THE CHURCH BUILT UP IN RESURRECTION
If the Father’s house in chapter fourteen refers to a mansion in the heavens that the Lord has gone to build, then God has two buildings going on in the universe at the same time. These two buildings would be the church and the mansion in the heavens. In Matthew 16 the Lord Jesus said clearly that He is building His church. If the house in John 14 is a heavenly mansion, then in addition to the church on earth, the Lord Jesus is building a house in the heavens. This would mean that He is building two houses, one in the heavens and the other on earth.
If the house in John 14 is a heavenly mansion, there would be no need for the Lord Jesus to build it. He could simply have created it. In creation, whenever God wanted something, He simply spoke, and that thing came into being. For instance, God needed the earth. Therefore, He spoke, and the earth came into being. The principle would be the same with a so-called heavenly mansion. If God needed a heavenly mansion as a dwelling place, there would be no need for Him to spend two thousand years to build it. Since such a dwelling place would be part of His creation, He would only need to speak, and His dwelling place would be produced.
When the Lord speaks of the Father’s house in John 14, He is not referring to a heavenly mansion. The house in this chapter is the church. The church is God’s house, the Father’s house. The Lord Jesus spoke these words shortly before His death. Then through His death and resurrection, He built the church. This concept fits the entire thought of the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of John reveals that the Triune God is dispensing Himself into us, working Himself into us, by way of the Son’s death and resurrection. The Lord Jesus indicated this in chapter two when He said to the Jewish leaders, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). The phrase “in three days” means in resurrection. Thus, here the Lord is saying that He would build up the temple, the Father’s house, in resurrection. The Lord seemed to be telling the religious leaders, “You destroy this temple, My Father’s house, and I will build it up in resurrection.” By this we can see that chapters two and fourteen of the Gospel of John correspond to each other.
In 14:2 the Lord said that He was going to prepare a place for us in the Father’s house. His going to prepare a place was His going by His death and resurrection. Apart from the death and resurrection of Christ, there is neither a way for us to enter into God nor a place for us in God. The Lord Jesus had to die in order to cut the way, prepare a way, for us to have a standing, a place, in God.
In 14:2 the Lord Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many abodes.” An abode is a dwelling place. Therefore, the many abodes in verse 2 are many dwelling places. In verse 23 the Lord 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.” In verses 2 and 23 the same Greek word is used for “abode.” The only difference is that in verse 2 this word is plural, and in verse 23 it is singular. Together, these two verses indicate that the many abodes of the Father’s house are the many believers. The Father’s house is actually the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is composed of believers as members. Every member of Christ’s Body is an abode of the Father’s house.
Do you think that God does not have a complete dwelling place in the heavens and that it is necessary for the Lord Jesus to finish building Him one there? Do you believe that while the Lord is building the church on earth, He is also building a heavenly mansion for the Father? God’s creation was completed long ago. This means that the heavens also were completed and that there is no need for additional building in the heavens. However, it is still necessary for the church, God’s chosen people, to be built up. The Lord Jesus died for them and was raised up with them. Now based on His death and resurrection, He is working on them to build them up into one Body, and this Body is the church, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). Every member of the church is an abode for God to dwell in. When God abides in us, He becomes our dwelling place. How wonderful! Praise the Lord that we all are God’s abodes! We all are members of the Body of Christ, and this Body is God’s house.
In the New Testament we have the concept that our body is our tabernacle. Chapter five of 2 Corinthians indicates that our body is our dwelling place. In a similar way, Christ’s Body is God’s dwelling place. This means that the Father’s house in 14:2 is Christ’s Body built up with the believers. Every believer in Christ is an abode of this house for God to dwell in.
The Father’s house is a mutual abode, an abode for both God and us. But if we would not be built up through Christ’s death and resurrection so that God can dwell in us, we shall be short of the experience of God as our dwelling place. We need to be built up through Christ’s death and resurrection so that God can dwell in us. When we are built up in this way, we become an abode to God. When God dwells in us, He becomes our dwelling place. This is our abode. Furthermore, this means that we and God, God and we, are mingled together to become one abode, a mutual abode. God abides in us, and we abide in God—a mutual abiding. This is the thought of the Gospel of John. Therefore, the Father’s house is a sign signifying the mingling of God with His people.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 37, by Witness Lee)