THE “MANY MANSIONS” IN THE “FATHER’S HOUSE PART 3

In John 14:3 Jesus says, “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.” Our goal is to demonstrate that His “coming again” and “receiving us to Himself” is not something awaiting His future return. Instead, it pertains to His “coming” to us through the Spirit, and thus “receiving” us through the Spirit as one of the “many mansions” in the Father’s house. In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” How many times have we used this verse, or have heard others use it, to pertain to Jesus alone as the “way, the truth, and the life” where salvation is concerned? This is indeed a legitimate application of the verse. However, in context, it equally pertains to Jesus being the only “way” and “truth” necessary to have “life” as a “place” in the “Father’s house” as one of His “many mansions.” So, let me ask you, have you already believed on, and thus received, Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” for salvation? If so, that means He had long since gone away “to prepare a place for you.” You received Him because you had first been “born of the Spirit.” That’s why Jesus, through the Spirit, “came” and “received” you. Simply put, if you have already “received” Jesus for salvation, He has already “come again” and “received” you to Himself. He has already “built” you into your “place” in the “Father’s house” as one of His “many mansions.” Again, in context, that’s a point we can’t afford to miss.

Think about it. Are you really waiting until you get to “heaven” to “come to the Father”? Don’t you get it? Have you yet to understand what Jesus means in John 14:10 when He asks, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” In John 6:44 He says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Are you waiting for “the last day” so that the Father can “draw” you to “come” to Jesus? Must every “coming” of Christ that the Bible mentions refer to His future Second Coming? When Jesus says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I amthere you may be also,” what basis do we have in the context for insisting that His statement must absolutely refer to something still in the future? In John 14:4 Jesus says, “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Then, in verse 5, “Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’” Oh really, Thomas? Here is an extremely important truth that will help us to properly understand all of this: The words “where” and “way” must not be viewed as primarily referring to physical “location” and “travel” in relation to the word “place.” All three words are to be primarily understood in terms of spiritual relationship, and thus the means of being made children of God, being made God the Father’s “house” (or “household”). Take careful note of John 14:5-11, and you should be able to see this:

Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.’ Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.’”

“Where” He “goes” is to the Father. This accomplishes the necessary “preparation.” And having “gone” to the Father, that is “where” He is. He is “in the Father,” and the “Father in” Him. And by this He becomes the “way” to the Father, and thus the only “way” that anyone comes to have a “place” “in the Father.” And that means Christ and the Father “being in them” and “dwelling in them” as His “many mansions,” through the Spirit. I won’t list the passage here, but take the time to read John 17:20-26, and you will see that this is indeed the case (see also John 13:36-38). As mentioned previously in our study, our life in Christ involves the aspects of “already” and “not yet.” Let’s examine the consistent principle of all of this by looking again at 1 John 3:1-2, where John says 1 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Now, let’s apply the principle from this passage. First of all, I don’t think there is any Christian that would say they are not already a child of God. With that being the case, I am also confident that, like John, they would say that concerning their final completed eternal state, “it has not yet been revealed what [they] shall be.” We see then, that this is a perfect example of the Biblical principle, the Biblical truth, that in many ways the present Christian life is a matter of the “already,” and the “not yet.” So, by this same Biblical principle, I’m confident that concerning our Biblical metaphors of “dwelling place,” “building,” “temple,” “house,” and “many mansions,” we would all agree that all of these, at present, are “not yet what they shall be.” And that, beloved, is at the heart of my point. Since we have no problem with any of these metaphors “not yet” being “what they shall be,” why do we have such a problem accepting ourselves as already being these things? What Biblical grounds do we have for not accepting the truth that we ourselves are already God’s “dwelling place,” His “building,” His “temple,” His “house,” and yes, even His “many mansions”?

As Christians, how many of us would say that we ourselves are “not yet” “the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27)? How many of us would say that we ourselves are “not yet” “living stones,” “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:4, 9)? And given everything we have studied, why would we be expecting future inferiorcopies of the true” (Hebrews 9:11), and things “which are a shadow of things to come,” especially when we know that, already, the actual “substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17)? What about “the Jerusalem above,” which “is free” (Galatians 4:26), that “Mount Zion,” “the city of the living God,” which is “the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2)? Should we really expect this “New Jerusalem” to be like the “Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children” (Galatians 4:25), the Jerusalem with its temple that is of “this present creation” (Hebrews 9:11)? A supposedly exclusively material future heavenly “Father’s house” with all of its “mansions” cannot be what John describes in Revelation 21. First of all, in Revelation 21, John is describing a city, the holy city Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10). This city is the Bride, the Lamb’s wife (Revelation 21:9). Thus, the descriptions that follow in Revelation 21:11-17 are beautiful symbolic picturesque descriptions of the Lamb’s wife. Therefore, they are symbolic pictures of her spiritually glorious nature and qualities. The city, the new, heavenly, holy Jerusalem is the Lamb’s wife (see also Hebrews 11:10, 16). So where in Scripture are the literal “mansions” and the literal “city” with literal “streets of gold”? Like the “New Jerusalem,” so also the “many mansions: they both refer to us!

