THE CHURCH BEING THE FATHER’S HOUSE AND GOD’S DWELLING PLACE
Chapter fourteen says, “In My Father’s house are many abodes” (v. 2). I believe that among you some still hold the old mistaken concept that the Father’s house refers to a heavenly mansion. As many times as I have read the Scriptures, I have not found any verse that says the Father’s house is a heavenly mansion. The phrase My Father’s house is used twice in the Gospel of John. It is used the first time in 2:16, where it refers to the temple (v. 15), the Body of Christ. Based on this, My Father’s house in chapter fourteen must still refer to the temple, the Body of Christ. We must interpret the Scripture by the Scriptures. Therefore, the definition of My Father’s house in chapter fourteen must be according to chapter two. My Father’s house is the temple, the Body, and this is the church today.
John 14:2 says, “In My Father’s house are many abodes.” The singular form of the Greek word for abodes in this verse is used in verse 23 of the same chapter. What does abode in verse 23 refer to? It refers to a believer. There it says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” The meaning of this verse is implied. It seems the Lord is saying, “On the one hand, My Father and I will take him as Our abode. On the other hand, My Father and I will be his abode. My Father and I will come to him to make an abode with him, so that he will have an abode, and We also will have an abode.” Also in 15:4 it says, “Abide in Me and I in you.” This is a mutual abode. Then, in the Epistles we learn that this abode is the house of God, the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15a).
THE CHURCH BEING PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF OUR SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST
We have to see that the Gospel of John refers to the church in five different ways. First, many grains are ground to powder to become one bread. Second, many brothers in totality become the church. Third, many branches joined to the vine become one entity. We are members of His Body, and though the members are many, they are one Body. This is similar to the branches; though they are many, they are still one vine. Fourth, there is one bride. Fifth, the one bride is the house of God, “My Father’s house.” All these different terms depict the church from different angles and aspects. However, the main point we should not forget is that the church is produced as a result of our subjective experience of Christ.
It is not enough to know theology and doctrines or merely to read the Bible. If you have never contacted Christ by calling on Him and eating, drinking, and breathing Him, even though you have all the knowledge, you still have nothing to do with Him. You may be a member of Christianity, even one who occupies a very high position there, but you still may not be a constituent of the church. To become a constituent of the church, you must call on the name of the Lord and receive Him into your spirit by drinking Him as the living water. You must also receive Him into you by eating Him as the spiritual food that He may be assimilated into the inward parts of your organic being. Then He will become you, and you will have a subjective union with Him. Moreover, you can even breathe Him in as air. It is only by taking Him in that you can become a constituent of the church. You are a grain, you are one of His brothers, and you are a branch, that is, a member, of His Body. You are also a part of the bride, and you are a part of His eternal dwelling place. This is the church.
Brothers and sisters, here I would like to say that in these two messages we have covered all twenty-one chapters of the Gospel of John. In these twenty-one chapters we are told that one day the God who was in the beginning became flesh to accomplish redemption for our sins as the Lamb of God and that He became the all-inclusive Spirit after His resurrection from the dead. This all-inclusive Spirit can be touched by us at any time in any place. He is our living water, our spiritual food, and our air. When we drink Him, eat Him, and breathe Him, we enjoy Him. When we enjoy Him in this way, we will have the subjective experience. This subjective experience makes us His grains, His brothers, and the branches (the members) of His Body. It also makes us His bride and God’s dwelling place.
THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF JOHN’S WRITINGS BEING CONSISTENT
Finally, you have to remember that the conclusion of the entire Bible is the New Jerusalem. On the one hand, the New Jerusalem is the bride; on the other hand, it is the tabernacle of God with men, which is God’s dwelling place. The entire Bible ends with a bride and a holy city as a dwelling place; both items were mentioned in the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John says that we are the bride and the dwelling place of God. How do we become the bride and God’s dwelling place? It is by our experience of Christ. In the last two chapters of Revelation you see that the New Jerusalem is the bride, the holy city, the dwelling place, and the tabernacle. There the river of life is flowing in the city and the tree of life is growing on both sides of the river. As we are supplied by the living water and nourished by the tree of life, we become the bride, the tabernacle, and the dwelling place of God.
The writings of the apostle John include his Gospel, his Epistles, and finally Revelation. He ended his Revelation in the same way he began his Gospel. In his Gospel, he spoke about how God flows out for us to drink that we may become the bride and the dwelling place of God. When he wrote his conclusion in Revelation, he gave us exactly the same picture: God Himself flowing out of the throne as the living water, and as we drink and eat of Him, we become the bride and the dwelling place, the New Jerusalem. Hallelujah, this is the church! The church is produced because we have the subjective experience of Christ in life. We thank the Lord that today we are all in this experience.
(The Subjective Truths in the Holy Scriptures, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)