In my Father’s house are many mansions has been a verse from the gospel of John that has traditionally been interpreted in various ways and manners. It seems many teach and others believe that this particular verse in John 14:2 dictates that everyone will have their own separate mansion, or apartment in heaven. In addition, in John 14 Jesus explains to His disciples that He is going away, and in verse 3 explains that He is preparing a place for them (their supposed mansion) and will come again and receive them, and where He is there they will be also. This latter part of verse 3 many have interpreted as Jesus second coming…. I will come again and receive you to Myself.
Personally, and for good reason, I don’t believe the way or manner that these two verses have been interpreted by well-meaning Christians is correct. I don’t believe that we will have mansions in heaven, nor in this context is Jesus referring to His second coming. I believe in a second coming, however, not according to the context of John 14 verse and chapter.
The reason I’m addressing John chapter 14 is to shed some new light upon what I believe to be what Jesus had intended to teach and attempted to explain to His disciples. I believe that a correct interpretation is needed, not only for John 14, but also John 15 and 16, all, I believe, are most important in terms of how we are to understand what manner Jesus had explained to His disciples that He would be returning to them and what their relationship with Him would be like including their future dialog with Him.
What Jesus had been teaching His disciples in the upper room that day is of the utmost importance, in that, it prepares and defines for us on how we are to have communion and a unique relationship and union with Him after His crucifixion and resurrection. In addition, the level of maturity of our walk is singularly dependent upon our perception and proper interpretation of John’s gospel, and certainly is in accordance with Paul’s statement…. Christ in you the hope of glory.
Jesus – In My Father’s house
In My Father’s house are many mansions (dwelling places); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
I believe that if we are to understand what is meant by In My Father’s house we need to look to the Old Testament and specifically to the Psalms for some insight. For example, the Psalmist said, Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells.
Everyone understands what is meant by a home, or house, certainly in terms of a dwelling place, and specifically, a place where one is comfortable, secure, at rest and where your strength is renewed, a desirable place to return to and to come back to, one’s personal space. We can all appreciate that to be invited into someone’s home is private and individual, and for the most part, is a preferred place to go; we all have had good experiences in our homes or homes of friends. The Psalmists in using figurative language to describe Gods dwelling place, as a house, and was certainly not meant as a physical structure in terms of how one understands it to be architecturally, however, Gods dwelling place, His manifest presence, is ambient, and an atmosphere that many have described, from their own personal experiences, as Gods abode, habitation, or dwelling place. The Psalmists knowing the sweetness of God’s presence knew it to be a desirable place, a good and pleasant place, basically, because God was there, where in your seeking and entering you experience the living atmosphere that is present there, where many have provided us with several words descriptive of their personal experience in God’s presence, e.g. peace, holy, glory etc., yet I’m not sure if the Psalmists experience had been external (upon him) or internal (within him) where most of our supposed experiences many speak as external, i.e. the Lords manifest presence in the assembly. However, Christ in you, the hope of glory, is an internal experience, and I believe in Jesus discourse in John 14 He meant to explain that this would be His new dwelling place, i.e. in the disciples, and them in Him, which was meant to be their normal spiritual daily experience and personal source of strength and grace. Yet I’m not saying, nor taking away from, those who have known His manifest presence in their assemblies, but Christ in us and our abiding in Him, is personal, and more desirable and meant to be our daily experience.
Certainly, we can understand the imagery used by the Psalmists in describing God’s presence as His dwelling place, or abode, a place where His glory is, His house, a place where God is. However, words spoken or written fall indeterminately vague or unclear in attempting, in terms of human vernacular, to explain such a majestic and glorious place and experience, nor from the place it comes, from God, and how glorious it is to be in His presence or for His personal presence communicated to our most inner place, that is in us. Yet we know this place to be good, excellent, and a dwelling posture that is food and strength to our soul and spirit, a place we love to return too, an energizing place, because God is there. Yet as one knows, this is certainly not entering a physical home, or experience, but is a spiritual, or Spirit administered, experience. We come to Jesus who leads us to the Father that we might know Him.
…God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.
