God Making His Abode With Us

This sermon was given by Reverend Herman Hoeksma, as transcribed by M. Swart; Vol. 22, pp.167-177.


“Jesus answered and said unto him, 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.”
(John 14:23)

That is the answer that Jesus gave to the question that arose in Judas’ (not Iscariot) mind, after Jesus had said that He would manifest Himself to them and not to the world. Judas did not understand how that could be. He did not understand how that Jesus could manifest Himself unto them without manifesting Himself unto the world also. And we can easily understand why Judas could not see that.

The disciples stood prior to the resurrection; the resurrection had not yet taken place, and the Spirit had not yet come. Jesus was still in His earthly form; and how He would be after the resurrection they could not possibly see. As they knew him and saw him before the resurrection, they could not understand how Jesus could manifest Himself unto them, and not to the world. Of that higher, that spiritual, that heavenly manifestation of Jesus after His resurrection they had no conception.

Therefore Jesus had said that He would pray the Father, and the Father would give them the Spirit. “Yet a little while,” so Jesus had said, “and the world seeth me no more; but ye shall see me.” And again as Jesus had said before, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” It is almost the same as in the text, but there is this difference. Instead of saying, “I will manifest myself to him,” Jesus in our text says, “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

So it was that Judas had asked, “How can that be?” To this Jesus answers, “If any man love me, (now notice the connection) he will keep my words.” That is inevitable. If any man love Christ, he will keep His words. And, “If any man keep my words, My Father will love him.” Also there you cannot separate the two. If any one keep the words of Jesus, the Father will love him. If any man keep not my words, the Father will not love him. And in the third place, “If the Father love any man, we will come to him, the Father and I, and we will make our abode with him. That will be my manifestation to you, and not to the world.”

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God Making His Abode

You understand there is a figure in the text that is derived from earthly life. The figure is that of a home. God will make His abode with them that keep the words of Jesus, that is, He will make His home with them.

The figure is not that of a sojourner, of a traveler that stays for a night. It is not the figure of a boarder, of a stranger that seeks shelter in some home; the idea is that of the realization of the spiritual elements that go into the making of a home. A home is not just a house. It does not matter how richly a house may be furnished, how well it may be filled with material things, a house, no matter how richly furnished, does not become a home. Yet that is what the text speaks of: God will make His home with us.

This presentation of God making His home with us is exactly the opposite from when we speak of making a home with someone. When we speak of someone making his home with us, we have in mind someone that is homeless, and who comes to us and lives with us; but the viewpoint of the text is that of one who has a home and that spreads that home over us; it is the idea of fellowship. That is the chief spiritual element of a home. The fellowship of friendship is the chief spiritual element of a home.

When the text says that God makes His home with us, it is not the same as when we speak of God being with us in the providential sense; it is not the same as when we speak of God upholding and governing all things by His providence. God is always with us. He is always with us with His providence; but that is different from making His abode with us. The idea of God making His abode with us is that God has a home, that is, there is in God eternal fellowship, God lives a home life. He lives a home life in the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Ghost loving one another, living in perfect fellowship of friendship with one another, constitute the dwelling place of God. And, when God makes His abode with us, the meaning is that He receives us into His divine family. He extends his own divine family life to us so that it includes His people; they are taken into that divine family life. When God makes His abode with us, He causes our soul to enter into the life of fellowship, He causes that soul to taste the blessedness of His presence, and that soul responds to that fellowship. That fellowship becomes mutual as that soul responds in receiving, in appropriating the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, sanctification, justification and holiness; that soul thrills with joy at the presence of God.

My inmost being thrills with joy
And gladness fills my breast.
When I in righteousness at last
Thy glorious face shall see,
When all the weary night is past,
And I awake with Thee
To view the glories that abide,
Then, then I shall be satisfied.
When God so makes His abode with anyone, talking and walking with him, that soul expresses, in praise and adoration that God is good.

You understand that it is difficult. Because we have such a small beginning of what Jesus expresses here, it is difficult to understand what it means to have fellowship with God. As long as we are earthy, it is difficult to express what it is to have fellowship with God.

Notice what is implied. Jesus says, ‘If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him – that is, my Father and I – and we will our abode with him – that is, after the resurrection. We will come to the soul and abide in that soul.’

The question arises, Are there two that make their abode with us, Christ and His Father?

Is that the experience of the soul, that it has fellowship with Christ and with the Father?

And with that another question arises as well, Is the Spirit excluded?

Does not the triune God dwell in us?

We must understand that in the dwelling of God with us there is, first of all, the element of revelation. If you ask, “What does God do when He makes His abode with us?” the answer is, “He reveals Himself.” Revelation, objective revelation, is the first element that enters into God dwelling with us. You cannot see God. You cannot touch Him. You cannot speak with Him apart from revelation. You cannot walk with Him and talk with Him. God is hid. He dwells in the secrecy of His divine otherness. He is hid. If we are to have fellowship with Him, we must know Him; and, if we are to know Him, He must come to us and show Himself. He must reveal Himself. He must reveal Himself in all the goodness of His divine being. That is the first element that enters into God extending His dwelling over us; and it must be a revelation of the God of salvation.

In the second place, there is implied in that act whereby God causes us to dwell with Him, what Scripture calls manifestation. Manifestation is different from revelation; and mere revelation is not enough. Manifestation is that mystical operation by which God speaks to the soul. It is that operation whereby He speaks to the soul and tells the soul personally, “I give you a place in My house and in My fellowship.” And whereby the soul lives by God, and tastes that God is good. Revelation and manifestation are the two elements that enter into God making his abode with us.

