The New Jerusalem

By David A. DePra

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What is The New Jerusalem?  First of all, it is NOT a literal city.  Rather, it is the spiritual dwelling place IN CHRIST.  The New Jerusalem is resurrection union between Jesus Christ and His people.  It is the fullness of, “Christ in you.”  (Col. 1:27)


Another way to state the same Truth is this:  The New Jerusalem is not a heavenly city.  Rather, it is a heavenly people.  The New Jerusalem consists of those who are IN CHRIST.  Believers are joined to the Lord and one spirit with Him.  (I Cor. 6:17)  That spiritual, resurrection union – comprised of all who are of the church – is The New Jerusalem.  This is the, “city that has foundations, who builder and maker is God.”  (Heb. 11:10) 


This is verified every place in the NT where The New Jerusalem is mentioned or suggested -- for example, in the Book of Revelation: 


Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.  (Rev. 3:12-13)


Individuals comprise the body of Christ, and thus, individuals in union with Christ constitute The New Jerusalem.  You will note that The New Jerusalem is, “the city of my God” – and it comes, “down out of heaven from my God.”  What we see here is that The New Jerusalem is heavenly or spiritual in nature – it comes down and IS from above; from the heavenly realm.  More than that, it comes from out from God Himself – it is of HIS mind, indeed, of His very life.  The life source of The New Jerusalem is God Himself through His Son. 


Born of God


Most of us have never questioned what we know as, “church.”  We think of, “the church,” as the collection of people who gather together on Sunday; preach the gospel; promote Christian programs.  But it is possible to do all of that in an outward, religious fashion, completely outside of Christ.  The church must be BIRTHED of God – just as individual Christians must be BIRTHED of God.  Otherwise, all we have is an expression of religious flesh.  It cannot carry the life of Christ unless it is born of the spirit of God.


People cannot simply get together, form a corporation, buy a building, develop a statement of faith, hire a pastor, take upon themselves the name of Jesus – and hand the whole thing to God and expect Him to bless it.  No.  That is not the church; not of The New Jerusalem.  As sincere as some of these efforts might be, if the individuals that comprise such a church are not of a heavenly nature in Christ, neither will the church that they form be of a heavenly nature.  And it will not matter how good they are at holding services, developing programs, and running the church as an organization. The New Jerusalem is not an organization, or a group of organizations.  Rather, The New Jerusalem is a living ORGANISM – in Jesus Christ – and lives by faith from out of HIM.


It is important to realize that the characteristics of The New Jerusalem are only what they are because of spiritual union with Christ – wrought by death and resurrection in Him?  The New Jerusalem is heavenly in nature, spiritually minded, and finds its life source in Christ -- because that describes the individuals who constitute that city.  Likewise, those who operate out from natural man, the soul realm, and are living from out of this world, are NOT of The New Jerusalem.  It may seem harsh to say so, but God Himself does say it – He contrasts The New Jerusalem over and against the possibility of a harlot church.


A harlot church is one that is not set apart solely for God’s use.  It conforms to the world.  It has the mind of the world.  Most places where this is the case it is accepted as necessary for financial reasons – or for the purpose of being recognized – so that, “the gospel might be preached.”  But God is able to open the doors necessary for the gospel.  We are to keep ourselves free, not only of outward entanglements with the world, but free of the inward spirit.  And again – a harlot church is only what it is because of the individuals who comprise it.  A local body is the sum total of the members who comprise it.


So what we need to see is this:  The New Jerusalem consists of those who have been made new creations in Christ Jesus.  They are in this world, but not of this world.  Individually they are set apart only for God’s use – and have seen the Truth of Christ.  The New Jerusalem is Jesus Christ in His people – Jesus Christ as the LIFE – and Jesus Christ manifested through His people to HIS glory.


A Spiritual City


You cannot SEE The New Jerusalem in this age – John the apostle saw it in a vision.  God gave him a vision using material points of reference – “a city;” “a bride.” But The New Jerusalem is not found in any geographical location.  Neither can you document it by doing a study of the Christian religion going back thousands of years.  Rather, it consists of believers who are born from above – individuals who have lived over the course of this entire age, and most of whom have never heard of each other.  This CITY is a spiritual city – the spiritual body – that is comprised of ALL of those who are IN CHRIST, and members of one another. 


The New Jerusalem manifests Jesus Christ – because the people who comprise it manifest Jesus Christ.  Harlot churches may have a form of religion.  But they are not born out from God.  God has done a work to bring The New Jerusalem to pass – He has birthed people in Christ, and thus, the city is birthed.  It is of His mind and His heart.


Jesus Christ, The Rock and Foundation


(Abraham) looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.  (Heb. 11:10)


It is rather amazing that Abraham would have known that there was a city – a city for which he could look.  But Hebrews states exactly that:  Abraham looked for a city.  And you will note that it says of this city: “Whose builder and maker is God.”  Abraham was looking for The New Jerusalem -- the church; the body of Christ; the Bride of Christ.  It is OF GOD HIMSELF.


The city after which Abraham sought is said to be a city that has FOUNDATIONS.  And it is upon those foundations that God Himself has laid that God Himself builds and creates.  The New Jerusalem, the city that is OF GOD from OUT OF GOD, is that city that has eternal foundations, whose builder and maker is God.