In other words, a spiritual place and personal encounter where God in His grace allows His creatures to know Him, invites them too, howbeit at times is short lived, but it is uniquely personal, a most desirable place to return too but difficult to describe. Yet, in Christ, in us, we can know our God, and experience His presence, in each of its variations, e.g. His mercies, grace, love, and peace, to mention only a few of those divine attributes that are revealed to us as we abide in Christ who is in the Father and the Father in Him, whom God has blessed. It is in Him we will know true fruitfulness, for it is of the Spirit and not from us, nor is it known in all our attempts to change our life for the better, but known only in a new and living manner as we dwell in Him, thus we will walk differently in this world. However, these are the things God has hidden in His Son, and unless He gives understanding, knowledge, and reveals them, they remain but a mystery to us. Spiritual understanding is granted to us from God, through His Spirit.
…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened…
As Christians, we need to understand the difference between what is written in the text and what is our own personal experience, i.e. we can say we have grace, because the bible says God gives grace, and this is true, however, to know and experience God’s grace on a daily basis in us, is much different than just having a knowledge of it in the text. One is personal the other indifferent.
Jesus – are many mansions (dwelling places); if it were not so, I would have told you
As previously mentioned, and based upon a miss interpretation of John 14.2, there are many in the Church today who believe that there are mansions waiting for them in heaven. The notion that there are actual mansions in heaven, as real physical places that one might occupy someday, to the discerning mind and spirit is taking this verse to its extreme literal interpretation that I don’t believe Jesus nor the Spirit intended. I heard one popular preacher explained that the more faith you have the closer your mansion will be to the throne of God. Also, I listened to another popular Christian personality tell his audience that Jesus took him into heaven and showed him his mansion with all its furniture, and specifically did Jesus point out to him the designer chairs in his mansion; it just so happens that these same style of chairs were what he had in his home presently. No! Jesus is not our real-estate agent or our interior decorator.
What is more objectionable and disturbing is that many biblical scholars agree with the interpretation of a literal mansion, or as some have suggested an apartment like place, waiting for us in heaven. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. Therefore it is the Spirit who reveals to us what Jesus meant and intended and He reveals them not to the wise but to those who can receive them in a childlike manner, i.e. one who is eager to learn at the feet of Jesus.
If you begin to look through the various versions of the bible the word mansion many times is replaced with dwelling places, which I believe is more reasonable and more in line with both the context of John’s gospel and Jesus intended message. In addition, as Jesus indicated that He was returning to the Father, the Fathers house, after He prepared a place, i.e. His cross, blood, cleansing, and eventually His resurrection, would be returning, through His Spirit, and in this manner His disciples, and those who would believe after, would come to know Him, for now the Spirit, through Christ’s cleansing and blood, can dwell with and in men; recognizing that the veil between the holy and holy of holies has been torn open.
In addition, Paul explains to the Ephesians that it was the Father who raised Jesus up, and in raising Him, He also raised us up and has made us to sit with Him in heavenly places. Therefore, Jesus blood has cleansed the temple, the Spirit sent to dwell in men, and now in Christ, through the Spirit, we have available to us all that God has blessed His Son with, at His resurrection, and as Paul explained, our new dwelling place is in Christ, in heavenly places, therefore we can abide in Him through the Spirit by faith; therefore we can see the importance of a well-nourished faith. Subsequently, Jesus instructed His disciples and us to abide in Him, John in his first letter instructed us to abide in Christ, and Paul explained to the Colossian Church,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
In addition, and in terms of Jesus figurative roles and communal characteristics, the Apostles uses language that helps us to understand the congregational aspects of our new abiding relationship with Him, in terms of our relationship with others who believe, for example as a body, we are His physical members, and spiritually, we are a spiritual temple in Him, constructed of living stones for Gods habitation offering up spiritual sacrifices, and in terms of our relational intimacy, we are His bride; all of which help us to know Him personally who fills all things. Whatever we have now and are blessed with, or in the future, in heaven, God the Father has placed in His Son and through His grace we can share in.