It is amazing that we can say things like “Christ came into my heart,” or “Christ came into my life.” When preaching the gospel, we even tell others to “Ask Jesus to come into your heart.” And in this way, we speak of Christ having already “come again,” to “receive us to Himself.” Yet, sadly enough, we have a problem with Scripture when Jesus says things like “they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30), “hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64), and especially “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:3). By the way, the first two passages refer to His “coming” in judgment upon Jerusalem and the unbelieving Jews in A.D. 70. So, we act as though when Scripture speaks of His “coming,” it must always refer to His future Second Coming for us. There’s no way it can refer to His having “come” already. Again, it is amazing how we accept it when Jesus says, “and lo, I am with you alwayseven to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). But how can this be? Shouldn’t He have said “and lo, I will be with you always, even at the end of the age”? After all, there is no way He could have “come” to “receive” us to Himself already, right?

With so many insisting on a strictly future view, understand that Jesus’s “coming again” and “receiving” us to Himself in John 14:3 not only fits just as well with the “coming” of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Beloved, it in fact only fits with the “coming” of the Spirit in Acts 2. This is because we are at present in the process of experiencing the following: “the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Thus, having already “prepared” their “places,” the “coming” of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 was when Jesus began “coming again,” with the Father, through the Spirit. Thus, He began “receiving” His “mansions” to Himself and the Father, “building” each one in their “place,” and thereby “making Their home with them.” So even though He already had many redeemed “mansions” prior to the “preparation,” after the necessary “preparation” had been made, the “coming” of the Spirit in Acts chapter 2 is when Jesus began to fulfill His promise, the promise that “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). The point is that since we ourselves are the “many mansions,” and the “house” is already in the process of being “built,” Jesus’ “coming again” in John 14:3 cannot refer to His Second Coming spoken of in passages such as 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4.

So again, in John 14:23 we are told that “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘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.’” We can see that this “coming again” and “receiving” is by means of “another Helper” the “Spirit of Truth.” However, His Second Coming, His literal bodily “coming again,” will be to complete His “Father’s house.” At that time, all of the individual “mansions” will be in “place,” having been “prepared” with each individual exterior “house not made with hands” collectively being “fitted together.” That will be to finish the entire house, interior and exterior. This “finishing” of the “building” of the “Father’s house” is consistent with not only the fact of our bodily resurrection, but also with the time of our bodily resurrection. Thus, at the time of bodily resurrection, our bodies, our exterior “houses” (plural), will form the entire exterior (singular) of the “Father’s house.” And what is truly amazing is that, unlike the “building” process of the interior “mansions,” the “building” of the spiritual incorruptible eternal exterior will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Thus, in one grand finishing “moment” of the exterior, “we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). After all, it is the “earthly house” of “flesh and blood” that “cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:50). By the way, how then could there possibly be a literal “thousand years” of “earthly” “flesh and blood” in “the kingdom of God” after the entire “Father’s house” is complete? Again, remember that the “many mansions” “redeemed” under the Old Covenant “will not be made perfect,” and thus will not receive their exterior “building from God,” apart from the “mansions” “redeemed” under the New Covenant (Hebrews 11:39-40). And this is “perfectly” consistent with 1 Timothy 2:5-6 where Paul says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

In Mark 3:25, Jesus says “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” We are the “Father’s house.” Hebrews 3:5-6 says, “And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Jesus’ “house,” which is the “Father’s house,” is His “church.” He says, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). So as for “the gates of hell,” concerning the “Father’s house,” “whose house we are,” in the end it will be true that, spiritually speaking, “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25). Many still do not accept that the “Father’s house” is the “church” that Christ is “building.” They don’t accept Jesus’ “coming again” and “receiving” us to Himself in John 14:3 as something He has long since begun to do, and continues to do, until His literal bodily “coming again.” Let it be known then, that their strictly future “house” of “many mansions” “cannot stand,” because when the “winds” of “all Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16) “blow on that strictly future house,” it “falls.”

The metaphors of “dwelling,” “building,” “house,” “temple” (or “tabernacle”), and yes, “church,” simply emphasize the different aspects concerning the relationship between the One God at work in the One Christ, and Their one people. The point is that, like the “body” metaphor, the “building,” “temple,” “dwelling place,” “house,” and “church” metaphors all involve the concept of the “many” constituting the one whole “in Christ.” Hebrews 9:11 says “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” Later in the same chapter, in verse 24 it says, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Our bodies and ourselves are the temple. This is why Jesus, Paul, and others so often used the plural form of “you” and “your,” as well as the words “we,” “our,” and “us.” Each of the individual “mansions” collectively make up all of the “many mansions” as the one interior dwelling of the “Father’s house.” Likewise, each individual exterior “house” (each individual resurrected body), will collectively make up the one exterior of the “Father’s house.” Therefore, spiritually alive individuals collectively comprising the one spiritual whole, is the concept for all of the metaphors, whether it be God’s “temple,” His “building,” His “house,” His “household” (or “family”), His “dwelling,” or Christ’s “body,” which is His “church,” His “bride.” Doesn’t this all equally apply to the metaphor of “many mansions”?

