Building the House of the Soul
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will
liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Mat 7:24
I recently taught this class in a jungle village in Papua New Guinea. The pastors present were all taking notes furiously, and said they would be teaching it in their villages. I have made some small changes due to the difference in cultural settings, as it is difficult to give so many references in a village environment.
Tale of Two Mansions
“I go to prepare a place for you.” Joh 14:2b
In His farewell address to the disciples—the Upper Room Discourse (John 13–17)—Jesus spoke of His preparation of our eternal homes. In the meantime, each of us is also preparing a home for Him in our souls. While He prepares for our eternal residence, we are to be making a home for Him to continue to live out His life on this Earth. Tragically, most believers are oblivious to this beautiful dichotomy of truth. The theme of the mansion of the soul runs throughout Scripture, with extensive details about its foundation, the building materials, the furnishings, and the purpose of the home we are to prepare. Following are just a few major points of this teaching.
The Secret of Successful Building
Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount with the story contrasting two builders. He gave us His own interpretation of the story. The secret of the successful builder was not the kind of house being built, but rather, the foundation upon which it stood. Jesus says that the foundation is determined not only by hearing His Word, but by doing it. He wants us to, as James says, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [our]selves” (Jam 1:22).
It is very easy to be deceived into thinking that because we are willing, even eager, to hear the Word of God, we are building the spiritual life. Jesus makes it clear here that no lasting spiritual gains are made until God’s Word is practically implemented in our lives.
The Only Sure Foundation
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1Co 3:11
Using the same metaphor of building the spiritual house, Paul reveals that the only sure foundation is faith in Jesus Christ. When we hear the Word of God, even as believers, the failure to implement it in our lives demonstrates a lack of faith in the Author. In fact, the English word “believe” means “to live by.” The only sure explanation for being “hearers and not doers” is lack of faith.
We tend to think that “doing,” or implementing God’s Word, is a matter of effort. This thinking, however, shows our confusion regarding faith and works—maybe we didn’t “try hard enough.” In the miracle that is the spiritual life, works come from faith, as we trust the indwelling Spirit to “animate” us with the life of Christ. This is what Paul meant in Rom 8:11, that God, “who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
The same faith that trusts in Jesus Christ to give us eternal life trusts Him to also live that resurrection life through us. This point is made earlier in Rom 6:4, where we are told “that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Our “mortal bodies” and the dead body of Jesus Christ in the tomb are both equally incapable of doing anything to accomplish life. Only the resurrecting power of God can bring life out of death, and this is possible only by trusting Him to do what He said He would do.
A House Firm and Full
“Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars ... Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Pro 9:1; Pro 24:3–4
Wisdom is the application of the Word of God to the issues of everyday life. The daily discipline of responding to God’s Word in the power of the Spirit has the effect of bringing divine stability into life, represented by the seven pillars. In addition, life is filled with the rich blessings that result from wise decisions, which result in good consequences.
Self-examination and confession (1Jo 1:9) could be compared to housecleaning, which is followed by refilling the larder with the good things of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:22–23).
Receiving Honored Guests
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him … and We will come to him and make our home with him.” Joh 14:21, Joh 14:23
We should never forget that we are building a house in the soul so that we might receive the Father and the Son as honored guests. Just as the Lord was welcomed by our Father Abraham so long ago (Gen 18:1–8), even so, both the Father and the Son are seeking a welcome into the soul prepared to receive them (Joh 4:23–24).
When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us at the moment of our salvation (Joh 14:16–18; Rom 8:9–11), He comes as the “guarantee [down payment] of our inheritance” (Eph 1:13–14; Rom 8:15–17; Gal 4:6–7). The best part of that inheritance, according to the New Covenant, is to dwell in the very presence of God (Jer 31:33; 2Co 6:16; Rev 21:3).
Honored Guest or Outcast Savior?
“O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in the land, and like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one who cannot save? Yet You, O LORD, are in our midst, and we are called by Your name; do not leave us!” Jer 14:8–9
The prophet Jeremiah saw in his day that the Redeemer of Israel was treated like a wandering stranger, unable to find lodging for the night. This is a prophetic preview for the inn which had no room for the Savior at His birth. And this, in turn, is a metaphor for the condition of so many souls today—too busy with the cares of this world and who have no room for the Lord of life and glory.
The Lord Jesus Christ is either an honored guest in our life or He is an outcast Savior, unable to save due to our coldness and unbelief. In the song, “Be Thou My Vision,” there is a line which reads:
“Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”
Can we honestly stand in the blinding light of the searching gaze of His Spirit and say that these words are true in us?