Therefore, whether now or in the future, our evidence of our new dwelling place is given by the Holy Spirit, who dispenses and administrates those things hidden in Christ, and specifically His life,
…the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me…
… if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you…
And, as we abide by faith in Christ, through the Spirit, Jesus explained that He would manifest Himself,
… he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…
Subsequently, Christ life would begin to become most apparent in us,
… a little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.
On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit would come to dwell with men who called upon Jesus name, and would cause the seeking souls to know all aspects of the Life that is in Christ, i.e. His crucifixion, death, and resurrection (resurrection life), thus Gods redemptive plan and activities were accomplished in His Son, not in us, but in His Son, we only know them in Him. Now, all of what God will do for you and I, His many efforts toward us will be in His working to reveal and give spiritual knowledge of the Son who abides in us. Therefore God is working on our behalf for us to continue to abide in Him, by faith; for there is no other place, all is in Christ, if we miss this we miss it all. And so that we might understand, regarding our new place which is much higher and more majestic than what the disciples knew physically with Him, He reveals Himself in a new and living way, in our spirit, via the Holy Spirit, who grants us, through the Fathers Will, those heavenly things and spiritual blessings the Father has both placed and hidden in Jesus His Son. Andrew Murray said it this way,
With the Holy Spirit Christ came down to be with His disciples as really, and more nearly, than when He was with them in the flesh. The abiding nearness and fellowship of Christ, and in Him of God the Father, is the very central blessing of the Kingdom. This experience was what the Holy Spirit at Pentecost made real. The disciples had their Lord with them as consciously as the angels.
Certainly, now we can begin to see what Jesus intended and instructed regarding His going away and returning, and where He was, or is, they would be also. Our dwelling place, not only a future place, would be through the Spirit, in heavenly places, in Christ, and surely in this context is not a future place we would live one day, in our assigned furnished mansions. To assign such an estranged interpretation that is according to this physical temporal world demeans and degrades heavenly things, and the kingdom that God occupies, which certainly speaks to the level of immaturity of those who speak of these things in terms of temporal and physical means.
However, and as mentioned previously, if we are to understand our new dwelling place, and to possess insight, it is a God given spiritual understanding that He grants according to His sovereign Will; He opens our eyes to see, and our ears to hear, His given instructions, thus drawing us to His Son that we might dwell or abide in Him, by faith, where in Him all spiritual blessings are available, in heavenly places, to us, that how we might be equipped to walk in a manner that pleases Him.
Therefore, why is it that we abide, it is for the sole purpose that we might walk differently in this world, i.e. in a manner that fully pleases God. Those who hold to their physical temporal interpretation of mansions have need to go to the Father and ask for Spirit given understanding that they might see and know more profoundly the life that is in them, that they might dwell in Him.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ
Jesus – I go to prepare a place for you
Jesus, in saying He is going to prepare a place for His disciples and returning to them, certainly has nothing to do with His second coming in this context, as many would suggest, but has much to do with our new standing before the Father by His grace, through faith, in Christ; where the Father, through much planning and sacrifice has placed us in Christ, from where our forgiveness, justification, and sanctification come. Some of the verses in scriptures that speak to Jesus preparatory work are as follows:
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled (re united) to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
In addition to His blood and its worth to the Father in His work of reconciliation, Jesus death and resurrection were also preparatory. The scriptures below capture and highlight some of what had been accomplished by the Father through Jesus.
Died to sin… baptized into Christ death, buried through baptism into His death… walk in newness of life… united in likeness of His death… likeness of His resurrection…old man was crucified with Him… Died to the law, married to another… serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter…no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus… law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death…
Jesus life, death, and resurrection prepared us for our new dwelling place in Him. In other words, united with Him in a death like His, united with Him in a resurrection like His, that we might now live with and in Him in the newness of life. The Father, through the Son, prepared a place for all of us, who believe, in that now we can know all things He has placed and given in His Son,
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things…
Jesus, the perfect sacrifice according to the Law of Moses would enter into the Fathers kingdom with His own blood (i.e. the Holy of Holies). Jesus sacrifice upon Gods prepared altar would be a final cleansing of sins, i.e. the remission of our sins by His blood and justification by God’s grace, and His cross for the crucifixion of the flesh.