Thus, what Hebrews 9: 11 says applies to all of the metaphors, namely because they all refer to things “not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” This means they are “spiritual,” incorruptible,” “immortal,” “eternal.” Therefore, they all ultimately belong to the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), that being the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Note then, that in speaking of the city of the New Jerusalem, which, as already stated, is the Lamb’s bride, His wife (Revelation 21:9), in Revelation 21:22, John says “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” This does not mean there was no “temple” at all. Instead, with all we have covered in our study up to this point, it should be clear that “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb,” together with Their people, “are its temple.” Obviously then, THIS “temple” is not a completely literal material “temple.” Or, as the writer of Hebrews says, it is not a “temple” “made with hands, that is, not of [the same nature as the ones that had been built in this] present creation.” So, let me ask you something based on all of the Scripture we have encountered in our study thus far: Since the nature of God’s true spiritual “temple” is not of this present creation, but actually is made up of people, why would we think the “New Jerusalem,” God’s “building,” God’s “dwelling place,” the “Father’s house,” and thus the “many mansions,” would be of this present creation? Why would they be strictly future things God has for us instead of being that which God has already made us? It is amazing that at the present we, by the Spirit, can spiritually “receive” Jesus to ourselves (John 1:12-13), but He, by the Spirit, can’t spiritually “receive” us to Himself until He comes again at His Second Coming! (sarcasm intended)

Jesus says, “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.” Why do we have to wait for His Second Coming to be “where [He is]”? Here is a question I have never heard asked in relation to this statement by Jesus in John 14:3: Where are those of whom Revelation 14:13 says “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on”? In other words, where are all of the Christians who have already died? Are they not with the Lord “where [He is]” right now? What’s the answer? In 2 Corinthians 5:8, doesn’t Paul say that “to be absent from the body” is “to be present with the Lord”? Doesn’t this then mean “that where [He is,] there [they are] also”? Is Paul lost somewhere in the universe? In Philippians 1:23, didn’t he say that he had “a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better”? If Paul is not “where” Christ is right now, he must be lost! If John 14:3 refers to the Second Coming, “where” will Jesus be, and where will the “dead in Christ” be, so that He has to “come [once] again and receive [them] to [Himself]”? In 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Paul says “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” There’s a lot of talk about the “coming” of the Lord. But, beloved, consider this: every time someone has been born of the Spirit, resulting in faith for salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ has “come” to them and “received” them to Himself.

Scripture is clear that the resurrection of the people of God will take place at the Second Coming of Christ. However, what is important for us to understand is that this “resurrection” refers to the resurrection of our bodies. Jesus (John 3:1-7), Paul (Ephesians 2:1-7), and Peter (1 Peter 1:3-5) make it clear that Christians have already been “resurrected” spiritually, and thus “born again,” by the regenerating work of the Spirit (Titus 3:4-7). Note then, that if John 14:3 refers to Christ’s Second Coming, how will He “come again and receive” those He was speaking to at that time, seeing as how they would already be with Him where He is? The main point is that everything in the context of John chapter 14 is consistent with Jesus “coming again” to “receive us to Himself,” not at His future Second Coming, but rather through the Spirit by means of regeneration and the new birth. And this “coming again” and “receiving” through the Spirit is exactly what He refers to in John 14:15-18, 25-26, 15:26-27, and 16:4-15. And as previously mentioned, it is also exactly what we find in Acts chapter 2 with the “coming” of the Spirit (cf. Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-8). Thus, concerning Christ’s sinless life, atoning death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father, the writer could say that “when He had by Himself purged our sins,” He “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).  And with this, having “prepared a place for us” to be the “many mansions” in His “Father’s house,” through the Spirit He began to “receive us to Himself,” and thus began to “build [His] church.”

We Christians who are still alive in our present bodies are already “where [He is].” It’s just that our brothers and sisters who are already absent from their bodies, are “where [He is]” in a way “far better” than we are. In John 17:24, Jesus says “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” Is this “beholding” Christ’s “glory” something we must wait to do at His Second Coming? John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We have “not yet” beheld the fulness of His glory, but we do “already” behold His glory to a certain degree. Through the Spirit we are already where He is, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” This must be the case, for how else could He say, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)? Note especially John 12:26 where He says, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” Are you Christ’s “servant” already, or are you waiting for His Second Coming to become one? According to Jesus, if you are His “servant” already, you are already where He is! Beloved, so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are missing out on the wonderful truths we have covered in this study. Let us pray that our Father will cause them to stop missing out by no longer waiting for a future “mansion,” and instead, come to realize that they are already “mansions” in the “Father’s house.” Ah, but “church tradition” must prevail over the word of God! Therefore, no matter what God says, we must, must I say, continue to sing “I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory. And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea.” Ok then. If we simply must continue to sing this, let’s at least acknowledge that we are singing about ourselves, and thus singing that we have already “heard about” what we already are!

