Dear radio friends,
Our message today is taken from the beautiful words of our Lord in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
How many of God’s children have been comforted by these words of our Lord! How many have had their hearts made calm in the deepest trial and sorrow by remembering these blessed words! How many hospital rooms, funeral parlors, and how many believers in moments of heaviest grief, loss, pain, sorrow have found our Lord’s words here of tremendous comfort, of victory, and of eternal life!
Now Jesus is speaking them again to us. He is speaking to us through His Word right now the one thing that is most necessary for our life, that we hear His own words and that we receive them with a believing heart.
In John 14 our Lord is speaking to us as He was about to leave His disciples in such a way that they could not follow Him. He was saying to them and to us that He would go away from us through the cross and through the resurrection from the dead and, then, after forty days, He would ascend up into heaven. He would travel the path that the Father had laid out for Him in order to accomplish the entirety of our salvation. The Word of God tells us in Hebrews 6:20 that He is the forerunner who has for us entered into the heavenlies; that He was the one according to Isaiah 63 who would tread the winepress of God’s wrath all alone; that He would obtain our salvation and then return to His heavenly Father in a glorious ascension.
The Lord tells us that everything that He ever did on earth was always for us, for the elect, whom the Father had entrusted to His care. And He tells us now that through that work we also have access into the grace of eternal life; that we, too, have access to heaven; and that He goes to heaven to prepare a place for us.
From every point of view, then, the gospel that we hear today is a wonderful word of comfort and victory for us as children of God. Jesus begins with the words, “Let not your heart be troubled.” The word “trouble” there means “thrown into fear, anxiety, or confusion.” Do not have your heart thrown about with fears and confusions. How weak are our hearts.
At that point the disciples were filled with sorrow, despair. They were feeling that they were being forsaken. And what about us? Can you count the troubles of one day in your heart — the worries, the fears, the burdens over sin, the anxiety, the grief? And we have no defense of ourselves to keep all of that out of our hearts. There are no bars, there are no bolts, and there are no locks to keep trouble out of your heart.
But now listen to Jesus. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” The remedy for our troubled hearts is faith in the living God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and to listen, listen to Him. Then, to buttress and support the call that we are to put away a troubled heart, the Lord tells us that He goes away (in the ascension up into heaven), but that He goes away for a gracious purpose, a gracious purpose for us. “I’m going away to prepare a place for you in My Father’s house of mansions.”
Let us think about that! What a wonderful place. He speaks to us of “Father’s house.” “In my Father’s house are many mansions: … I go to prepare a place for you.” Very plainly, Jesus Christ is talking about heaven, and, that, in the ascension forty days after His resurrection from the dead, He would go there in His glorified body. He would go back to His home in heaven. He had taught us that He came down from heaven (John 3:13). And, having completed the work that the Father gave Him to do, He would ascend up where He was before (John 6:62). Heaven is Father’s house. Heaven, then, is not a cold, sterile, empty place. To Jesus it was the place where He enjoyed perfect love and peace and joy and warmth of fellowship with His Father. He was eager to return.
Now, I know that the language is figurative. It is borrowed from this present life: house and mansions. But, you see, heaven is a real place. It is more real than anything we know here below. You say to me, “Where is heaven?” I do not know. Eye hath not seen and ear has not heard and it has not entered into the heart of man to conceive. It is exalted in glory. It is totally different from the earthly. It is full of wonder and praise. But it is not a dream. It is not something made up in our imaginations. It is God’s dwelling. It is His house. He has a throne there, and His honor is shown there. It is Father’s house. It is the place where all of God’s glory and love and mercy is to be felt and experienced through Jesus Christ. That is what makes heaven heaven.
Do not misunderstand. Heaven is glorious. It is unimaginably beautiful. The Bible tells us in Revelation that it has streets of gold and gates of pearl and rivers of life. Heaven and everything about it reflects God’s glory. It is unspeakably beautiful. But the true beauty of heaven does not lie in the place itself, but in the fact that God is there. Father is there. Heavenly, almighty Father of Jesus is there.
Is that not true in your earthly life as well? You know that, do you not? A house may be elegant. It may finally be the house of your dreams — staggering in its design, best building materials, ten rooms, five baths. But if father and mother are not there, it is a shell. On the contrary, you may be in a humble home. It may be somewhat cramped. But if father and mother are there, your children are happy. And if you live in love before them, then, the Bible says, that it is better to be there, better to be in a humble abode where the love of God is, than in a rich dwelling where there are contentions. So also, perfectly, what makes heaven heaven is that God is there. There His warmth of eternal love and mercy and grace are to be experienced, which more than swallow up all of our sorrow and death and tears.