In the Old Testament, in accordance with Jewish Levitical laws, the High Priest had to prepare himself before he could go into the most Holy place, in the temple, where once a year, sprinkled with the blood of animals and with much law assigned meticulous preparation could the High Priest, on the day of atonement, go into the Holy of Holy, the place where God would accept his offerings and reveal a measure of Himself, specifically a measure of His glory. The temple, a “type” of entering into Gods dwelling place, His presence and kingdom, in heavenly places, God had prepared Jesus Christ, His perfect sacrifice, to enter in by His own blood, into the Holy of Holies, and after entering in Jesus sat down at the Fathers right hand as our High Priest and means to enter.
Jesus Cross, Death, and Resurrection prepared a new dwelling place for us all, in the Fathers house…to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood… and now, in this new position, in Christ, Jesus would reveal Himself in a new and living way; one that the disciples would only begin to recognize as the Holy Spirit took residence in them and began to reveal Jesus to them. We need to recognize the exceptional place God has placed us, in that, it is in heaven, at His right hand, and the holiest of all holiness, in Christ, God has concealed us. If we were not hidden in Him and would somehow come out from in Him, and in the light and holiness of God all our ugliness would be exposed.
God the Father has imputed Christ redemptive events to our account, by His grace, through faith, which we now stand in and maintain and experience the results and power of those events in terms of saving our soul, our sanctification, and in terms of our new position before God, in Christ. Not only have these God given redemptive events been accredited to us, but also, now we can walk in newest of life, that life that proceeds from Christ, in whom we can now live and walk, as we abide, thus walking in a manner that pleases God.
By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Jesus – I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also
In the disciples immediate future the Father would raise them up with Christ, at His resurrection, and He made them to sit with Him in heavenly places, where the realization of their new God given position in Christ would be understood as a spiritual state, internal, one that would consistently and gradually be revealed to them, and as God drew them to His Son, through the Holy Spirit, they would mature in their relationship and communion with Him, in union with Him, and in this manner, Gods redemptive work is completed, and what Adam knew in the garden had been restored to man. Jesus receives us into where He is at the Fathers right hand in the kingdom where we sit, in Him, and can now partake of those things eternal, redemptive, life giving.
In this redemptive plan Jesus had graciously agreed, beforehand, before the foundations of this world were laid, to share with men, those who would believe in Him, He agreed to share with us His Spirit, His many blessings, take us to Himself, as our new dwelling place, in Him, where in like manner, He was in the Father and shared in His Fathers life. On the earth Jesus suffered; shed His blood for the justification of many. However, in heaven, He shares all His many blessings with us, Jesus most graciously and unselfishly welcomes all to dwell with Him, there are many dwelling places provided by the Father, and certainly, in all who dwell with Him, no matter the number, never can deplete these blessings nor in our sharing and knowing the Fathers love in Christ, can dim the light of the Fathers love in Christ.
Jesus explaining to His disciples that He was going away, however, He would return to them, where the proof and evidence of His returning is manifold, and is of the Spirit, and in this context in Johns gospel, is certainly not His second coming as mentioned, but as contained within the context of John gospel chapters 14 to 16 Jesus would return by His Spirit to His disciples and reveal or manifest Himself to them.
No longer would the disciples know Jesus as they had in a visual, audible, physical manner but God prepared a new and living way, a new position for us, and our means to know His Son, and have access to the Father. A new relationship, one that would be more intimate than what the disciples previously knew of Jesus physically, in that they saw and heard Him, however, now they would know Him in a more intimate manner, in union with Him, in union with the Word and the content of His heart in receiving them from the Father and in His giving them to us, i.e. His heart and Spirit, and by His Spirit, He would work to this end, that we might know from whence come His passions, His strength, His love, and that is, in the Father, and the Father in Him. John Owen,
….although it was a great privilege to have known Christ in this world after the flesh, yet it was much greater to enjoy him in the dispensation of the Spirit. And this was spoken by the apostle, as the ancient’s judge, to rebuke the boasting of some about their seeing the Lord in the flesh, who were thereon called desposunoi, whom he directs unto a more excellent knowledge of him. It is in vain pretended that it was the apostles only, and it the knowledge of Christ is now after the Spirit. In that the disciple possessed knowledge of Jesus after the flesh now would require a new and living knowledge of Him in the dispensation of the Spirit. They would have to know Him anew, not physical but spiritual…. Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more…
I believe that in Christ is the New Testament place where Gods presence is found. Where it had been external, and known only in the Old Testament temple, a place where God would periodically reveal something of Himself now reveals Himself, in His Son, in a human temple. In Christ, we have a perfect demonstration of the Fathers Will toward us, in a man, in His fullness; He would reveal His mercy, grace, and love, not to mention His power that every man could see in what manner and way His presence would be with a man, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. For example, Jesus had explained to His disciples … Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me…? And when He said…if you have seen Me you have seen the Father….This new union, internal relationship, and communion that Jesus knew with His Father, in turn, in Him, men would know in like manner communion with both the Father and the Son, in Christ.
