Christianity 201

August 9, 2011

Is Heaven and The New Jerusalem One and the Same?

While the blog The Pursuit of the Deeper Truth and Proper Christian Experience has a rather long title, and a bias toward the writings of Witness Lee and Watchman Nee, here at Christianity 201, we’re an equal opportunity blog with a bias toward anything that gets us thinking and studying.  In today’s spiritual climate, there is much interest in heaven and the afterlife, and it’s so easy to hear a phrase like “New Jerusalem” and rush to the conclusion “New Jerusalem = Heaven.”  Thomas Marvin sees each differently and clarifies that with this post originally titled Heaven or the New Jerusalem — Is There a Difference?

“And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)

 Fundamentally Different, Not Just a Matter of Semantics

Many people unintentionally, mistake the New Jerusalem for heaven. When I was a child, I remember singing a song that says:

“I’ve got a mansion just over the hill top
 in that bright land where we’ll never grow old
and some day yonder, we’ll never more wander,
but walk those streets that are paved with gold.”

I may have gotten a few words wrong, but the gist of the song is pretty clear.  That is, that we’re going to heaven—“to that bright land where we’ll never grow old” and “walk those streets that are paved with gold.” However, in aspiring to heaven,  the writer was, in referring to golden streets,  addressing an attribute of the holy city, New Jerusalem.

In the many years since my childhood days of singing that song, I’ve never once read in the Bible where it says that heaven has golden streets. However,  Revelation  21:21, in speaking of the New Jerusalem, does say “the  street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” You can see from this illustration, the thought of heaven having golden streets,  is just one example of the confusion of heaven and the New Jerusalem.

Well, someone may say, “Aren’t they one and the same—heaven and the New Jerusalem? I say heaven. You say New Jerusalem. It’s all about the same.” However, the opening verse I referenced points to a distinction. In Revelation 21:2 it says that the holy city, New Jerusalem is coming down out of heaven. This verse directly indicates a difference, for the New Jerusalem to come down out of heaven indicates that the two expressions are not synonymous.

Then what is the distinction?

Heaven, God’s dwelling (1 Kings 8:50), the place of His throne (Isa. 66:1), and the place where Christ ascended physically after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11)  is no doubt a physical place. However, the New Jerusalem is not a physical place “to which we go” but the greatest sign in the entire Bible (see Rev. 1:1) signifying, God’s spiritual, eternal building of divinity and humanity.  It is the eternal, consummation of all God’s work in humanity throughout the ages, a mingling of God and man to be the mutual dwelling place for both God and all His redeemed people for eternity.

What difference does it make anyway?

 The view you have between the heaven and the New Jerusalem can change your entire Christian life. If your view is that a Christian’s eternal destiny is simply to “go to heaven” when we die, you may feel that as long as you are born again or regenerated, you are basically waiting to go to heaven. In addition, one with this concept might consider their service to God in this age ends with helping as many perishing people as possible to also go to heaven when they die. This heaven or hell gospel has unfortunately caused many a well-intended Christian to miss out on the deeper meaning of their Christian life on earth today. This kind of view of a Christian’s eternal destiny is “locational,” basically a change of place, from earth to heaven, instead of hell.

From Revelation 21:2, however, we can see that the New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  From verses 9-10, we can see that the bride, the wife of Lamb is the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. I’d like to point out again that this city is “out of heaven,” so it is not heaven. Second, I’d like to point out that this city is married to the Lamb, Christ (John 1:29). Such a bride is adorned for her husband (v. 2). This implies that a process of getting ready is necessary. A bride must match her husband, to be his counterpart.

Likewise, we must be “adorned” to marry Christ, to be His corporate counterpart, His wife. Anyone you marry must be “bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh, even as Eve was to Adam (Gen. 2:23). To be bone of Christ’s bones, and flesh of His flesh, we must be the same as Christ in life and nature. We also must grow up in His life unto maturity (Eph 4:13, 15-16). Christ, would be humiliated to marry an immature bride. He would rather wait. Such has been the case for nearly 2,000 years of church history. Christ is waiting for His bride to be prepared.

Where is the bride for Christ to come back for?

