Your Dream House
Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: John 14:1-6
Transcript of our Sermon Audio:
Let's take our Bibles and turn to John, Chapter 14. If you're with us this morning, we're in a series on heaven. We're studying the doctrine of heaven. It's a series I've called Life After Life, and we have already looked at Colossians 3:1-4, Heaven Can't Wait. Last week, we looked at 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, During the Interval. This morning, we're come to look at John 14:1-6, a message I've called Your Dream House. So let's stand and as we read God's word together, follow as I read.
Reading from the New King James translation of scripture. "'Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God? Believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions. 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. And where I go you know, and the way you know.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" So reads God's word, and you may be seated.
I don't know if you have read the story of the Philadelphia law firm who sent some flowers to an associate office in Baltimore, they had just relocated to new plush digs. But through some mix up at the florist, flowers were sent with this card attached, "Deepest sympathies." Now when the mistake was recognized and the florist was informed, he cried out in alarm, "Good heavens, then the flowers that were sent to the funeral had the card attached, 'Congratulations on your new location.'"
Now, joking aside, you and I need to be reminded that the Christian life is one animated by the thrilling promise of a glorious relocation in the future to heaven itself. I mean that's the promise of Jesus in a passage we're about to look at here in John 14:1-6. It's a reminder that wherever Christians were present, they longed to be absent. Wherever Christians were located, they longed to be relocated, because Jesus had promised them our day in which he would relocate them to the Father's house, which was their dream house. You'll find New Testament Christians all over the Roman Empire waiting, longing, yearning for that moment.
The Philippians, we read in Philippians, Chapter 3, verse 20-21 that they knew their citizenship was in heaven, from which they waited for God's Son to come to change their lowly bodies into a glorious body like onto his. A similar thing was happening in Thessalonica. In Chapter 1, verse 10, we read in Paul's first letter that the Thessalonians had turned from idols to serve the true and the living God, and to wait for his Son from heaven who would deliver them from the wrath to come. We saw just a couple of weeks ago in Colossians 3:1-4 Christians in Colossae were longing for Jesus to appear, because he was their life. They longed for Jesus to appear from heaven so that they may appear with him in heaven.
The New Testament churches were held by a conviction that from beginning to end the Christian life was nothing more and nothing less than an upward call from God in Christ Jesus. They lived every day on earth dreaming about the dream house, which was the Father's house. And I want to come and look at that promise, and look at that prospect this morning in John 14:1-6. This is the passage upon which all those other passages were built. This is where Jesus teaches his apostles to go and teach others that he is returning to relocate his church.
Now, let's put the text in its context before we actually break it down. Where are we? Well, we're in the middle of John's gospel, we're in the Upper Room Discourse. Jesus is with his disciples, we're on the eve of his arrest, betrayal, crucifixion. Jesus understands prophetically the lateness of the hour, the hour for which he was born is about to come. So he seeks to prepare his disciples for Judas' betrayal, for Peter's denial, for the attack of Satan that will start with Peter. He's about to prepare them for the thought of his arrest, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension back to the Father, to the glory that he left before coming to earth.
As you can imagine, the news of Jesus' leaving disturbed them, did trouble them. I mean that's the theme of Chapter 14. Look at verse 1, "Let not your heart be troubled." Because it was at the news they were hearing. Scroll down to verse 27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." But it was. They're troubled by the thought of Jesus' absence. And so what Jesus does in the Upper Room Discourse, including what we're about to look at, he comforts them through the thought of his replacement and his return. He comforts them by the thought of two comings, the coming of the Holy Spirit immediately to indwell them, and then the later coming of Jesus Christ back to earth to take them to the Father's house.
Look at verse 18 of Chapter 14, and you have that first coming promised. He's talked to them about the helper that will come, he's talked to them about the spirit of truth that will abide in them forever, and in verse 18 he says, "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you." So although he's leaving, he's going to come to them through the Holy Spirit, which is the spirit of Christ. But while Christ physically ascends to heaven, and the Holy Spirit comes spiritually, he will come back physically and gloriously in a day to come for his people, and that's the second comfort. The comfort of his replacement immediately and the comfort of his return sooner rather than later. That's John 14:1-6. This is the promise of heaven. This is the expectation that there'll come a day in the life of the believer when indeed they will be in the Father's house, when Jesus returns.