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How He will make His abode

Next, if you ask who makes His abode with us, the answer is, God through Christ. If we ask as I did a while ago, “Are there two that make their abode with us?” The answer is, “God reveals Himself in the face of Christ.”

This is revelation. God, who is hid, comes out of the secrecy of His dwelling in the face of Christ; and, looking at that face of Christ, we see the revelation of the God of salvation. Christ is the revelation of God. He is Immanuel, God come into the flesh. He is the revelation of God in His word. He reveals God to us. He is that revelation in His work, in His suffering, in all of this He is the revelation of God’s face. For that reason there is no home possible with God, other than in the face of Jesus.

And there is no connection possible with Jesus, but in the Word of God. The Word of God is the face of Jesus. As long as we are in this earthly life, we can have no other connection with Jesus except in the Word. “When I in righteousness at last, Thy glorious face shall see,” then it will be different, then we will not need the Word anymore; we will see face to face. But not now. We do not now know as we are known. We do not see anything but the revelation of the face of Christ in the word, so that when Jesus says, “My Father and I will come to you, and make our abode in you,” He means that the Father will come to you through Me. “I will come to you. And as I come, the Father will come, so that there is no coming of the Father apart from me. My Father will come to you, but through me.” That first of all.

But that is not all.

We also asked a while ago, Is the Holy Spirit excluded?

And it is evident from the context that this is not the case. Jesus says in the context, “I will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” And therefore, we must understand, if there is nothing but the face of Christ revealed in the Word, if there is nothing but revelation, the abode of God with us is not realized. That face is revealed to all in the objective sense; that is, all may look at that face in a natural sense. All may look at it, read about it; but that is not a making of an abode with them.

Therefore, there is, in the second place, the manifestation by the Spirit. Jesus after His exaltation, received the Spirit; He received the Spirit as the head and mediator of His people. And, because He received the Spirit as the head and mediator of His people, that Spirit became the life-giving Spirit. And that Spirit, which Jesus received, He poured out; and, in that Spirit, Christ enters into the hearts of His people. By Him He touches their spirit; and He speaks to them by that Spirit – but through the Word. And when He speaks to His people by the Word, they behold Him; they receive Him in their hearts. That is manifestation; God makes his abode with man, and He does so in the Spirit, and in the face of Christ.

We should have had a taste of that today especially.

Did we?

We should have a taste of that every time when Christ is preached.

Do we?

When Christ is preached to us, do we find the response in our heart, that is expressed in the song, “My inmost being thrills with joy, and gladness fills my breast.”

Do we taste, experience, appropriate the love of God in Christ?

Do we know that we have fellowship with God?

When we eat and drink at the table of the Lord, do we taste that God comes to us in Christ?

God comes to us through Christ and in the Spirit and makes His abode with us, and causes us to experience the blessedness of His fellowship and presence.

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With Whom He will Make His Abode

It is impossible for us to determine who particularly has tasted that fellowship; and it is impossible to say in what degree anyone has experienced it. But this is sure, if we have not tasted that fellowship with God at all, it is because we did not keep His Word. 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. That chain you cannot break, so that, if you ask, “Who are the participants, who are they with whom God makes His abode?” The answer is, “They that love Jesus and keep His words.”

Love is here taken in the active sense. We can also speak of love as a power. Love, as a power, is the bond of perfectness, that is, it is the bond that unites the perfect because they are perfect. But love, as an act, is the delight of the mind in that which is perfect. Now the Lord speaks of, “he that loves me,” – that is, he that loves Christ as the manifestation of God. That is different from what is expressed in many silly, sentimental hymns. In that sentimental nonsense there is no power. We must love Jesus as the manifestation of the Father. To love Christ is to the delight of the mind in Christ as the manifestation of God; and, if we love Christ as the manifestation of God, then we will keep His Word. To keep the Word of Christ is to keep the Word of God; and to keep the word of God is to walk in sanctification. If we walk in sin, we do not love Christ.

Now Christ says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him.” Do not make a mistake; the text does not mean to say that our love is first. That is impossible, and that is also contrary to Scripture. God’s love is always first; and we love God only because He loved us first, and shed that love abroad in our hearts.

Only remember: God loves us as He sees us in His counsel. As they are in God’s counsel, His people are perfect; but as they are in the world, they are in sin and guilt and corruption. And being in sin and guilt, they cannot receive that love of God; but God sheds His love abroad in their hearts. He changes them, and inclines their hearts unto Himself.

Thus it is that the text means to say that you cannot taste that love of God, you cannot experience His presence and fellowship, but in the way of keeping His commandments. So the conclusion is, the world cannot taste God. It does not keep His word, and therefore cannot experience His love. And we cannot taste God’s fellowship in the measure that we walk in sin. The moment we walk in sin, we lose the consciousness of God’s fellowship. Any sin that we love, that we cling to, that we do not want to get rid of, will cause us to lose the consciousness of God’s fellowship. For God does not change; and only when we walk in God’s ways, can we sing,

When I in righteousness at last
Thy glorious face shall see,
When all the weary night is past,
And I awake with thee,
To view the glories that abide,
Then, then I shall be satisfied.

Then the view will fall away. Then we shall see face to face. And then we shall forever dwell in God’s presence, and taste the blessedness of His fellowship.

By Herman Hoeksema

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