So to make my point, the New Jerusalem is not a “locational” matter—a change in location, but an “intrinsic” or “essential” matter—a change of essence or constitution. We’re not just going to the New Jerusalem, we’re becoming the New Jerusalem. To be in the New Jerusalem, one must first become the New Jerusalem.  Through the process of God’s complete salvation—the regeneration of our spirit (John 3:6), the transformation of our soul (Rom. 12:2), and the glorification of our body (Rom. 8:30), we must become the same as Christ in life and nature but not in His Godhead, being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Such a change in essence requires that once we are saved, we cooperate with God’s central work, that is to allow God to work Himself into our entire being (1 Thes. 5:23; Eph. 3:17). Only in this way can we become the proper constituents for the building of Christ’s Body today and of the New Jerusalem for eternity. Only in such a way can we be Christ’s bride, adorned for our dear Husband.

How is this Bride-city being prepared today?

In between the type of Adam and Eve, the first couple, in Genesis 2:18-23 and the fulfillment of this type, in the eternal couple in Revelation 21-22, we have the process of preparation in Ephesians 5:25-32. Here we can see the church, for whom Christ died in the past (v. 25), being sanctified in the present (v. 26), and presented to Christ,  as His glorious bride in the future (v. 27). If we see that our eternal destiny is to become Christ’s bride, the holy city, the New Jerusalem, we will not foolishly waste our precious time today. Rather we will redeem every day to pursue Christ (Phil. 3:12), to gain Him and be found in Him (vv. 8-9) and to be sanctified by Christ, by enjoying the daily washing of the water in His word (v. 26). In this way we will be daily renewed (2 Cor. 4:16) to become as “new” as the New Jerusalem.

Such a life of redeeming the time, by understanding what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:15-18), will bring us onward to God’s eternal goal and cause us to daily live a bride-preparing life, a life of preparing ourselves to become Christ’s bride, the New Jerusalem,  for our eternal marriage.

I believe, I’ve made my point, that is, that we need to be spiritually preparing today for our coming marriage to Christ. For those who still have some concerns about believers going to heaven, and how that fits with the New Jerusalem, Witness Lee does a better job than I can of addressing the matter in chapter 18 of his book, The Church as the Body of Christ.

26 Comments »

  1. Very good post. I believe this is the kind of eschatology that we need more of: one that starts from the inside and goes out. Daily renewal and sanctification must match and parallel our expectation of the coming of Christ.

    Comment by Clark Russell — August 10, 2011 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  2. Some good points made here – requires a bit more thought and maybe a re-think.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — August 12, 2011 @ 4:32 am | Reply

  3. @meetingintheclouds What do you think he means by becoming the new jerusalem as opposed to going to it?

    Comment by Clark Russell — August 19, 2011 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  4. Nice discussion,but I you like to be 100% sure about the New Jerusalem, how and when visit: http://www.spiritword.org.za and be forever changed. All the Glory, Honour and Praise be to Him, the Ever Living Son of the Most High God, forever and ever.
    The disciples of Jesus motion to Him about the great stones andd buildinds where they were passing by. Jesus answerd,” break down this temple (refering to the building they though was of importance) and I will rise up this Temple (His body) after 3 days.
    Here’s the revelation, ‘dont you know that you [your body] ARE (not will be) the temple of God? 1Corin 6:19. The New Jerusalem, the City on the hill, the Bride, the Mountain of the Lord IS the CHURCH. Rev 21. The Light in the City (Church or Us) is God’s Light, the Glory of the Lord, God Himself. John 1:1-9 The Word which is the Light of the world came to enlighten us, those who received Him.1 John1:12 Jesus later said you/we are the Light of the world, we are the Salt of the earth, we ARE the city, on the hill that cannot be hidden. So let your Light shine that all people give Glory unto God.
    Isaiah 60:1-2 Isaiah Prophecied about the coming Light which is the coming of the Christ. Christ our Light came died and rose from the grave and is now seated at the Righthand of God our Father in His Temple, which is us, the Church of Jesus Christ, Zion the Holy City, the Bride of the Lamb where He Dwells and Live forever more.

    Comment by Rick — August 24, 2011 @ 4:26 am | Reply

  5. Indeed, God is building the Great City and we are that City. We are being built together by the Spirit to be a place of rest for our Lord. Heaven is simply the dwelling place of God, and we are being made into His dwelling place. When God makes the new heavens and the new earth, heaven and earth will be combine into one and we will live on earth as the expression of God and all creation will express His glory.

    Comment by Peter — August 24, 2011 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

  6. @Peter So all that being said, why is the description of the New Jerusalem so detailed? There’s got to be some significance to each descriptor if it’s not actually a literal city.