So let's look at what I've called Your Dream House, this promise of the Father's house. There is four things our text shows us: heaven is promised, heaven is proper, heaven is prepared, heaven is protected. Here's the first thought. Heaven is a promised place. I mean that's just as plain as the nose on your face. To alleviate their trouble and anxiety and fear, Jesus promises them, and the promise is his return. "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God? Believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions," or rooms would be a better translation. "If it were not so, I would have told you." (But now I'm telling you.) And since I'm God incarnate, since you believe in God, believe in me. I'm giving you this promise. And here's the promise: I go. They don't like the sound of that. He's going, he's leaving, but Jesus says, "Look, I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there you may be also." Heaven is a promised place.
This was a promise given to his apostles and as we have quoted Philippians 3, 1 Thessalonians 1, Colossians 3, those apostles took that promise and shared it with those who would believe through them. So this is the promise to all of God's people. It's a wonderful promise, it's the blessed hope of Jesus' appearing from glory so that we might appear in glory with him.
I believe, by the way, this passage is an argument for what's called the pre-tribulational rapture. Jesus' second coming will be in two phases. One for his church in the rapture, and one with his church at the revelation. And the reason I believe John 14:1-3 speaks to the time here of the rapture is that if you believe Jesus is coming back to earth to reign in visible manifestation of his glory, power, and dominion... Jesus taught us the pray that, didn't he? Pray that God's kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven? Well, the movement in our text isn't to earth, it's to heaven. And if Jesus comes to take us to the Father's house, there must be an interval between that and his returning with the saints to earth. Just throw it your way to think it out. It's one of the arguments I make for a pre-tribulational rapture. What we're dealing with in John 14:1-6 is the promise of the rapture, the relocation of the church to heaven. It's a movement from earth to heaven, that's the rapture, and the movement of the revelation or the second coming is from heaven to earth.
But that said, here's the promise, it's a promise, "I go away for a time to prepare a place for you, I'm coming back to take you where I am, which is heaven." And they were to take that medicine and apply it to the open wound of their disappointment and their dismay. I do want you to notice something, just throw it your way. "Let not your heart be troubled," Jesus is speaking to them. And he's putting the responsibility on them to fix the condition of their heart. Because he's just given them a promise, and he wants them to take the medicine of that promise and apply it, believingly, to the open wound of their disappointment. They don't need to remain disappointment now that they've got a promise. They've got the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the comforter, to strengthen them from within. They've got the promise of Jesus returning to take his church to the Father's house, their dream house. And so the onus is on them to fix their troubled hearts with truth, to counsel their own hearts from the Bible, with its strong and sufficient promises.
Look, you need to guard your heart. I don't know what state your heart is in this morning, it could be depressed, it could be fearful, it could be lethargic, without purpose. But the condition of your heart is on you. You don't have to be like that. You don't have to stay like that. Let not your heart be anxious, depressed, without purpose and passion, because you know what? Jesus Christ has a promise for all your ailments. The Gospel is sufficient, the word of God speaks into your life. Guard your heart, from out of it flow the issues life. Hide God's word in your heart, that you may not sin against him. They were troubled, but they didn't need to remain troubled since they could take this promise to heart.
Now, heaven is a promised place. Jesus has given us reasons to believe in heaven. I just want to stay with that for a moment. Take a journey with me for a moment. I want to give you three reasons, I'm going to kind of double back and go forward, but I want to give you three reasons to believe in heaven. Number one: God's word to us. That's the argument we've just made. Jesus is speaking to his disciples who write down what they heard from him, and he has given them a promise. So they can believe in heaven because Jesus has told them if they believe in God they can believe in him, if it weren't so, he would have told them.
Let me tell you something, Jesus Christ spoke frankly to his disciples. Jesus isn't pleasing men here, Jesus would remind his disciples often of the cost of entering God's kingdom and following God's word. Jesus didn't sugarcoat things, he spoke frankly. But he is speaking frankly here about a wonderful promise. So God's word to us, the Bible speaks 500 times about heaven in 60 of its books. If you read those books, if you collect that information, you're going to see that heaven is a place where God dwells. It's a place from which Christ descended and then ascended back to. It's the place where people can live happily ever after through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus and his disciples talked repeatedly about seeing the kingdom of God, inheriting the kingdom of God, being with Christ in heaven, spoke about a better country. They spoke about laying hold of eternal life, they spoke here in John 14 of dwelling in the Father's house, which is our dream house made up of many rooms. God's word to us is reason to believe.