Jesus said, “I am going to that place.” That is what happened in the Ascension, forty days after He arose from the dead. Jesus crossed over the great Jordan and entered into the heavenly Canaan and took up His place at God’s right hand upon the throne in heaven. And that, too, makes heaven heaven. If Jesus were not there, if the only begotten Son of God, the crucified Savior, the risen Lord, were absent — well, that cannot be. Then it would not be heaven. But He is there! And we shall sit at His feet. The Lamb Himself shall lead us and bring us to fountains of living water, says the book of Revelation. That is what makes heaven heaven.
Now He says to us that in His Father’s house are many mansions. That is, heaven is a place that is more than adequate for all the children of God. It is a place of full and uninterrupted glory for each child of God. The Lord confirms it. He says, “If it were not so (that it is a place of many mansions), I would have told you. If it were not spacious and glorious, I would have said so.” You are going to another place. You are going to go to heaven as a child of God. You ask, “Is there room?” Jesus says, “I told you. There are many mansions there.” It is a roomy place, a place for all of God’s children — for the most renowned of those children (David and Daniel and Paul and Moses, Luther and Calvin and Augustine) — a place for the lowliest, humblest (for the thief on the cross, for the woman at Jacob’s well, and for me). A countless throng shall be there, a throng that no man can number, vast and glorious. It is a place of mansions. And that means that in every one of us will be seen the dazzling display of the wonderful grace and love of Jesus. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I go to prepare a place for you.” What the Lord means to say is that His ascension up into heaven makes it possible for us also to go there. That is the gospel. Apart from Jesus and apart from His work, there would be no place in heaven for you. Without His death upon a cross you would have no right to enter. And without His resurrection and ascension into heaven and the return of the Holy Spirit into your heart you could not be made ready to enter into that place.
That was His work — the whole work of Jesus was this: that He be born under our sin; that He die on a cross for our sin; that He be raised again the third day with newness of life as the Head of the church for all of His own; and now that He ascend up into heaven. We ask, “Lord, why? Why did you come down to do all of this?” The answer: To prepare a place for us. Or, in the words of Psalm 68, that men might dwell with Thee, O God, forever.
Apart from Jesus and apart from His work,
there would be no place in heaven for you.
Your and my place is not Father’s house — not as far as we are concerned. We do not have any right to Father’s house. Your place and my place, as far as we are concerned, is hell’s pit. We belong to the place of the damned. We are sinners. By nature we are rebels and haters of God. We deserve the lake of fire, everlasting burnings. But God sent forth His Son into the world. And through His work, the saved child of God has the right for eternal glory.
But more. The saved child of God is being prepared for that place of glory. Listen to Jesus: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Right now, between us and God’s house is a great gulf, a high mountain. There was a high mountain, first of all, of our own sins. But Jesus came and He took those sins away. He washed them away in His own blood. But still more. Having secured for us eternal life and glory, the Lord also now enters into glory, into heaven, as the pledge and promise that we shall follow Him and that we belong there. When your time comes, that is, when the will of God concerning the length of your life and all the trials and things necessary to come into your life has been accomplished, you, child of God, shall go there.
And when you go there, no one can say, “What business do you have going there? How dare you enter!” Oh, no. No one can say that. Not to us as we stand in Christ. For in Jesus Christ the gates must give way. And a loud Hosanna shall meet you. And you shall hear the words “Come, ye blessed of My Father. Enter into the kingdom prepared for you.” Prepared for you by what? By Jesus, by the grace that is in Jesus. He is the One who made it possible. He is the One who prepares you for it.
We ask the question: “Why not right now, then? Why can’t we go there right now? He’s died for our sins. He’s risen. Why can’t we go?” Jesus says, “I must go first to prepare a place.” Certainly those words imply that we must be made ready. What does that mean? He must prepare for us a place, not in the sense of earning the right, but in the sense of molding and conforming and fitting us for that place.
