In The Father’s House - We Shall See God
In the Father’s House
Excerpted from “Why They Leave Us”
Sermon #1892, March 21, 1886
Spurgeon continues the sermon he delivered on the heels of the death of two of his friends and fellow pastors. Note the tangible terms he uses to describe Heaven as his Father’s home.
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. And you know the way to where I am going. John 14:1-4
John 17:24).Where was Jesus when he uttered the words of our text? If I follow the language I might conclude that our Lord was already in Heaven. He says, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (
Does he not mean that they should be in Heaven with him? Of course he does. Yet he was not in Heaven. He was still in the midst of his apostles in the body upon Earth, and he had yet Gethsemane and Golgotha facing him before he could enter his glory. He had prayed himself into such an exaltation of feeling that his prayer was in Heaven, and he himself was there in spirit.
What a hint this gives to us! How readily may we quit the field of battle and the place of agony, and rise into such fellowship with God that we may think and speak and act as if we were already in possession of our eternal joy! By the passion of prayer and the confidence of faith we may be caught up into Paradise.
I have taken this text because it has taken hold on me. Our beloved brother Charles Stanford has just been taken from us. I seem to be standing as one of a company of disciples, and my brethren are melting away. My brothers, my comrades, my delights are leaving me for the better land.
We have enjoyed holy and happy fellowship in days of peace, and we have stood shoulder to shoulder in the battle of the Lord. But we are melting away. Before we look round, another will have departed. We see them for a moment, and they vanish from our gaze. It is true they do not rise into the air like the Divine Master from the Mount of Olives, yet do they rise, I am persuaded of that. Only the poor body descends, and that descent is for a very little while. They rise to be forever with the Lord.
The grief is to us who are left behind. What a gap is left where Hugh Stowell Brownstood! Who is to fill it? What a gap is left where Charles Stanford stood! Who is to fill it? Who among us will go next?
We stand like men amazed. Why this constant thinning of our ranks while the warfare is so stern? Why this removal of the very best when we so much need the noblest examples?
I am bowed down and could best express myself in a flood of tears as I survey the line of graves so newly dug. The Master is gathering the ripest of his fruit, and well does he deserve them. His own dear hand is putting his apples of gold into his baskets of silver, and as we see that it is the Lord, we are bewildered no longer.
His word, as it comes before us in the text, calms and quiets our spirits. It dries our tears and calls us to rejoicing as we hear our heavenly Bridegroom praying, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” We understand why the dearest and best are going. We see in whose hand is held the magnet which attracts them to the skies. One by one they must depart from this lowland country to dwell above, in the palace of the King, for Jesus is drawing them to himself.
Our dear babes go home because “he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom” (Isaiah 40:11). And our ripe saints go home because the Beloved comes into his garden to gather lilies. These words of our Lord Jesus explain the continual home-going. They are the answer to the riddle which we call death.
The first thought about the continual gathering to the house above will be the home word, the rallying word: Father. If there is to be a family gathering and reunion, where should it be but in the father’s house? Who is at the head of the table but the father? All the interests of the children unite in the parent, and he feels for them all.
What can be more right than that children should go home to their father? From him they came; to him they owe their life. Should they not always tend toward him, and should not this be the goal of their being, that they should at last dwell in his presence?
Because Jesus comes from the Father and leads us back to the Father, therefore there is a Heaven for us. Whenever we think of Heaven, let us chiefly think of the Father. For in our Father’s house are many mansions, and it is to the Father that our Lord has gone that he may prepare a place for us.
Spurgeon thinks of Heaven as a tangible place where our Savior desires to be with us. He names another friend among many who had recently died: Hugh Stowell Brown. Spurgeon speaks of real people living in that real place called Heaven.
He refers to the present Heaven, where the spirits of God’s people go upon dying, and to the future Heaven, where our bodies will be raised in eternal reunion with our spirits, so we will be whole and perfect people, united in giving God praise. Spurgeon says, “Only the poor body descends, and that descent is for a very little while. They rise to be forever with the Lord.”
Many people can’t resist spiritualizing what the Bible teaches about Heaven. Some people assume that Heaven is not so much an actual place as a state of being or a spiritual condition. But that’s not what Jesus said about it. He spoke of a house with many rooms in which he would prepare a place for us (John 14:2). Jesus told the disciples, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3, NIV). He used tangible, earthly, spatial terms to describe Heaven. The phrase “come back and take you” indicates movement and a physical destination.
If we reduce Heaven to something less than or other than a place, we strip Christ’s words of their meaning.
The Bible promises us that one day, after the Resurrection, Heaven will be centered on the New Earth—the place where God’s people will live forever. What are the implications of living forever on a transformed Earth? It means that we don’t need to look up at the clouds to imagine Heaven; we simply need to look around us and imagine what all we see would be like without sin and death and suffering and corruption.
When I anticipate my first glimpse of Heaven, I remember the first time I went snorkeling. I saw countless fish of every shape, size, and color. And just when I thought I’d seen the most beautiful fish, along came another that was even more striking. Etched in my memory is a certain sound—the sound of a gasp going through my rubber snorkel as my eyes were opened to that breathtaking underwater world.
I imagine our first glimpse of Heaven will cause us to similarly gasp in amazement and delight. That first gasp will likely be followed by many more as we continually encounter new sights in that endlessly wonderful place.
Imagine Earth—all of it—in its original condition. The happy dog with the wagging tail, not the snarling beast, beaten and starved. The flowers unwilted, the grass undying, the blue sky unpolluted. People smiling and joyful, not angry, depressed, and empty. If you’re not in a particularly beautiful place, close your eyes and envision the most breathtaking place you’ve ever been, complete with swaying palm trees, sparkling rivers, jagged mountains, crystal waterfalls, or powdery snowdrifts. Spurgeon—on days when he was accosted by the back alleys, crime, disease, and stench in parts of London—might have imagined the British coast he enjoyed visiting.
Think of friends or family members who loved Jesus and are with him now. Picture them with you, walking together in this place. All of you have powerful bodies, stronger than those of an Olympic decathlete. You are laughing, playing, talking, and reminiscing. Now you see someone coming toward you. It’s Jesus, with a big smile on his face. You fall to your knees in worship. He pulls you up and embraces you.
At last, you’re with the person you were made for, in the place you were made for. Everywhere you go, there will be new people to meet, including Charles Spurgeon and his friends Charles Stanford and Hugh Stowell Brown. There will be new places to enjoy, new things to discover. What’s that you smell? A feast? A party’s ahead. And you’re invited.
a Hugh Stowell Brown was a well-known preacher and social reformer in Liverpool. He died in February 1886, about a month before Spurgeon preached this sermon.