Secondly, God's witness in us is reason to believe. And this I'm stepping outside the context of our text. Man has an innate belief in heaven. Look at cultures even devoid of Christianity. Each of them have some version of heaven and afterlife, a better existence, a Valhalla, nirvana, Shangri-La. It's to be found in the DNA of human people, race. Why? Because according to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has put eternity in our heart. There's an aspect of human nature that reaches beyond the moment, longs for the transcendent beyond the immanent. There's part of us made in the image of an eternal God who resides in heaven that looks for somewhere over the rainbow, all the time. We write stories about it, we make movies about it, it's innate to the human heart. Because all things are from God and to God, and therefore man is drawn to heaven like an iron filing to a magnet.
In his excellent book on the glory of heaven John MacArthur says this, it's an interesting insight. I mean given where our culture is, a postmodern culture, a culture that's breaking free from the moorings of a Judeo-Christian worldview, it is still staggering that when polls are taken 75 to 80% of Americans believe in some form of heaven. MacArthur explains, "Worldliness and materialism have become the hallmarks of postmodern culture. And yet it's rather amazing that all those trends combined have not managed to quell the human longing for heaven's glory and faith's assurance. Although people have been told relentlessly by intellectual elite that there is no spiritual reality, that they're evolved out of some primordial slime, that they have no future in eternity, they know better. God has indeed put eternity in our hearts. Heaven is real and the human soul longs to be there." It's true. Why believe in heaven? Because Jesus has given us reasons to. And he's the truth. In him is treasured up all the wisdom of God. And you know what, it's innate to our human nature.
God's word to us, God's witness in us, finally God's world around us. You know, there's an old James Bond movie, The World is not Enough, and it's not. It's not. I think that's another reason to believe in heaven. Because beneath the sun and all that's available to us, from beautiful places to visit, from loving relationships, good food, whatever creaturely comfort you and I might enjoy, whatever thrill we pick up along the way, it never, never satisfies. "The soul is restless," said the ancient Augustine, "until it finds rest in God." There's a hole in our hearts. There's a hole in our souls only God can fill. I mean, look at the rich and the famous, read their stories. They sit in their yachts in the middle of the Mediterranean, they drive million dollar sports cars, they go to galas and balls, they walk in the nicest of clothes, they eat the greatest of food, and yet they're in and out of rehab, their marriages are falling apart, they're still looking to be scratched because they've got an itch. The world around us tells us there's got to be something beyond us.
Something more, the world is not enough: that's the thesis of Solomon. That's the thesis of Solomon. He drank from the faucet of all the world had to offer. He built palaces, he educated himself in the finest of universities, he slept with the most beautiful women on the planet. He had the greatest of food, he had accomplished so much. Other dignitaries and royals like the queen of Sheba came to meet him. Talk about rich and famous. And yet he says in a book called Ecclesiastes, "It's all vanity. It's all empty. There's still a hole in my soul." Basically the thesis of Ecclesiastes is, "Until you bring the God above the sun who made the sun in the life under the sun, and all that takes place there, it's all going to be chasing pretty bubbles." Sunday morning after Saturday night will leave you empty. Saturday morning after Friday night will leave you empty. Because we're restless until we find our rest in God. In fact, that's how he finishes, "Here's my thesis, here's the conclusion of my research: fear God and keep his commandments, for in this man finds wholeness."
Mick Jagger spoke to his generation, but he speaks to ours, "I can't get no satisfaction." Or, to quote C.S. Lewis, who's been often quoted, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." That is right. And Jesus addresses this other world. And you know what? He promises to people who put their trust in him as the way, the truth, and the life that they will go to a dream house called the Father's house where they will live happily ever after.
Heaven, a promised place. Secondly, heaven, a proper place. Not going to spent a lot of time on this, we've touched on it, we'll come back to it. So the point I simply want to make here is: do you notice the language of Jesus? Jesus speaks about heaven as a place. It's very important that you and I underscore that. Because you'll be told that heaven is simply a state of mind. It's a state of mind. It's an inner condition of happiness. "You know, that was heavenly." Or, "It's a metaphor. It's not a literal place, it's a metaphor for all things that are great and good." "To be honest, it's a figment of someone's imagination. It's a medieval hangover. It's a religious abstraction."
But Jesus begs to differ. Notice his language: "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms." That itself seems to speak of a spatial location. "If it were not so, I would have told you," notice this, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place," he mentions place twice, "I will come again and receive you to myself." Notice this again, it's kind of geographical in its tones, said, "Where I am, there," where and there, "you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." It seems to be clear in Jesus' mind that heaven is a proper place. In fact, if you take the other images for heaven in the Bible, again, they convey this idea of a spatial location, a place, a realtime experience. Heaven is called God's eternal kingdom, it's described as a better country, and in Revelation 21-22 it's called the new Jerusalem, the holy city come down from heaven.