    For example, why are there 12 gates? Why are they pearls? Why are there 3 gates on each wall? Why not one gate on each wall? I could go on and on…

    My point is, if, as you all say, the New Jerusalem is actually us, actually the church, that brings up a whole lot of important questions.

    @Rick, you seem to have a lot of answers. What is the significance of the 12 pearl gates?

    Comment by Clark Russell — August 25, 2011 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

    • There is indeed significance to each descriptor, although I have not studied them in great detail. Some resources that do describe what they symbolize are Frank Viola’s “From Eternity to Here” and Witness Lee’s “The Divine Economy”. If you are interested in the significance of the numbers, I would suggest Watchman Nee’s “Aids to Revelation”. If I recall correctly the pearls signify something costly, symbolizing the suffering involved in producing them. If you want assurance that the materials are important, you will find similar materials in the Garden of Eden, Solomon’s Temple, and New Jerusalem. Each one has some differences in order show some difference between them.

      Comment by Peter — August 25, 2011 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Clark!!! The author of this article was not clear about the LITERAL ITEMS that John, the Revelator, describes. I was wondering the same thing! If New Jerusalem is in fact, just a figurative notion (meaning the Bride of Christ—us), then why would John’s description be so incredibly literal as he describes real items: 12 GATES, STREETS made of PEARLS, Walls made of JASPER, etc?? These are real items, not a figment.

      Comment by Hadassah — January 4, 2012 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

      • Hadassah, I think you might have misconstrued the intent of my question. It was not rhetorical. I’m fully convinced that the NJ is not a literal city.

        I’d refer you to another post: http://newjerusalem12.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/new-jerusalem-is-a-sign-full-of-spiritual-significance/

        The point I was trying to make is, go deeper. Ask tough questions like: Why pearls for gates? Are pearls found elsewhere in the Bible? In what context? How is a pearl made? What is the meaning of a pearl being the entrance to the city? This is much more than a vague, figurative notion. It’s a window through which to glimpse the ultimate consummation of the Bible and God’s eternal purpose.

        I don’t want to make literal/non-literal an issue of division, but I have gotten a lot of practical help in my daily life from the New Jerusalem. It’s become much more than a destination.

        Comment by Clark Russell — January 4, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

      • I glad to see that the conversation is still going on about the New Jerusalem. In my opinion, it is the most important part of Scripture. I do want to give you another thought, Hadassah. What would God care about describing a literal city in such detail? God’s eternal purpose is to have His Image expressed and His authority exercised and that is what the New Jerusalem is. It is the culmination of God’s eternal purpose and it is the mingling of God and Man to be this Bride City, the House of God. If you want to understand the symbols and numbers involved, you have to trace them throughout Scripture. Indeed, the construction materials are present in the Garden of Eden and you can see the imagery that is used in the New Jerusalem throughout the Bible. Even if the New Jerusalem was a physical city, that would be inconsequential, because God’s real desire is to display Himself through a Corporate Man, the Corporate Christ. It is such a beautiful city when you see it with spiritual eyes and help build it by faith. :)

        Comment by Peter — January 4, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

  7. For everyone’s information, the author of the post I used in this particular edition of C201 followed up a few days later with some additional thoughts:

    http://thomasmarvin.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/genesis-2-1-corinthians-3-and-revelation-21-22%E2%80%94enjoying-god-to-build-with-precious-materials/

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 25, 2011 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  8. @Clark, well yes you correct to say that there are many more hidden about the New Jerusalem, and many unanswered question you may have. What many preachers and bible scholars miss is that the book of Revelation cannot be interpreted litterally, but prophetically. We john was on the isle of Patmos the Lord showed him vissions and what he saw he wrote down. Example: the 7 candle sticks he saw, the dragon that was cast down, the Scroll that was written on both sides, the 7 seals and ofcause the New Jerusalem, it all has a significant meaning. This subject can be long and is very interesting/enlightening at the same time. If I should conclude the book of Revelation in one sentence it be: Revelation 1:1. I quote, John writes, ”[This is the revelation of Jesus Christ] which God shown unto john his servant by an angel of things soon to come.”
    Revelation REVEALS Jesus Christ…………….. Not end times, or dooms day or anti- Christ.
    Just to answer your questio about the 12: Like said we are New Jerusalem, so what does the 12 gates signifies? Remember there where 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 Apostles that aswers the 24 elders who fell down and worshiped Him. Ephesians 2:14 Says we are one new man, no more the 2 groups. We are a new generation, a Christ Generation. The Gates are always open, lets us open mouths and give Praises unto Him. By Paising Him we keep the Gates open, so that the nations bring their offering unto the Lord.[ The wealth of the nations are stored up for the Righteous Prov13]Any nation that not bring his offering will not receive any rain.Revelation
    So if the other nations or the unbelievers must bring their offering through the Gates, then the New Jerusalem cant be in Heaven either, here on this earth where mankin lives.

