Sunday, November 13, 2011

IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE

"In My Father’s house are many rooms (dwelling places); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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."(John 14:2-3)

Most of my life I've understood this verse as being about Heaven. But recently someone pointed out to me that the phrase "my Father's house" is used by Jesus exclusively throughout the other Gospels to refer to the Temple.

For example, early on in Luke when Jesus is separated from his parents for three days they find him teaching in the Temple. When they finally find him Jesus says, "Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:48-50)

Also, when Jesus clears the Temple of those who sell doves he declares, "stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” (John 2:15-17)

This makes a lot of sense in context as well if we look at what Jesus is speaking to His disciples about in this section of the Gospel of John. We find it's all about what's going to happen next, how to prepare for the coming persecution, etc.

If Jesus is speaking about the Temple here, and not about Heaven, then we need to try to re-read this section with new eyes.

Here's what I think Jesus is teaching His disciples here:

"In My Father’s house are many rooms (dwelling places)" - Here Jesus is stating that in the Temple (which is now the Church) there is room for many people. Throughout the New Testament the Apostles talk about "dwelling places" where we (the people of God) find rest in our Lord and Savior. For instance:

"If anyone has my words and obeys me...we will come and make our house (dwelling place) with them." - John 14:23

The same word Jesus uses here for "house" He also uses in the passage about the "many dwelling places" in His "Father's house."

"Christ is the Lord over his own house, whose house we are if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end." - Hebrews 3:6

So, the idea that we, the Church, are now God's "dwelling place" is all through the New Testament.

Let's continue to look at the rest of the passage:

"if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you."

Here, I believe, Jesus is telling His disciples that He needs to go - to get out of the way - in order to make room for them (the Church) to grow as He has promised.

"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."

Jesus says that if He goes away, it will make room (prepare a place) for the disciples. He also says that where He is they will be also. Where is He going? To be with the Father. And as we've already seen, Jesus promised that "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode (dwelling) with him." (John 14:23)

Where does God dwell? In us - His Church. His Temple. His Father's House. The household of God is the Church.

"I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." - (1 Timothy 3:15)

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household." - (Ephesians 2:18-20)

"You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." - (1 Peter 2:4-6)

This promise of Jesus to go away in order to prepare a place for the Temple to expand into the "many rooms" or "dwelling places" was fulfilled at Pentecost when Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and thousands followed Christ in that day. And this promise is still ongoing today.

So, it may be that Jesus isn't promising us "mansions in Heaven" after all. In fact, most of the scriptures indicate that our eternal destination is to live here, on a New Earth, and reign with Christ forever.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." - (Revelation 21:1-3)

I'm curious to hear what others think about this passage in John and whether or not you agree that Jesus is speaking about the Temple (His Church) when He speaks about His "Father's House" in John 14.

-kg

6 comments:

icallyoufriend.com said...

Keith

I like what you are saying. Although I do find it to be a bit of a paradigm shift. I agree that what you suggest makes more sense concerning the context of the text. Jesus was specifically speaking about what would happen in the next few days.

My thoughts roam in the area of his crucifixion. Could that not be what he was referring to when he said "I go to prepare a place." In that what he would be doing when he "leaves" is preparing (doing what needs to be done) in order for all of his disciples to have a place in the house of God (inside him/his person/ the temple). Certainly that is what the crucifixion did. It fulfilled the law and put sin to bed forever while at the same time giving Christ the authority and ability (in becoming a life-giving spirit) to give eternal life (a place within him - the fathers house) to any person that so desired.

Anonymous said...

Another take on this I read recently was by Rob Bell. He explained this is marriage language. That a groom would go and add rooms to the parents home then when the rooms was finished come take his bride. If this is in fact true then Jesus is also describing the church as his bride.

I've been reading your blog for over a year and really enjoy your posts!

-Phil

Felicity Dale said...

Keith, I'm fascinated by what you say. I've been thinking recently about God's desire to dwell with his people which we see right through the OT (eg Ex 29:45-46), promised in the major prophets (eg Ezek 37:27) and now fulfilled in Jesus--Emmanuel, God with us. What you describe makes perfect sense and I think is a very possible interpretation of what, for me, has always been a slightly puzzling passage.

Tovah said...

Okay…so , like I said, I am a newbie to your site and already I feel like this post or comment will stir the pot, but it is what it is. I’m glad you’ll get to read it first and decide whether or not it is appropriate for what the Lord is doing through you here . I must say that I’ve been put in a position where I’ve proposed the thought you present here regarding heaven to friends. Uh…providentially or not, I presented it to a friend who had recently lost a loved one and I must say the unfolding consequence was not pretty What I found, as a result of seeking the Lord, is that we often chose our TRADITIONS over TRUTH because our traditions are COMFORTING and FAMILIAR. and we gravitate toward them—whether they are true and Biblical or not. So I asked myself lot of questions about the traditions we hold dear like: When is the TRUE Biblical Sabbath? Are Christmas and Easter REALLY Biblical holidays? What is the origin of these holidays? Was Jesus really born on December 25th? Should we really be eating bacon and sausage and shellfish? When I started to ask these questions God shook up my EVERYTHING. I wish that I could say that I have all the answers, but the important thing, I find, is that we would be willing to LISTEN and consider that the answer might be different from what we’ve traditionally understood. Will we seek the Lord and hear what He is saying or elevate our understanding and/or traditions above it? God is speaking and the challenge, I believe, is that His children will hear and receive what He is saying,. My fear is that we will choose rather, to agree with what we’ve already chosen in our hearts to be true. God help to chose HIS truth above all else.


Be blessed. I really appreciate the thing that the Lord is doing thru you. I was just dissovled by what you posted on the kingdom of God. God was teaching me this by the Spirit and I thought I had lost my mind. I read your post and thought, "Well at least there is one other soul out there that is as crazy as I am". So thanks for the fellowship in the insanity of truth!



Tovah

Ryne said...

Very informative blog!
It's certainly an interesting take on those passages and my inclination is to agree with you. I want to wrestle with it a little more but it makes sense within the context of heaven being a present reality rather than somewhere you hope to go one day.

Again thanks for the pst...

Anonymous said...

HI Keith,I believe your right on target. According to the interpretation in John 2:16,21,"My Fathers house" refers to the temple,the body of Christ,as God's dwelling place. At first the body of Christ was only His idividual body. But through Christ's death and resurrection,the body of Christ has increased to be His corporate Body, which is the church including all the believers who have been regenerated through His resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). In Christ's resurrection, the church is the Body of Christ which is the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 3:6). God's habitation (Ephesians 2:21,22), God's temple (1 Corintians 3:16,17). So today we, the Body of Christ, are the many dwelling places or abodes (Romans 12:5). This a adequately proven in John 14:23 "the Lord, the Father will make their abode with those who love Him." Warren Peterson.