Remember what we said last week? There are three heavens. I want to remind you of that. There is the atmospheric heavens, where birds and planes fly. There is the stellar heavens or the celestial heavens where planets orbit, and the sun and the moon and the stars abide. And then, according to Paul, there's a third heaven, paradise, the dwelling place of God. To quote him again, as Adrian Rogers said, "The first heaven you see by day, the second heaven you see by night, the third heaven you see by faith." Again, that's Jesus' words. "You believe in God? Believe in me." Through the eye of faith, through our expectation based on my character, my promises, there is a place called the Father's house, your dream house. I just want you to grasp that. Heaven is where God dwells, angels assemble, the departed souls of God's people live until Jesus' return, the resurrection. Then they enter the millennial kingdom, and that itself morphs into the eternal state.
Interestingly we begin speaking about whether it's an experience or a place, a state of mind or a location, it's always interesting that when heaven is described, it's always described as up or above. "Set your affection on things above." Not within, above. Both the Hebrew and the Greek terms for heaven speak of heights. Heaven is the highest heights. Jesus told us to pray "Our Father, who art in heaven." The Bible says, "God looks down from heaven." So to me I just want you to grasp the fact that heaven is a place. Let me quote Douglas Connelly in his book on heaven, and we'll move on, "The Bible's portrayal of heaven as above us is of course a figure of speech. Heaven cannot be spotted through a telescope or by the cameras of an interplanetary space vehicle. Heaven is in another realm that human observation cannot see or sense. But heaven is a place on God's map, if it is not a place on an astronomer's chart." It's a good quote.
Heaven is a promised place. Heaven is a proper place. Thirdly, heaven is a prepared place. Let's go back to our text. He's trying to comfort his distraught disciples. He's calling them to take the promise of God through him and believe on it, and let not their heart be troubled. And here's the promise again: "In my Father's house are many mansions. 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 take you there." What a thought. It's been well said, "Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people." Are you prepared to go to heaven? Well, Jesus prepares you to go to heaven. He says, "I'm the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to heaven or to the Father apart from me." Heaven's a prepared place for a prepared people.
But here's the thought: the Holy Spirit has come, Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God, and right now, according to our text, he's laying down the welcome mat for you and me in heaven. Welcome home, all things are prepared. That's a beautiful thought. Listen, the mission of Christ was never intended to simply culminate at the cross. The cross, Jesus' substitutionary death, his victorious resurrection, the empty tomb: they are the means by which he kicks the door of heaven open for us and calls us home. In fact, you see that in the very act of his dying, where he says to a thief, "Today in paradise." That's the third heaven, the abode of God. It's a wonderful thought. The Father's house.
Now, while I've just stated that heaven is described in various ways, isn't that one of the most beautiful ways, this idea of a home? "In my Father's house," or his home, his dwelling, his residence, "there are many mansions." That would be better translated rooms, it'd be more literal, in fact your translation might have that. "In my Father's house," or in his residence, his dwelling place, because remember, heaven is the abode of God and the assembled angels and the departed spirits of those who have died and fallen asleep in Christ. The Greek is "In my Father's house or home are many abiding places."
I love the King James and I love the New King James, but the heritage of the King James and its translation has kind of misdirected us. "There are many mansions," so we have this idea of heaven as a suburb, we all get our own little plot of land and we'll talk to each other if we feel like it. That's wrong. Don't be thinking of, you know, Graceland in Tennessee where Elvis lived, the big mansion and the trees and the gated community. "Oh, I'm going to have a mansion just over the hilltop." "I want mine by a river with a little forest not far away." No, that's not the point. To get into Jesus' mind, the home of a wealthy person in the first century, you've kind of seen pictures of it in movies, would be this large dwelling place with a central courtyard, and often when a son got married or a daughter got married and they came to live in the father's house, something was built onto it. Something was built as an extension to it. That's more the idea. That's the idea. You know what? In my Father's house there's going to be room for you. We don't want to get caught up on how luxurious the apartment will be or the condo will be or the place will be. The point is, you're in the Father's house. You're part of the family. It speaks of intimacy, proximity. That's the beauty of it.