In the gospel of John Jesus had used language that the disciples might understand in describing the relationship He knew and enjoyed with His Father, the place from where it came, and He was going back to, and the position and manner He would enter and would purchase for them and return; recognizing that while on earth He maintained His relationship with the Father in that He humbled and emptied Himself, trusted, believed, and was faithful and single minded and heart toward His Father, that He might demonstrate to us all how we are to maintain our new position in Him, and with the Father.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit communicates the Lords life to us, and in us, because we are now in Christ, who is in the Father. To substantiate this we need to ask, what had been Jesus experience, what have we read, and what had been His testimony. He unquestionably knew His Father, in union with Him, in a most intimate and personal manner, which had been the source of all He said, accomplished, and was acceptable to the Father; and why would they not be acceptable, they were from the Father, from where they originated.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? …The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
Jesus explaining, that He is in the Father and the Father in Him, and later in John’s gospel, Jesus says something particularly extraordinary and most astonishing and certainly the carnal mind cannot grasp or comprehend, and surely is transformational in terms of our worship of God, how we walk upright, and in terms of our obedience, where Jesus had said something, that day, that is of the highest possible blessing one can ever know. Jesus said for the first time to His disciples… and I in you…in other words…. I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
Christians do not need more sermons, or shallow and superficial teachings, nor books to study and read, but we have a dire need for our God to grant us insight, that the eyes of our heart might be enlighten to the fact, knowledge, understanding, and experience that Christ is in us, who is the hope of glory, and in whom we can abide. In the upper room Jesus reveals to 11 men something that I’m sure, as the angles in heaven were listening to, were on their faces glorifying God for His wisdom and plan toward men, and for what Jesus had just told the disciples, that is, that He would be in them.
Jesus – that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
When Jesus instructed His disciples, He explained that there would be ways and manners that the world would know that they were in Him, i.e. that He had returned to the disciples, had not left them as orphans, He was with the Father, and His Spirit was sent, Jesus explained,
…that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me…that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
There had been a lot riding on Jesus words in regards to what the world would or would not believe, and in terms to whether the Father sent Him and loved Him, and as Jesus indicated, it had been dependent upon the disciple’s unity, and in this unity or oneness, they would know a perfection- however disunity, separation, division and segregation fly’s in the face and is proof that the Church is not in Christ as they should be. Unity is a sign of maturity, unity is realized in abiding.
First the Church must allow Gods kingdom to come, and His Will be down, in their personal earth, in us, then it will most naturally begin to rule and reign in the Earth. If the Church is ever to realize some semblance of unity it has to be realized in Christ, and certainly one cannot systematically organize it as many have tried. To simply possess a knowledge that we are in Christ is not enough, each of us has to possess a God given insight that we are in Christ and He is in the Father and Trinity unity will most naturally, and effortlessly, become ours in that we would be in Him and He in us.