All through the NT we find embedded the Truth of this city.  It is a city which has Jesus Christ as its foundation.  And it is upon Jesus Christ – it is OF CHRIST – that God builds this city. 


Again, do not think of physical components of a city.  The foundation of this city is Jesus Christ.  The city that is built upon Jesus Christ is PEOPLE – those born from above in Christ.  Thus, this city is not comprised of dead concrete and physical buildings.  Rather, it is a LIVING city in every way that the body of Christ is a living organism IN CHRIST.


At this point, we cannot help but turn to a watershed moment in the ministry of Jesus Christ:


He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.   And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.   And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.  (Matt. 16:15-20)


There is much in this passage, but before we look at it, we must be clear as to what IS the church.  The word, “church,” is translated from the Greek word, “ekklesia.”  That word means, “called out ONES.”  Thus, the church is comprised of, “ones,” that is, of INDIVIDUALS who have been called out of the Adam race into Christ.  In short, the church is the individuals in whom Christ dwells; who are in Christ.  The BODY of Christ, i.e., the, “household of God,” refers to the whole under the Head, Who is Christ.


Can we see that, “the church” – those who are truly born from above – comprise The New Jerusalem in Christ?


This brings clarity to the passage.  Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter gave the right answer:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  But Jesus makes it clear that this revelation of His identity was NOT from flesh and blood as the source.  In other words, no other human being gave the disciples this revelation.  Neither did they muster up this revelation out from their own flesh and blood – out from their brains, emotions, or wits.  Rather, the revelation of Jesus was given to them from a source outside of flesh and blood humanity – from the Father Himself.


The Father, at this point in time, had revealed Christ TO these disciples.  After Acts 2, Jesus would be revealed IN them. Before Acts 2, no one had been born again; Christ had dwelt in no one through the spirit of God.  Rather, as Jesus had told His disciples, the spirit of God had been WITH them – but only after Jesus had ascended would the spirit be sent to be IN THEM.  But nevertheless, almost as a foretaste of what would be much more profound and alive after Acts 2, the Father had revealed Christ to them.  God was the source of this revelation and they could receive it no other way.


This continues to be the only way in which any of us can receive revelation.  Since Acts 2, those who put their faith in Christ do have CHRIST WITHIN.  But we have no resources within ourselves by which we can pull from out of Christ any sort of revelation.  The Father, by the spirit of God, must do a work whereby the Christ who is in us is revealed.  Indeed, Jesus Himself said that the reason the spirit was to be given was to reveal Him.  By His spirit, God is seeking to bring His people into an inward realization of His Son.


Peter embraced this revelation of Christ and confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  The response to that of Jesus ties directly into the Truth about The New Jerusalem.  He says, “Upon this ROCK will I build my church.”  Upon what Rock?  Peter?  No.  In fact, there is a play on words in the answer of Jesus.  He says, “You are Peter.”  The name, “Peter,” means small pebble.  Jesus is drawing a contrast between Peter and Himself -- because He goes on to say, “You are Peter (little pebble), but it is upon THIS ROCK (the foundation of Myself) that I will build my church.”  Jesus is directly stating that it is upon HIMSELF – upon the inward revelation that the Father gives of Jesus – that the people who constitute the church will be built.


This exchange between Jesus and His disciples is a pivotal one.  Jesus is stating that it is the revelation of Himself in His people that is THE ROCK – that is the foundation – upon which those people who are the church will be built.  “Upon this Rock I will build My church” – “It is upon My presence in My people that those who constitute the church will be built.”


Is the church today being built upon THE ROCK?  Are the people who are in Christ being built upon Him – the inward realization of Christ?  So often we think that the building of the church is a matter of increasing money, members, expansion, and influence.  No.  The church of which Jesus speaks is comprised of people whom God is building in Christ:  “Whose builder and maker is God.”  This is the city that has ONE foundation:  The Rock, Jesus Christ.


Christ in His People


John, in his vision of The New Jerusalem, recorded in Revelation, affirms all of these facts:


And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.  (Rev. 21:2-3)


Christianity is CHRIST IN US (Col. 1:27), and a Christian is one in whom Christ dwells.  A Christian is one who, “is joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.”  (I Cor. 6:17)  That is HOW Christ dwells in the believer – through spiritual union.  These Truths correspond exactly with John’s vision – “The dwelling place of God is with men.  He will dwell with them; God Himself shall be with them.  The New Jerusalem is the representation of God dwelling IN humanity. Sure.  God has taken up residence in humanity through His Son.  This is Christ in us and The New Jerusalem.


The fact that Abraham was, even in His time, looking for a city, tells us that CHRIST IN US was the purpose of God – was the, “city that has foundations” -- that God was building this, “city,” from the start.  This has eternal ramifications – it is central to what He is doing.  God the Father is revealing His Son in people; God is building Christ in people, and bringing them into an inward realization of Jesus.  This is THE CITY.  Abraham was seeking that city.  He may not have fully known it, but he was looking for the city that we know as The New Jerusalem.

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