In case you missed the first two parts:
Many Mansions is a sermon by Jonathan Edwards. This version has been updated for today’s readers.
Living in God’s House
My hope is that you’ve been informed about God’s house and the many dwelling places he has prepared there. But it isn’t enough to learn facts about that glorious place. The real question is this: Will you personally live there one day? With that question we now turn to apply the truth of John 14:2 to our lives.
Encouragement for Sinners
This world is filled with many people who fear they may never make it to heaven. These poor sinners are dreadfully concerned about their eternal destiny, overcome with anxiety about the salvation of their souls, trembling at the strong possibility of never gaining entrance into God’s house.
These people are miserable, acutely aware that they are not right with God through Christ. They understand that as of now they have no rightful inheritance in heaven at all. They deserve condemnation, and they are sensible enough to know it. Danger looms before them as they realize their eternal residence may be fixed in hell instead of heaven. Their knowledge of these facts makes their situation even more horrifying!
If you are one of these people, trembling in such a fearful condition, then I want to speak with you now. Let me encourage you on the basis of what you have learned – seek after heaven with all your heart! Remember, there are many mansions there, so there is room enough for you.
Yes, your sins are great and your circumstances are bleak, but heaven has plenty of provisions for you. Christ is there! If you come to him, you never need to be afraid. He will prepare a place just for you, and he will make sure you are well accommodated in his Father’s house.
Let’s continue to explore the truth that heaven is a place that must be sought.
Diligently Seek a Place of Dignity in Heaven
Yes, sinners, there is a place for you, and Christ is willing to provide it, but you must seek it. Strive for admission to heaven with all of your heart!
1. Seek heaven itself
You’ve learned that heaven is God’s house, not a mere earthly house, so seek it accordingly. Don’t waste your time hunting for an earthly house, which is far less important than the heavenly one.
In the Scriptures we read of David desperately longing to return to the earthly temple. He had been away in the wilderness of Judah (in Geshur where the Philistines lived) and was homesick for the land of Israel. Mainly, he was eager to get back to God’s house. David prized that place with all his heart, indicating in one place that he would be happy merely being a doorkeeper there!
If David longed for a mere earthly tabernacle with such great passion, how much more should we long for the heavenly temple of God? It is a place filled with great happiness, unlike any place we know here.
Consider the privileged status that high level dignitaries enjoy. They have been appointed seats of honor, dwelling in dignified apartments within the king’s palace! The children of the king enjoy even greater status and honor.
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If these enjoy their honored place here on earth, then how much more enjoyment will the children of God have when they are appointed a place in God’s heavenly palace? When God assigns an apartment or mansion to his children, they will have astounding glory and honor as they are admitted into the very household of God!
You would be utterly foolish to neglect seeking a place in heaven. Seeing that there are plenty of mansions there for us all, why would you turn away from this honor? Rather than seeking such a wonderful place, far too many people turn their minds to the worthless and fading things of this world.
Take a moment and consider the following three truths:
Your time on earth is short.
Right now you are among the living in this world. You have your earthly mansion here – a house, room, or at least a shelter that functions as some kind of home. And you have a seat here in the house of God. But you can possess these for only a very short time. Your residency here will not continue for much longer! In just a little while, your home, which knows you so well in the here and now, will know you no more. Your house will be empty, and your dead body will be carried out of it. Or you may die while you are away from it and never return to it or any other place in this world.
Your current earthly home might be perfect for you – convenient and roomy. But it is not a permanent mansion, but rather a temporary tent that must soon be taken down. It is merely a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. Your stay on this earth is really just for a night. Even your body is a mere house of clay that will soon decompose, pathetically rotting away. Your body will inhabit only one other place on this earth – your grave.
Within the past two weeks, right here in our own town, two tragic deaths have occurred. God has providentially used this sad occasion to show us yet again that death has dominion over both old and young. We have been reminded that death is real and will happen to us all.
