IS HEAVEN A PLACE OR A STATE?
John 14: 1-6
In this study we are specially interested in the words of Jesus in verses 2-3, “In My Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would hav 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.” In this passage Jesus elaborates on the present dwelling place of God the Father , the place to which Jesus went after His death and resurrection, and the future dwelling place of all saved people of earth
The first matter of interest is what Jesus called the “Father's house.” The Lord said, “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.” What and where is the Father's house? Some have expressed the view that the Father's house is the church, but there is no reference to such an idea in this passage. The church was not even in existence yet. He was not going to the church to prepare a place for them. The church is God's house in one sense, in that the church is God's house on the earth. The church is his earthly home, where He dwells among Christians. He no longer dwells in temples or cathedrals or any building made with men's hands.
The Father's house is a figurative term for heaven, the personal dwelling place of God, the holy angels, and the place where God the Son lived before the incarnation and assumed the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It's relationship to the earth as to distance is unknown; it is referred to as the third heaven and the heaven of heavens. As to its location, we are simply told is above us. Jesus said, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”. God dwells in the heavenly world; we dwell in the earthly world. Jesus made the interesting statement that there are many mansions in the house of the Father. The word means abiding places. Heaven must be a large place, and its possibilities exceed our imagination. God must have a big house; for it has
room enough to accommodate all the saved people of earth. When Jesus went to the Father's house He went to heaven.
Secondly, Jesus made the surprising statement that He went to heaven to prepare a place for us to live. We certainly will need some place to live when our life on earth is ended. At the resurrection of the dead, the souls of faithful Christians will enter new glorified spiritual bodies; and we will need some place to live in our new glorified condition. We will need some place to live forever, for this earth is to be destroyed and pass away. We need a world suitable not to disembodied spirits, for our spirits
and souls will be united to new glorious bodies. Peter comforted us by saying that we look for a new heaven and new earth wherein dwell righteousness. A lot of people think that the new heaven and earth will be these old ones made over and renewed. I see nothing in this language to suggest that our present world will be our new heaven and earth. It is quite clear that Jesus is preparing us a place to live in the Father's house in the heavenly world.
Even though there are many abiding places in the Father's house,
nevertheless, He is now making preparations for our arrival. Among other reasons, it was necessary for Him to return to heaven that He might prepare a place for His disciples to live with Him forever, and there will be room for all. What a promise! One thing of which we can be certain about these words of Jesus, is that heaven is now in a state of preparation. When He has completed His preparation, He will return for His own; and we will live with Him forever.
I must admit He complicated these words about going to prepare us a place by the words He spoke in Matthew 25:34. Jesus will say these words at the judgment, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” If it was prepared from the foundation of the world, how can it be said it is being prepared by Christ? The explanation probably is that it was prepared in the was the eternal purpose of the Father, prepared by wise foresight, arranged for, pre-planned and predestinated. It was prepared in the sense that it was a part of God's eternal purpose. Before the creation of the universe God had always planned that the saved people of earth would have their own dwelling place in heaven. It may not have actually been prepared before the foundation of the world, but it was always in the purpose and plan of God the Father; and therefore might be regarded as already done. This same kind of reasoning is used about the death of Jesus. Revelation 13:8 says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him(the beast) whose names have not been written in the book of Life of the lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.” This verse says that Christ was slain before the universe was created. How could that be? He was not actually slain before the foundation of the world, but it was in the plan, arrangement and purpose of God to allow Him to be slain by His own nation. It was always the plan of God that Jesus would die for the human race. In the sense of pre-arrangement, plan and design, the death of Christ was to be the means of reconciling the world to God the Father. So it was with the everlasting king of Christ in heaven. After Christ had gone to the cross and made preparations for the world to be saved, He then
returned to heaven to make preparations for the eternal dwelling place of all the saved of earth. The preparations Jesus is now making for our new home is simply carrying the plan God had in mind before the creation.
Another wonderful truth we learn from this passage is that the Christian heaven will be a place. Jesus said He went to prepare us a place, and that place will be the ultimate home of God's people. You see, Christ mentions a place, not a state; and He speaks of going to the place and coming back from it. We are not going to be floating around in space. He said, “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.” These words imply definite location and definite place.
Finally, the place is a prepared place, and the question comes, “Are we prepared for it?” One of our well known Christian proverbs, which has become household words, says, “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” I wonder if that saying was not coined from this passage. We should all take that proverb to heart. When people become Christians, their preparation has begun . Do we love God, God's people, and the Lord's Church? .. Do we abhor evil and cleave to that which is good? Are we living soberly, righteously and godly in this present world?. Is Christ our All-in-All? . All who can say these things are among the prepared and are on their way to “The House,” the Father's house, . with its many mansions or abiding places.