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THE NEW JERUSALEM, PART 5

 

 

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:22–27

 

John has just seen the New Jerusalem as it descend from heaven. He saw this holy city was prepared as a bride adorned for her husband indicating that the New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the church as Jesus built it. A loud voice told John that what sees here is also the tabernacle of God and presence of the tabernacle makes this church God’s people with the promise that he will live with them and be their God. Upon seeing the New Jerusalem John also heard the glorified Christ say that he makes all things new and in doing so he pronounces that it is done, which tells us that the end-time revival, such as it is, is the finishing work of Jesus in his church.

John is shown the beauty of the New Jerusalem by one of the angels that had the bowls of God’s wrath, which we know is the message of the everlasting gospel. The angel measures the New Jerusalem to show us that it meets all the critical standards of God’s will and God’s holiness. It is a magnificent city that is accessible to all who live on earth and all who will respond to the message of the everlasting gospel.

However, John sees something strange and totally unexpected about the New Jerusalem. He says in verse twenty-two, “But I saw no temple in it.” He saw there was not a specific building in the city dedicated to the worship of God. The reason for this is that the entire holy city is the temple as John points out in the rest of the verse: “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” The city needs no separate temple for God to dwell in because the redeemed are filled with the very presence of God making them the temple of God as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Barnes comments on this, “This is to be understood of the community of Christians, or of the church, as being the place where God dwells on the earth.” Through the new birth we are born of the Holy Spirit according to what Jesus taught in the third chapter of John. This fact is the very source of the unity of the church as Jesus built it; the Spirit of God indwells each believer and baptizes them into the body of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 12:13. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer he dwells in the entire church.

John sees in verse twenty-three that the city is illuminated but not by the sun or the moon. “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” The sun represents the New Testament and the moon represents the Old Testament. John did not say there is no need for the sun and the moon; he said there is no need for them to shine. He is not telling us there is no need for the Bible in the church and in the end-time revival—it is still essential in our lives and in the work of the church. For many people the Bible is a dead meaningless book, but for the redeemed filled with the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God makes the Bible a living reality in our lives. It is not the words of the Bible that motivate us; it is the direct revelation from God of his truth and his will that is confirmed in the Bible. We know the Bible is true because God speaks to us directly through its pages.

And in particular John tells us the actual source of the light: “the Lamb is its light.” Through the Bible we see that God’s illumination points directly and only to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Christ is our light as we are told in John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This was prophesied centuries earlier in Isaiah 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” Christ is the light that shines into the darkness of sin to reveal the way of redemption. This is affirmed in verse twenty-four, “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” Those who respond to the light of the everlasting gospel are the saved mentioned in this verse. Saved from what? Saved from their sins. Because they have passed through the gates of the wall into the city and they are walking on that golden street of holiness they are walking in the very light of Christ—his glory that has changed their lives and guides them in his righteousness.

We are then told, “They bring their glory and honor into it;” that is, they consecrate their lives to the will of God as expressed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a consecration in which the redeemed pledge their lives—soul and body—to the holiness of Christ. And this is a pledge that God honors by preserving them, or keeping them in this holiness for the rest of their lives.

We also learn that the New Jerusalem is open 24/7. Verse 25, “Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).” There are twelve gates to the city facing all four points of the compass so that anyone and everyone can come to Christ wherever they might be in the world or whatever place they may be in their lives. The gates are of pearl, which we know is the message of the gospel that saves people from their sins. The light of the Lamb shines in the city attracting those outside the city that are seeking God and it is this light that leads them to the gate.

There is redemption in the gates but we also see a necessary separation from sin in those same gates. Verse 26, “And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.” There is thanksgiving and praise as people rejoice that they are cleansed from their sins. They come into the church with the intent to honor God with their lives.

On the other hand is verse 27, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie.” Sin is not allowed to enter the church as Jesus built it because he is the Savior from sin. All sin must be left nailed to the cross of Christ where he purchased it with his blood. Not one sin can pass through those gates. The only people permitted into the New Jerusalem during the end-time revival are those whose names are to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life according to the rest of verse 27. Why is this so critical? It is critical because those names are written with the very blood of Christ.

John is shown more of the glory of the New Jerusalem in chapter twenty-two. In this we find some practical benefits of salvation. Revelation 22:1, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” One gift God gives to the redeemed is spiritual life which is here called the water of life. As water is essential to physical life, the Holy Spirit is essential to spiritual life. No one can have spiritual life without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in which God and the Lamb take up their abode in the human spirit. Spiritual life comes from God and it is clear as crystal. There is no spiritual contamination in God’s presence making this the source of the righteousness of Christs in our lives as seen in Romans 8:10, “And if Christ is in you, . . . the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

John is now shown something that has not existed on earth since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden in verse two, “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” The entire human race was placed under sin through Adam’s fall in the Garden. He was denied access to the tree of life and the entire human race was condemned to spiritual death. The tree of life now appears in the middle of the street of the city, which we know is paved with gold, the holiness of God. Notice that the tree is very large because it is in the middle and on either side of the golden street of holiness. This shows us that spiritual life given to us in salvation can only produce God’s holiness in our lives.

Sin has been left outside the city and we now have access to the tree of life “which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.” In other words, spiritual life provides everything we need to sustain our relationship with Christ throughout our lives on earth. “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Not only does the tree support spiritual life, the leaves have properties that aid our living everyday life. Think of those leaves as the gospel doctrines Christ gave us to guide our lives. Jesus taught this truth in Matthew 4:4, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” It was true when Jesus taught it and it is still true today and it will be true throughout the end-time revival.

We are then told in verse three, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” In the church as Jesus built it there is no more curse of sin to be found because sin has been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Our spiritual nature is changed so that we no longer serve ourselves and sin but instead we continually serve Christ.

What a beautiful thing we see about salvation in verse four, “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” Religious Babylon has the mark of the beast which is some kind of religious identity such as church membership or the like. In salvation we do not carry the mark of the beast because we are members of the body of Christ, the church as he built it. Instead we have his name on our foreheads. Instead of saying I belong to this church or that church; this movement or that movement; we can honestly and rightfully say that we belong to Christ. We see the face of Christ in the illumination we receive from the everlasting gospel and know that we are claimed by Christ as his own.

And the final thing John sees is the reinforcement of the personal interaction of God in the lives of the redeemed: “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (verse five). The successful Christian life is not lived in our own ability or spiritual strength; it is lived by God revealing his will to us. He cannot lead us into error; he can only lead us in truth. For this reason because we are in the New Jerusalem, the church as built by Jesus, we reign over sin in this life and we look forward to eternity with God where there will be no sin whatsoever. In this sense, the church as Jesus built it is a foretaste of heaven and the eternal presence of God here on earth.