By Herman L Hoeh (Originally published in Tomorrow's World magazine, February 1972)
Here is a thorough, revealing explanation of a greatly misunderstood text. Did Jesus say Christians go to heaven?
MANY today believe Jesus told His disciples that Christians will spend eternity in "mansions" in heaven. They quote His words in John 14:1-4.
Did Jesus really say that our reward is a mansion in heaven? Let's see.
What Is the Father's House?In His Father's house, Jesus said plainly, there were many "mansions." If it had not been true, He said, He would have told us. The Greek word "move" translated "mansion" means in more modern English, "a room, a place of staying, an abode, a chamber." So in the Father's house there are a number of ROOMS OR CHAMBERS.
It Is NOT HeavenNowhere does the Bible call "heaven" the Father's house. The Father's house IS BEING BUILT IN heaven, but it is not heaven! Heaven is never said to have "mansions."
What Is the Place Prepared?Now consider the remainder of Jesus' conversation with the disciples.
The Father's House Comes to Earth!
Revelation 21:2 plainly proves that the Holy City — the Father's house or home, SINCE HE WILL MAKE IT HIS PLACE OF FUTURE RESIDENCE (Rev. 21:3 and 22:3) is one of the two things that Jesus is preparing now in heaven. Both God the Father and His Son have been fashioning it, since whatever the Father does, THE SON DOES LIKEWISE (John 5:19). Since the city comes down OUT OF HEAVEN fully prepared, then it must have been prepared IN HEAVEN, just as Jesus said He would do.
Notice, too, that the city comes out of heaven. IT DOES NOT SAY THAT WE GO TO HEAVEN.
Now let's understand what the Bible says about the Kingdom which is in preparation IN HEAVEN, and which will come to earth. Jesus returned to heaven to receive the Kingdom (Luke 19:12). He must be preparing it while acting in the office of High Priest. Since the Kingdom is prepared for all of us to inherit, then the particular place Christ is preparing for each of us must be our own position or office in that Kingdom. PLACE means POSITION, OFFICE, RANK, as well as geographical location. Our places or positions in the government of God will depend on the office we hold. Christ has FIRST PLACE, as He is King of kings. We shall all have secondary PLACES, lesser positions under Him.
The Kingdom of God is the government of God, the members of which are to be born of God. Being born of God makes the entire Kingdom, then, the FAMILY of God. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). That is why Jesus used the ancient Temple as a physical type of the spiritual FAMILY or KINGDOM OF GOD.
Now it is becoming obvious why our places or positions in God's government had to be prepared in heaven by Jesus. We could not receive the Holy Spirit, the only means by which we can enter the Kingdom, until Christ ascended (John 16:7.) Christ prepares our places or positions in the Kingdom by being our High Priest, interceding for us and by giving us the Spirit of God. The places or positions — the responsibilities of office — are being prepared by training us to fill those offices. Jesus, as our High Priest, has been calling, justifying and perfecting each of us for His Kingdom so that when the Kingdom of God comes to this earth (Matt. 6:10), each position or place in it will be fully prepared by having one of us fill that particular office. If Christ were not High Priest in heaven, the Kingdom would not be prepared. It would have none to fill its offices.
Although Christ had to go to heaven, He said: "If I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Here is Jesus' own promise that He is coming again! Notice, it does not say anywhere in these verses that we go to heaven.
It says just the opposite. Jesus will come to earth!
Jesus will return from heaven in clouds. We are going to meet Him in the air (I Thes. 4:15-17). At that time Jesus will give us our places or positions in the Kingdom, according to how well we have done with what we have been given.
Having received our responsibilities, we shall descend WITH JESUS to the Mount of Olives that same day. It is that same day that Christ comes to earth, not returns to heaven (Zechariah 14:4). He is coming to set up the Kingdom on the earth! Since we inherit the Kingdom, we, too, will BE on this earth, not heaven.
So Christians are not going to heaven after all. We are to be with Jesus here on this earth — "that where I AM, THERE ye may be also." We shall be ruling with Christ on earth over the nations (Rev. 20:4). And after that, the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven to the new earth. Even the Father Himself will dwell among us here on the new earth where we shall live and reign forever (Rev. 22:3-51.)
No wonder Jesus said the meek shall INHERIT THE EARTH (Matt. 5:5).
Note: The old Worldwide Church of God no longer exists and the group that took it over would not make Herbert Armstrong's literature (such as the old Tomorrow's World magazine) available, even when I offered to pay. So the above article is freely shown in the public interest. The most faithful remnant of his old church is the Continuing Church of God.
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