The days before the flood were some of the darkest in human history. Civilization teetered on the very precipice of self-destruction. Only divine intervention preserved it from total demise. God cleansed the earth and brought one family out of it. Yet in those dark days we have the record of two individuals who “walked with God.” This unique expression, found only three times in the Hebrew, is the divine assessment of the experience of Enoch and Noah (Gen 5:22, 24; 6:9). They are living proof that, no matter how difficult the day, it is never so dark that we cannot walk in the light of God’s presence.
Before the Lord Jesus left His disciples, He promised them that their lives could be marked by the same experience. In the upper room ministry recorded in John 13-17, the Spirit of God uses a word found nowhere else in the Greek New Testament and it brings into focus the concept of how near heaven can be to earth.
The word is found twice and only in John 14. The first verse (v 2) is well-known. The Lord Jesus stated that in His Father’s house were “many mansions.” Our modern understanding of the word “mansion” is different from the original intent. The related verb, a favorite word of the apostle John, is often translated by the word “abide,” suggesting a place to stay.
Our consideration of the first use of the noun “mone” turns our thoughts immediately to our eternal dwelling place in the Father’s house. The disciples faced the imminent departure of the Lord Jesus; He comforted them with the words, “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” (John 14:2).
Over the centuries, believers have derived immeasurable comfort from these words. When the tears flow and the heart breaks as a believer stands beside the coffin of a departed loved-one, the promise of a place of no more tears and of a home where there will be no more parting ameliorates the pain. There is a permanent dwelling, the Father’s house, where separation will never be known.
But the second use of the word brings us a promise that has gone largely unnoticed. In the upper room, the other Judas asked, “Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (v 22). The Lord responded, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (v 23).
By this identical use of the word found in verse 2, the Lord Jesus was showing that the experience of the Father’s house could be their experience at that time—and ours now. It goes beyond what the Lord Jesus had just stated two verses earlier about a manifestation. Beyond manifestation is the thought of dwelling.
Essentially, it makes no difference whether it is our abiding with the Lord in heaven or His abiding with us on earth. His presence will make it “heaven on earth!” The word “abiding place” means that the manifestation of the presence of the Lord can be just as permanent now as it will be in the Father’s house.
I know that some may object immediately that we are still in the flesh. True enough, but Paul clearly indicated that we could enjoy a foretaste of our future blessing. He calls it “…the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…” (Eph 1:14). The word “earnest” is found only three times in the New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and in Ephesians 1:14.
Barnes Commentary has a note on “the earnest” in 2 Corinthians 1:22. He explains the meaning so well that it is worth quoting: It refers to those influences as a pledge of the future glories which await Christians in heaven. In regard to the “earnest,” or the part of a price which was paid in a contract, it may be remarked: That it was of the same nature as the full price, being regarded as a part of it;
It implies that the comforts of the Christian here are of the same nature as they will be in heaven. Heaven will consist of like comforts; of love, and peace, and joy, and purity begun here, and simply expanded there to complete and eternal perfection. The joys of heaven differ only in degree, not in kind, from those of the Christian on earth.
I hope I will always remember the words of an older preacher who has been gone many years now. His desire was that when he arrived in heaven he would look around and express in surprise, “I think I have been here before!”
Was this not what the two on the road to Emmaus experienced? Luke records that “…it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them” (Luke 24:15). What a moment! What a privilege! And what an experience that followed along that seven or eight mile southeast path to Emmaus from Jerusalem!
We could fail to realize that this is exactly what the Lord Jesus promised in the Upper Room Discourse in John 13-17. He was teaching the significant truth that His abiding with us makes that Emmaus road experience possible for us – to actually enjoy that same walk and have the Scriptures opened to us just as if the Lord Jesus were actually walking by our side.
When the Lord Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, He promised He would be with them “always” (Mat 28:20). Darby’s translation gives the literal rendering: “And behold, I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age.” With the possibility of having the abiding presence of the Lord with us each individual day of our lives, we can only ask ourselves one question, “How many days of heaven on earth have I missed?”