How can we find peace under pressure? Part 2

“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.” John 14:2-3a

With the rise in COVID-19 cases recently, it is no surprise that the primary complaint among people in the United States is stress. Add to this the social and political unrest along with the effects of COVID (ex. loss of jobs/income, more isolation, cancellations or postponements of vacations/travel, etc.), and you have a recipe for deep distress. We need to find relief from the constant pressure we are facing every day.

In John 14:1-6, we are learning to find peace under pressure. The first way is to focus on Christ’s promise of a peace of heart (John 14:1). Today we discover that we are to focus on CHRIST’S PROMISE OF A PREPARED PLACE IN HEAVEN (John 14:2-3a) for those who believe in Him.

Jesus said to His eleven disciples, “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.” (John 14:2). Jesus explains why His disciples can trust in Him even during His absence. The separation which would result from Jesus’ departure would not be permanent, it was only temporary: “A Jewish betrothal meant that a man and woman were legally bound in marriage. Before the actual presentation of the bride to the bridegroom, the bridegroom would busy himself preparing a place in his father’s house for the bride. Using this imagery Christ said to these men,” 1 “In My Father’s house are many mansions.”

Where is God the Father now? We know from Jesus’ model prayer that He is in heaven. Christ taught, “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Heaven is where God now resides and rules (2 Corinthians 12:1-4; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 4:1-5:14). The Bible teaches that believers in Jesus will experience heaven in three stages:

1. With Christ in the third heaven before or after the Rapture – the sudden removal of the church from the earth (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; 12:1-4; Philippians 1:21-23; I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; Revelation 4:1-5:14). At any moment the Lord Jesus could come for His church to snatch it off the earth to be with Him in the third heaven. Following the removal of the church, there will be seven years of terrible tribulation on the earth (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 6-19). At the end of the Tribulation period…

2. The Earthly Kingdom of Christ will be established when the church will return with Christ and be on the earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6).  At the end of that thousand years there will be a…

3. New Heaven and New Earth where all believers in Jesus will be with Christ for eternity (Revelation 21-22).

Jesus describes our future home as a large house in heaven where there are “many mansions” (John 14:2). The word translated “mansions” (monē) comes from the verb “to abide” (menō) which would mean an abiding place of permanent rest. This could refer to apartments or suites in God’s house. Cook shares, “The picture is of each child having a suite of rooms in the Father’s house. All will be with the Father, enjoying His hospitality and sharing His love.” 2

Jesus is referring to literal homes or dwellings that will be in the New Jerusalem which will descend from heaven to the new earth (Revelation 21-22) after the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1-6). The New Jerusalem will be fifteen hundred miles high, long, and wide (Revelation 21:16). God promises that in our future home “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). What a great source of comfort this provides for those who are deeply troubled by the death of believers today.

Christ does not have any doubts about the existence of our future home in heaven when He says, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” In the Greek language, the phrase “If it were not so” expresses that the condition is unfulfilled. In other words, if heaven were otherwise, and it is not, Jesus would have told them. Christ took for granted that there would be plenty of rooms for all the saved people in heaven.

In anticipation of their reunion with Him, Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Yes, Jesus was leaving them, but He would not forget them. He would occupy Himself preparing a real place where He and they would dwell together forever. He was going to make ready the place where He would welcome them permanently. Certainly, Jesus would not go to prepare rooms in heaven for His disciples if He did not expect that they would finally arrive there. He was sure they would make it to heaven. He would see to it.

Then Jesus says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself.” (John 14:3a). Just as the first century bridegroom in Palestine would send for his bride when all was ready, 4  so Christ would do the same when He had completed His work of preparing a place in His Father’s house for His bride, the church (cf. Ephesians 5:22-24; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-3).