Conclusion

The “manifold wisdom of God” is “made known by the church” (Ephesians 3:10). Christ is currently “building” His church. This “church” is also the “Father’s house” of “many mansions.” It is being built from the inside out by Christ through the Spirit, to be completed for its glorious eternal existence at Christ’s return. It will be a glorious house with “mansions” “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9). Now, that will be the true Christian “university,” which is a united diversity. So, beloved “fellow-mansions” in the Father’s house, the next time you hear John 14:1-3 at someone’s funeral, remember this: If that person was not already one of the spiritual interior “many mansions” in the “Father’s house” before their exterior “earthly house,” their “tent,” was “destroyed,” they have no future “mansion” in the “Father’s house,” of any kind, to look forward to. Instead, they will find themselves eternally trapped as one of “many rooms” in a “house” that will be on fire, forever! Let each of us, to whom it applies because of Christ alone, praise God for already being one of the interior “many mansions” in the Father’s house,” presently and eagerly waiting for our transformation to be complete, awaiting the instant finishing “moment” of the entire house with our exterior “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” So beloved, if our death, and thus our funeral, takes place before the Lord returns, as Paul says, “we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God” to look forward to. And even so, until the completion of the new building, we, the “mansions,” will have departed to be with Christ, to be with Him “where He is” in a way which is far better! Even though “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be,” let us complete our study by rejoicing with the Spirit-filled understanding of the already presently fulfilled reality for ourselves concerning these wonderful words spoken by our Lord: John 14:2-3 “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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” We know the Way, the Truth, and the Life, already. And through the Spirit, we are already there, with the Lord where He is, as His “many mansions” in His and our Father’s House, eagerly waiting for its completion. AMEN!!!

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THE “MANY MANSIONS” IN THE “FATHER’S HOUSE PART 2

In Part 1 I mentioned that there is nothing wrong with desiring the material aspect of a “mansion,” and thus the material aspect of the “Father’s house.” It is important to know what that material aspect is. By definition, “mansions,” or “rooms,” refer to the interior of a “house.” Thus, we “mansions” are “are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). Therefore, of the “many mansions” it may be said “in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27; cf. Ephesians 4:24). So, just as God is Spirit, the images are spirit also. This means that the “mansions” in which God “dwells in” by the Spirit must be, “images,” and thus “spirit-mansions” (cf. Acts 7:48-50; 17:24). The point here is that since God Himself has no physical/material attributes, the “mansions,” which are the “inner rooms,” have no physical/material attributes either. With that being the case, how then would it be right to desire a material aspect of the “mansions,” in the “Father’s house”? The answer is that there is a “spiritual” material aspect related to the “mansions.” Concerning the “Father’s house,” Scripture presents two aspects of that which is “spiritual”: 1) That which is literally “spiritual” (having no physical/material attributes), and 2) that which is materially “spiritual.” In 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 Paul says 42 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”

So, the “mansions” are “spirit,” and Paul says there is also a “spiritual body.” Understanding these two “spiritual” aspects will greatly help our understanding of the relationships between the following: 1) The literal spiritual interior “mansions” of the Father’s house, 2) the nature of the present exterior of the “house,” 3) the effect of the present exterior upon the spiritual interior during the “building” process, 4) the present spiritual conflict within the “mansions” themselves, 5) the material “spiritual” nature of the future completed exterior, and 6) the completion of the entire house, interior and exterior. At this point, we are clear that the interior “mansions” are literally spirit. So, there is no theological conflict in the truth that we are already in “place” as “spiritual rooms” in the Father’s house. So as Jesus said concerning Himself and the Father, “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” (John 4:23). Hasn’t the Father and Son, through the Spirit, already “come” and made Their “home” with us? So again, since God is Spirit, and we, the “many mansions,” are also spirit, there is nothing contradictory about God already dwelling in the “mansions” even though His entire “house” is not yet complete, with all of the “mansions” and the future eternal spiritual exterior of the “house.” By the way, as we shall see later in Part 3 of our study, all of this will also shed light on how it is that Jesus has alreadycome again,” with the Father, to dwell in us. Thus, we have the interior “mansions,” the interior “rooms,” which are literally “spiritual.” This means the “many mansions” are our spirits. What we must understand is that it is very important to remember that there are still old remaining untransformed areas of the interior “mansions.” Paul’s metaphors of the “old man” and “new man” (or “old self” and “new self”) help to understand this. This should become increasingly clearer as we go through the study.