    Comment by Rick — August 26, 2011 @ 4:05 am | Reply

  9. Inside The New Jerusalem is a flowing o River of Live and inside and on the side of the river are trees. And the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. Rev 22:2
    Psalm 1 You shall be like a tree that is planted …….. who’s leave are green……..
    [you shall lay your hands on the sick and the will get well.
    Be Blessed

    Comment by Rick — August 26, 2011 @ 4:17 am | Reply

  10. Great responses! Thanks. This definitely deserves more study. Good recommendations.

    Its interesting what you say about the gates. And Peter, speaking of Eden, one time, I noticed this verse in Genesis 3. When God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden, He put a flaming sword and a cherubim there to guard the entrance. But reading it closer, it said about the sword that it “turned in every direction.” But now at the end of the Bible the gates are facing in every direction instead of a flaming sword.

    Interesting, huh?

    Comment by Clark Russell — August 26, 2011 @ 7:09 am | Reply

  11. @Clark: Yes brother you right, the flaming sword was placed their to prevent Adam and Eve to re-enter the Eden. Just have a closer look, the flaming sword was actually placed to protect the Way to the Garden [Gen 3:24] not the Garden it self. If Adam and Eve could have found the Way they would have had access to the Garden. Therefore because of their sin, they lost their Way [including all mankind] back to God. The special place [Eden] where God chose to meet with man. Thats why Jesus came to show us the Way back to God. Jesus said, ” I Am The Way, the Truth……….. no one can come to the Farther except by Me. John10 Jesus said I Am the Door!
    And so the list goes on……….

    Comment by Rick — August 27, 2011 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

  12. Paul, thanks for writing. And thanks to all for insightful comments. There are so many sentences here that I really like. One of them: New Jerusalem is not a change of location but a change of essence. Lord, wash us today with the water in Your living word.

    Comment by Don — December 8, 2011 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

  13. […] is the title of a post on Holding to Truth in Love—Eph. 4:15. It was reposted with the title “Is Heaven and The New Jerusalem One and the Same?” on Christianity 201. Both posts are followed by enlightening […]

    Pingback by Heaven or the New Jerusalem—Is there a Difference? « New Jerusalem – A Biblical View — December 8, 2011 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  14. I believe what you have written is right, I have the gift of being able to see through what I am looking at and understanding what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me, I write it all down each day and he guides me, he looks at me three ways: The Bride (asleep, now awake), Wife: His feet are my feet, flesh of his flesh, His Child. He forfills all my emotional spiritual needs in different ways, he is my father, my husband, my husband to be and he says that I have become a living example of the New Jerusalem, if he hadnt of said it I truly wouldnt have believed it, we are the New Jerusalem, living breathing, here to help others, we are healing trees planted to heal the nations, we are the fruition, we wear his crown, we are the fofillment of the promise and we need to be able to “hear him” every day of our lives, the Bible is full of people who communicated with God on adaily basis we need to take that as a very strong hint at his desire to have a close relationship with us, to know he has waited all eternity to be with us and that he is our other half, we were never meant to be alone, he is our strength and he promises to stay beside us for eternity, to never leave us, he wants to put his Bride on show, he wants to show eternity his beautiful creation, he created time to do that, he is proud of his bride, he carved us, he can say it better in his own words (inspired by the Holy Spirit), here they are:

    know I present time as one of my creations, I am proud of it, Its how I can hold you, how we can be together, how I can shine my light on you. Know that I am looking at the time and can see it all layed out before me, I know where everything is and where I need to place everybody so I can hold them the closest, so I can show them my flowers, I want to show you off, I want to show others how proud I am of my Bride, how precious she is to me, how I see her as a perfect sculpture, beautifully carved, I want to present her before all time, I want to put you on show as one of my creations as one I love dearly. My love, know there are good things within your box of provisions, know you are a dear child to me and that you are in my photo album, know that the flowers in the field have your name written on them, know you are the original, my bride, that none are as beautiful as you, keep your head held high, see with new eyes, I carved you and provide for you, what we have is love and beauty.

