After seeing some of the main things that the Lord spoke to the seven local churches in Rev. 2-3, this week we have a conclusion on all this, focusing on the New Jerusalem, which is the consummation of the central vision of God’s economy and of the high peak of the divine revelation through the overcomers, those in the church in Philadelphia who return to the orthodoxy of the church.
The Lord’s speaking to the churches doesn’t end or conclude in Rev. 2-3 but rather, as we come to Rev. 21, one of the angels came to John and said, Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
Then John was carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, having the glory of God; the details of this vision continue in ch. 22.
We need to have an increasing vision of what is on God’s heart for His eternal satisfaction: the bride, the wife, the New Jerusalem; when we see this, we will be besides ourselves, and the only thing we can do is worship God.
In Rev. 22:16 the Lord said, I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify these things for the churches. The Lord wants us to see and know these things – He wants the churches to know how He cares for them and what the consummation of His purpose is. Brother Lee has two wonderful quotes that show us the highest peak of what God is doing,
After my study of the Bible for the past 69 years, what have I seen? I would say that I have seen the New Jerusalem. This is my vision. This is my revelation. This is my ministry. (W. Lee, Practical points concerning blending, pp. 25-26)
First, we need to release the truth that God became a man to make man God in life and nature but not in the Godhead. Then we need to release the truth concerning the New Jerusalem. My burden is to release these two great truths. (W. Lee, The application of the interpretation of the New Jerusalem to the seeking believers, p. 54)
Yes, the Lord is building up the church today, with the purpose that His bride would be prepared and the New Jerusalem would be consummated. Our vision, our revelation, and our ministry should be the New Jerusalem, and our burden should be to know, speak, be filled with, and live out the high peak of the divine revelation and the New Jerusalem. This is something intrinsic (referring to the essential nature of something) and organic (opposed to human organization).
The Connection between the Church in Philadelphia and the New Jerusalem
There’s an intrinsic and organic connection between the church in Philadelphia (the recovered church) and the New Jerusalem. In Rev. 3:11-12 the Lord said, I come quickly… – there’s something about Philadelphia that enables the Lord to come back.
Then He says, Hold fast that no one take your crown – from now on until the Lord comes or we go to Him, we need to hold fast that no one take our crown.
The crown relates to reigning, to the kingdom; the overcomers receive the crown of life, the faithful elders will receive the crown of glory (1 Pet. 5), and Paul testified that the crown of righteousness is laid up for him. In v. 12 the Lord continues, He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.
Since there’s nothing negative in Philadelphia, what do the overcomers need to overcome? Overcomers do more than overcome degradation: they consummate God’s economy regarding the building up of the Body of Christ and the preparation of the bride.
They don’t merely deal with negative thing and reign over them, protecting the church from them, but there’s a great deal on the positive side that they care for. Overcomers overcome the degradation of the church, and they build up the Body of Christ to consummate the New Jerusalem.
What is the temple of God? In the New Jerusalem there’s no temple, for the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple. To become a pillar in the temple of God must involve becoming the same as God in life, nature, expression, and function, but not in the Godhead.
The overcomers are unshakable pillars, and they are built in during the course of their life into the holy city, the New Jerusalem. This involves the high peak of the divine revelation. May the Lord give us the heart to care for such a high and transcendent matter.
We do have all kinds of practical matters to take care of in the church life, many of which are ordained by God in His way to build up His church, but we want to become pillars in the temple of God!
“And I will write upon him the name of My God…” – this is not a mere objective designation, but a description of the being of the overcomer; God has been wrought into the being of the overcomer.
“…and the name of the city of My God, and My new name…” – this refers to the fact that the nature of the New Jerusalem has been wrought into the overcomer, and he has in fact become part of the New Jerusalem.
In the church life in Philadelphia, we have little power, honor the Lord’s name, keep the Lord’s word, love the brothers, and something intrinsic is happening in us: we are not merely enjoying outwardly and practically the wonderful church life with keeping the Lord’s word and not denying His name, but there’s something happening in us that corresponds to the high peak of the divine revelation that is being worked out by God’s organic salvation and His divine dispensing.
God, the city of God, the Son of God – their names are all written on the overcomer in Philadelphia, showing a direct connection between the recovered church (the church in Philadelphia) and the New Jerusalem.
The overcomers in Philadelphia, who are becoming God in all that He is and is communicated, are becoming the New Jerusalem in its nature, in all the aspects of the city revealed in Revelation; these ones are saturated and permeated with Christ’s being and person.
As the overcomer is living the recovered church life, something deep in his constitution is taking place: he maintains the crown (he lives in the reality of the kingdom), he has the brotherly love (he lives in the reality of the Body of Christ), and his whole being is set toward God’s goal, the consummating of the New Jerusalem.
Once the Lord has the recovered church, He wants saints in the recovered church to consummate the central vision and the high peak of the divine revelation by becoming the New Jerusalem. What the overcomers do is on behalf of the whole church!