Now let's think about this for a few moments. I kind of branch out a little bit. Three things about the Father's house as I've studied it, both inside the text and outside the text, follow along. Number one, it's a spacious place. It's a spacious place. In fact, that's the main point of this "In my Father's house are abundant rooms." Many abiding places. So come on on in. That's kind of the idea here. Many rooms denotes spaciousness. Heaven's not cramped. You know? Heaven's not like one of those high rises in Hong Kong. It's big, it's wide open, it's welcome to all. I mean that's basically "Hey, in my Father's house are many rooms. All are welcome. All who put their trust in me as the way, the truth, and the life. Because I'm the way to the Father's house."
I wonder if you've ever been turned away. Have you ever tried to meet a medical specialist, maybe for a medical condition you have, only to be told, "No more patients can be accepted"? Have you ever tried to buy a concert ticket for your favorite band, only to be told, "Every seat's been sold"? Have you ever tried to purchase a flight, only to be told the plane has been overbooked? We've all dealt with that. "There's no more room. We can't fit you in." That's what you find on earth. But it's not true in heaven. Jesus is saying, "In my Father's house are plenty of rooms," or plenty of room.
I love that parable Jesus gives in Luke 14:22, of how a rich man is going to have a feast, going to have a banquet, and he sends out servant, and he says, you know, "Tell everybody it's ready to come on in." And then the people he meets start making excuses. He goes back to his master, and there are some who're coming but many are not coming, and the servant says, "Master, you know what? I did what you said and yet there's still room." And then the master says, "Then go out into the highways and the byways and compel them to come in and invite them to come in. I want a full house." That's the Gospel invitation this morning. I don't care who you are, I don't care what you've done, I don't care where you're from, I don't care if someone's told you you'll never be in heaven, that's wrong. In the Father's house there's plenty of room. And he'll clean you up, and he'll make you right through Jesus Christ and get you ready for the room, for the place, for heaven itself.
Look, I could leave that there, but I'm going to make a little direction to kind of tease you for a sermon that's coming. I'm going to preach on the new heaven and the new earth in Revelation 21-22 in this series. Now, you know I've said this, and I want to keep saying it, because sometimes we don't get this, the heaven we're going to during the interval is for a time. But our eternal state, our eternal existence will be back down on earth in a physical body. The new heaven and the new earth. That will be, in some senses, the fourth heaven. Heaven on earth. Not the heaven above, not the heaven of the heights. So I want you to think about this, think it out with me. The Father's house of John 14 will eventually be the new Jerusalem and the holy city of Revelation 21 and 22. We're actually going to the heavenly city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, and eventually where we will be in the interval when Jesus will come down to earth. Read about it in Revelation 21, how the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. It's my conviction that indeed the Father's house is the holy city, it's the new Jerusalem. We get to taste it first.
And you know what, as I study Revelation 21 and 22, as I say, we'll get there more fully, what's interesting is both the acreage and the access of this new Jerusalem and this holy city. It kind of plays into my idea here of high heaven as a place is spacious. Let me just go to Revelation 21 and verse 16. Here's what we read about this heavenly city that's coming down from heaven to earth. "The city is laid out as a square. Its length is as great as its breadth, and he measured the city with the reed 12,000 furlongs or stadia. Its length, breadth and height are equal." What does that mean, its length, breadth and height are equal? It's a cube. This heavenly city is in the shape of a cube. And according to our measurements it's 1500 miles square. 1500 miles on each side, both length-ways and height-ways. And someone better than me did the math, and they've come up with this roughly: draw a line from the far coastal corner of the Pacific north-west to the south, down to the U.S. border beyond California, into an ocean at a point near Mexico. Draw a line eastward from that point towards New Orleans, then continue with the line northward from that spot in Louisiana up to the Canadian border above Wisconsin, then cross back to the Pacific north-west. And that square is roughly the footprint of the new city Jerusalem and the holy city.
But remember this, hold on, we're not done, that's the footprint, but it's a cube. It goes 1500 miles up and across. So someone said, "Given that kind of square footage, 2.25 million square miles, you could fit a hundred billion people inside it." We'll get here, but remember there's gates in and out of this city, across the new earth. Very spacious. You are free to roam in a coming day, and how glorious will that be? But I kind of just want to play off Jesus' words, how much room in the Father's house? That much room in the Father's house. Heaven's not going to be a holy huddle. It's a massive place. And not only if you see the acreage, you see that thought, but look at the access.