Jesus comes to us in many roles, e.g. as the bridegroom for His bride, as the Head of His body, the one who is the single authority over His body the Church and in whom all would be gathered in a unique and unprecedented unity where love would be its constitution and governing force, and as a good Shepard attending to His sheep fending off any intruders, in addition, we see Him Jesus walking amongst the lampstands (His churches), and in many other Spirit given manifestations after His resurrection. We understand that Jesus is not in the grave, nor had He been left in Hades, but as Peter indicated and proclaimed, Jesus had been resurrected, where the proof that He has risen, is the Holy Spirit coming to us, as Peter said, He (Jesus) poured out this which you now see and hear. Peter announces to the Jews on Pentecost,
Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear…
In addition, we read of Jesus ascending back into heaven where He sits down next to the Father on His throne until the Father puts all His enemies under His feet as a footstool. After Jesus had prepared a place for His disciples He explained that He would come and receive them to Himself. However, the manner He would receive them was certainly not something they could have guessed or expected, and I’m sure is how many today have interpreted these same words and that is, one day Jesus would return and receive us, and they would be with Him in heaven after they die. But the context is wrong for an interpretation of His second coming in that manner, and does not mesh well with all the other things Jesus explained in the chapter or preceding chapters. Nor does the second coming interpretation in the gospel of John fit with the Apostles other teachings of Christ in you, e.g.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law… rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith… For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily… and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power… buried with Him in baptism… He has made alive together with Him… Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way…He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked…Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him…
Apart from divine revelation, granted to us by God, we will never know Jesus in the new manner He had been teaching, i.e. Jesus would no longer be with us physically, but spiritually, through the Holy Spirit who would dwell in us. Jesus explained in John 14 that through the Holy Spirit He would abide in them, and as He explained in John 15 that their fruit would be the evidence that He was in them and they in Him, not personal change, but fruit, His fruit that proceeds from His life in them and us. If there is any fruit, it has come from the Vine, in that we persistently abide. If there is any good we find in us, know it proceeds from Jesus, because there is nothing good in us apart from Him
Initially, after His resurrection, the disciples would understand Jesus coming to them in terms of external works, grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit that had been upon them. However, as we begin to read many years later, in their letters of those things that had been a mystery and hidden. Whereas the Father begins to unveil His Son and the Apostles message begins to change where, and probably for good reason in that many assemblies lacked maturity and holiness, they would begin to understand the new life forming in them, the life of Christ, and in their personal progress and maturity in union and relationship with this life, realized that it is the answer in terms of both the unity of the Church and its maturity.
For example, Paul’s writing to the Galatian church explained that it pleased the Father to reveal Christ in Him. Also Paul speaks of Christ in him the hope of glory, and in another letter speaks of, not I who live, but Christ lives in me. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he compares the gifts of the Spirit, primarily external manifestation, with the love of God, in Christ, internal manifestation. To illustrate Paul draws a comparison between a child and a mature believer where a more mature believer has this revelation and subsequent faith in that the love of God, in Christ, begins to be the rule in them (abide in my love) where His love is characterized by certain behaviors (I Corinthians 13…love is…). God’s love shared and communicated is the measuring stick and treasure sought after, through the Spirit, and certainly is our evidence that Christ is in us, and we are in Christ, and maturing. Initially gifts, later love. The gifts were building and increasing the Church; however Gods love would the mark and evidence of its maturity, His love as the governmental rule in each heart realized in Him. Paul, according to His God given revelation of the Church writes,
that He (God) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Recognize that divisions in the Church are a sign of its immaturity, its carnal thinking and spiritual ignorance. Doctrinal differences exist only because the Church does not know the Love of God, in Christ, as their rule and governing constitution in their hearts. God love requires no other governing officiate, because by its nature, love can do its neighbor or brother no harm. Certainly this love is not intellectual, but communicated by God through His Spirit, and truly is a fruit of our fellowship with the Son and Father of all light. Love unites, knowledge separates where we see in Paul word that the love of Christ passes knowledge. John explains in his letter,
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
We recognize that Gods love (Agape) is what unites the Trinity, in that they are one and perfect in it. By its nature exists light and no darkness. Gods Agape is what governs His kingdom; all heavenly creatures have it in their hearts and it rules both their approach to God and their actions in His kingdom. In like manner the Father, in Christ, shares His love with the Church (abide in my love) and in like manner that His love unites His kingdom will most naturally unite Jesus Church. When Gods people seek to know Him, the benchmark that they are truly maturing in their faith will be the love of God in them in that they are abiding in the Son. This love cannot divide the Church nor can any act unbecomingly, because Gods love is holy and pure.