    I have a carriage, it carries you and it is a stable base for you, know your home is the New Jerusalem and that I make all soft and caring for you. My love, your life is a blank canvas waiting for you to fill it, the colours you use are of your own palette, and they compliment me as we are two halfs of the same, we fit together, know you are unable to create waves with me because we are the same, we are one, have strong confidence in your decisions that they are upright and strongly protected by me, immovable in stature and total protection is given you. You only add beauty, I burn others, not you. So don’t sit static, know I see the details and that you are a sculpture to me, perfectly formed, ancient, designed by me in the distant past as a crown, as a celebration of beauty, know I paint you a picture in words, of the heart of Jerusalem, know you have my total protection, that I hold you in my arms and that my skirt is over you, know an arch covers you and a banner waves above you, my fire is above you and eternity is on your forehead you are sealed and that is secure, locked down and un slipable for I have special grips and security put into place, I want you to know your base is stable and that I provide for you, that there are no shadows lurking under your heart, none to scare you behind, only your own heart with my seal on it, the seal of its maker, I am the eye that sees all, there are no marks on me, I am your provider and I will never forget you, I am your strength and I give you white flowers. I comfort you and provide the best for you, others have seen me and say they are me, but they are not, I am the true wood, the base of your heart and I died on the cross to shine in Glory before all so the smallest, most delicate example of life could be cupped in my hands and lovingly given health and abundance, so all could have a better life in me.

    Know my cross stands as testiment to all as strength in a storm, that my light shines to guide all towards it and that I bring beauty and comfort to those who need to rest in me, I lay out a special cushion for them and welcome them, invite them to let me take the strain and offer hospitality to those who can hear me. I provide for you, no need to plug into me as I have already heated you up and now we are one, seemless, we have become something new together a new installation in my house, you display time, love and provision, beauty, hope and my promises, sorrow from the past and love given to my children, more given to those who need it, they are held extra close and I never let them go, they are my flowers, a planting of beauty a promise, and answer to prayer, they are the forfillment of my promise, they are one with me, my bride. Don’t see the shadows, see the light, it shines extra bright for you this evening, know you are a planting of the Lord, know you are planted to shine brighter, know you are to live, laugh and love, to sparkle and flower, to warm hearts and open doors, know that none could ever take that from you, or make you any less beautiful, none can encroach on our intimate relationship or bring anything not of me into you, know you are my house and that I designed you to grow in beauty. Know I bring a fresh breeze and that it has me in it, know it is sealed with the cross and that you can see my label on it. Know your feet are my feet, no matter what you choose to wear and know that I will always be with you.

    I promise to beautify you, know all is quiet, that I am at home in your heart because of your beauty, know we are a team and that I guide your ways and protect you, I illuminate what you need to know and will do so for eternity, know you are naked before me and I see you as you are and that I have waited all time to be with you because we were always meant to be together, you are my other half. You were never meant to be alone, know we are the forfilment of it, now I can hold you in my arms and protect you, you are no harlet, you are perfect in me. I paid the price for you, my feminine bride, I lay a table for you with all the colours of your palette, lets decorate. A tonic for you, see no shadows, your cup is full of life, your path is golden, so step out in my name and stretch your tail feathers, it wont even seem like a step because its your body and was all the time, perfect, neat and beautified by me. Huddle in close I warm you just the right amount and lets walk in nature exposing whats on others tables and showing them love and protection, bringing peace and refreshment, yours is a label they have only partly seen before, now they can see my cross a little clearer, they can reach up and grow in the light.

    Comment by A Bride of Christ — January 2, 2012 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  15. That is the most crazy stream of consciousness I’ve ever read.

    Comment by Clark Russell — January 2, 2012 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

    • I have some automatic email messages that go out after one like that. The poster was told that he/she violated our rule about posting the same comment to multiple parts of the blog, and probably something about us not generally posting “prophetic words.”

      But I left one on for posterity and may have missed others.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 2, 2012 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

    • I agree with you Clark….”Stream of consciousness” is exactly what it sounded like….. I suppose the 1st person, conversational tone was supposed to be Jesus talking to us? Sure, those are things He may say to us. But is this the platform? This is one example of when Jesus said, Matthew 6:7 (NIV)” And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

      ….When you pray, (communicate, exhort) let your words be few.

