IN THE first edition, we emphasised the fact that most Christian leaders have greatly contributed to the growing doubt and unbelief expressed in Jesus Christ by unbelievers. This has been done through incorrect interpretations of some passages or verses of the Bible. One of such wrongly taught scriptural verses is John 14:1-3 which quotes the Lord Jesus Christ as exhorting His disciples with these words:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Many ministers have, over the decades, explained the passage of Scripture above to mean that Jesus was going to prepare mansions or rooms in His Father's house in heaven for the eternal dwelling of Christians upon His return to judge the world. However, we learnt in the previous edition that this notion of John 14:1-3 was erroneous as the Father's house does not refer to any accommodations in heaven but the church on earth. In fact, we gave Scriptural quotations to buttress this assertion.
It was also established that the eternal dwelling for Christian believers was completed long before Christ even descended. In Matthew 25:32-34, it is written, “…Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And then in Hebrews 11:16, we read, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
Clearly, Christ Jesus was not going to the Father to prepare accommodations or undertake building projects for His disciples in heaven. As already stated, the “Father's house” refers to the “Church”. In fact, the rooms in the house refer to the various ministry offices in the church. Remember how Elijah was instructed by God to anoint Elisha to be in his room, that is, his stead or ministry office (1Kings 19: 16).
And the “place” which Christ said He was going to prepare refers to the specific area of operation each minister will be assigned to perform. Thus, there is enough evidence to show that Christ fulfilled the prophetic word in John 14:1-3 in the days of the first apostles in the first century. Christ began fulfilling His Word progressively from the beginning of the birth of the church in Acts chapter two forward.
The first place Christ prepared for His disciples was the place or office of the apostle before later the offices prophets, teachers, shepherds, evangelists, along with the gifts of the Holy Spirit including healing, miracles, signs and wonders, word of knowledge, and word of wisdom.
Now, it is important to assert that Christ Jesus’ going to be with the Father as indicated in John 14:1-3 refers to His dying and physical departure from the earth to heaven. His coming again to take the disciples to Himself clearly denotes the coming of His Spirit to dwell in and upon His chosen ministers (Christians) and they in Him, thus becoming one.
After this, Christ says the ministers will be where He is. That is, the disciples would be placed in the ministry offices in which Christ Himself stood and performed His ministry duties to the Father and humanity. Remember that Christ Jesus stood in all the ministry offices – Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher, Healing, Administration or government, giving among others.
After saying all these things, Jesus made the teaching clearer when He told the disciples in the verse John 14:12 that “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” From verses 15-26, Jesus repeats His coming to be with the disciples by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, so they could function in the ministry offices He has placed them in.
Now, you can clearly see that in John 14: 1-3, Christ was not talking about God’s house in heaven with rooms. How can God have a house in heaven and yet our Saviour had to go and prepare a place for His disciples? Does that mean the house and the rooms in it were uncompleted? And how many years would it take Jesus to finish the preparation of the place having already spent over 2000 years?
Indeed, after His death, Christ went and prepared the ministry offices and each minister’s areas of operation thereby creating harmony and teamwork in Christian ministries. But the Lord Jesus makes us understand that the strength and authority for true Christian ministry is the Holy Spirit. Without Him, authentic Christ-centred and gospel-focused ministry is impossible (Acts 1:8).
Thus, the coming of the Holy Spirit as indicated in Acts chapter two makes the appointment of Peter et al to begin ministry from where Christ left off. The first room or ministry office in the Father's house, the church which Christ gave was the apostolic office. Thus, the apostle Paul writes, “He who descended is the one who ascended…And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11).
And then the gifts of the Holy Spirit including utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues were added (1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Romans 12:3-8).
It is important to point out, in conclusion, that all these have their origin from the ministry of Jesus Christ and therefore must be exercised at His will and for the glory of the Father without anyone boasting.
By James Quansah