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. John 14:1-3
The night of His betrayal, and thus the night before He was crucified, Jesus spoke to His disciples’ troubled hearts—filled with fears and sorrows at His announced, imminent departure.
Fear not. “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Have faith in me. “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
Know that heaven is real. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.”
Know that heaven is real for you. “I go to prepare a place for you.” “I will come again and take you unto myself.”
What an amazing promise from our Lord who would presently enter into heaven and assume His throne of glory—“I will come again!”
Reformed theologians distinguish various “comings” of the Lord, the first two being the most commonly known. First, He came in His incarnation. The Son of God, very God, came into our world in human flesh and dwelt among us. Second, He will come in the parousia—the visible, bodily return of Jesus on the clouds of glory with “all the holy angels” and “ten thousands of his saints” (Matt. 25:31; Jude 14).
Third, Jesus is in the process of coming since the day He ascended into heaven. During His trial, under oath, Jesus informed the Sanhedrin of this—“Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). The “hereafter” is literally from this time, or from now on. Jesus comes in His execution of God’s counsel, sending forth and controlling the running of the four horses and their riders (Rev. 6). He is coming through the wars, the earthquakes, the floods, the epidemics, the uniting of the false church and of the nations. Jesus is coming! And when Jesus comes in His glory (parousia), the promise of John 14 will be fully realized. The saints on the earth will be caught up…“in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:17). He comes to take His own to heaven…“that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).
There is another coming of Jesus, namely, His coming for His people in and through death. This is a marvelous and comforting truth. We need this comfort, for death is the punishment for disobedience—“in the day that thou eatest…thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). But Christ Jesus assumed our flesh and blood exactly that He might bear every aspect of God’s punishing wrath against sin. On the cross, Jesus finished that wrath against the sins of His people, delivering them from it. And as part of that atoning work, Jesus died…but then rose again, victorious over death, hell, and the grave. This saving work transformed death for the believer. By faith we understand that “our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, but only an abolishing of sin, and a passage into eternal life” (Heidelberg Catechism, LD 16, Q&A 42). Amazing comfort at death!
Now add to that blessed knowledge this promise of Jesus recorded in John 14—“I will come again, and receive you unto myself.”
Not one person on this side of the grave knows exactly what happens at death. Part of the believer remains here and is buried. Part of the believer is “immediately taken up to Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, LD 22, Q&A 57). How that happens is part of the mystery of death that is not revealed to us. However, one thing Jesus did tell us is that the believer is not left alone at the moment of death, for Jesus comes to take him to Himself.
“I will come again.” This is Jesus’ word to each and every believer. By this He promises: This world is not your eternal habitation. Your eternal dwelling place is in Father’s house in heaven where I have gone to prepare a place for you to live. It is My good pleasure to deliver you from this world of sin and death in order that we may dwell together in blessed covenant fellowship forever. I will come again for you “that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Sad to say—it is even a shame to express it—believers do not often live in the consciousness of this gracious promise. We are so earthly minded that we can scarcely devote an hour at a time to spiritual things. The weekly sermons on the Lord’s Day set before us the promises of our crucified and risen Lord, but even that is not enough. We soon return to our work and play, and heaven is far away from our thoughts.
“I will come again, and receive you unto myself.”
There are times when Jesus forcibly reminds us of His promise. He comes. He takes to Himself. An eight-year-old boy. A newborn child. A beloved grandmother or grandfather, full of years. A former teacher. A thirty-year-old husband and father.
There are times when our Lord speaks very loudly and forcefully. In the Protestant Reformed Churches in western Michigan Jesus has spoken again and again in recent months as He came. He came repeatedly. Surely during this year already the Lord came repeatedly to His church all around the world, and He continues this very day taking His people to Himself.
Every coming of Jesus—through death—is another reminder: “I will come again.”
The Lord speaks. How long will we consciously remember His promise? How long will it be before work and play, and earthly possessions and pleasures control almost all our thoughts and activities again?
For, He Is Coming
Lest we should slumber surrounded by earthly pleasures and possessions, Jesus also gave us signs of His coming. He is coming, as noted, in and through all the events of history.
The chief and controlling sign is the gathering of the elect out of the nations. The Lord sends forth His Word, and that preaching is the power of God unto salvation. Jesus is “not slack concerning his promise…; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). The gathering of the elect governs all—this is His central work and His goal. Christ will come (in the parousia) when the last elect is gathered, and not before. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt 24:14).
But He sends other signs that alert the church of His coming. There is the measure of iniquity that must be filled. For God will be justified in His righteous condemnation of sinners and in His eternally destroying wrath against sin. Accordingly, sin will develop in all its vile corruption, in its ugliness, in its total God-defying rebellion.
In the United States of America, sin’s development has been accelerating at an astounding rate. And on June 26, 2015 the United States officially gave its approval to the vile sin of homosexuality. The Supreme Court took the role of antichrist, and, as though it were God, rejected a fundamental creation ordinance of the Almighty. The court declared a new ordinance—“men with men working that which is unseemly” (Rom. 1:27)—this is now right and good and will be officially sanctioned in government-conducted “marriage” ceremonies. And the false church, the precursor of the whore that will serve the final kingdom of Antichrist, adds her shrill approval.
Much more can be and must be said about this decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, we only call all believers to recognize the sign of the Lord’s return.
His promise is being fulfilled. Anyone who allows this glaring evidence, this trumpet’s insistent call, to slip from his daily conscious awareness, is a fool. He slumbers with those who are “drunken in the night” and are “in darkness” (I Thess.5:3-7).
Rather let all believers everywhere, those “who are of the day, be sober” (I Thess. 5:8).
People of God, the Lord is keeping His promise. He is coming. He comes through His servant death to take us unto Himself. He is coming in all the events of history. The promised evil days of persecution—worldwide persecution for all who stand for God’s cause—these days are near (Matt. 24:9-13; Rev. 13:7, 15-17; et al.).
Jesus’ promise is being fulfilled. He speaks loudly. He must, because of our dullness and because of our intoxication with the world. Throughout this dispensation, His command continues to sound forth as it did to the New Testament church: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (II Cor. 6:17).
“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
“Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:33, 36, 37).
And pray for His coming—do we dare? Only by the power of faith. Lord Jesus, come quickly.