So, let’s shed some light on the “natural” nature of the present exterior of the “house.” Take note of the following two passages, for they are full of insight concerning the relationship between the nature of the present exterior of the house, the effect of the present exterior upon the interior of the house during Christ’s “spiritual building process,” the present internal conflict within the interior, and the “spiritual” nature of the future completed exterior:

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 1 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”

Let me first give a summary statement of these two passages as it relates to our study. This is what we have: For Christians still living in the present world, as the dwelling places of God, the Father’s house of many mansions, we are dealing with the present reality of the effects of an imperfect exterior upon a not yet fully transformed interior. So, let’s look at the nature of the present exterior found in these two passages. Paul describes it as “our earthly house,” “this tent,” “flesh and blood,” “corruptible,” and “mortal.” Then there is the nature of the future exterior in the two passages. Paul describes it as “a building from God,” “a house not made with hands, “eternal in the heavens,” “our habitation which is from heaven,” “incorruptible,” and “immortality.” This contrast between the natures of the present interior “mansions” of the “house,” and the present exterior of the “houses,” gives us great insight into our present Christian life. Given the contrast, we can understand why Paul says, “in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” The words “in this,” refer to our present “earthly house,” our present exterior, which are our present bodies. Therefore, at present, the interior “mansions” “groan” because they are “housed” in “corruptible” “mortal” exteriors. The interior has been “born again” (John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:23), and thus has “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).  The “house’s” interior at present, as we shall see shortly, is undergoing a transformation that is not yet complete. Nevertheless, it is already an interior of “many mansions.” By contrast, at present, the exterior is a “body of sin” (Romans 6:6), and thus a “body of death” (Romans 7:24).

So, this is why at the present time, we, the interior “mansions,” “groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). The “redemption of our body” will be our “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” and thus a “spiritual” “incorruptible” eternal exterior! Take note then that as the “mansions” of the Father’s house,” we, and thus the “house,” are in the “building transformation process.” And here is the important thing to understand: At present, only the “mansions,” the interior “rooms” of the house, are being transformed. Note then that God through Christ by the Spirit is “building” His “house” (His “church/assembly”) from the inside out (Matthew 16:18). So, even though we are in the “building transformation” process, God, through the Spirit, does indeed at present “dwell in” the “mansions.” So, if you have not realized it by now, we, the “many mansions,” are going through an internal transformation, while also having to deal with an exterior that is not fitting for, and even contrary to, the “rooms” we are being transformed into. Thus, from the metaphors of “dwelling,” the “house,” the “building,” or the “temple,” we can see and understand the present internal and external conflict. Thus, we have the present “groaning” of the Christian life. In the following two passages, I have highlighted certain words. You should be able to see how they represent the internal and external conflicts that cause our “groaning” during our ongoing interior transformation as the “mansions” in the “Father’s house.”

Galatians 5:16-17 16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” – Galatians 5:19-23 19 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” – 1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

Can you see how, at present, the corrupt exterior, and the old remaining untransformed areas of the interior “mansions”, are currently “waging war” against the already transformed areas of the interior “mansions”? We can understand then, why Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:22-24 is 22 “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Only the “new” areas of the “mansions” that have already been “created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness,” and thus already transformed, are “groaning.” So the “groaning” is due to the “old” untransformed areas, as well as the still present corrupt exterior. At present then, “war” is being “waged” within the interior “mansions,” and “war” is being “waged against” the interior “mansions” by the present exterior “houses.” Are you starting to better understand the “groaning” and “desire” of the already transformed areas of the “mansions”? If so, the application of the following statements we read previously should be even clearer: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.”; “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

Recall also that Paul says “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” Did you get that? God through Christ is not “up in heaven somewhere” stillpreparing a place” for us in the “Father’s house.” Listen, He already “prepared a place for” us. And, we have already been “placed” in the “Father’s house” as the “place,” that is, as the “many mansions.” Thus, since we are already “mansions,” as Paul says, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” The Spirit Whom He “has given us” is not only the “guarantee” that we are already “mansions” “placed” in the “house,” but He is also the “guarantee” of “this very thing,” which is that our future spiritual exterior of the “house” is coming. If you still have a problem accepting that we are already “mansions in the “Father’s house” currently undergoing “transformation,” note what Paul says: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Or, as The Living Bible renders it, “But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him” (cf. Romans 12:2).

So, we better understand 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 where Paul says “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” You see, while the “mansions” presently reside in their “corruptible” “earthly houses,” they “groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with [their spiritual] habitation which is from heaven.” In other words, it’s like the “mansions” are saying “We can’t wait to be rid of these corrupt war-waging exteriors!” And notice that it is not just that they can’t wait to be rid of the old exteriors. They don’t want to just get rid of those old exteriors, and then simply remain without any exteriors at all. Again, as Paul says, we “mansions” are “earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,” so that “if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.” Ah, but then too, Paul also says that even though “while we are at home in the [present corrupt exterior] body we are absent from the Lord,” we “are well pleased rather to be absent from the [present corrupt exterior] body and to be present with the Lord.” To use Paul’s words, it is more “pleasing” to be “unclothed,” that is, rid of the old exterior. That way we “mansions” can be perfect spiritually “present with the Lord,” without corruption, while we wait to receive “our habitation which is from heaven.” And with that, we should be able to better understand and appreciate Philippians 1:23. There Paul speaks of “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

