THE UPWARD CALL
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
IN CHRIST JESUS.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
#03-0993
New Jerusalem #3.
God’s Dwelling Place
January 23, 2009
New Jerusalem is generally associated with what John was given while in spirit on Patmos, but the fact
of the matter is that Paul actually explains what it signifies. For this reason, I believe it is best to start
with Paul’s revelation and not John’s description of what he saw. As we do this, it will become apparent
that New Jerusalem, as the new creation, is not about literal streets or rivers or trees but about a people.
Just as John was in spirit as he was given such great revelation, so was Paul, except that Paul did not
state he was in spirit but simply that he was snatched away. I believe that it is safe to assume that he too
was in spirit.
(1) If boasting must be, though it is not expedient, indeed, yet I shall also be coming to
apparitions and revelations of the Lord. (2) I am acquainted with a man in Christ,
fourteen years before this, (whether in a body I am not aware, or outside of the body, I
am not aware ― God is aware) such a one was snatched away to the third heaven. (3) And
I am acquainted with such a man (whether in a body or outside of the body I am not
aware ― God is aware) (4) that he was snatched away into paradise and hears ineffable
declarations, which it is not allowed a man to speak. (2 Corinthians 12:1-4 CV)
Paul could not speak forth what he heard, but this does not mean that he never described the revelation
given to him. After all, in seeing the third heaven and paradise, he saw the new creation in Christ which
is referenced in his writings. There is no doubt that Paul saw the same thing that John saw, but Paul’s
vision was of a people, a dwelling place of God. Paul’s city-bride was actually a people in which God
Himself dwells. It is called a holy temple in the Lord and God’s dwelling place in spirit. The city is a
people, not a specific geographical place with bricks and mortar. Consider how Paul describes it in his
Ephesians epistle.
(19) Consequently, then, no longer are you guests and sojourners, but are fellow-citizens
of the saints and belong to God’s family, (20) being built on the foundation of the apostles
and prophets, the capstone of the corner being Christ Jesus Himself, (21) in Whom the
entire building, being connected together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord: (22)
in Whom you, also, are being built together for God’s dwelling place, in spirit. (Ephesians
2:19-22 CV)
Notice how Paul refers to God’s family, the entire building, a holy temple, and a dwelling place. In other
words, he uses metaphors to liken physical structures to people. The people are part of the family as
well as a place in which to reside, a dwelling place for God. This dwelling place begins at the individual
level and grows into a collection of individuals, a family, and, we might add, a body, the body of Christ,
which was a secret revealed through Paul.
(16) Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in
you? (17) If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of
God is holy, and that is what you are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NASB)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB)
The basis for the temple of God is the fact that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the believer, a fact
that Paul testifies to throughout his epistles (Romans 5:5; 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 7:40; 2
Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Galatians 3:2, 5, 14; 4:6; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy
1:14). But it is more than the Holy Spirit simply taking up residence in the believer, for the believer
becomes a temple of the living God. We could say that this is the atomic level of the dwelling of God in
spirit, New Jerusalem.
(16) And what harmony [is there for the] temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of
the living God, just as God said, “I will dwell in them and will walk about [fig., live] among
[them] , and I will be their God, and they will be a people to Me [or, My people] .” [Lev 26:12;
Jer 32:38; Ezek 37:27] (17) For this reason, “Come out from [the] midst of them and be
separated,” says the Lord. “And stop touching [any] unclean [or, defiling] [thing; or, person] ,”
and I will receive you. [Isaiah 52:11; Ezek 20:34, 41] (18) “And I will be to you for a Father,
and you will be to Me for sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” [2 Sam 7:14; Isaiah
43:6; Jer 31:9] (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ALT)
Notice how Paul relied heavily on Hebrew Scripture. The prophets knew that God’s heart was to dwell
among His people and Paul, being a Pharisee, knew this heart. However, Paul revealed that it was more
than this, for God desires to take up residence in His people by His spirit. God’s desire is that His sons
and daughters be a temple of His life, expressing Him in character and nature. His people will inherit all
that His Son inherits, which includes all creation.
By comparing all the above verses with John’s revelation, it is easy to see that they shared the same
vision.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is
among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God
Himself will be among them…. (Revelation 21:3 NASB)
“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My
son.” (Revelation 21:7 NASB)
Clearly, New Jerusalem is about a people coming into sonship, which is God’s ultimate desire for all
mankind. But notice that, with John, the loud voice from the throne states that God will simply
tabernacle among men, not dwell in them. How are we to answer the apparent discrepancy? Actually, it
is not a discrepancy but two sides of the truth. Individually, by His spirit, God takes up residence in His
people, and collectively, that is, all together, He dwells among them. In other words, God is fully
engaged in the affairs and life of His people as a Father to His children. It takes His spirit in each and
every one of His children in order for Him to tabernacle among them.
For this reason, we must join Paul’s vision with John’s vision to have a full understanding of New
Jerusalem.
Consequently, New Jerusalem is not about the individual; but rather, it is about the Father having a
large family that He can call His house or, if you will, His home. It is rather strange that so many of the
Lord’s people have been taught about and are looking for a mansion in the sky, a place in which they
will reside in heaven forever and ever, when God is after one mansion of all His people united together
in His one spirit. God’s mansion is a people, and it is called New Jerusalem.
Isn’t it time for us to desire what God desires and quit looking to what is in it for us? Oh, there is much
in God’s plan for us individually, but it is only on the basis of what God is after and what will satisfy His
heart of love. He is after a family that ultimately will include all mankind. But it will start with those
called and chosen to be joint heirs with His Son in the next eon. Let us join our hearts with the beating
heart of the universe; the very heart of God is love . This is the essence of New Jerusalem.
The Upward Call: #03-0993
by: Stuart H. Pouliot