When I went on a mission trip to a province in the southern Philippines (July 2016), I went to an evacuation center where refugees lived whose homes were destroyed in the recent Muslim war. As we walked around the center, we noticed that the people were not only homeless, but they were also hopeless. After obtaining permission from a village leader to share with these seventy-five people, my translator and I told them that God loves them so much that He wants to give them a permanent home in heaven which no one can destroy nor take away from them. The people listened intently but showed no emotion as we talked about our problem that separates us from God (Rom. 3:23; 6:23) and God’s only solution through the Lord Jesus (John 14:6; I Corinthians 15:3-6)!      

After explaining that Jesus now invites everyone to believe or trust in Him alone for His free gift of everlasting life (John 3:16b), we then told them they could tell God they were now trusting in Jesus (Isa – the Muslim name for Jesus) by repeating this prayer after us. As we began to pray, we noticed that the people would not repeat the prayer aloud. Instead, they raised their hands toward heaven – something Muslims normally do when they pray to God.

I got goose bumps later when I saw a photo of them raising their hands during the prayer because I had no idea they did this while we actually prayed because my eyes were closed. After praying with them, we asked the people to raise their hands if they just trusted in Jesus (Isa) for their eternal home in heaven. My heart was filled with joy as sixty-five of the seventy-five people lifted their hands! What a thrill to be able to assure them that because of their faith in Isa, they now have everlasting life which can never be lost or taken away from them (John 6:47; 10:28-29). No one is more powerful than God so that no one can destroy or take away His home for them in heaven (John 10:28-29; 14:1-3).

Think about this! God created the universe in six 24-hour days (Genesis 1), but Jesus has been preparing our place in heaven for almost two thousand years! Remember, Jesus was the Son of a carpenter (Mark 6:3) and no doubt He was a perfect learner growing up. He would know how to build some incredible mansions in heaven. So heaven is going to be a fantastic place – a real place! We will live in mansions made of gold and walk on streets of gold (Revelation 21:18, 21). It will be an incredible place of splendor. The glory of Jesus will shine and light everything, not even a shadow exists there (Revelation 21:22-23). Jesus is the center of heaven and all praises will ring to Him. The joy shall never end there. Heaven is a place of inhabitants. It is not empty. It is filled with people who have believed in Jesus Christ alone for His gift of eternal life (John 3:5, 15-16; Revelation 21:27).

Christ said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself.” Christ assures His disciples (and us), that His separation which had so distressed them, would not be permanent. They could look forward to a blessed reunion with Jesus. One day He would come as a Bridegroom for His bride, the church, and take them to the place He had been preparing for them in heaven during His absence. His return was as certain as His departure. He would take them with Him to His Father’s house.

The phrase, “I will come again and receive you to Myself,” is not a reference to the Resurrection or the death of a believer, but to the Rapture or sudden removal of the church from the earth (cf. I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11). At any moment, Jesus Christ could come back for His church with believers who already died to meet living believers in the clouds. This truth is intended to comfort and encourage believers whose loved ones have died in the Lord.

The fact that Jesus has been gone almost two thousand years preparing our future home in heaven leads me to believe that we cannot begin to imagine how wonderful that place will be. In America at the turn of the twentieth century, people who were poor and homeless were moved into “poorhouses.” These institutions were considered to be just about the worst place a person could live.

A doctor was visiting an elderly woman who was dying in such a home. Because of her surroundings, he was greatly surprised to hear her whisper, “Praise the Lord.” So the doctor leaned over and said to her, “How can you possibly praise God here in a poorhouse?” She responded, “That’s easy. I just keep thinking about the move into my heavenly mansion.”

The assurance that a wonderful home, the “Father’s house,” awaited her – in contrast to the depressing poorhouse – gave her cause for praise in spite of her poverty. Heaven is so glorious that human language cannot adequately describe it. Even though the apostle John described the heavenly city in Revelation 21 and 22, our finite minds fail to comprehend the full splendor of what he saw. Jesus loves us so much He is preparing a magnificent place for each of us who have trusted in Christ alone for everlasting life. The more we focus on this prepared place, the more peace we will find while living under pressure.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so thankful that this earth is not my final home. What a wonderful place you are preparing for believers to live in the future. I cannot begin to imagine just how magnificent that place will be! Thank You for Your promise to come back again and receive me to Yourself. What a glorious day that will be when I can be with You forever in the Father’s house. Knowing that You could come back at any moment to take me to be with You in heaven, motivates me to live for You right now. The splendor of that place overshadows the darkness that is on this planet right now. In the Father’s house sin and shame will not be present. The Father’s love will overflow into every room. Death will be gone and life will abound. Hallelujah, Lord Jesus! Hallelujah! In Your matchless name I praise and pray. Amen.  

