THE LORD GOD THE ALMIGHTY AND THE LAMB AS THE TEMPLE
In the preceding chapter we saw the first three aspects of the New Jerusalem. First, God is light in this corporate vessel. Second, God as the light is in the lamp, that is, in the redeeming Christ as the Lamb. Third, this God as the light in the redeeming Christ is on the throne. So, we have the light, the redemption, and the authority. These are the first three items of the church life for the building up of the church. Now we come to the fourth item. In this city, God Himself in Christ is the temple. A temple is a building for people to worship and serve God. We have to realize that in the church, not only the One whom we worship is God Himself, but even the place, the environment, the building, in which we worship God must also be God Himself. Simply speaking, we have to worship God in God Himself. We do not worship God in a physical building. The physical place in which we are is not our temple. God Himself is our temple, and we worship God in God Himself. We enjoy the full presence of God. The presence of God is so practical, so full, and so rich that He even becomes the very atmosphere, the very environment, through which and in which we worship Him. This experience is in the church. We do not have a physical temple in which we worship God. The temple is God Himself, since in the New Testament time, everything positive is God Himself in Christ through the Holy Spirit. We do not worship as the angels do. The angels worship a God who is objective to them, who has nothing to do with them subjectively. However, we Christians worship a very subjective God. While we are worshipping Him, He is in us and we are in Him. He is the One whom we worship, and He is the temple in which we worship Him. Everything is God Himself in Christ through the Spirit.
When you are going to offer a prayer to the Lord, that prayer must be something out of the Lord, something in the Lord, something with the Lord, and something as a part of the Lord Himself. Your prayer must not be something merely to the Lord or for the Lord. Likewise, when you are going to advise a brother about a certain matter, you should not advise him for the Lord, but you must advise him with something out of the Lord, within the Lord, and even as part of the Lord. This is what it means to have the Lord Himself as the temple in which we worship Him, and this is the meaning of the New Testament service. The New Testament service is subjective to such an extent that in it we and the Lord, the two, are mingled as one. The worshipper is one with the One who is worshipped. We pray to the Lord in the Lord. We minister to others in the Lord. We praise the Lord in the Lord. This is the correct meaning of having God as the temple. The temple is simply the presence of God.
Today Christians speak much about light, life, power, strength, and other matters. However, all these things are nothing but the Lord Himself. If we are in the presence of the Lord, we have life. If we are in the presence of the Lord, we have light. If we are in the presence of the Lord, we have power, strength, and authority. If we are in the presence of the Lord, we have everything. God Himself in Christ through the Spirit is everything to us. More than twenty years ago we often preached the gospel on the street in the evenings. While one brother stood up to speak a word concerning the Lord Jesus, all the rest kneeled down to pray. At that time, none of us felt that we were on the street. Rather, we all felt that we were not only in heaven but also in the Lord. The Lord is the temple for our service of gospel preaching.
THE ENTIRE CITY BEING GOLD
The fifth aspect of the New Jerusalem is that the whole city itself is gold. In all the Scriptures, gold signifies the divine nature, the nature of God the Father. The city itself is pure gold without any mixture (Rev. 21:18b). This indicates that the church must be one hundred percent of God; it must be absolutely of the divine nature. Today among Christians, however, the church is a mixture with some part of the divine nature and some part of the fallen human nature. If we want to have the real church life, the church herself must be pure gold, that is, altogether of the divine nature. Here we need the work of the cross to purify us and to purge us.
About thirty years ago, I heard a short word saying that being pure is different from being clean. When I first heard that word, I could not understand it, and I was very surprised. I thought that to be cleansed was good enough. However, the speaker said that we still need to be purified, just as pure gold is purified to contain no mixture and to be transparent. Since that time the Lord has gradually shown me the difference between being clean and being pure. A dear brother may be nice, gentle, and clean but still have a mixture. He is not transparent but opaque. He is nice and clean, but you cannot see through him. When I am surrounded by brothers who have a mixture, I say, “Lord, deliver me. I am in a ‘prison cell,’ and every side is opaque.” The more such brothers talk, the more they are in darkness, even if they are clean persons. To be clean is one thing, but to be pure and transparent is another. Sometimes you may meet a saint in the Lord, whom you sense is not only clean but also transparent, like clear glass. I had a history with Brother Watchman Nee for over thirty years. Within all those years, every time I met him I had the sense that he was a transparent man. When I sat before him, I could see through him. Every time he stood on the platform to give a message, the audience could sense that he was transparent. When he opened his mouth to speak only a few words, you could sense that everything became transparent. Brothers and sisters, we should be clear that simply to be clean is not enough. We need to be purified by the death of the Lord on the cross.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)