Your E-Mails: September 2022

The article Will you go to heaven? (issue 1655) said ‘The Bible says nothing about us going to heaven’. What about Jesus’ words in John 14:1–3: ‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.’

Ed: WE NEED TO READ the Lord’s words carefully. Notice that he says he is going to prepare a place for his disciples, and will come again to take them to himself. They will not go to heaven to be with him, he will come again to be with them.

What does this mean? The answer is in that word ‘rooms’. In the original Greek it’s a word that means ‘dwelling place’. The word is only used twice in the Bible—here, and later in the chapter in v. 23: ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’ That word ‘home’ is the same Greek word as ‘rooms’ in v. 2.

So the Lord is not saying that his disciples will go to him in heaven—he is saying that he will come to them on earth.

God’s desire to dwell with His people is one of the central themes in the Bible. This was the reason for the Tabernacle in the wilderness: ‘let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst’ (Exodus 25:8). The theme comes into sharp focus with the life of Jesus Christ: ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).

John chapters 14 to 16 contain Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem, where they shared the Last Supper on the night before his betrayal and death. They’re words of comfort and encouragement, preparing them for his departure. They centre on the promise that although he was going away, he was not really leaving them: ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you’ (14:18–20). If you read these chapters you’ll notice how often the words ‘abide’ and ‘dwell’ occur.

When we are baptised we become children of God. One of the great privileges of being a member of God’s family is that, wherever we may be, whatever may be going on in our lives, whatever we may endure, even if we feel abandoned or cut off—as long as we remain faithful to him, we are never alone: ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).

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