The Eternal Home of The Church
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for 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.” John 14:1-3
This article will not be an exhaustive piece, but it will give you an overall picture of our future heavenly residence. Unlike my previous articles which compared Watchtower doctrine to Scripture, here I will focus exclusively on the text and will not discuss the Watchtower’s view. With help from Dr. J. Vernon McGee, B.D. Th.M. Th.D, the words of Christ and Scripture concerning our future heavenly residence will be brought into focus. I chose Dr. McGee as my source because of his credentials, but also for his entertaining manner of delivery and unique teaching skills. This entire article is virtually word-for-word out of Dr. McGee’s book, “Man’s Fascination With The Future On Prophecy.” The page number(s) will be noted after each quotation, and I have replaced the Scripture quotations with the New American Standard version, rather than the King James version:
“The fourteenth chapter of John was given by our Lord in the Upper Room, and He introduces something that is entirely new. The first part of the chapter was given to a man to cushion the shock of failure that was to come into his life. Also it was to comfort and put down the fears of this little band of apostles across whose pathway the shadow of the Cross had fallen. Sin was knocking at the door in the Upper Room, demanding it’s pound of flesh. These men were frightened men, and our Lord was speaking to their hearts. He begins by saying, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)
He is putting, as essential, faith in Himself along with faith in God – which, of course, is the thing that makes a Christian today. I was in a hospital visiting a Christian friend, and after I had prayed with him, the man who was in a bed across the room called to me, ‘Preacher, will you pray for me?’ I went over and talked to him and asked, ‘Are you a Christian?’ ‘Well, yes, I believe in God.’ ‘That does not make you a Christian,’ I said, ‘it simply means that you are not an atheist.’ Then I gave him this verse. ‘Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.’ Our Lord begins with His men on that plane, and He continues.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2
What is the Father’s house? When you go out tonight, look up into the vaulted sky above you, and you will see the Father’s house. That is His house. Our Lord said, ‘In My Father’s house are many moni, many abiding places, many place to live.’ …
Then He says, I go to prepare a place for you.
This place is different from any other in His universe – ‘I go to prepare a special place for you.’ It is a prepared place for prepared people. The One who was the carpenter of Nazareth down here about two thousand years ago is at this moment preparing a place up yonder for those who are His own. Have you ever wondered about that place He is preparing? Do you wonder what it is like? We are going there some day, and we shall live there eternally.
Then He makes the statement,
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. John 14:3
As far as I know, this is the first time in the Word of God where it mentions that He is going to take someone off the earth out into space. You will not find that in the Old Testament at all. God did not promise anyone in the Old Testament that He would take him off this earth to a place called heaven. The hope of the Old Testament saints was that there might be a heaven down here on this earth, and that is what I understand the expression, the Kingdom of Heaven, to mean – the reign of the heavens over the earth, the day when this earth becomes a heaven. That is the hope of the Old Testament.” (Pgs 235-238)
“ … The glorious hope of the church is the coming of our Lord Jesus to take us into space to that home He has prepared.
Now, where is that place? What kind of place is it? I turn to the only chapter I know of in the Word of God where there is a description of it, the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation.
As we look at this chapter, I shall not try to make a comprehensive study, but rather I shall make a few suggestions that may intrigue you into probing deeper into this fascinating subject. I believe that if Christians were more interested in the place to which they are going, they would be more concerned about the way in which they are living down here.
If you have read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which is actually the experience of Bunyan himself, you will notice that when he got up out of the Slough of Despond and started out, the hope that he had from the beginning was this: ‘I am a pilgrim, and I am on the way to the Celestial City.’ And when he would fall down, he would always get up, brush himself off and say, ‘I am a pilgrim on the way to the Celestial City.’ And when he was incarcerated in Doubting Castle, the key that unlocked the doors and set him free was this promise. When he had mountains to climb, when the way was difficult and discouraging and it seemed as though he would not make it, he got his mind and his heart fixed on that Celestial City.
