OUR ETERNAL HOME

OUR HOME

 

Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

I suppose the idea that the spirit Heaven is our eternal home, and the object of our salvation, is one of the most deeply rooted of all Christian beliefs. Yet there is no Bible passage that supports this view. Until we return to the Scriptures and find out what our goal actually is, we will understand neither the plan of salvation nor the Kingdom of God.

OUR ETERNAL HOME

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Let’s think for a moment about our eternal home. Where is it? What is it? The traditional view is that the spirit world is our eternal home, and we have developed a mythology describing it. I think deep in our consciousness we are remembering the Garden of Eden. But we must recognize that the Garden of Eden was located on the earth—probably in the area of present-day Iraq.

It is not surprising that we wish to leave the pains and dreads of life on the earth and go to a better place. But if you think about it, the problem is not the earth itself, it is the curse God placed on it because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve. The earth soon would be Paradise if all sin were to be removed and the curse lifted.

There is nothing wrong with the earth itself. The problem is with the inability of people to have constructive relationships with one another. And the reason we have destructive relationships, resulting in wars, is that Satan is present on the earth urging people to destroy themselves with worldliness, lust, and self-seeking.

If there were no worldliness, lust, or self-seeking in the lives of the people living on the earth, this really would be a wonderful place in which to live.

We think of Heaven as a kind of utopia in the sky where we will go one day. We picture mansions where will live in splendor. But until Jesus Christ removes the compulsions of sin from us, we bring our destructive relationships with us wherever we are, whether on earth or in Heaven.

The problem is not the earth, the problem is sin. The solution to the sin problem is not that of dying and entering the spirit world (who knows what we will find there?), the solution is our cooperation with the Holy Spirit until the love of the Antichrist world spirit, the lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh, and our self-centeredness have been removed from our personality.

Consider: We are on the earth now. When we die we will go somewhere in the spirit world, a place where we belong, where there are people like ourselves. When the Lord returns, we will return with Him and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. The Lord will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

After the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the present earth and sky will be removed and a new earth and sky will be established in their place.

So we are on the earth now; we will be on the earth with Jesus during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then we will be on the new earth for eternity.

If this is so, and the Bible seems to suggest this, then how do we arrive at the fact that Heaven is our eternal home?

The only possible basis for our belief is found in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. We need to look again at these verses and examine what they are saying.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

Our assumption is that the Father’s house is Heaven. But we have no basis for believing the Father’s house is Heaven. It is just a tradition.

The truth is, the Father’s house is under construction right now, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the Father’s house. We are living stones—rooms in the great House of God.

The New Testament states that there are many rooms in the Father’s house, so the idea of mansions has no basis. The King James Version employs the term "mansions" because the word had a different meaning in the seventeenth century. No modern translation speaks of mansions.

The New Testament never once mentions that Heaven is God’s house. But the New Testament does say that we saints are being built for a dwelling place of God. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, spoke of God’s plan to have a house.

So we find John 14:2 is not speaking of mansions in Heaven. It is referring rather to our having a place in the Body of Christ.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)

We assume this is referring to Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. But the context shows that Jesus is speaking of going to the Father as a Person, not to Heaven as a place. There is a huge difference between going to the Father as a Person and to Heaven as a place.

The reason most of us want to go to Heaven is that we desire to escape the pains and dreads of life on the earth, not because we want to go to God as a Person. I think we are more interested in having a mansion than we are in going to the Father. Do you suppose I am correct in this? Listen to contemporary preaching and see what you think.

The Lord Jesus went to the cross, and then to the Father to make an atonement on the Altar in Heaven. By so doing He atoned for the sins of the world. He bought the world with His own blood. The Lord Jesus now has authority over all flesh.

I want you to notice carefully how conventional thinking influences translators.

Look at the following verse, and notice the impression that is given of Jesus bringing us to Heaven to be with Him.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)

"I will come back and take you to be with me." Doesn’t this give the impression that Jesus is returning from Heaven and is going to take us to Heaven to be with Him?

But notice a literal translation:

And if I go on and prepare for you a place, again do I come, and will receive you unto myself, that where I am ye also may be; (John 14:3—Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible)

"And will receive you unto myself."

"I will come back and take you to be with me."

Can you see the difference? The literal translation emphasizes our being received to Christ as to a Person, without necessarily going anywhere. The NIV emphasizes our being taken somewhere.