If you go back to Revelation 21:12-13, we're told that there are gates on each side. Let me read this text for you, again we'll come back to this glorious passage in a future study, but in verse 12 through 13, "And she had," speaking of this new Jerusalem, this holy city, "she had a great and high wall with 12 gates and 12 angels at the gates, and the names written on them, which are the names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, three gates on the west." So its acreage tells me it's massive, and you've access from it into the new earth. And the access is on all sides, north, south, east and west. I think I'm right in concluding the message that's being sent out there is that this future home of those who've trusted in Jesus Christ, these people will come from the north, the south, the east and the west. That revelation shows us that right now, in heaven, the church triumphant is from every tribe and every tongue and every nation.
And don't miss the fact that Jacob's sons' names are written on the gates. The 12 tribes of Israel are written on the gates. I want to remind you as a church-going crowd that they were no choir boys. Do I need to tell you about Jacob's sons and what they did to one of his sons called Joseph? The hatred, the heartache they brought to their father, the murderous intent? Do we need to go to Genesis 38 and read about Judah and his sexual and murderous exploits? It's embarrassing. But it's in the book of Genesis. But hold on a minute, Judah's name and the other brothers' names, who treated Joseph despicably, they're on the gates of heaven. I think which is a reminder, an eternal testimony to the amazing nature of God's grace.
It's a spacious place. All kinds of people, from all kinds of places, who have all done all kinds of despicable things have been washed clean in the blood of Jesus Christ, he's the way and the truth and the life to the Father's house. President Lyndon Johnson in his ranch home in Texas had a doormat and on it he had inscribed these words: "All the world is welcome here." I don't know if there are any doormats on the 12 gates of heaven and out of heaven. But if there are, I'd love to think they're inscribed with words like that. "All the world is welcome here." My daughter Angela, a couple of Christmases ago, heard me tell that story in a Sunday morning sermon, and she got me a mat inscribed with the words, "Kindred Community Church, all the world is welcome here." I have that outside my church office.
Heaven is spacious. Heaven, secondly, is spectacular. It's not just a spacious place, it's a spectacular place. We could spend some time in Revelation 21 to 22, talking about how spectacular it is, but that's going to be a message on a future day. In fact, you're going to see in Revelation 21 to 22 that John describes heaven as much by what's not going to be there as what's going to be there. So I've got a message coming called Good Riddance. There's a whole lot of things in life I'm happy to say good riddance to, and that day's coming. So don't miss this series.
But here's a thought I stole from Randy Alcorn, that I think says so wonderful about this idea of the Father's house. Because Jesus really, in John 14, doesn't give us much more than that. Now John will expand it in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but here we're just told, "The Father's house has many rooms." It's spacious, but it is spectacular. Randy Alcorn makes you think about Genesis 2:8-9, where we read about that first paradise, we read about Eden. That was heaven on earth before sin entered and death came. It says this: "And God planted a garden." And then he put Adam into the garden, the man to tend it and keep it. And I've never stopped to think about that. God planted our garden. God created an environment, Eden, for Adam to dwell in. Beautiful, luxurious. In fact, God could be found walking in it during the cool of the day, and Adam walked with God. It was heaven on earth. Randy Alcorn says, "You know that carries the idea of a personal touch, a suitable design, a detailed interest." God planted a garden. When people plant gardens, they spend time on them, beautifying them, developing them.
So Alcorn says this, in the light of John 14, "If Jesus has gone now to prepare a place for us, an Eden, a paradise, a heaven, if he prepared Eden so carefully and lavishly for mankind in six days of creation, what does he fashion in the place he's been preparing for us for 2000 years since he left the world?" That's quite a thought. It makes me understand why Harry Swinsburg, who was a Southern Baptist missionary for 20 years in Columbia and 40 years in Spain, who was left on earth after the departure of his wife, because of his needs moved into his daughter's home, and one day he was talking with his daughter Dorothy, and he said, "You know what, I think I want to go home." She said, "But Papa, you are home. You're with me and my husband and my kids." When he pointed upwards, he said, "No, I mean that home." She said, "Papa, your mansion's not ready." To which he replied, "I'll take it like it is." We'll take it like it is. Jesus has been working on it for 2000 years. I can't begin to imagine how glorious.
It's a spacious place, it's a spectacular place, it's a special place. And I'll tell you why it's special. Because he's going to be there. That's all you need to know about heaven. And in some ways that's why in John 14 and many other passages we're kind of teased, we're not told much. Revelation 21 to 22 paints in what's missing to a large degree, but even there John is struggling to find language and images to describe what it is. In fact he gets so frustrated he just starts describing what it's not. But here's what's so special about heaven: we'll be at home with the Lord. We'll be at home with the Lord. And I don't know about you, isn't that what homes are about? I don't care how nice your home is or how challenging your home is as a physical structure. I don't care whether you live in a really nice zip code or in a challenging area. You know the thing about your home you love it who's in it. It's not the furniture, not the 80 inch plasma screen. Or if it is that, there's something wrong with you.
