Shortly after Watchman Nee was saved, he began to love the Lord and was intensely burdened to preach the gospel to his schoolmates and countrymen in season and out of season. Through his preaching nearly all his schoolmates were led to the Lord...
Witness Lee was born in 1905 in northern China and raised in a Christian family. At age 19 he was fully captured for Christ and immediately consecrated himself to preach the gospel for the rest of his life. Early in his service, he met Watchman Nee, a renowned preacher, teacher, and writer.
The Producing of His Abode, Life-Study of John, Message Thirty, pp. 359-364
In the Father's house are many abodes (14:2). The Greek word for abodes in verse 2 is the plural form of the same word that is translated as abode in verse 23. What does "abode" mean? The many abodes are the many members of the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:5), which is God's temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17). The Lord's Body has many members, and each member is an abode. That the many abodes are the many members of the Body is adequately proved by verse 23, which says that the Lord with the Father will make an abode with the one who loves Him. Every lover of Jesus is an abode. We all are the abodes of God's building. This building is the Body of Christ, and all the abodes are the members of the Body of Christ.
The words "I go" in verse 2 mean that the Lord was going through death and resurrection to bring man into God for the building of God's habitation. This is the building of the church mentioned in Matthew 16:18, where the Lord said, "I will build my church." Here, in verse 2, the Lord says, "I go to prepare a place for you." Are these two separate things? It is impossible. The Lord has only one work. He is not going to prepare a place for us in heaven and, at the same time, build a church on earth. This is not logical. If we put these two portions of the Word together, we shall see that the preparing a place is just the building of the church. In order for the Lord to build the church, He had to go to prepare a place. The consummate result of this will be the building of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2). The Lord is now building the church. This building of the church is equal to the building of the New Jerusalem. As we have seen, in all the universe God has only one building—the building of His living habitation with His redeemed people.
"I go to prepare a place for you," means that the Lord will prepare a place, accomplish redemption, open up the way, and make a standing for man to get into God. It means that the Lord will pave the way for us to be in God. This is the central thought of this chapter. If we are going to allow God to dwell in us, we must firstly get into Him. If we do not get into Him, He will not get into us. Once we dwell in God, then He will dwell in us.
But how can sinful people like us get into God? How can we get into the righteous and holy God? It is impossible. We are a people separated from God. Do you know how far we are from God? It must be a long, long distance. Have you ever measured the distance between you and God? Have you ever counted how many obstacles there are between you and Him? The first obstacle is sin, the second is our many sins, the third is the world, the fourth is the Devil, the ruler or prince of the world, and the fifth is death. In addition, the flesh, the self, and the old man also increase the separation between us and God. We are far, far away from God. How can we be brought into Him? How can sinners get into God? All of the separating elements, the obstacles of sin, sins, the world, the Devil, death, flesh, and self, must be abolished. Then we shall be brought near to God, and not only to God, but into God.
For this, some work, some preparation, was needed. The Lord had to do a work of preparation. He had to go, not to the heavens, but to the cross to remove all of the obstacles. All of the obstacles have been removed by the Lord's all-inclusive death. On the cross the Lord abolished all the barriers between us and God. He dealt with sin, sins, the world, the prince of this world, the flesh, the self, the old man, and even death. By death and resurrection the Lord paved the way and prepared the place that we might be brought into God. I believe that this is the correct meaning of "I go to prepare a place for you."
In the United States there are many freeways and highways. The Lord's death and resurrection have prepared a highway that brings us into God. Before He was crucified, there were many obstacles, many frustrations, that hindered our going into the Father. There was no way to get into Him. But by His death and resurrection, the Lord cut and prepared the way and paved the highway that can bring any person into God immediately. The Lord removed all the mountains, filled all the gaps, paved the highway, and paid all the tolls. There is no charge for us to pay. We may come directly into God.