First the son was taken. He was in the prime of life, full of strength. Then his father followed him only a few days later. The father also seemed healthy, having no symptoms that would indicate approaching death. But their house in this world will know them no more, and the seats they once occupied here in the house of God are now empty.
By means of his providence, God is warning us through these two deaths. So be warned! You still have time left. Use it wisely to seek your mansion in heaven.
Here we are, sitting in this newly constructed house of worship. What a tremendous blessing to have a seat in such a place! As your eyes scan the room, the decorations are likely very pleasing to you. It is a tremendous joy to have your own spot in such a pleasant house. But beware, for you don’t know how long you will have that seat. It may be for only a very short time.
Those two men were able to meet here just a few times, and never once did they get to enjoy the finished building. Death quickly snatched them away, and they will never again have a seat here. You could be following them very soon. You don’t know when it will be your turn. When death does come to you, it will be of paramount importance that you have a seat in God’s house above.
Let me share about the last moments of that father and son. Fading away on their death beds, powerful words flowed from their hearts. Do you know what they said? They were warning others to use their remaining time well, because they understood that our time on earth is very precious and very short.
The son spoke of the vast importance of cultivating a high degree of interest in Christ. He urged and exhorted us all to earnestly pursue the Lord. I was there with him, listening to his words. He fervently called people to use their time wisely and to be thorough in their seeking.
Counseling and warning the younger people was his special concern. He wanted them to hear these important words from a dying man so that they might listen more intently. His desperation was clear as he challenged them to carefully consider whether their conversion to Christ was genuine. In fact, just a while before he died, he made a request of me. He asked me to admonish all the young people who had gathered in his room, encouraging them to seek after Christ.
Through the death of this man and his father, God has given us a vivid warning. When people are dying, their words should carry a special weight, deeply impacting our hearts. After all, the circumstances of the dying enable them to see things as they actually are. They are better able than the healthy (like most of us) to judge what is most important, because they stand, as it were, between two worlds.
Therefore, I speak to our young people. Take warning from these events, and don’t be fools! Don’t neglect seeking a place in heaven!
Everyone is well aware of how young people can be. The pleasing things of this world usual gain the majority of their focus. If you are young, for example, you may be very happy dreaming about what you hope is a wonderful and bright future. Or you might be charmed by all you see in this new facility, with its pleasant decorations and adornments, overjoyed to have a seat in this earthly house of worship next to those around you.
But have you considered how it could all be taken away from you so quickly? Death could snatch you away in a moment. And when it does, you will no longer be able to enjoy life under the sun. Have you thought about this enough? When it happens, it will be forever. You will never again have a place in your mansion or any house at all. The time to enjoy those things and find your happiness in them will be at an end.
So make it your main concern now to secure an everlasting home in the hereafter.
The alternative is a place in hell.
Now, consider this related truth – not only will death snatch you away from this world one day, but if you have no mansion in the house of God, your final abode will be where the demons live. After all, there is no middle place between God’s house and hell. You must go to one or the other.
Some people have a mansion in heaven that God has prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Everyone else will be cursed and sent away into an everlasting lake of fire that has been prepared for the devil and his minions.
Think about the misery those people endure who live among those foul spirits for all eternity. These evil beings are God’s great enemies, and so their habitation is the blackest darkness, a place of the worst filthiness, abomination, disgrace, and torment. Oh, you would ten thousand times rather have no place to live at all – that is, to be annihilated with no being – than to have a place among those demons!
Your place in hell could be one of the worst.
You must also consider which place in hell you may receive if you die without converting to Christ. It will be one of the worst places! But why? It’s because you currently enjoy the privilege of having a seat here in God’s house in this world.
As we have seen, heaven is a place of many mansions with varying degrees of honor. Similarly, hell is full of many abodes which have various degrees of torment and misery, some worse than others. People who had a seat in God’s house here on earth (especially those who sat in the best seats), who then die without knowing Christ, will find themselves in one of the worst places in hell for eternity.