Thus, to “depart and be with Christ,” is to be “absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” This is “far better” because the “mansion,” the “room,” is then free from internal and external “corruption.”” But again, the set-free “mansions” don’t desire to be “unclothed,” and thus “naked.” They still desire to be clothed with their habitation which is from heaven, for that will be, by “far,” the best! As John says in Revelation 14:13, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” Until His return, “the dead in Christ” have it “far better” than those of us who still remain in our “earthly house.” Well, hopefully we now better understand the two “spiritual” aspects of the “Father’s house.” Even though the “many mansions” make up the spiritual interior of the “house,” these “mansions” also earnestly desire their spiritual exterior as well. By the way, read Romans 8:19-23, and you will find that we, the “many mansions” in the “Father’s house,” are not alone in our “groaning” and “eagerly waiting.” In John 14:3, Jesus says “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 Part 3 of our study, we will look at more passages of Scripture to demonstrate that His “coming again,” and “receiving us to Himself,” are both things that began once He started to “build His church.” And this has been ongoing right up to the present, and will continue until the last “mansion” is “placed” in the “Father’s house.” Jesus said, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” So this means that, as we shall see, all of the “many mansions” that already have their “place” in the “Father’s house,” are already where He is! Amen. (To be continued . . .)

THE “MANY MANSIONS” IN THE “FATHER’S HOUSE PART 1

Text for study:

John 14:1-6 1 “’Let not your heart be troubled; you 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

A “metaphor” may be basically defined as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” To put it another way, when we portray a person, place, thing, or an action as being something else, even though it is not actually that “something else,” we are speaking metaphorically.

Scripture gives us many different metaphors for the one true people of God, the church (which means “assembly”). For example, there are the metaphors of the “flock” of “sheep” (John 10:16), the elect “branches” in the “olive tree” (Romans 11:16-26), the “bride” who is “the Lamb’s wife,” who is also the “heavenly” “city,” the “new Jerusalem” (Ephesians 5:31-32; 2 Corinthians 11:12; Hebrews 11:8-16; Revelation 19:7-8; Revelation 21:2, 9-27), “a chosen race,” “a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9), “God’s field” (1 Corinthians 3:9), and the “body” of Christ (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 27; Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:23, 30; Colossians 1:24). There are others as well. In our present study, our focus will be on the word “dwell,” along with the Biblical metaphors of the “house” (which can also mean “household” or “family”), the “temple,” and the “building” (The metaphors of “bodily” and “heavenly” will also come into play). From these, we should be able to see that we ourselves are the “many mansions” in the “Father’s house,” the true people of God, the elect of Israel and the Gentiles, in whom God through Christ by the Spirit dwells, and we in Him.

In this study, I am using the NKJV, but the same things are expressed in the various other Bible translations. So, let’s first take note of the following passages, with emphasis on the words in bold print:

Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (By the way, do you really think the “gates,” the “authorities,” of hell would really be concerned with “prevailing against” a literal material “building”?)

John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (“here, “dwelt” can mean “tabernacle” or “pithed His tent”)

John 2:19-22 19 “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 3:14-19 14 “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”

2 Corinthians 6:16 “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” (Note this in the Old Testament in Leviticus 26:11-12, which says 11 “I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”)

1 Timothy 3:14-15 14 “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Hebrews 3:1-6 1 “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

1 Peter 2:4-5 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

What we see from these passages is that the metaphors consistently represent spiritually alive people as a spiritual “temple,” a spiritual “building,” a spiritual “household” (or “family”), and thus a spiritual “house,” all in whom God “dwells,” through Christ, by the Spirit.

Now, were there any “mansions,” any “rooms,” any “living stones” who lived under the Old Covenant, who have their “place” in the “Father’s house” along with those of us who live under the New Covenant? Yes! As an example, Isaiah 29:22 says “Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale.”  Take note that the “Lord” “redeemed Abraham.” As the writer speaks of Abraham, and many others who were saved and “redeemed” while living under the Old Covenant, he says “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). And then later, in Hebrews 11:39-40, he would say 39 “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” The “us” refers to those who have lived, and do live at present, under the New Covenant. Note then that God’s “purpose was that only in company with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40 GNT). My point here is that “they,” like “us,” have been “redeemed,” and “they,” like “us,” are also “many mansions.” The question would be how is this possible for them when Christ had not come during their lifetime? Note the following 2 passages:

Hebrews 9:15 “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

Romans 3:21-26 (NLT)  21 “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.”

There is a familiar passage that we all have heard various explanations of. However, what the writer tells us throughout the chapter about all of the people provides the best help to understand what he means when he says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). “Living stones,” “mansions” (like Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Ruth, David, etc.), were “redeemed” and being gathered under the Old Covenant prior to the actual and necessary “preparation” on Christ’s part for each individual “mansion” to be “built” into its “place” in the “Father’s house.”

So with all of this in mind, including all of the other passages we looked at, at this point it should be clear that the “many mansions” in the “Father’s house” actually refer to us, all of the true people of God themselves, the “living stones,” the “mansions.” And this with, as Paul says to us, “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

In John 14:2 Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” The necessary “preparations” have already been made by Christ for every elect individual, under the Old and New Covenants, to be a “mansion,” a “room,” ready to be “built” in its specific “place” in the “Father’s house.” Thus, the great spiritual truth of John 14:1-3 is inseparably linked to what Jesus says in John 14:23, which is “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.” The “preparation” necessary for Jesus and the Father to “come to” all of us, and “make [Their] home with [us]” is complete because “Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). And “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). As the writer tells us, all that was necessary to “prepare a place” for us as the “many mansions” was completed by Christ “when He had by Himself purged our sins,” and “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). Conclusion: “Preparation” for individual “mansion” “placement,complete!