ENDNOTES:

1. P J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words & Works of Jesus Christ, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), pg. 436.

2. W. Robert Cook, The Theology of John (Chicago: Moody, 1979), pp. 229-230.

3. ei de mē is a second class condition which expresses that the condition is unfulfilled – see Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in The New Testament, Vol V: John and Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1932), pg. 248.

4. Pentecost, The Words & Works of Jesus Christ, pg. 436.

A Look into the Future – Part 7 (Video)

This is the seventh in a series of videos about the future as recorded in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. This video focuses on the New Heaven and New Earth.

The Revelation Art is used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com.  Other digital images are used with permission from Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing (www.FreeBibleimages.org) and GoodSalt (www.goodsalt.com). The music and video scenes in this video are used with permission from the producers of the video entitled “The Free Gift.”

A Look into the Future – Part 5 (Video)

This is the fifth in a series of videos about the future as recorded in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. This video focuses on the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.

The Revelation Art is used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com. Millennial Kingdom pictures are used by permission of GoodSalt at www.goodsalt.com. The music and video scene in this video is used with permission from the producers of the video entitled “The Free Gift.”

What you will and will not find in heaven

The last two chapters of the Bible reveal many details of what you will and will not find in heaven. Focusing on these things can dramatically impact our lives in the weeks and months ahead.

I. WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN HEAVEN

“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” Revelation 21:5

According to Revelation 21-22, here are five things you will find in Heaven:

1. A REMARKABLE CITY. “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” (Rev. 21:10). Heaven will consist of a beautiful city that is illuminated by Christ Himself (Rev. 21:11). Jesus’ presence will make this city look like a gigantic, glistening diamond. Instead of there being one pearly gate, there will be twelve pearly gates – three gates per wall. Look at the shape and size of this city (Rev. 21:12-13, 21a). This will be a square-shaped city that is fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles wide, and fifteen hundred miles high (Rev. 21:16). This goes well beyond Earth’s atmosphere and into space. If a building in the city is this high and has a generous twelve feet per story, the building would be over six hundred sixty-six thousand stories! The New Jerusalem will appear to shine as a mass of pure gold with streets of gold (Rev. 21:18, 21b). The foundation of this remarkable city consists of twelve layers of precious jewels, making up the colors of the rainbow (Rev. 21:19-20).

2. REUNION with Other BELIEVERS. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10a).  Note the connection between the New Jerusalem and the Church (bride of Christ). Jesus promised the apostles of the Church, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). This remarkable city is being carefully prepared by God’s Son for His bride, the Church (cf. I Cor. 11:2; Ephes. 5:22-24).

The New Jerusalem will have twelve gates. “Also, she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (Rev. 21:12-13). Gates in ancient cities were often named with reference to where they led. For example, in ancient Jerusalem, the Benjamin gate led to the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The names of the twelve apostles, whom Jesus promised would rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, are on the twelve foundations of the city (Rev. 21:14). What this suggests, is that King Jesus and the Church will rule Israel and the entire new earth from this city. So, every believer in Jesus during this Church age will live in the New Jerusalem and all other believers before and after the Church Age will live outside the City on the new earth. But these other believers will have access to the New Jerusalem: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Rev. 21:27b). How do you get your name written in the Lamb’s book of life? By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

3. RESPONSIBILITIES.“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” (Rev. 22:3). The Bible says you will have the responsibility of serving the Lord in heaven. And there will be many different jobs. For example, Isaiah 65 tells us: “17 For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. [bad memories will be erased] … 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” (Isaiah 65:17, 21). There will be construction work in heaven and gardening. I believe the greatest inventions will be made in eternity. If people can put men on the moon and build skyscrapers in their fallen state, think of what they will be able to do in their perfect resurrection bodies!

Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992
www.revelationillustrated.com

4. REWARDS. There is so much teaching on this in the New Testament, but for now we’ll just look at one verse. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14). Believers whose lives are characterized by obedience to God’s commands now will enjoy access to the tree of life in the New Jerusalem and the privilege of being able to enter the city through its twelve main gates. The tree of life was in the original Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and it will flourish in God’s eternal kingdom, providing a different fruit each month and enhancing the lives of those who eat it. In the Middle East today, some cities have special VIP entrances into the city. The New Jerusalem will have twelve such gates. While all believers will be able to enter the city, only faithful believers will enter by the twelve gates of pearl. In the Old Testament to be “in the gates” was an honor reserved for the elders of the city. To enter New Jerusalem through one of its twelve gates of pearl, will be a great honor reserved only for those Christians who overcame in this life.

5. REJOICING. What I mean by this is we are going to worship in heaven. We will honor the Lord Jesus Christ forever in Heaven. We will celebrate who He is and what He has done throughout eternity! “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” (Rev. 21:24). In heaven, there will be different nations perhaps much like today. The leaders of these nations (overcomers) will reenact what the wise men did almost two thousand years ago, when they brought their gifts to baby Jesus. In eternity, the kings of the earth are going to bring their glory (treasures) to King Jesus year after year in the New Jerusalem to worship and glorify Christ. This new earth is going to be a glorious place where everyone brings glory to God. All the curses that came as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden are going to be removed. There will be no more pollution… no animals that we need to fear… no people we need to fear – no criminals because no one will sin on the new earth. It will be like the Garden of Eden revisited. It will be paradise on the new earth, not in heaven. So, contrary to what many people think – we are not going to spend eternity floating on some cloud playing a harp in a colorless place. Instead we will spend eternity on the Garden of Eden revisited – the new earth.

Knowing what heaven will be like can motivate Christians to prepare for this wonderful place. While all believers in Jesus Christ will enter or occupy the new earth (Kingdom of God) through childlike faith alone in Christ alone for His free gift of eternal life (Matt. 18:3; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:16-17; John 3:5-16; Rev. 21:6), only those who faithfully trust and obey Christ until the end of their life on earth will inherit (Matt. 5:3; Rom. 8:17b; 2 Tim. 2:12; James 2:5; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:4, 6; cf. Exodus 12:48-49; Numbers 18:20-24; 36:7-9; Deuteronomy 21:15-17; I Cor. 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephes. 5:5-6) or possess all that is promised to the overcomer in Revelation including wearing special white garments (Rev. 3:4-5), ruling with Christ (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; cf. 2 Tim. 2:12), eating the fruit of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7), eating hidden manna (Rev. 2:17), receiving a white stone engraved with your own special name that only the Lord and you will know (Rev. 2:17), and receiving a special entrance into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:7a; cf. 22:14).  

II. WHAT YOU WILL NOT FIND IN HEAVEN

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Here are five things you will not find in heaven according to Revelation 21:

1. No SADNESS.  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 21:4a). No more broken hearts … rejection… loneliness… grief. No more heartache. That is heaven. God will wipe away every tear from your eyes. You will not have sadness or grief again. Those of you who are grieving the loss of a loved one or maybe you’ve been going through a period of depression, one of the things that does in our lives is it just makes heaven seem a little bit closer. We want to go to heaven when we are in pain. Why? Because there is none there.

2.  No DEATH. “There shall be no more death.” (Rev. 21:4b). There will be no funerals in heaven… no more cemeteries. Why? Because in that heavenly city no one ever dies. You won’t ever have to be concerned about losing a loved one because death will be gone forever!

