My Father's House
A House that is Home
All of us have either seen or been in very elaborate and expensive houses. They are in the best of neighborhoods, and are worth several million dollars. Some of them have servants that wait on you hand and foot. They are the type of house that the world would say that a successful person would own. Yet if one of those houses remains vacant, is it truly a home? How about if that same house is occupied by a family in which the husband and wife are fighting and on the verge of divorce? What if abuse is taking place in the house? What is it that truly makes a house a home?
I personally have seen families that obviously didn't own much of this world's goods yet they lived in houses that I wanted to visit again and again. They obviously were poor, but there was something at that house that drew me to it. This house had love in it. It had a family that cared for one another so much that it showed. And love, unlike so many things in this world, doesn't dissipate the more it is used. It actually grows and envelops all who come within its sphere of influence. So a family with true love has more than enough to share with all who call upon them.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has told us that God the Heavenly Father has a house with many rooms and Jesus himself has gone to prepare a place for all who are part of his forever family through faith. And there is more than enough love for all who want to go there.
I. A Place to Long For
At last count there are 7.6 billion people in this place we call Earth. And at the last census that was attempted by the United Nations there were 100 million homeless worldwide. That is 100 million people who aren't experiencing what most of us in America take for granted: A warm, dry, relatively safe place to live.
While this is tragic and we should do all that we can to help these people, the biggest tragedy of all is to miss what our Heavenly Father has in store for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Our Lord has told us:
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; 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." (John 14:1-3)
The Apostle Paul teaches us that: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” ( I Corinthians 2:9) God, through his Spirit, and the Word has given us a glimpse of eternity and it is going to be glorious!"
As a matter of fact Paul, in Romans 8:18 also says: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." As bad as the worst experience is that you will ever undergo on this earth-be it the death of a loved one, a major illness, the loss of all your worldly possessions, or any other tragedy you can name- the glory of Heaven will so far outweigh it that when we think of it there it will be considered a minor inconvenience we had to go through.
Some think of heaven as a boring place in which we sit around on clouds all day and strum harps. Others think of it like an eternal church service and really don't want to go. Far from this notion is the biblical view of heaven as so marvelous and so great that we should in fact long to see and experience it. Jesus called heaven a paradise (Luke 23:43). The God who created this earth and universe in which we live is far from a boring God. When he created this earth apart from sin, he said it was very good. That is the place we don't want to leave now, even though it has been corrupted by sin and evil. Can we expect anything less of the New Heaven and the New Earth without the sin. Certainly not! It will be a place of utter joy and delight!
John Piper on Heaven
A Place that is Physical
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. It is interesting that Scripture describes it in physical terms, yet we still get the idea that we will be some disembodied spirits floating around on clouds for eternity. This comes from a Greek misunderstanding of physical life that is not biblical. Plato, and later a group known as the Gnostics, believed that the flesh was evil or inferior to the spiritual and you couldn't mix the two.
While it is true that Paul teaches that those who die will be absent from the body and present with the Lord, he further tells us that we will receive new resurrected bodies at his coming (I Thessalonians 4:16,17; I Corinthians 15). And our bodies will be like Jesus' glorious body ( I John 3:2).
We know from his post-resurrection time on earth that Jesus had a body that could be recognized and touched. Indeed he asked Thomas to touch him and see that it was really he (Luke 24:39). Jesus talked about eating and drinking in his glorious kingdom as well (Mark 14:25).
When Jesus returns to earth his Millennial Kingdom, or thousand year reign, is described in physical terms even though it seems that there will be those living in it that haven't yet died and those who are resurrected after the Great Tribulation that is to befall the earth before it. (Revelation 20:4-6). Isaiah 65 describes a New Heavens and a New earth in which God's people will live long lives and with no premature infant death. They will plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. People will build houses and others won't inhabit them. The wolf and lamb will graze together and the lion will eat straw like an ox. The natural order will not anymore include violent killing of one animal by another. But there still will be a natural order.
But what happens once the thousand year reign of Christ is over and Satan and all evil and sin has been put away forever? The Apostle John again talks about a new heaven and a new earth in physical terms, this time without any death. He says:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:1-4).
Notice where John says the dwelling place of God will be. Jesus will reign forever in the New Jerusalem that has now come down from God. Heaven and earth will now be united because God himself will dwell with his people. And the Body of Christ, the people of God of this present age, whom Paul said would be with the Lord forever in I Thessalonians 4:17, will presumably be on earth where the Lord reigns as well. The earth, which has been groaning under the weight and curse of sin will now be completely redeemed by God just as he promised (Romans 18:20-25).
Scripture describes the new heaven-controlled earth as a wonderful place, minus the curse of sin where the River of Life flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb, On either side of the street is the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit monthly. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2).
If you are getting the feeling that heaven is like an Eden restored, with God walking and talking with his people in the midst of it, then you are getting a more biblical view of this wonderful place. We will no doubt work and fulfill our god ordained purpose of bringing glory to him by using our talents and abilities to their fullest extent forever. We will be able to travel and explore the vast earth and most likely the universe that God has created. And it will be a place where we will be loved by God and all his people for eternity. The house will truly be a home!
This home is entered only if you are in the family of God. If you haven't accepted Jesus as your Savior, he is the only way into the place being prepared. Accept his sacrifice on the cross for your sins today.
Those in God's forever family have a wonderful future ahead full of adventure and joy. The best is yet to come in our Father's vast and wonderful home. Let us praise him for all he has done and all he will do!
© 2018 Jeff Shirley