      Comment by Hadassah — January 4, 2012 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  16. Jesus spoke in parables so those that he could speak to only those he wanted to understand, his parables were full of nature and symobism, he is the same yesturday, today and forever, he is the Father who consists of many layers, you cant expect his words to be flat and plain like the ones we write to each other, they are instead poetic, musical and full of many meanings yet to be revealed at the right time, his words have life in them, my question to you is………..

    Do you know and truly understand just how much Jesus loves all his children, if he could communicate with us today face to face what would he say? As a husband speaks of his love to his Bride, the words are of his passion, his protection, his promises for the future. Im not a Prophet, I simply can see God on every surface, everywhere I look, he is literally everywhere and I just write down what I feel he is telling me through the Holy Spirit, words added to words make sentences, paragraphs and then pages of lovely, completely Biblically correct words of God’s love for his children (and they have been checked by a Vicar already and he is happy they are from the right place and is encouraging me to write a book), we loose some of the “poetic” nature of the Bible in our English translation, he hasnt changed, its just the language I write down the words he gives me are in English, expect symbolism, poetry and many layers within his words to his children. Im sorry to hear you have been confused by them. I believe not all will be, thats why I felt led to place these words on your page, I hope you can find them one day a blessing to you and to those who visit your website. They are a constant blessing to me to be reminded each day that God is everywhere, I can rest entirely in him.

    Comment by A Bride of Christ — January 3, 2012 @ 11:50 am | Reply

  17. […] stats on what you’re posting online.  This year, the 3rd most popular article here was Is Heaven and the New Jerusalem One and the Same, which also got an unusually large number of comments.  At the time in 2011, we noted that the […]

    Pingback by Distinguishing Between Transformation and Sanctification | Christianity 201 — December 30, 2014 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  18. I found this article from a google search and noticed a major, simple error. Although it’s old, in case others find it the way I did, I’d like to set the record straight.

    The central premise in your argument is based on a misunderstanding of the term “heaven” here. Although this is in Greek, it is expressing the concept from the Hebrew, translated in English Bibles in the same way, which is “shamaiyim”, and it has meanings (in different contexts) of BOTH “heaven” in the sense you mean and the sky.

    The “coming down out of” context here clearly indicates the “sky” sense is intended, not the “abode of God”.

    What you have correct is that there is a difference from the current heaven (in the sense of the afterlife realm) and the new creation (which starts after the end of this fallen creation). However, it does seem clear from other context that the current heaven is the New Jerusalem. I used to think it was just that the current heaven is undefined, and that NJ was off-limits, until its future reveal in the new creation (but that NJ is being prepared now). This does NOT require the error about “sky”, notice; that wasn’t my reason. My reason was a statement by Jesus that none had yet seen the Father, and plenty of context says that the Father is in the NJ.

    However, then I noticed that the one thing we know about the present heaven is from Jesus’ statement on the cross to one of the thieves next to him that “today” he would be with Jesus in “paradise”. This word is used only a handful of times and in one of them it says that “paradise” is where the tree of life currently is (it isn’t just a reference to Eden, in other words). And Revelation also makes it clear that the Tree of Life is inside NJ. Ergo, the current heaven is NJ!

    Where does that leave the “seen the Father” passage? Well, in context it actually looks like Jesus just means the Father hadn’t appeared to anyone on Earth. And since Jesus said this while on Earth, to people living there and not in heaven, this would fit perfectly.

    So, the difference apparently is not that NJ and the present heaven are something different, but that NJ is not yet in the new creation (which doesn’t exist yet) and is not yet on earth.

    So in short, there ARE streets of gold in the current heaven after all! (Maybe early Christians figured this out and this may be why we grew up hearing that. I assumed it was an old misinterpretation, but now it appears it is correct.)

    Comment by Researcher — January 19, 2017 @ 1:47 am | Reply

  19. Thank God that someone has posted some truth, thank you “Researcher” (comment 18).

    Even in the simplest context, the New Jerusalem has to be heaven because its the dwelling place of God. “…the tabernacle [dwelling place] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3).

    If the New Jerusalem isn’t heaven, then God is dwelling outside of heaven – clearly ridiculous.

    Comment by GP — December 29, 2017 @ 9:17 pm | Reply


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