I believe there are many believers today who have lost sight of this city. They have become discouraged along the way. I say to you, friend, that this world is only a camping place for the night. We all are here temporarily – we are merely pilgrims down here on this earth. We are on the way to the Celestial City. We are on the way to the New Jerusalem. The thing that would encourage the hearts of many today would be to know a little about this place to which we are going.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1
John here tells us that God is going to trade in this old earth and the old heaven on a new model. He is going to get a new earth – not get rid of earth entirely but merely get a new one. He calls attention to only one great change in His new earth: there will be no more sea. That which covers three-fourths of the earth’s surface today will be entirely removed. What a tremendous population can then be put on the earth! Someone asked the other day, when I made the suggestion of the population explosion that will probably take place during the Millennium, ‘Where in the world will they go, when we don’t even have room today?’ May I say to you that there will be three-fourths more surface on earth, plus the fact that the curse of sin will be removed from the earth so that it will produce as it never has before. You will be able to find a parking space in that day; there will be plenty of parking spaces! That appeals to me, because we need more parking space in Southern California, and if we could use the Pacific Ocean, we would have the problem solved!” (Pgs 239-240)
Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D in his book, “The Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible” (pg 1696), further explains Revelation 21:1: “Here we have the description of a new heaven and a new earth. The word ‘new’ in Greek is rendered by the word kainos (2537) which means ‘qualitatively new’ and not simply another earth and another heaven. Since our resurrection bodies will be changed, so will the environment in which these new bodies will live.”
“But these are things that concern the earth, and we are not an earthly people. We are to leave this earth. The things that interests us is what John sees in the next verse:
And I saw the holy city new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, make ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2
Now, this is the first time the New Jerusalem comes into view. The question is asked, ‘Is it in existence before this?’ I do not know, but I rather think that at the Rapture the church will be brought to this place. I believe this city is to be our permanent home. I think that during the Millennium it will be a matter of commuting back and forth from the earth to the New Jerusalem. Yet the New Jerusalem does not come into view until this point because now eternity opens up and reveals the eternal home of the church.
Notice that the city is a holy city. The inhabitants have been made holy in Christ and in no other way. He is there. That makes it a holy city.
The new Jerusalem is in contrast to the old Jerusalem down here on the earth, and it is coming down from God out of heaven.
Now there are men today – better men than I – who believe that the New Jerusalem comes to the earth. I never have been able to see that, I cannot move it that far. I think it comes out into space, and it comes, apparently, within sight of the earth.
The loveliest thing that God could say about it is that it is prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … Thus God uses the figure of a bride to characterize this city. It is a thing of exquisite beauty.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them. Revelation 21:3
The New Jerusalem is the temple for the universe of God. This will be the place, apparently, where Israel and the gentile nations of the earth will come to worship. They will come to worship and then return to their homes on the earth.” (Pgs 240-241)
and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
“The second thing that makes the New Jerusalem a wonderful city is ‘there shall be no more death.’ No death. That makes it different from any city I have heard of down here. There will be no cemeteries, there will be no undertakers. … No more death. Would you like to go to a place like that? … What a wonderful place this will be!
And then it says, ‘neither sorrow, nor crying, nether shall there be any more pain.’ All the hospitals will be closed, doctors and nurses will be out of a job, ‘for the former things are passed away.’ Then we come to something that is quite wonderful:
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Revelation 21:5
I love that. Would you like to start all over again? I want to make a confession. I never have been the preacher that I have wanted to be. I never have preached the sermon that I longed to preach. I honestly never have been the man that I have wanted to be. I have not attained, really, my ambition. I have not reached my goal in life. I never have been the husband that I have wanted to be, and I never have been the father that I have wanted to be. As I come to this place in life and look back, I have regrets. I would like to go back and do things differently. And God is going to let me! He says to my heart, ‘In that city, McGee, I make all things new.’” (Pgs 242-243)
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and hight mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. Revelation 21:10, 11
“The jasper stone is evidently similar to our diamond. The city from the outside looks like a diamond. I like to think of its being the wedding ring of the church. It will be like a diamond flashing out through God’s vast universe. I believe it will be the most beautiful thing that you have ever seen because the twelve foundations, which would be the outer surface, are all precious stones through which the light passes. Varied hues and tints from a galaxy of rainbow colors:
Jasper – perhaps the blue diamond
Sapphire – opaque with a greenish or yellowish color
Chalcedony – perhaps green
Emerald – green
Sardonyx – white and yellow
Sardius – red
Chrysolite – golden lustre
Beryl – sea green, aqua
Topaz – greenish yellow
Chrysoprase – golden green
Jacinth – violet
Amethyst – purple or rose red
The presence of the primary colors suggests that every shade and tint is reflected from this city. A rainbow that appears after a summer shower gives only a faint hint of the breathtaking beauty of the city of light. I believe it will be the most thrilling sight in the world to see this city. Nothing in all God’s universe will compare to it.” (Pgs 244-245) [Revelation 21:19-20 identify the stones.]