The difference is not because the newer translators are demon possessed, as some are suggesting. It is just that they are trying to bring conventional thinking to the translation. It is not a deliberate warping of the meaning on their part.

Jesus is not coming to carry us to Heaven. He is coming to receive us unto Himself. So we are not speaking here of His return in which every eye shall see Him. Rather, we are referring to what He says later in the chapter:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:18-20)

The Lord will return and take us to Himself, that we may be with Him where He is.

Where is Christ, yesterday, today, and forever? He is in the very Center of the Father’s Person and will. That is where we wants to bring us—into the Center of the Father’s Person and will, so we can always be with Him where He always is.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

Jesus wants us to be hidden with Him in God. God Himself is our eternal Home, and when the Lord Jesus comes to govern the earth, God is coming in Him; our eternal Home is coming to the earth.

Would you rather have the spirit Heaven be your eternal home or God be your eternal home? They are not the same you know. One is a place. The other is a Person.

Right now, today, the Lord is here. He is knocking at the door of our heart. He is asking for admittance. He wants us to be with Him where He is.

Right at this point we notice the practical consequences of what I am writing in this brief article.

If you view Heaven as your eternal home, and the object of your salvation, then you are going to be looking forward to the day you die so you can go to Heaven. Is that correct?

But if you view being with Christ in God now, today, then you are going to work on this relationship each day of your discipleship. Many forces are coming against you to tear you down from your high place in God. And they will tear you down if you do not pray every day; read the Word every day; gather with fervent Christians (if you can find any) on a regular basis; and serve God in every way you can.

To maintain our high place in Christ in God we have to fight. It is not easy today because of the wickedness we are seeing. We find ourselves fretting about the evil in the world, and the fretting tears us down. The love of money tears us down. The lusts of the flesh tear us down.

If we are waiting to die and go to Heaven, we may not fight against sin as we should. But if we are pressing into the Kingdom of God each day, then we are not going to be careless about sin. We are going to seek to live the victorious life in Christ.

There is a world of difference between waiting to go to a place, and cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He makes us a suitable room in the great House of God.

You know the way to the place where I am going. (John 14:4)

Thus saith the New International Version, the translation I use most often.

Notice the word "place," the place where I am going.

Now consider a literal translation:

And whither I go away ye know, and the way ye have known. (John 14:4—Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible)

Do you see the world "place" in the above literal translation? Neither do I.

We could say that "whither" means where, and where indicates a place; but where can also mean a person. The Lord is speaking of going to the Father. "Where" He is going is to the Father. And so the term "place" is not in keeping with the context. It is very misleading!

Jesus never once, in the entire New Testament, spoke of going to Heaven. I think in these days we need to get back to the Bible. Don’t you?

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:5,6)

One time I was teaching in a Bible school in India. I made the comment that Jesus said no one comes to the Father, not no one comes to Heaven. A student in the back, in the face of the very passage, insisted that it said no one comes to Heaven. This is how strong the tradition is, so I don’t expect it will be overturned in a week or two.

It is obvious "where" is the Father, not Heaven as a place.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus spoke of Himself as being the Way?

We ordinarily do not refer to a person as a "way," do we?

If someone asked you the way to your hometown, and you said, "I am the way," they would think you were peculiar. How can a person be the way?

How is Jesus the way to the Father?

It is that the Father dwells in His entirety in the Lord Jesus. If we are to come to God, we must come to Jesus. As we keep serving Jesus, doing His will at all times, counting everything else in our life as secondary in importance, Jesus reveals the Father to us. There is no way of coming to the Father other than through the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus does not tell us how to get to the Father, He Himself is the Way to the Father.

Look again at the following passage:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:18-20)

We are to partake each day, in the spirit realm, of the body and blood of Christ. We are to live by His body and blood. He is to become our Life. When Christ is our Life, then we live because He lives. When that is true of us we begin to realize Christ always is in His Father, and we are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

The Lord goes on to say that if we will keep His Word, the Father and He will come and make Their dwelling place (mansion) in us.

Can you see that by waiting to die and go to a mansion in the place called Heaven (and there indeed is such a place), we miss the very plan of salvation? The Lord stands at the door of our heart, waiting for us to consent to make Him our very Life, while we are waiting to die and go to nonexistent mansions in Heaven. It is confusion!

Can you see how very personal this is? It is a personal experience with Jesus Christ, not a flight into the spirit world. It is to be taking place in our life right now, as we keep denying the compulsions of our sinful nature and obey the Spirit of God. When we do this we are strengthened by being fed the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. This is the formation of resurrection life in us in preparation for the raising of our body from the dead when He appears.

