Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 19, May 2016
Scripture Reading: John 14:1-4
‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And 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. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
This title is asking what you are constructing your life with.
There’s a story about a builder who was once given a very lucrative contract to build a mansion for the wealthiest man in town. The project would require a great deal of special materials and woods in the building of the house, and the man said no expense should be spared in its construction. He promised the builder he would be rewarded handsomely when the work was completed. Unfortunately, as work progressed, the builder got a little greedy in the building and began to cut back on the quality of material on parts of the mansion where it would not be discovered unless it was torn apart. He reasoned that no one would ever know and, besides, he could make more money, too. The builder worked exclusively on the project and completed the mansion ahead of schedule, to the delight of the man who commissioned the magnificent structure. He congratulated the builder on the work and went on and on about how wonderful the mansion looked. “You certainly do fine work,” the man said, “and in payment for your fine work, the mansion is yours!” The builder was stunned! He had not expected his payment to be the very mansion he was building, and he could only hang his head as he thought about how he had cut back on the quality of materials, making the house that was now his not so wonderful. How often do we do the same for the Lord? How often do we “cut back” on our providing the building materials for our heavenly home until all the Lord has to build with is a few small twigs and ragged twine to hold it all together? What are we giving to the Lord to build our future home?
What are you building your life on? What are the materials you used to build this one life of yours? It is easier to take shortcuts in building a home. It is cheaper to use lesser materials. And for awhile, no one may notice. But somewhere along the line, you will pay for your shoddy workmanship. It is easier to cheat but someday you will be exposed. The same is true for life. It is easier to go with the crowd. The problem with people is that they do not see beyond the present. They give no thought to what is ahead. They live for the moment and whatever needs to be done to get what they want right now . . . is what they choose to do. These people do not give any thought to preparing for the life ahead. They don’t save any money. They don’t do anything to protect their health. They don’t build relationships while there is time. In his book, ‘A Life Full of Choices’, Bill Butterworth tells of the time when he came home to his family after another weekend speaking engagement when his then youngest son decided to start talking at the Monday evening meal. ‘Hey, Ma!’ were his first words. Then, turning to Bill, he said ‘Hey Bob!’ Butterworth was stunned. Says Butterworth, “His mom and I looked at one another blankly. She broke the silence by saying somewhat facetiously, “You’ve been on the road too much.” The encounter left him to realize that all of his weekend trips (he was booked at one point to speak 38 out of 52 weekends) plus his 50-hour workweek had created a situation in which his youngest child was becoming a stranger. Eventually and unfortunately a divorce took place. But it forced him to ask this question, ‘How Will My Children Remember Me?’
They don’t consider the consequences of their moral choices. They live for the moment and are unprepared for difficult times that may be ahead. The Department of Health warns on the HIV situation in the Philippines. 3.5% among male who have sex with males (MSM) is the prevalence rate recorded in the country. 6 cities have exceeded the 3.5% MSM.
•Quezon City – 6.6%
•Manila – 6.7%
•Caloocan – 5.3%
•Cebu – 7.7%
•Davao – 5.0%
•Cagayan de Oro – 4.7%
(According to the World Health Organization, if [the prevalence rate] exceeds 5%, in a matter of two years’ time, the HIV in these areas will really be uncontrollable as lessons learned based on experiences of countries like Thailand.
Their focus is all on the temporal world. They give no thought to eternity. They invest no time or energy in developing roots or in laying up treasures in Heaven. They believe they have lots of time to deal with eternal matters. They fail to see that being prepared for eternity and having a solid relationship with God, makes it possible to enjoy the present life more.
The Greek word for “mansions” occurs again in the New Testament only in John 14:23, where it is rendered “abode.” The Wycliffe and the Geneva version read “dwellings.” Our translators here followed the Vulgate, which has “mansions “with the exact meaning of the Greek, that is; “resting-places,” “dwellings.” So we are promised a mansion which will be our permanently dwelling place, resting place and our abode while in heaven. The word “Many” refers to the extent of the Father’s house, in which there should be abiding-places available for all. There would be no risk of that house being overcrowded. This revelation implies a home for all.
As I said earlier the word used for mansion is abiding places and the Greek word is ‘monai’. ‘Monai has three implications.
Firstly the Jews held that in heaven there were different grades of blessedness which would be given to men according to their goodness and their fidelity on earth.
Secondly the Greek writer Pausanias expounded that the word ‘monai’ means stages upon the way. Irenaeus speaks of a certain interpretation of the sentence which tells how the seed that is sown produces sometimes a hundredfold. sometimes sixtyfold and sometimes thirtyfold. What you are doing right now with your life is actually producing a hundredfold, sixtyfold, thirtyfold or nothing at all. There was a different yield and therefore a different reward. Some men will be counted worthy to pass all their eternity in the very presence of God; others will rise to Paradise; and others will become citizens of “the city.” Clement of Alexandria believed that there were degrees of glory, rewards and stages in proportion to a man’s achievement in holiness in this life.
Thirdly, “There are many abiding-places in my Father’s house” may simply mean that in heaven there is room for all. An earthly house becomes overcrowded; an earthly inn must sometimes turn away the weary traveller because its accommodation is exhausted. It is not so with our Father’s house, for heaven is as wide as the heart of God and there is room for all. Jesus is saying to his friends: “Don’t be afraid. Men may shut their doors upon you. But in heaven you will never be shut out.” Please see pictures.