And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. Revelation 21:16
“It is fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles wide, and fifteen hundred miles high. Some men have concluded that it will be a cube; others see it as a pyramid. It is difficult to conceive of either a cube or pyramid project out in space. Cubes and pyramids are appropriate for earthly buildings. I cannot believe that, since God has made everything in space globe-shaped, He would make this square. I do not say this in a dogmatic fashion, for there are many fine Bible students who disagree with me, but I believe that the New Jerusalem is a sphere and these measurements that Scripture gives are the dimensions on the inside of the sphere, a cube within a crystal-clear sphere. I took this problem in solid geometry to a man in the field of theoretical engineering. He worked it out for me and came up with a sphere that is slightly larger than our moon. The diameter of the moon is about 2,160 miles, and that of the New Jerusalem sphere is about 2,600 miles. We live on the outside of the planet called earth, but if my theory is correct, our eternal home will be within the planet called the New Jerusalem.” (Pg 244)
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Revelation 21:23
“The New Jerusalem will be independent of the sun and moon for light and life. What a contrast to the earth which is utterly dependent upon the sun and the moon. The sun and moon may even be dependent upon the Celestial City for power to transmit light, since the One who is the source of light and life will dwell within the city. Neither will light be furnished by the New Jerusalem Light and Power Company. The One who is light will be there, and the effulgence of His glory will be manifested in the New Jerusalem unhindered.” (Pg 245)
“The New Jerusalem will be the center of the universe. All activity and glory revolve about this city. The nation of Israel and the gentile nations of the earth will walk in the light of it and bring to it their glory and honor. They will not live in the city but will come, as the priests of old came to the holy place in the tabernacle and temple, for the purpose of worship. There will be no need to bring a blood sacrifice, for the Lamb is there in person.
And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. Revelation 21:22
This city has no temple because it is a temple – God is there and Christ is there. It is the holy place, if you please, because Christ is present. That is the thing that makes it such a wonderful place. The Lord Jesus said,
for 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. John 14:2-3
We are to be with Him throughout eternity. That, after all, will make it heaven – Christ will be there.
Many folk ask, ‘Will I know my loved ones in heaven?’ We shall certainly know our loved ones in heaven. As Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said years ago when someone asked that question of him, ‘I do not expect to be a bigger fool there than I am here, and I know them here.’ Yes, we shall know our loved ones in heaven.” (Pg 246)
“I hope you will want to go to this city. Someone may ask, ‘Well, how do you get there?’ That brings us back to where we started.
When our Lord was talking to His men in the Upper Room, He said, ‘And you know the way where I am going’ (John 14:4). Sitting there was one of His disciples, a man who had a question mark for a brain, Thomas. This man had doubts. He raised questions about everything and he always saw a dark side of things. He really was not a very pleasant fellow to have around, and I do not know why our Lord called him. In fact, I have never figured out why He called any of them – who would want Simon Peter, Thomas, Andrew, James, or John? All of them were problem children, every one of them. But I am glad He called them because if He will use them there is still hope for me and there is hope for you. This man Thomas is a doubter. He says, ‘Wait a minute, Lord. You say that we know where You are going and we know the way. We don’t!’
Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way. John 14:5
I am glad he was there. He raised my question – he save me from having to ask it.
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. John 14:6
My friend, Jesus is the way to the Celestial City. He has gone before us, and He is preparing an eternal home for all of us who have become children of God through faith in His name.” (Pgs 247-248)
Our Lord Jesus Christ went away to prepare our eternal home in heaven. The Author of Scripture describes this heavenly abode in beautiful detail. The Apostle Paul reminds us all that death is only the beginning and our heavenly home is much preferred over our earthly residence … “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8