Jesus told his disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them in His Father's house and then return for them, so they could be with Him there (John 14:2-3). Since our heavenly Father abides in heaven, we assume the "places" Jesus is preparing are in heaven too.
The Greek word used to describe these heavenly places is monai and it is only used in the New Testament here, in this chapter. The King James Version and New King James Version each translate it as "mansions" but the word simply means "rooms" in the "Father's house." Other versions have alternately have used "resting places," "abodes" or "permanent dwelling places."
The New International Version translation says, "My Father's house has many rooms," while The Message paraphrased version says that Jesus has gone "to get a room ready for you!"
In context, the term indicates that there is space in heaven for all who come to Jesus as Savior. There may have been "no room" in the inn of Bethlehem, but there are ample dwelling places in the Father's house.
We are told in the book of Revelation that nothing will deteriorate or grow old in heaven. Those streets of gold will never get ruts or potholes as some of us have encountered in our corruptible world down here.
We can rest assured that heaven is a real place, and our heavenly dwelling place there will fit right in with all the beauty and blessings we will find all around us (Rev. 21:1-4, 22:1-5). I want to go there, don't you?
In those passages of Revelation and elsewhere, we learn that heaven is a beautiful place: streets of shining gold with tree-lined parkways. There, we will be united with our believing family and friends who have preceded us.
The Scripture says to be absent from the body (at death) is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). If devoted disciples should die before Christ's Second Coming, our spirits will go to heaven to await other devoted disciples of Jesus to join us, as they too end their journey on earth.
The apostles Paul and Peter remind us that Jesus is coming to earth again—to resurrect the bodies of those who are dead in Christ, to transform living believers and grant us all new glorified bodies, which are a better fit for the heavenly environment He has prepared for us.
These transformed and glorified saints will forever be with our Lord Jesus, in our Father's house! Like all citizens of heaven, they will be free of fear and anxiety. They will no longer be victims of sickness, sadness or sorrow.
Scripture tells us that some have suffered all during their lifetime from a fear of death. It may have been the fear of dying or it may have been the uncertainty of where they will spend eternity—heaven or hell.
Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV) teaches that Jesus came to destroy the devil, who has the power of death and to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." This fear of death can be evil, spirit-driven oppression, from which God wants to free us! The apostle John reminds us that "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4, MEV).
The apostle Paul explained it to the church in Corinth this way in 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (TLB):
"We know that if our earthly house, this tent, were to be destroyed, we have an eternal building of God in the heavens, a house not made with hands. In this one we groan, earnestly desiring to be sheltered with our house which is from heaven. Thus being sheltered, we shall not be found unsheltered. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we wish to be unclothed, but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal might be swallowed up by life. Now He who has created us for this very thing is God, who also has given to us the guarantee of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. Instead, I say that we are confident and willing to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. So whether present or absent, we labor that we may be accepted by Him."
The book of Revelation reveals a great and diverse multitude, which will populate heaven. The size of the masses "no one could count, from all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands" (Rev. 7:9b).
The English word nations is ethnous in Greek, meaning ethnicities—not modern countries or nation-states. Heaven is not a military or political entity. Nor is it a racial entity. There is only one race—the human race.
Heaven is a prepared place for all the repentant people of the world. All ethnicities will be there: "red, brown, yellow, black and white [as the children's chorus says] they are precious in His sight! Jesus loves the little children [and people groups] of the world!"
And then we are told there will be people in heaven from "every tribe, peoples and languages." The word for tribe in Greek is phulon, which means a clan or family group. The word is translated in some versions as "kindred." This is similar to what we might colloquially say when someone dies, that we must "notify their next of kin."
In this time of social unrest and mistrust, it is important to recognize that heaven was prepared for members of every "tribe, people and language" group. It's going to be a continuous family reunion!
We must prepare during this life for where and how we will spend eternity. Verse nine of the 2 Corinthians 5 (ESV) passage we read above said "So our aim [other translations say: "(our) deep desire," ''(our) life's passion," ''(our) driving ambition"] is to please Him always," whether we are here in this body or away from this body, with Him in heaven!
The psalmist said, "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Ps. 23:6).
Gary Curtis served in full-time ministry for 50 years, the last 27 years of which he was part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the Van Nuys' California Foursquare church. Now retired, Gary continues to write a weekly blog at worshipontheway.wordpress.com and frequent articles for digital and print platforms. Gary and his wife live in Southern California and have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
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