I tell you what I love about home. Like when I go home to see my mother and my father, they still live in that old 1200 square-foot home they've been in for 60 years. The cabinets need rework. Some of the house needs refurnishing. But they're okay, they're content. You know what I love about it? I just love the fact I can sit down on the sofa and kiss my mom on the cheek and go over all the old stories. And I remind her how she used to hit me with the wooden spoon in the kitchen. She didn't wait for Father to come home, she just let loose any time she wanted. That's what I love about home. My mother's there. My father's still there. That's why I try to jump on a plane and get home any time I can. Because that's home. It's not the place. My place is nicer than their place, just to be frank. But it's the person, or the people. And I miss them. And that's the point here.
Jesus says, "I want to come and receive you to myself. That where I am, there you may be also." That's the issue. That's what's conveyed by this home. Don't get caught up in how luxurious your heavenly house will be. There's a truth to that, I've just talked about it, but it's the Father's house. It's where our brother, the Lord Jesus, lives. That's why Samuel Rutherford's right: the lamb is all the glory in Immanuel's land. That's why the hymn writer says, "When all my labors and trials are o'er, and I am save on the beautiful shore, just to be near the dear Lord I adore. That will be glory, glory for me."
Warren Wiersbe tells the story of a little girl who was sitting on a bunch of suitcases in the foyer to a large hotel, and she was engaged by an older lady who was standing nearby and said, "Are you visiting?" She says, "No. You know what? My dad took a new job and we're relocating and so we're staying in this hotel until we get our new house." And the woman innocently said, "Oh, I'm so sorry you don't have a home." To which the little girl said, "Oh, Mrs., we have a home, we just don't have a house to put it in." That's the point. It's who's in the Father's house that makes heaven for us.
Finally, it's a promised place, it's a prepared place, it's a proper place, for a few minutes, it's a protected place. You know, on the one hand I'm making this argument that, you know what, heaven is spacious. There are three gates on the four walls. It's open to all and there is room. But it's not only inclusive, it's exclusive. Here's the Christian tension: the Gospel is for all people, but there's only one Savior for all people. There's only one Savior for all people. There's not a different Savior for people in China and Asia than those in Europe. It's not culturally conditioned. God doesn't give you a choice. The grace of God has appeared onto all men, bringing salvation. "For God so loved the world," every culture, "that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever beliefs in him," from every culture, "will have eternal life." Heaven is a protected place, you don't get in unless Jesus lets you in or leads you in. I mean that's his point here.
He said, "You know the way." Thomas said, "Hey, you need to explain that one more time." Jesus said, "Okay. I'm the way, the truth," definite article, "the life. No one," that's exclusive, "No one comes to the Father except through me." Hinduism? No. Judaism? No. Islam? No. Christianity and Jesus Christ? Yes. Now I've just declared what people would call some fighting words. Because people are troubled by that kind of thinking. That there's one way, and one man, and one mediator. But frankly my friend, that's what the Bible teaches. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. You've got to put your faith in me. You've got to trust what I did on your behalf on the cross and in my resurrection. My death becomes your death, and my resurrection becomes your resurrection, and my home becomes your home. Because I'm the way to God, I'm the truth and revelation of God, I'm life from God."
Acts 4:12, the apostles understood that. They didn't go across the world saying, "You know what, there are many ways to God. You know, here's maybe the best way, Christianity, but..." No, they said, "There's one name under heaven, given among men, all men, whereby we can be saved." One name. That's why the Bible says, "Call on the name of Jesus and you will be saved." If you don't call on Jesus' name, if you don't trust the Son of God, you will not have eternal life. 1 Timothy 2:5, "There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." That's a scandal to a pluralistic culture, where diversity is championed, celebrated, and claims of exclusivisity will get you fired, get you shunned, will cause someone to tear your record contract up. That's the culture we live in.
For those in the ecumenical movement, the religionists, those who believe in an amorphous spirituality, they're going to say, "You know what, that's spiritual racism, because ethnic racism is believing that your people are better than other people. And you know what? You're saying that Christianity is better than other religions." No, I'm not saying that. Jesus is saying that. I know that's not welcomed in a world where truth is self-defined. I realize that Oprah speaks for many when she says, "One of the biggest mistakes we make is to believe there is only one way to God. There are many diverse paths leading to God." Oprah, you're wrong. The biggest mistake is believing that there are other ways to God. That contradicts the word of God, it belittles the Lord Jesus Christ, it's illogical when you compare world religions, they don't even agree. Oh, there's a way that seems right to a man. But the end thereof is death.
