The Central Thought of God, by Witness Lee


Now let us see what the New Jerusalem, the divine building, the holy city, is. First, this holy city is a living composition of living persons. It is built with living persons as materials, being composed of the saints in the Old Testament time as well as the saints in the New Testament time. We know that the New Jerusalem is a composition of living persons because the divine record tells us that the twelve gates of the city bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (21:12) and that the twelve foundations of this city bear the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (v. 14). The twelve tribes of Israel are the representatives of the Old Testament saints, and the twelve apostles are the representatives of all the New Testament saints. This is why we say that the New Jerusalem is a composition of all the saints in the Old Testament time as well as in the New Testament time. From now on you should never believe that in this universe God is building a material place with material things. After creating the heavens, the earth, and all things, God has not had a resting place. God will not be satisfied with a physical place as His resting place. In Isaiah 66:1 we are told that even heaven, where God’s throne is, is not God’s resting place. What is God’s resting place? According to the following verse, it is the contrite spirit of man. God wants a living dwelling place, that is, a dwelling place built with living persons.

When I was young, I sat at the feet of some older saints who taught the Bible in the way of letters. One day I heard a message saying, “The heavenly mansion which the Lord is preparing for us must be a wonderful place. The Lord told us that as soon as He finishes building it, He will come back to take us there. Since He has been gone for nearly two thousand years and has not come back yet, it must be that the heavenly mansion has not yet been completed. After such a long time the Lord still has not finished the building, so imagine how wonderful that mansion will be!” At that time I was so childish that I believed what I heard, and I even was excited, thinking that each of us will be given a mansion, as we sang in certain hymns. This concept concerning the New Jerusalem is altogether wrong. The Lord is after a living dwelling place with living persons as living materials.

In Christianity today Christians have a very wrong concept concerning the church. They consider that the church is a physical building. This is absolutely and seriously wrong. The church is not a physical building but a building with living persons. It is a living composition with the living believers as the living members. The church is not a physical house; the church is a living house. The same principle applies to the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is not a physical building but a living building with living members, living persons. The Lord does not want to have a physical mansion as His dwelling place. Rather, the Lord desires to have a living composition of a living group of living persons, redeemed, saved, regenerated, transformed, changed in every respect, and composed and built up together as a living dwelling place for Himself. This is the resting place of the Lord. This is the highest thought, the thought on the highest plane, concerning the dwelling place of God.

In certain places some friends asked me, “Brother Lee, would you please tell us where we Christians will be after we die?” I said, “Brothers, there is no need for you to worry about this matter. Surely you and I are precious in the Lord’s eyes. The Lord will keep us in the best place.” Brothers and sisters, we do not need to worry about where we will be in the future. Rather, the Lord is very concerned today about His spiritual, living dwelling place. He is seeking after a living habitation that is composed of, built up together with, all the redeemed, regenerated, and transformed ones.

The New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ and the wife of Christ (Rev. 21:2, 9). How can a physical mansion be a bride or a wife? When you get married, will you marry a house or a mansion? No, you will marry a living person, a person as a living composition of living members. How can a physical mansion which is without feelings and thoughts match you? In the same way, how can a physical mansion without a heart, a mind, a thought, and a desire be the counterpart to match the living Christ? That is ridiculous. The Lord is going to marry not a physical mansion but His redeemed ones, who are composed together as His bride, His wife.

The apostle John tells us that all the people given by God the Father to the Lord, the Son, are the bride as the increase of the Lord (John 3:29-30). The apostle Paul also says that he betrothed us as pure virgins to Christ as our Husband (2 Cor. 11:2). Then in Ephesians 5 we are told that husbands should love their wives just as the Lord loves the church (v. 25). These portions of the Word show us clearly that the bride of Christ is not a physical house but a living composition of the redeemed ones.

(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)