To begin the final thoughts let me quote a paragraph from A.W. Tozer book, Born After Midnight where Tozer provides his reader with some sobering words,
The most godly Christian is the one who knows himself best, and no one who knows himself will believe that he deserves anything better than hell. The man who knows himself least is likely to have cheerful if groundless confidence in his own moral worth. Such a man has less trouble believing that he will inherit an eternity of bliss because his concepts are only quasi-Christian, being influenced strongly by chimney-corner scripture and old wives tales. He thinks of heaven as being very much like California without the heat and the smog, and himself as inhabiting a splendiferous palace with all modern conveniences, and wearing a heavily bejeweled crown. Throw in a few angels and you have the vulgar picture of the future life held by the devotees of popular Christianity. This is the heaven that appears in the saccharin ballads of the guitar-twanging rockabilly gospellers that clutter up the religious scene today. That the whole thing is completely unrealistic and contrary to the laws of the moral universe seems to make no difference to anyone. As a pastor I have laid to rest the mortal remains of many a man whose future could not but be mighty uncertain, but who before the funeral was over nevertheless managed to get title to a mansion just over the hilltop. I have steadfastly refused to utter any word that would add to the deception, but the emotional wattage of the singing was so high that the mourners went away vaguely believing that in spite of all they knew about the deceased everything would be all right some bright morning.
Jesus is risen, glorified, set above all things and sitting at the Fathers right hand and we have been made alive with Him, made to sit with Him in heavenly places, our new dwelling place is in Him, therefore I would say that this new dwelling place is certainly higher, more regal and majestic, grander, and considerable more desirable than any imagined fully furnished apartment or mansion in ones future heaven, as some suggest and many believe today. Certainly is this new dwelling place a permanent fixture in heaven for us, one we will know throughout the ages to come as Paul explains,
And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One). He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, because these things are true we ought to give much attention to abiding where God has powerfully placed us, and as we have been taught, that we are now in Christ and He is in us, and as we have been called upward by Jesus Himself, let us allow the Holy Spirit to instruct and mentor us in what the truth of our abiding or new dwelling place in all its actualities is and what is means to all of us here and now and in the future heavens. Is the Spirit working in each of our lives to look for Jesus, to know all of His glory and beauty that will continued to be revealed to us through eternity or is the Spirit working in us to look forward to our fully furnished mansion in the sky, you decide.
John’s in his gospel, recorded that Jesus had explained to His disciples in what way He would be returning to them, and in what manner they would see Him, though the world would not see Him any longer but they would. In other words the disciples would begin to know and understand Him in a most unique and new living presence, that is in them, and His availability to them would not end with His death however, even after His resurrection and His subsequent appearing to them in various and specific events prior to His ascension, that after His ascension, they would continue to have access to Him, unto knowing Him in a most intimate manner. For all that He was, and all that He is now, present in heavenly places, would be available through the Holy Spirit, a new access that certainly they would not have guest, nor imagined, or had entered their minds. Beginning at the new birth and continuing on into a future heavenly kingdom.
This new access would require regeneration, a renewal or rebirth within their spirit; i.e. they would be made alive as the Holy Spirit came to and in them to dwell. Jesus had explained that He would come again, and where He is they would be also. Jesus also explained that because He lives they would live also. They would be with Him and in Him through the Spirit and they would know the eternal life that is in the Father and was also in Jesus, a life that is far and above the physical breath of life that was in them; the eternal life of the Father they would begin to know in them, now alive in their inner most places. Therefore they would know, acknowledge, and testify that Jesus words were realized, that is, they not only saw Him, but they also know Him, because the eternal life that is in Him now is in them, He lives and now they live also, alive with Him in newness of life.
As Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples they would begin to know Him in a more intimate and personal manner than they had known Him physically face to face, e.g. they would know His heart, His mind, intent and passions He had for and toward His Father, and His Fathers will. They would begin to know His many spiritual blessings, e.g. His many graces; a peace that is above understanding, and a love beyond mere knowledge, His power, and strength would be in them, as they remained in Him. Now, in Him we are also privileged, by God’s grace and mercies, to share in all the Father has given in Christ.
