THE SIGN OF THE ABODE
Let us now go on to consider the fifth sign in chapters fourteen through seventeen of the Gospel of John—the sign of the abode. In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus 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.” A crucial word in this verse is “abode.” In 15:4a, the Lord goes on to say, “Abide in Me and I in you.” In the next verse He once again uses the word “abides.” In these verses the crucial word is “abide.” In Greek the words for abode and abide have the same root. The difference, of course, between them is that one is a noun and the other is a verb. Since the word “abode” is a sign, we need to see the significance of the sign of the abode.
In 14:23 the Lord indicates that if we love Him, we shall keep His word. Then the Father will love us, and the Father and the Son will make an abode with us. Why does this verse first speak of our loving the Lord and then of the Father, not the Son, loving us? The reason is that the Father and the Son are one. When we love the Son, the Father responds because the Son comes with the Father and in the name of the Father. Because the Son comes with the Father and in the Father’s name, when we love the Son, we love the Father. For this reason, the Father responds by returning love to us. We love the Son, the Father loves us, and the result is that both the Father and the Son come to us and make an abode with us.
The word “abode” in verse 23 may be so familiar to us that we take it for granted and do not pay attention to it. I would suggest that you circle this word in your Bible. The abode in 14:23 is a very important sign, a sign rich in significance.
BECOMING GOD’S DWELLING PLACE
What does the abode signify? First, the abode signifies that it is possible for human beings to become an abode of God. What a great matter this is! We human beings can become God’s dwelling place!
Many times when we read the Bible, our natural, human thoughts are veils that keep us from seeing the truth in the Word. Because of these veils, someone may read chapter fourteen of the Gospel of John ten times and still not pay attention to the crucial word “abode” in verse 23. This word is a key that opens the entire chapter.
This chapter reveals that we human beings can be and should be God’s dwelling place. This thought corresponds to the fact that God created man to be a vessel to contain Himself. A vessel is different from an instrument, for a vessel is designed to contain something. As a vessel made by God, man was created to contain God. Such a container is also a dwelling place. All those who dwell in a house, for example, are contained in that house. Hence, a house is a vessel, and a vessel is a house, a dwelling place. Because we were created vessels to contain God, He regards us all as His abodes.
Due to the fall, man went away from God. But through Jesus Christ we have been brought back to God. Now the Lord seeks to stir up our love for Him. God is happy when we love the Lord Jesus. Then both the Father and the Son come to the one who loves the Son, settle themselves within him, and make their abode with him.
We have seen that man was created by God as a vessel to contain God. Because man fell away from God, the Lord Jesus came to save us, redeem us, and bring us back to God. He stirs up our love, and in response we may say, “Lord Jesus, I love You.” The Father responds to our love for the Son, and then the Father and the Son come to us to make an abode in our spirit. Actually, the Father and the Son come to take us over, to possess us. It is in this way that the Father and the Son settle within us to make an abode with us. This is a great matter!
It is not the goal of God’s redemption simply to save us from hell to heaven. Neither is it God’s goal in His redemption merely to make us better. The goal of God’s redemption is to make us His dwelling place. His goal in saving us is to make us an abode for Him so that He may fully settle Himself in our being. By this we see that God desires to dwell in us. Therefore, the first matter signified by the abode in chapter fourteen is that we human beings may become God’s dwelling place. Oh, God desires, longs, to enter into us, possess us, and make us His dwelling place!
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 45, by Witness Lee)