The housing program of the Bible
The Lord and Creator of all things humbled Himself: Jesus "though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). God had decreed a road of humility for Him, so that He might redeem us. Traveling this road meant living in extreme poverty: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). The place where Christ was allowed to lay His head was the Cross. There "He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit."
This is the first chapter of the housing program of the Bible. Without it we cannot understand the second chapter. Once speaking to His disciples, Jesus said: "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house there are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going " (John 14:1?4). Jesus told His disciples that there were many dwelling places in heaven. There is no housing shortage there. On the contrary Jesus wants all people there. He has "prepared" the dwelling places of heaven. In other words He has fully readied them for occupancy. There are no uninhabitable houses in heaven; Jesus made them all habitable by becoming homeless and bowing His head on the Cross.
By nature we were not acceptable for the comfortable dwelling places of heaven. We would have polluted them with our sins, and life there would have been just as contentious and full of pollution as it is here on earth. For this reason Jesus cleansed us by atoning for our sins. When our sins are forgiven we are fit for heaven. Faith in Christ brings us forgiveness. "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). That is why Jesus says: "Believe in Me." But He also says: "Let not your heart be troubled." Even if we are destitute here on earth, we have eternal dwelling places reserved in heaven for us, and eternal joy awaits us there. Or even if we were millionaires, we would have a better "investment" in heaven. This is the second chapter of the housing program of the Bible.
The Christians of Jerusalem, who had estates and homes, sold them. They brought the proceeds of what they sold and placed them at the feet of the Apostles. From this fund they distributed to each according to need. Provisions were made for taking care of the poor. The congregation also took care of the needs of the Apostles, so that they did not have to be encumbered with the burden of making a living in addition to doing the work Christ had called them to do. This was wise investing, for after forty years Jerusalem was destroyed. This work of love in the Jerusalem congregation was completely voluntary. All of the members, however, did not sell everything they owned. The congregation, which had a membership of 5000 men and which gathered together for worship regularly, needed accommodations. Many members permitted the congregation to meet in their homes. This was also a common practice in other congregations. Communion services were also held in the homes. The home of Mark's mother is mentioned as a place where the congregation gathered to pray (Acts 12:12).
This is the third chapter of the Bible's housing program: We have been given earthly possessions so that we would use them to serve our fellowmen and to spread the Gospel. The destruction of Jerusalem is a type of the end of the world. On the Last Day our possessions will lose their value. We cannot take them with us. They have rather been reserved for fire. The Jerusalem congregation is an ideal local congregation. The first Christians invested their possessions for the spreading of the Gospel so that as many as possible might have a home in heaven. Their investment has also made it possible for us to hear the Gospel.
What type of housing program do we have?