I got a feeling that our mansion in heaven is going to be the shock of our life.
We often fail to recognize as we look toward to that home in heaven is what we are doing to help build that house while we are still here on Earth. Did you realize that what you do here will determine what Christ has to build it with in heaven?
So today, let’s look at what the Bible tells us about what we might be doing to ensure there is a home awaiting us in heaven. What must we do to provide the building materials for our heavenly home?
1. The foundation we build upon
The foundation we must build upon, if we seek to have a heavenly home, is that of Jesus Christ Himself. As Paul wrote, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1st Cor. 3:10, 11). Paul’s warning to “take heed how” one builds is to the very point we address now; if we want to get to heaven, we must make sure we are building our home on the right foundation – Jesus. If we base our faith on anything but Jesus – that is, if we base our beliefs on the possibility of getting to heaven on anything but Him – it is the wrong foundation and it is on shaky ground. Jesus is very clear in John 14:1 ‘‘let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ This morning if you believe in God, well done; but also believe in Jesus. Place your confidence in God, and in me as the Mediator between God and man. As you put your trust in God, and you will also trust in Jesus for Christ is of the same nature and essence as God; the implication of the true deity of Jesus Christ. No pope, no Mary, no Apostles has the ability to save you as Jesus. I put it to you. You want to go to heaven and have a mansion there. Then put your salvation and true in Jesus. Because nobody says that they will prepare a mansion for you except Jesus. We are all building our lives on some sort of foundation that carries with it eternal consequences.
2. Providing the finest materials
And as we are talking about building a heavenly home, we would expect that the building “material” must be of the finest quality. That means we must build using:
a. The Best Service. Building with the best “materials” means we must give God our best service, and giving God our best service means we begin with giving Him our all. He requires of us that we love Him “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37), and we see a wonderful demonstration of this in the Macedonians, who Paul said, “first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God” (2nd Cor. 8:1-5). When it was time to “build,” they thought nothing of giving their best and their all because they had already given themselves completely to the Lord. This cannot be a matter of “building” well one day and poorly the next, but requires excellence throughout our time here on earth. To do this demands diligence on our part that we do not take “shortcuts” in our building. We have the promise of reward for those “diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6), so let us not lose heart.
b. Holding Nothing Back. Since our aim is “building” a heavenly home, which is the ultimate place of residence, we cannot expect that if we hold back in our efforts that we could still attain to the greatest reward. Paul reminds us that our life of “building” will be reflected in what the final “product” will be: “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7); and, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2nd Cor. 9:6). In this last passage, Paul spoke of their giving which is, in a figurative sense, a part the “building” process. Will we hold back in our giving, thus hold back in our building? As we learned in the Old Testament times, God expects the best from His people and anything less is a dishonour to Him (cf. Mal. 1:6-8). Pastor Lily and I are so blessed learn that some DJCG are coming together to help construct a house for a certain NET cell member; some proving the zinc, some wood and other materials. It is a joint effort among a few DJCG. That is actually building a heavenly home for yourselves.
c. Willingness is the Key. To build this heavenly home, we must build in the way God wants, but we must concurrently have the desire – the willingness – to build. When Paul spoke to the Corinthians about their giving, he said, “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have” (2nd Cor. 8:12); while he spoke specifically about giving, the principle applies to everything we give in that we must begin with a willing mind. When it was time to build the tabernacle, God told the people through Moses, “Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord” (Exod. 35:5), and we find later that they had such a willingness Moses had to go back and tell them, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done-indeed too much” (Exod. 36:5-7). Friends and brethren, when we set to building our heavenly home, we must be likewise willing to the extent we don’t even think about holding anything back or giving anything less than our best. We must not withhold a portion of our lives to give to earthly pursuits, but dedicate ourselves fully to the work of attaining that heavenly home. And if we should ever doubt this is the right way, let us think about what God has given us (cf. John 3:16); why would we do anything less?
3. Laying up treasures in heaven.
To build a home in heaven, we must send the “materials” for its building ahead of our arrival, and that means we must be thinking on that home, and not this earthly one.
1. Instead of on Earthly Things. Paul’s admonition to the Colossians was to the point: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1, 2). If we are to honestly say we have a home in heaven, or that we desire a home in heaven, wouldn’t we then be thinking on that home, instead of whatever earthly home we may attain?
2. Looking to the Heavenly City. We, as people of God who claim to seek a home in heaven, must then be ones who look to that heavenly city, as did God’s people of old. The writer of Hebrews described these people of faith as those who “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” who “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” and who “declare plainly that they seek a homeland”; they were those who “desire a better, that is, a heavenly country” and who did not live as if this earth was all there was (Heb. 11:9-16). We must likewise live, looking for the heavenly home!
3. Where Our Mind Is… Jesus put it in terms with which we are now familiar: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). The fact is, if we look forward to that heavenly home, we will be thinking constantly about it and we will value it higher than any earthly possession or “home” we may have here. If we want to build that heavenly home, we must be thinking about it, and then acting on our thoughts that we may provide the building material.