“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.”
We submit to the consideration of our brethren generally, such views as we have upon the passage proposed. To our mind it appears to present one of the most interesting, instructing and joy-inspiring passages contained in the New Testament. The subject embraced in the figure, and so beautifully illustrated, is one of the most vital interest to all the saints while in the house of their pilgrimage. The shattered tenements of mortality in which we now dwell, are polluted with sin, large spots of leprosy are seen and felt upon the walls. Infirmity and mortality are wasting it away, and soon it must be dissolved and fall. How cheering then to know that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and to be informed on such authority, having the assurance from the lips of Jesus himself, that mansions are provided for the final and everlasting habitation of all the heirs of God!
The occasion on which these words were spoken, give them additional interest. Jesus was about to die and suffer on the cross of Calvary. The Shepherd of Israel was about to be smitten with the sword, and the sheep to be scattered. The hour of his enemies, and the powers of darkness, was at hand, and their faith in him as the true Messiah, the Son of God, and Mediator between God and his people, was about to be put to a most frying test; but he says to them, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Though they should witness his sufferings, his agony and his blood, though they should see him suffer, in the flesh, in the likeness of sinful man, let this not impair their confidence in him as the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. They were still to believe on him as they believed on the Father, that he and his Father are one; that he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. He then adds, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” &c. Without stopping now to define the relationship of Father and Son, as involving the Mediatorial Headship, and life of the church, we pass to the consideration of his Father’s house, its mansions, its locality, its preparation, and its inhabitants.
When the patriarch Jacob in vision saw the mediatorial inter-communication between heaven and earth, and the angels ascending and descending upon the ladder which he saw, he said prophetically, Truly the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not. This is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven. The figurative design of the Ladder is settled by our Savior’s words, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” He who is the Son of man, is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no man cometh unto the Father, but by him, nor can any blessings flow down from the Father to the saints through any other medium or channel, for God has blessed them with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. (Eph. i. 3, 4.) He is therefore the antitype of that ladder, of which Jacob by the Spirit said, “None other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” That Christ is the house of God, and the gate of heaven, is manifested from the assurance that the Father is in him, and in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And not only that God the Father dwells in him, “And ye are complete in him which is the Head of all principality and power. - Col. ii. 9, 10.
By the many mansions in this house, we understand the places in the spiritual building for every child of God, or member of the family of God. Not that they are divided by partitions from each other, but rather that they are all members in particular of his body, or to keep in view the figure of a house, they are built up in him, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit; a building of sufficient capacity to shelter, secure and contain the whole family of God. The terms in our text, “mansions,” and “a place for you,” appear to be interchangeably used by our Lord, and to our mind signify the ample provision for the eternal abode of all the people of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A brother desires us to say, where and what place Jesus said he was going to prepare. We can attach no other locality to this house, or place, than was expressed by the inspired apostles: it is eternal in the heavens, and this is locality enough for us. But let us observe the plural form of the word heavens. Three, or a third heaven, is spoken of by the apostle Paul, and from the account he gave of his being caught up into the third, and of the unutterable glory which he saw, we understand it to be that heaven from which Christ said he came down, when he made his advent to this world, and where he had existed in his Mediatorial relation to the church from everlasting, in view of which the enraptured psalmist exclaimed, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” - Psalm xc. 1, 2. The first and second heavens, we understand refer to the two distinct dispensations. Under the old, it is said of Christ, “In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” - Isa. lxiii. 9. Of Christ as the dwelling-place of his people, Moses said, “The eternal God is their Refuge.” - Deut. xxxiii. 27. And concerning the gospel dispensation it is written of Christ, “Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” - Isaiah xxxii. 1, 2. That this house stands as the dwelling-place of his people, under the gospel dispensation, is settled beyond all controversy, by the testimony of John, Rev. xxi. 1-3, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” These references are deemed sufficient to prove that this building of God is not only in heaven, but in the heavens.
These Scriptures do not, in our understanding of them, refer to his flesh, and blood, which he took on him, when he was made of a woman, for in that flesh and blood, he was not with his saints under the old, nor in flesh and blood is he now with them under the present dispensation. But the angel of his presence is with them, as their life, their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. He is in them, and they are in him, and they abide in him as the branch abides in the vine, and from his fullness they derive all their vigor, health and comfort. Lastly we are to consider the import of his words, “I go to prepare a place for you,” &c. There is a sense in which the kingdom of glory was prepared as an inheritance for the saints, from the foundation of the world. But their human or Adamic bodies were created in Adam, and constitute now the earthly house which is soon to be dissolved and fall; from this house of their pilgrimage they are to be removed to their house which is in heaven. In this, the earthly house, we groan, being borne down with infirmities, and we earnestly desire to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit,” &c. - 2 Cor. v. 1-5. The preparation of the place designated in our subject, appears to us to be for the bodies of his saints. Their spiritual life had already existed in that eternal building from everlasting, but our flesh and blood have not inherited the kingdom, neither can they, because corruption cannot inherit incorruption. But we are assured that the Spirit of him that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken our mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in us. This resurrection has not yet taken place, neither is our mortality yet swallowed up of life, but God has wrought us for the selfsame thing, and he has given unto us, in confirmation of the blessed reality, the earnest of the Spirit. This spiritual earnest, is the evidence of something still in prospect. For after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph. i. 13, 14; see also chapter iv. 20.) Paul says, “We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” - Romans viii. 22, 23. That new life within the saints is not groaning and waiting to be adopted, for it is already in Christ, and never was out of him. He that hath the Son, hath the life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life, for this is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Adoption can add nothing to the interest of a home born child; the work of adoption is to bring in the purchased possession the field wherein the priceless treasures of his members were hidden. This is the purchased possession, and they are to be quickened with resurrection life; their mortality is to be swallowed up of life, and they are to be brought by adoption into that place which Jesus went to prepare.
The question returns, What preparation was necessary for the reception of this purchased possession? We conceive, the first to rise from the dead; that the body in which he suffered and died, being the first begotten from the dead, should be the first to arise from the dead, as the first fruits of them that slept. For in all things he must have the pre-eminence. That body which was born of the virgin, though holy and immaculate, was a mortal body, or it could not have died, but it has now passed the portals of immortality, and in it holds the keys of hell and death. Now the way is open into the holy place, and by the personal presence of the Lamb that standeth upon Mt. Zion, who says, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death.” The place is ready. The heavens have received them, that where he is, there they may also be.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself.” Blessed promise; in like manner as the disciples saw him ascend, shall we also see him descend again, upon the cloud of heaven, with power and great glory, in that crucified, but risen and glorified body in which the heavens received him. He shall come to raise the dead, and judge the world at the last day. He will raise them up in the likeness of his glorious body, and abide in the house which is eternal in the heavens.
Such, brethren, are our views of the passage. Try them by the word of truth, and if they accord not therewith, reject them; but if any of you should dissent from them, do it in a spirit of kindness.
Middletown, N. Y.
September 1, 1855.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 242 - 247