However, to know that Jesus is in us and to know Him personally, profoundly, to commune and fellowship with Him, and to know a union with Him much like a bride to her husband, our God has to grant these things to us, i.e. He is in control we are not, thus we are continually dependent upon Him.
Therefore God works to this end, that we would desire this new relationship knowing that this desire is not naturally in us, but is God’s work. In addition, God works that we would be willing to sacrifice our life a new life in Christ, consequently, God grants His things according to His sovereignty and will and not ours. What is our part in all this, it is to believe, have faith, it is to seek, ask, and knock, and especially is it to come to God with a childlike trust and willingness to learn, laying aside and down our life and self. Recognizing if we are to learn things higher than we are, things we cannot simply read in a book, nor exert much human effort or intellect to attain, we come before our God with an open heart and willingness to learn from Him. Let us come in poverty of spirit, i.e. we recognize how spiritually poor we actually are, and with humility of soul having insight into the depths of our own incapability’s and insight into the heights of Jesus capabilities.
Consequently, we do a grave injustice to Jesus teachings and the Fathers words by assigning or comparing heavenly things with what is temporal, material, and earthly. An apartment or mansion as some imagine their eternal dwelling place to be cannot nor should it be compared with what Jesus had intended to teach to His disciples that day in the upper room. Jesus explained that He was going away but He would not leave them as orphans, and He would return to them, and they would be with Him, where He is. They would be with Him, i.e. at His seat, their new dwelling place in Him, thus having access to all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Him.
I believe Jesus knew that the disciples would struggle with what He was teaching them regarding His return to them, however, He knew and explained that the Holy Spirit would come, and in coming, would help them to understand. Consequently, do not all of us remain in a state of miss-understanding, as did the disciples, interpreting Jesus words carnally and not spiritually via the aid of the Holy Spirit? We all require the Spirits assistance in understanding those things much higher and more majestic than what our minds are capable of receiving or comprehending. Any attempt, on our own, to know the thoughts of our God, apart from His Spirit, only demeans and trivializes His words as we assign various miss leading interpretations to them. As Gods life is higher than ours, life in His kingdom is higher than what we are capable of thinking or imaging it to be without the Spirit.
Jesus is living, and certainly His life is not simply a word on a page that one can memorize and store in the mind and again spoken of as if one knew Him personally. What most interpret as knowing Him is but a brief encounter with Him when they were first saved, after that, knowing Him is only hearsay or sporadic at best, and certainly is not a daily encounter where over time you are growing to know and love Him. The word on the page points to Him who the Father raised and glorified, pointing to Him who resides in heavenly places. We must move on from preaching a Jesus whom we only know as an historical character unto knowing Him in the manner that He would want to reveal Himself to each of us. Jesus is in us, and abides with us via the Holy Spirit, where we can now know Him personally, uniquely, and spiritually. Especially does the church need to know His love and abide in it. A love that is in the Father, one He has given and communicates to His children that they might reign in life, as His love reigns and governs their hearts. A love that is tangible, living, and is not some kind of principle of love, or charity, abstract, distant, and humanistic, but is a love above and beyond anything or anyone, and can be known personally in experience, as we know the One whom it proceeds from; where in its coming changes both the demeanor and disposition of the heart it occupies. Personally, you can always tell whether a Christian knows Jesus personally simply by listening to how they describe Him or where He is. Most say He is beside them, upon them, amongst them, few say He is in them, and if they do say He is in them they certainly cannot describe in what manner He is in them.
Therefore, we, the church, must stop looking for Jesus in places He is not and until we can say with conviction and in much experience Christ in me the hope of glory, or not I who lives but Christ lives in me we will continually remain weak, feeble, lifeless, powerless, and fruitless, possessing only the image of our religion, continuing to live a life that is superficial, contrived, and pretentious, feeling distant from our God.
In conclusion, let us all be reminded of what John the Apostle saw and who it is that God has exalted, glorified, and honored, that is Jesus, who fills all things and is above all things and in whom we now have the grave privilege to know, commune, and abide,
…in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.