Christ Himself is the Way. Christ Himself is the Truth.

In America we pride ourselves on seeking the truth. We look for truth in the media, on the Internet, in the test tube, in mathematic formulas. All we find are physical descriptions of location, time, weight, occurrence, and so forth. These facts are not truth. Truth answers the question "why?—what is the meaning of this?"

We could know every fact in the world and not have truth.

Truth is a Person. It is He who explains the meaning of all things. It is He alone who answers the question: "What is man?"

It is not possible to have truth until we have Christ. Since He created the physical universe, He knows more about the material world than the most learned scientist. He has total understanding of the makeup of the atom, of gravity; of light. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Without Christ the world is continually learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I have thought in time past that when people died and went to Heaven they would understand all doctrine, all theology. I don’t believe now. I think if an individual is to understand the Bible he has to be taught by Christian teachers.

I would suppose those who believe in a pre-tribulation "rapture" will still believe this after they die. It is possible that they will not understand they have been taught an error until Antichrist and the Great Tribulation are raging in the earth and there has been no rapture.

I don’t know what the dear Catholic people do when they die and there is only Jesus to worship, no virgin Mary. Being devout people, I suppose they will just worship Jesus and be done with it.

Jesus Christ is the truth. We do not come to the truth by dying or by going to Heaven, except in certain instances. When a Muslim young person who has blown up himself and caused the death of ten other people becomes conscious in the spirit world, and he is not in Paradise and there are no dancing girls, he will become aware he needs to find truth.

I think it is very possible that those Christians with the gift of teaching will be available to teach the young Muslim man after he dies. I don’t see why not! I know of no passage of the Scriptures that denies the possibility of this.

We have an acquaintance who teaches the Gospel to Muslim people. Many have been saved and are rejoicing in Christ. I see no reason why he cannot continue to teach Muslim people in the spirit world, for many of these devout people will realize after they die that Christ is the Son of God and all truth is in Him.

So we don’t find truth in Heaven as a place, just by going there. We find truth in Jesus and in those whom Jesus appoints as teachers. He is the Way, and the only way, to the Father.

Christ is the Life.

There is biologic life, and then there is the Life of God.

Biologic life is always dying, always becoming corrupt. The Life of God never dies, never experiences corruption.

The New Testament speaks often of eternal life, seldom or never of our going to Heaven. From listening to Christian people, I think they have Heaven and eternal life confused.

They quote John 3:16 as: "God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not go to Hell but to Heaven." Isn’t that the way John 3:16 is taught?

In actuality, John 3:16 is not speaking of Heaven at all. John 3:16 is referring to the restoration of what was lost in Eden, that is, access to the Tree of Life. The Lord Jesus is the Tree of Life. When we live and believe in Him we are positioned with Him at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. When we die physically, our position does not change. We still are at the right hand of God in Heaven.

When the Lord returns, our flesh and bones will be raised from their place of interment and clothed with incorruptible resurrection life. We then will be able to live on the earth for eternity; and will be in the Center of God’s Person and will, with the Lord Jesus, for eternity. This is the meaning of John 3:16. It is not referring to escaping Hell and entering Heaven. The blessing is, as the Lord said, everlasting life.

There are numerous Christians who have "accepted" Christ but who are living in the sinful nature. They are living in spiritual death. They still have hatred and malice in them. They are not entering eternal life. They do not understand the gate to life is small and the way to life is pressured. We have to enter life every day. As Paul exhorted Timothy, we have to lay hold on eternal life.

I think we have the idea of eternal life as being a kind of ticket God signs meaning we will exist forever. The truth is, we will exist forever whether or not we have eternal life. Eternal life is not eternal existence; not even eternal existence in Heaven. Eternal life is a kind of life. It is the Life of God. And we can have eternal Life just as fully here as we can in Heaven. Eternal life has nothing to do with going to Heaven. Can you see that?

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Resurrection. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Life.

When we put it all together, our eternal home is God Himself, and we come to God through Christ. Where Christ is, there is Home for us, whether in Heaven or on the earth. As long as we have Jesus, we are home.

Home is much, much more than the place where you hang your hat. Home is that situation in which you feel perfect peace, perfect fulfillment, perfect joy, perfect love. That is home, no matter where or who "home" is.

And I have learned in many years as a Christian, that our only true Home is the Lord Jesus Christ, and God in Him.