In Ecclesiastes 8:10, Solomon speaks of a peculiarly awful sight that he had witnessed. A wicked man was buried, but he was not just any wicked man. This was a man who “used to go in and out of the holy place.”
So it is with those who have had a seat here in God’s house. Here in this place you have graciously been, in a sense, exalted up to heaven and set down right at the gate. But nonetheless, if you die without Christ’s saving grace, you will be cast down into hell.
Now that I’ve exhorted you to diligently seek heaven itself, I want to finally challenge you to seek one of the better places there.
2. Seek a high place of dignity in heaven
This last point will bring our message to conclusion. Since there are many mansions in the Father’s house of varying degrees of honor and dignity, let us strive to obtain a place of distinguished glory.
The Bible teaches that we should pursue the higher places. Indeed, God’s purpose in teaching us about the various degrees was to motivate us to seek a more dignified mansion.
2 Corinthians 9:6 Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
People shouldn’t be overly anxious about seeking the seats of honor in this earthly house where you sit. It’s not appropriate. Fallen and fallible men decide who sits where and who receives the more dignified seats. The honor of these earthly seats is the honor of mere men.
But it’s much different in God’s house above. We can’t be too earnest about seeking after a high seat there! In that place, God bestows honor on those who live holy lives, because holiness is the honor of God. Strive, then, for genuine holiness before God, and you will be striving for a high place of dignity in heaven.
Earthly honor is worth very little. For the most part, it’s a waste of our time to pursue it. Even the greatest honors we might obtain vanish so quickly, like a popping bubble. Death has a way of equalizing all people. Some live in more stately homes than others, and some hold higher offices, sit on higher seats, and have more money. Nonetheless, all graves are level. One rotting, putrefying corpse is as ignoble as another. The worms crawling through dead carcasses do not care if a person was rich or poor, master or servant, honorable or dishonorable. A worm is no respecter of persons.
Why should anyone waste their time seeking honor here, when death will take it all away?
But God’s house above contains everlasting mansions. People who receive one will be able to keep it for all eternity. Those with greater or lesser dignity, whether nearer or further from the throne, will all be able to possess their seat in heaven forever. This is a promise:
Revelation 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it.
Do you feel it’s worthwhile to seek a high seat in our new church facility? Well, it’s all the more worthwhile to seek a high mansion in God’s temple.
This of it like this. You only come here one day out of every week, which is really just a few days over the course of your life. But heaven is the everlasting habitation of God and all his children! If it’s worth your trouble to prize a particular pew or seat here, then how much more should you desire a glorious seat in heaven?
You who love your high seats in this house, think about what I am saying. Are you pleased because you are seated high and elevated above the rest of the congregation? Do you take pleasure as the others sitting around you behold you in your place of dignity? Remember, the amount of time you have to enjoy this pleasure is very short.
Some of you may feel that your seat is not suitable because it’s too low for you. Don’t fret. Soon everyone will be equalized in their graves, whether they sat high or low here.
The real question for us all is this: Where will you sit in that other world for all of eternity? This should be your greatest concern. Where you make your eternal home is infinitely more important than your status here and now.
So make the most of the opportunities God gives you in this new meeting house to seek Christ with all your heart. Whether you sit high or low, pursue a distinguished mansion in God’s heavenly and eternal house. In that glorious assembly, you will receive your place and enjoy everlasting rest.
What is precious about this new building? Why did we build it, and why should we value it? Surely, it’s not to merely enjoy the decorations or so that the honorable can sit in the best seats! This building is valuable because it’s the place where God’s Word is heard and celebrated and because here we prize and practice God’s ordinances.
When you attend this earthly house of worship, spend your time seeking after Christ so that he might prepare a place for you in his Father’s house. If you seek him and treasure him, then when he comes again to this world, he will take you to himself that where he is you may be also.