Therefore, after His “preparation” was complete, the building began, with the entire building itself to be completed upon His return at His Second Coming. Now, some may still not be sold on all of this yet, especially concerning Christ’s statement in John 14:3 that He would “come again.” Many will still insist that He is “coming again” in the future, and will indeed give each of us our own individual material “mansion” to live in. Well brothers and sisters, believe it or not, there is nothing wrong with desiring the material aspect of a “mansion,” and thus the material aspect of the “Father’s house.” What is important is that we know what that material aspect is. These are among the things we will look at in Part 2 of our study.

For now, my beloved “fellow-mansions” of the “Father’s house,” I will grant that for most Christians who still believe in a future actual material “house” in heaven, the error of this belief is probably not intentional, or may not even be realized as such. Nevertheless, the following thoughts are what I would like to close out Part 1 of our study with:

The popular longstanding interpretation of the “Father’s house” in John 14 is, in essence, so man-centered that far too many Christians fail to see the greater Divine purpose of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit making a spiritual “house” for Themselves to “dwell in.” Many of us are so fixed on a “mansion” for ourselves that we don’t see that we ourselves are the “mansions,” the many rooms for God to dwell in by the Spirit. As we read earlier: “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.’” The “many mansions” in the “Father’s house” are the “many” people who are “in Christ”!

(To be continued)

Gospel Conversations: Pressing for the “Ultimate” Part 8

Example 3: Christian/non-Christian family members

Non-Christian: Wow, little brother. It seems like only yesterday we were little kids without a care in the world. Now we are getting old. Don’t you miss the good old days?

Christian: Well, in one sense I do, but I am actually looking forward to even greater days.

Non-Christian: Perhaps some greater days are ahead, but you must admit, at our age, we have most certainly lived well over half of our lives. It would be nice if it all never had to end.

Christian: Actually, that’s my point in referring to “greater days” ahead. You see big brother, this has to do with the “Jesus thing” you have been teasing me about.

Non-Christian: You I always like to tease you. Seriously though, I do respect your beliefs. I just never understood the whole “church thing.”

Christian: Well, it’s something and Someone far greater than a “church thing.” You see, I now know that it is the greatest thing. With all of the good times this family has experienced together over the years, wouldn’t it be great if we could all be together forever?

Non-Christian: Sure, that would be great. But, as the saying goes, “We all gotta die sometime.”

Christian: Yes, that’s true. But the amazing thing is that most people don’t realize they have been dead all of their lives.

Non-Christian: Ok. Now you really have me wondering. How can we be dead and alive at the same time?

Christian: Have you ever really thought about why we even die in the first place? Have you ever thought about why we even desire to live? Have you ever thought about how and why we are here? Have you ever thought about ultimate questions and ultimate answers? Big brother, have you ever stopped to realize that without ultimate answers, there is no ultimate explanation and justification for anyone and anything?

Non-Christian: Wow. Slow down. I thought we were just talking about being together forever. What does all of this “ultimate” stuff have to do with anything?

Christian: Again, that is my point. Ultimately, why should we want to be together forever? Why should we want to live forever? Why should families care about one another? What’s the point? You see big brother, the Ultimate is the very thing I would like to talk to you about, because without addressing that first, all else is unjustified.

Non-Christian: Okay. At this point I assume that “ultimately,” this is leading to the whole “Jesus issue,” right?

Christian: Right!

Non-Christian: Okay little brother. Since I have no initial response that can challenge the whole “ultimate” thing, I’m willing to listen.

Now, you go from here.

Gospel Conversations: Pressing for the “Ultimate” Part 7

Example 2: Christian/non-Christian College classmates’ dorm room conversation

Non-Christian: “What do you think about the professor’s lesson on evolution?”

Christian: “She didn’t offer any ultimate basis for her assertions.”

Non-Christian: “What do you mean?”

Christian: “Well, when you think about it, we can ascribe a great number of years to the age of the earth. We can even assert that certain observable processes provide the information for this age. However, whether or not the observations are accurate, what is the ultimate cause of the Earth’s existence? When did it come into existence?”

Non-Christian: “Haven’t you ever heard of ‘The big bang theory’ before?”

Christian: “Sure. But given the fact that it is called a “theory,’ on what grounds would we accept it to be ultimate truth? Besides, I would still ask what caused this supposed ‘big bang’ in the first place?”

Non-Christian: “Do you have some alternate explanation, one better than the scientific explanation?”

Christian: “Yes. But first, let me ask you something. If you cannot provide an ultimate cause, what ultimate justification do you have for accepting the scientific theory?”

Non-Christian: “I would have to give that some further thought.”