By His death and resurrection, the Lord has not only opened the way into God, but also prepared a standing for us before and in God. Listen to the good tidings: a place before and in God has been prepared for us. As long as we believe in the name of the Lord Jesus, we have a standing before God and in God. We all must shout, "Hallelujah! I have a standing before God. I even have a standing within God. Even God Himself cannot reject me. Oh, because of the preparing work of Christ, the righteous God can never cast me out. I have such a firm standing in God." I can testify to you that I am so secure about the fact that I am in God. Without the crucified and resurrected Christ, we could never have this assurance. But since the Lord has gone through the cross and has been raised from the dead, we know that we have a position before God and a standing in God.
Do not think that the Lord is going to heaven to prepare a mansion there in heaven so that some day we may go to heaven and live in that mansion. This thought is too low. It is similar to Buddhism. This thought is held by the teachings of Catholicism and even, to an immense extent, by the teachings of Protestantism also. We all must rid ourselves of this kind of thought, which is similar to that of Buddhism. The Chinese version of the Bible even adopted the phrase "the heavenly mansion" for "heaven" in its translation of Hebrews 9:24 and 1 Peter 3:22. All the Chinese know that the term "the heavenly mansion" is a Buddhist term. It is a term invented by Buddhism. I am very sorrowful that Christianity has adopted this thought. Catholicism adopted many things from heathenism. This is the leaven spoken of in Matthew 13:33, where the Lord told us of the woman putting leaven in the fine flour. The fine flour of this parable denotes the Son of God as the living bread to be our nourishment, and the woman represents the Roman Catholic Church. The leaven that she took is symbolic of the sinful, unclean things, such as paganism and heathenism. The Catholic Church brought paganism into the doctrines and teachings concerning Christ. This thought of going to live in a heavenly mansion is a kind of leaven in the fine flour.
The Lord's redemption is not to prepare a place for us in heaven. The Lord's redemption is to prepare a place for us in God. How divine is this thought! This thought is on the highest plane. The Lord redeemed us to bring us into God, to prepare a place for us in God. After reading your whole New Testament, where does it say that we are? After we have been redeemed, after we have been saved, after we have been regenerated, please tell me where we are. We are in Christ and in God. Even John's first Epistle reveals that we abide in God and that God abides in us (4:13). Throughout the whole New Testament, the central thought is that, after we have been saved and regenerated, we are in God and in Christ. God and Christ are our dwelling place. Furthermore, we have become the dwelling place for God. Thus, God and we, we and God, are a mutual abode. The Lord says clearly that He was preparing a place for us in God, not in heaven. He was preparing a place that we might get into God, that the Lord might bring us into God by His redemption. By His death and resurrection, He has brought us into God. Praise the Lord that each one of us has a place in God! Do you prefer a place in heaven or a place in God?
The Lord's going was to bring man into God for the building of His habitation. He went to the cross to accomplish redemption, removing all the obstacles between man and God, that He might open the way and make a standing for man to get into God. The standing in God, being enlarged, becomes the standing in the Body of Christ. Anyone who does not have the standing, a place in God, does not have a place in the Body of Christ, which is God's habitation. Hence, the Lord's going to accomplish redemption was to prepare a place in His Body for the disciples.
In verse 3 the Lord said, "If I go...I am coming." I like this sentence very much. This word proves that the Lord's going (through His death and resurrection) is His coming (to His disciples—vv. 18, 28). The tense here is very strange to the English language. It means that His going was His coming, that He was coming by going. The Lord's going was not His departure but actually another step of His coming. The Lord's death and resurrection was a further step of His coming. His going to die was His coming into us. The Lord's intention was to get into His disciples. He came in the flesh (1:14) and was among His disciples, but while He was in the flesh He could not get into them. He had to take the further step of passing through death and resurrection that He might be transfigured from the flesh into the Spirit, that He might come into them and dwell in them, as is revealed in verses 17 through 20. After His resurrection, He came to breathe Himself as the Holy Spirit into the disciples (20:19-22). Therefore, His going was just His coming.