In fact, Christians so believed this... By the way, did you notice when you read the book of Acts? Christians so believed, you know what they called themselves? Followers of the way. That's in Acts 9, Acts 12, 20, 22 and Acts 19. When their friends saw them, they'd whisper or say in polite con, "They belong to the way. They think they're the only way." They'd mock them and laugh at them. Jesus is the way, without him there's no going. Jesus is the truth, without him there's no knowing. Jesus is the life, without him there's no growing.
As the theme comes up, 1979, 1980 I bumped into an American in a Christian concert in Dublin. We ended up becoming friends, we were pen pals for a while. I was 17 or 18 at the time. I just left school, it was my first year of employment. He invited me to come and visit him in the United States, and so my parents were okay for me to go and I bought my ticket and I went and met Dave in Vermont. Spent some time there, went to the Niagara Falls, did several things, and then we did a road trip in his TR7, an old rust bucket of a British sports car, the whole way down to Washington, D.C. We stayed with some friends of his, a very wonderful Catholic family, and the man worked in the White House. This was during Jimmy Carter's administration.
And we talked to about, "Hey, we were going to do this and do that." And he says, "Well, I might be able to get you into the White House." We said, "No, we're going to the White House, we've got our tickets booked." He says, "I don't mean that part of the White House, I mean the other part of the White House." And so a long story short, we meet him the next day at some security gates which were high and heavily armed, this is pre-9/11 as you can imagine, and so they take by British passport, they kind of run it through their computers, make sure, you know, I'm not some guy on the run from Ireland. So I passed muster, I get inside the gate, and he takes us around and we see all kinds of things. Where ambassadors stay, we saw the Press Room, we saw dining rooms where other dignitaries would be hosted. And then we were taken up to the second floor, and I stood outside the Oval Office. Now President Carter wasn't there, I don't know if he was harvesting peanuts or building houses somewhere, but he was away or we would have met him, which would have been a great thrill. We were actually told, "It's a pity President Carter's on the road, or hopefully we would have been able to introduce you."
So I'm standing outside the Oval Office, there's two guards, there's two gold pillars and a purple red rope. I was standing outside the Oval Office, and I said, "Any chance I could go in?" And they said, "No." So I worked my magic, you know, schmoozed them a little bit, and I says, "Come on. I'm on the verge..." I didn't say it, but I was like Moses on the verge of the Promised Land and I'm not getting in. So I talked these guys around. Very kindly they said, "Okay, we'll let you put your foot in." It's true. So I put my foot onto the rope, into the Oval Office and touched it. And everybody since has to learn that I've stood in the Oval Office. Have you? It's a great party conversation, everybody's giving a great story and I just come in with mine. "Ah, let me tell you about the Oval Office and my visit to the White House."
All jokes aside, how did I get into the White House? You don't waltz up, shake the gates, scare the guards and you go waltzing in. No, we got in because of there was someone on the inside who had the authority to let us in. I want to tell you something my friends, you will not get into the Father's house unless you know the one who's on the inside. The one who's gone back to heaven, who's coming back to receive those who put their trust in him, and he'll get them in, if he's got the in with the Father. Put your trust in Christ. Put your first step on the road to heaven, because Jesus promises that through his disciples. And some day you'll enjoy a dream house in the Father's house.
Father, we thank you for our time and the word this morning. This has been a great series, I've loved studying it, I've enjoyed preaching it. I pray that it will be gladly received, and that we would set our affection on things above. That whatever house we're living in now, may we be content. Because we're going to to a dream house, which is the Father's house. We can't imagine what it's going to be like, given that Jesus has been preparing it for 2000 years. We'll just take it like it is. We thank you we've got your presence to look forward to. To be near my dear Savior, that I adore. Well through the ages be glory for me. Lord, if that's not truth for us this morning, it's because we're out of step, we don't love Jesus the way we should, we're not in his word as we ought to be, we're not walking in the Spirit as we're commanded to be. Lord, if there's someone here this morning who have been given the idea that they can never get to heaven, that they've sinned away their chances, or that there's another back road in, may they come to see that Jesus Christ is the truth, the live and the way. He can get them on the inside because that's where he is, and he can come and meet us at the gate and bring us in.
For these things we pray and ask in Jesus' name. Amen.