has many streets, the New Jerusalem has only one street, which spirals from the top, from the throne of God, to the bottom of the mountain to reach the twelve gates. Once we enter the gates, we are on the street and we are with all the others. We are one in Christ, and we are one in His Body. The street is the way with the flowing of the living water. What is the flowing of the living water? It is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. There is only one way, one street, one flow, one stream, one Spirit, one fellowship, and one food with twelve varieties. Everything is one. We are one. This is wonderful! Regardless of how you label yourself, sooner or later, you will have to give up your label. You may label yourself as a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Methodist, a Pentecostal, an Episcopalian, or another name, but there are no such names in the New Jerusalem. Therefore, you must drop the names. You have to realize that you are a member of the New Jerusalem and that you are one with all the members. We are one in Christ and one in His one Body. No matter how you denominate yourself as a denomination, if you do not give that up today, one day the Lord will tell you, “Child, give that up.” We are one in Christ, not in doctrine. We are one in the way, in the life, in the flow of the stream in the Spirit, and in the fellowship of the Spirit.
In these days, I have had a great deal of fellowship with many saints. One thing I have stressed is that we should be general and not try to be special. Do not say, “I am a Presbyterian,” “I am a Baptist,” or, “I am a Spirit-filled Christian.” Forget about these labels. Simply remember that you were a sinner and now you have been saved. You are a saved one; that is all. Do not consider yourself higher than others. Do not consider that you are spiritual and others are not, nor consider that you have seen the heavenly vision and others have not. Give up all these thoughts. Regardless of what you think of yourself, as long as you are within the gates, you are one with me and I am one with you. We are all one in the way, in the life, in the Spirit, in the flow, in the communion, in the fellowship of the Spirit. Today in Christianity there are too many streams. There is the Presbyterian stream, the Methodist stream, the Lutheran stream, and so forth. However, in the New Jerusalem, there is only one stream. We all drink of the one water, we all feed on the one food, and we all walk on the one street. Furthermore, we have only one direction, that is, the direction toward the throne of God. We have one peak and one goal. We are marching on toward the top, the peak, toward the throne of God in Christ.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)