Christian: “Okay. But my point is that whether we are talking about the age of the earth, human nature, weather, or anything else, if there is no ultimate cause or source, how can we claim any ultimate justification for any meaning, morality, standard, or anything at all? People claim that ‘science’ provides us with answers. Yet, if there is no ultimate justification for the ‘scientific method’ itself, how can these ‘answers’ be justified as true?”

Non-Christian: “Okay. So if science doesn’t provide us with ultimate answers, what does?”

Christian: “Glad you asked that. Now, think about this. . .”

Now, you go from here.

(to be continued. . .)

Gospel Conversations: Pressing for the “Ultimate” Part 6

In the next three posts, including this one, I will give some brief conversational examples. As previously mentioned, our purpose is to seek conversationally efficient ways that we can press non-Christians for the ultimate. And our goal of course is to direct the conversation to the gospel. So what I will set forth are examples from which principles may be derived and adapted as the conversation and non-Christian’s responses warrant. So remember, pressing for the ultimate is a matter of covering everything that exists and happens in a brief time-efficient way with, again, the main purpose being to proclaim the gospel. So, after each example, I will state “Now, you go from here.” In essence, this means by the Spirit’s power, continue to direct the conversation towards the goal.

Example 1: Christian/non-Christian co-workers’ lunch time conversation

Non-Christian: “Hey, how’s it going? Busy day so far. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.”

Christian: “Yeah. It’s nice to be able to keep things in perspective though.”

Non-Christian: “I suppose. But how do you do that?”

Christian: “Let me ask you a question. Why are you here?”

Non-Christian: “Well, I guess this is the best I can do for now. I’m always looking though.”

Christian: “Actually, what I mean is, why do you exist? Why do you do what you do? What are you looking for out of life, and why?”

Non-Christian: “Wow. Which one of those do you want me to answer first? Where are you going with this?”

Christian: “Well, I guess what I want to ask you is if you think of yourself as an intellectually honest person. In other words, if something is presented to you clearly as truth, would you acknowledge it, or would you deny it?”

Non-Christian: “Well, I would like to think that if it is indeed true, I would acknowledge it.”

Christian: “That’s good to know. So let me ask you, what ultimate explanation or ultimate justification do you have for anything?”

Non-Christian: “I don’t know if I can come with an ultimate explanation, but I basically try to live right and treat other people right. To me, that seems to be the right thing to do in life, at least generally speaking.”

Christian: “Actually, that’s the point. I mean, if something is the ‘ultimate,’ that means there is no equal or greater authority, source, justification, explanation, etc. So I guess what I want to know is this: If you have no ‘ultimate’ for anything, are you willing to then admit that you have no ultimate explanation and justification for anything?”

Non-Christian: “Okay. You have my attention. I guess I never thought about anything from that standpoint. But since you have my attention, what is your point?”

Now, you go from here.

(to be continued . . .)

Gospel Conversations: Pressing for the “Ultimate” Part 5

Needless to say, in terms of ultimate questions, we could ask people the following: Why do we exist? How did the universe come into being? Who and or what defines and determines right and wrong, good and evil, just and unjust, true and untrue? What is knowledge, and how do we “know” and “learn” anything? Why are humans different from all other creatures? Why do people hurt and kill each other? Why do some people have it better in life than others? Why do people have to get sick? Why do people have different skin colors? Why do we have to die?

What explanations and justifications do we have, for anything? Is there an authority on all of this that is greater than us, an authority to which we are bound and accountable to?

Obviously, the list of questions could go on and on. These are just some of the questions that we can ask concerning the “ultimate.” Now, just think for a moment. How many people in the world have never addressed, and do not even care to address, these issues in ultimate terms? If people do not have ultimate knowledge of ultimate answers to ultimate questions, what are the implications? Well, that means that, whether they are always conscious of it or not, people live their lives based merely on assumed and or presumed principles, standards, explanations, etc. They take it for granted that these things are correct and true. Life seems to have a general consistency to it. Humans, even with all of their various distinctions, seem to have many general commonalities. They, for the most part, generally value life. They generally seek happiness, pleasure, success, and progress. They assume certain rights, and even assume and presume that many of those rights are inherent rights. But, what is the basis, the explanation, the justification, for these assumptions and presumptions?

So, what if we press people for ultimate basis, explanations, and justifications, for all things?  What if we started asking questions concerning the ultimate, and press them for ultimate answers? Then, if they give any answers at all, will those answers be legitimate answers? Answers such as “I just know,” “What’s right for you is right for you, and what’s right for me is right for me,” “Truth is what you make it,” and “Everyone knows that’s right,” are not ultimately legitimate answers to ultimate questions. So then, are there any ultimate answers, for anything at all? The answer is “Yes!” As stated then, setting forth this “Yes” concerning the “ultimate,” as well as understanding how we can press people for it when applicable, is the purpose of this present study. And “ultimately,” as we press people, as Christians we know that “all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT). So now we are ready to look at some examples of how to efficiently “press for the ultimate” in our conversations with non-Christians. (to be continued . . .)