Lord Jesus, make us Your overcomers, those who not only overcome and rule over anything negative for God but who also care for the desire of God’s heart, the building up of the church as the Body of Christ for the consummation of the New Jerusalem. May something happen intrinsically and organically in our being as we love the Lord, love the brothers, keep the Lord’s word, and not deny His name. May we care for what God cares, and may we have God wrought into us and even written on us so that we may intrinsically and organically become part of the New Jerusalem!
Seeing a Vision of the Central Matter in the Lord’s Recovery: Christ and the Church
Returning to the orthodoxy of the church to be the church in Philadelphia, the church that God desires and causes Him to return quickly, is not for its own sake; the purpose of returning to the orthodoxy of the church is so that, after 2000 years, the Lord would have a way to fulfill the desire of His heart.
The Lord wants to gain the reality of the Body of Christ expressed in the local churches so that the Bride would be prepared and He would return.
In order for us to not only come back to the orthodoxy of the church but also to be for the fulfillment of God’s heart’s desire, we need to see the central vision of God’s economy, which is to experience Christ as life for the producing and building up of the church as the Body of Christ (see Acts 26:19; Eph. 3:10; 1 Tim. 1:4; Col. 3:4; Eph. 1:22-23).
The Body of Christ is the intrinsic significance of the church; it is the Body of Christ that gives the church its meaning, and apart from the Body, the church has no meaning. This is the central vision.
We need to see a vision of the central matter in the Lord’s recovery today, which is the vision in Paul’s completing ministry (see Eph. 1:17-18). Paul could not be disobedient to the heavenly vision; what he spoke, wrote, and did was under the governing of this vision (Acts 26:19).
When brother Nee saw and spoke concerning the Body of Christ, he wrote extensively concerning the outward practices of the church life in books such as The Normal Christian Church Life, and, Church Affairs. However, many Christians pay more attention to the outward practices than to the experience of Christ as life for the producing of the church as His Body, His expression.
The Lord is looking for a group of believers who live in their spirit, deny their natural life, live by the law of life, and are transformed into the Lord’s image to be built up into His Body (see 1 Cor. 2:11-15; Rom. 8:2; 12:2, 4-5).
For us to be such ones, we need to see the central vision of Paul’s completing ministry.
We don’t merely need to be active in the meetings but have a rich portion of enjoyment of Christ, experience Christ, contact Him, deal with Him day after day so that we may be filled with Him and have a portion of Christ to bring to the church meetings to share with one another by releasing our spirit (Col. 1:12-13; 1 Cor. 14:26).
This is what it means to have a proper meeting under the controlling vision of God’s economy.
Paul’s ministry was to complete the divine revelation of God’s New Testament economy, that is, the Triune God in Christ as the life-giving Spirit producing the members of Christ for the constituting and the building up of the Body of Christ, that the Triune God may have a full expression—the fullness of God—in the universe. (Collected Works Witness Lee, 1982, vol. 1, p. 53)
The central matter in the Lord’s recovery today is the central vision of the apostle Paul’s ministry, which is God in us as our contents, Christ as the mystery of God, and the church as the mystery of Christ.
We need to put aside our natural concepts – no matter how religious, ethical, devotional, spiritual, holy, or pious they are, and be constituted with and focused on the central vision.
In His recovery today the Lord is seeking to recover the all-inclusive Christ as the life-giving Spirit who imparts Himself into us to make us His Body, His organic expression on earth.
The center of the Lord’s recovery today is nothing else but Christ and the church, and the primary goal of the Lord’s recovery is the recovery of the central vision of Paul’s completing ministry.
Hallelujah, the center of the Lord’s recovery is Christ and the church – Christ as the embodiment and mystery of God, and the church as the expression and mystery of Christ! This is the central lane in the Bible, and this focuses on what God desires to obtain today.
Thank You Lord for the central matter in the Lord’s recovery today, which is the central vision of Paul’s ministry: Christ and the church. Praise the Lord, God is in us as our contents, Christ is in us as the mystery and embodiment of God, and we are the church as the expression and mystery of Christ. Lord, bring us into the center of the Lord’s recovery: Christ and the church. Keep us in the central lane of Paul’s completing ministry – Christ and the church!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ron K. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1981, vol. 1, pp. 98-112, 171-192, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 9 (week 9), The New Jerusalem — the Consummation of the Central Vision of God’s Economy and of the High Peak of the Divine Revelation through the Overcomers, Who Return to the Orthodoxy of the Church.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Then John…. saw the vision of the New Jerusalem, / Well, it’s God…. dispensed and God built into men, / We need a vision so we open to the Lord, / Seeking revelation in the Holy Word, / Turning to the spirit for the building of the church, / The church is the fullness of the One. / (Ephesians one: twenty-three) (new song on the vision of God’s building)
# Remove the veils, Lord, from my heart; / True revelation grant to me; / A vision clear, O Lord, impart / Of Thy recovery. (Hymns #1220)
# The Lord has put me in the church life, / Christ and the church, His image to express; / He’s chosen me according to His purpose, / And won’t be satisfied with something less. (Song on Christ and the church)
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