3. No SUFFERING. “There shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4c). No more bad hair days ladies and gentlemen. Everything about us will be perfect. This will be a glorious time. We will have glorified bodies. There will be no eyeglasses, no braces, no wheelchairs, no hearing aids, and no crutches. There will be no more hospitals, no ambulances, no CPR. COVID-19 will not exist, aspirin will be gone, accidents over, heart attacks banished, AIDS a distant memory, cancer done away with. No more chronic pain.

4. No SHADOWS. “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Rev. 21:23). There will be no need for the sun, moon or stars in heaven because the glory of Jesus will be its light. This will be the heavenly version of “the city that never sleeps.” We will not need to sleep because we will have glorified bodies that never grow tired. No need for caffeinated coffee! No sadness, no death, no suffering, no shadows…

5. No SIN. “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Rev. 21:27). Nothing that is sinful or leads to sin will ever be a part of the New Jerusalem. Unbelieving people and their evil ways will be confined to the Lake of Fire (21:8). I’m looking forward to the moment that I no longer have any temptations or sin in my life. No more hang-ups. Think about it – no more fears. Can you imagine what it’ll be like to live with no fear, no guilt, no shame, no resentment, no worry, no bitterness, no envy, no jealousy, no loneliness. But you’re still going to be you. You will still have your personality only without any weaknesses.

Heaven is going to be an incredible place! God loves you so much that He wants you to live with Him there for eternity. To do so, you must receive His free gift of eternal life. Why? Because the Bible says we are born with sinful hearts – “Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5). From the moment of conception, we possess a sinful nature that causes us to break God’s rules. Because all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23), we deserve to be separated from God forever in the Lake of Fire (Romans 6:23a; Rev. 20:15). But God’s love for those who don’t possess eternal life is so great that in the final two chapters of the Bible He offers eternal life (“the water of life”) as a free gift (Revelation 21:6; 22:17). “The water of life” is eternal life and Jesus offers it “freely” to those who believe in Him. You don’t work for eternal life because it has already been paid for when Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and rose from the dead.  Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47).

What is Jesus asking you to do that is hard for you to trust Him with? Is He asking you to trust Him for eternal life, but it’s hard for you to let go of your works and trust Him alone? It’s so simple that children get it and adults miss it. None of us are promised tomorrow. If you were to drop dead in the next minute are you absolutely certain you are going to heaven? If you are not, you can make sure right now. Why would anybody put it off? You need to settle this issue right now and you need to put your trust in Jesus for eternal life. When you trust Him, He gives you everlasting life (John 6:47), He forgives all your sins (Acts 10:43; Colossians 2:13-14), He places you in God’s family forever (John 1:12; 6:37), and He comes to live inside of you through His Holy Spirit (John 7:39a; Galatians 4:6). He guarantees that you will live with Him forever in Heaven when you die or are removed from the earth through the Rapture of the Church, whichever occurs first (John 3:16; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:13-5:11; I John 5:13).

If you just believed or trusted in Jesus alone for His gift of everlasting life, you can tell Jesus this through prayer. But praying this prayer is not what gets you to heaven. Only trusting in Christ alone gets you to heaven. This prayer is a way of telling God you are now trusting in His Son.

“Dear Jesus, I come to you now as a sinner who cannot save himself. I believe You died in my place on the cross for all of my sins and rose from the dead. I am now trusting in You alone, Jesus (not my good life, my prayers, or my religion) to give me everlasting life and a future home in heaven. Thank You Jesus, for the everlasting life I now have and the future home I will have in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

When you believed in Jesus, He gave you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 10:28-29). He forgave all of your sins (Acts 10:43; Col. 2:13-14) and placed you in His family forever (John 1:12; 6:37). Christ’s Spirit now lives inside of you to comfort, guide, and teach you how to follow Jesus as you read and apply the Bible (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). To help you grow in your new relationship with Jesus, please visit www.seeyouinheaven.life or www.knowing-Jesus.com or www.evantell.org.

If you found this article to be helpful, please share it with those you want to see in heaven. Thank you and may Jesus reveal more of Himself to you as you learn to follow Him.

*Note: The Revelation Art is used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com.