So the work of God is not a work any longer of obtaining pardon, but the application and the molding of the child of God for glory. The Scriptures teach us that our ascended Lord has a purpose for our present life. There is a purpose for your life. This human life, young person, is not idle time. It is not “down-time.” It is molding and sculpting time. It is fitting time. Our whole human life as a child of God is not regulated by chance. It is not a meaningless riddle that I have to try somehow to solve, to eke out some type of meaning or significance. Here is the significance. It is a glorious significance. It is found in Jesus. Jesus is preparing us for glory. Through trial and storm, each one fitted for and unique to each child of God. By shaping and molding us, He is preparing us for that place of eternal glory.
Do you think that your life is a meaningless, tangled mess, that it is snarled, with no sense to it? Oh, no, child of God. Look up to your Savior. He is preparing a place for you. That is why you lost your husband and now you are a widow. That is why you lost your child. Or that is why God did not give to you children. That is the reason for the burdens that you bear this day. And that is the reason for your physical woes, your pains and your sorrows of joint and limb, your diabetes. And that is the reason for your heartaches and your sorrows and your difficulties. He is preparing, He is working upon the vessels fitted for eternal glory. He is preparing you right now, with His own hands, working as a master craftsman to prepare each one of us as His children for everlasting glory, the place where I shall glorify Him. All my sorrows and all my joys, all my pains and all the good things, all the bad things and all the sunshine — it is all in His hands, fitting me for that place.
The Lord is preparing us for that place. The Lord says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” I cannot explain everything that is involved in that. I know what it cannot mean. It does not mean, as I said, that he is working to secure the right for us to enter into heaven. That is completed. The title for our entrance into heaven, the inheritance, is ours. It means that there is a work of love and tenderness that is necessary in our lives. That means that you must not view heaven mechanically. Do you say to your loved one whom you are expecting home for a special occasion: “We have to get ready”? When you are expecting someone special to come home, do you not get the home ready? If it is a loved one, do you not say, as a father/mother, “It has to be just so when they get here”? I go to prepare a place for you. Not only you for the place. But I must prepare the place for you. It has to be just right. I know its glory already. I know that. But, the Lord says in His tender love, “I’m preparing a place for you.”
Those are words that are bursting in tenderness. “And if I go,” He says, “and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” He is saying to us, “If I don’t go, I can’t prepare this place for you. It’s very necessary that I go. But I’ll be back. When I have finished My work, when I have seen personally that all of Father’s will is accomplished in your life, I’m going to come again. And then the whole purpose will be yours. You shall be brought to be with Me. Where I am, there ye shall be also to see My glory.” That is the purpose: that you might be with Him in glory.
Did you hear that? There is one grand object in the salvation of the church, in your salvation, and one grand object in the details of your life. That object is this: that we might be with Christ, which is far better. Jesus ascended and has returned to His Father’s house in order that we might be taken there and be with Him in glory. Each believer, therefore, goes to heaven at the moment of death. Do not fear death. Do not live like a fool, never thinking about death. Reckon with the reality of death. But do not let your heart be troubled. It may be that after seventy-five years, in a silent night, the Lord will come and your place is ready and you are ready and He will take you to Himself. It may be after fifty-five years and through the rough door of cancer. It may be in an instant of crashing metal, in what we call a car accident, and your loved one is taken from you. It may be in a heart attack. But this is what it will be: “I will come again, and I will receive you unto myself, that where I am, ye may be also.”
Death is when Jesus comes and carries us home. That is what death is. Death is not the work of a biological clock. Death is not a chance. But death signals that two things have been accomplished. As a child of God, I have been prepared, and Jesus has prepared my place. Then He comes and He says, “Come, rise up, beloved. Come away with Me to glory.”
Then, finally, at the day of judgment, Jesus will come again and He will raise our bodies from the dead. Do not marvel about that. Earth cannot hold Him. He ascended up into heaven. The grave cannot hold your body. It shall be raised to newness of life. It will be a glorious day. Think of it! The only begotten Son of God, the crucified and risen Lord of the church, the great Moses — He will come leading the church out of Egypt. The redeemed hosts of God shall enter into Canaan, into Father’s house, into mansions. The gates will spring open when they heed the summons, “Ye gates, lift your heads, wide open the way; the King of glory enters with His redeemed host.” And we shall be welcomed home, home at last, with all of the angels. And we shall be with Him.
Will it not be glorious? Can you wait?
Father in heaven, bless Thy Word to our hearts today, through Jesus’ name, Amen.