2 Corinthians 5 Part 1

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Nearly 500 years after Ponce de Leon claimed he found the “Fountain of Youth”, people are still searching for the elusive secret of eternal youth. Billions are spent every year on anti-aging programs, surgeries, cosmetics, medications, etc. We can take vitamins, we can exercise, and we can watch what we eat. Doctors can replace teeth, joints, valves, veins, lenses, hair, and even organs; but ya’ know what?  This ol’ body ain’t gonna last! Since the fall, God has intentionally designed our body to wear out.

Man’s quest for longevity doesn’t even stop at death! Cryonics is man’s latest attempt to turn back the clock and foil God’s plan for aging and death. Cryonics is the freezing of one’s body after death to preserve it for some future time when science will presumably have developed to the point that the corpse (which they refer to as the patient) can be brought back to life (or as they say reanimated) and then restored to good health.

Friends, I’ve got good news and bad news on this issue. First, the bad news; science will never win the battle against aging and death. The Bible says in Heb 9:27 that we actually have an appointment with death. It’s not like an appointment you pencil in on a calendar and can later reschedule for a more convenient time. This is an absolutely certain and unalterable appointment scheduled by God. Mt. 6:27 says that we cannot add even an hour to it.

So that’s the bad news. Man will never win the battle against aging and death, but that’s also the good news for God’s children! Think about it. Who would really want a “Fountain of Youth” in this world that would forever imprison us in this body of disease, strife, sin, and trials? Paul understood this well when he exclaimed in Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Tonight, we will see what the Bible teaches about the important issue of death. Please turn with me over to 2 Corinthians 5 and we’ll read verses 1-10 for God’s solution!

2 Cor 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord —  7 for we walk by faith, not by sight —  8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Glancing at some verses in chapter 4 gives us the context for these verses.

Background:

1.      God has made the glorious light of the gospel shine in our hearts2 Cor 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

2.      Because the gospel message is so marvelous, God has given us fragile bodies made from the dust of the earth so that we will not get puffed up. 2 Cor 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

3.     Death’s imminence is constantly with us. We cannot escape it or forget it. 2 Cor 4:11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. People avoid the topic of death at all costs. It’s as if they keep away from it long enough, maybe it will go away, but God has other ideasHe wants us to remember death! In fact God has made death a positive motivation for His children!

4.      In  verses 16-17, Paul sets the stage for the arguments that he makes in chapter 5. 2 Cor 4:16-17 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison

· The outer man which is our physical body of flesh is decaying.  From the Greek word Diaphtheiro which means to rot thoroughly, to ruin, to corrupt, destroy, or perish. Stated simply, you and I are falling apart. And it doesn’t take long. Our life is flleeting. Paul refers to it as “momentary”.

So the context is that God has entrusted us with the glorious gospel, but to humble us and insure that He gets the glory, He has given us a fragile physical body which is decaying and not very long for this world.

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

·         A tent is a temporary dwelling.

1.      The Patriarchs were all sojourners and lived in tents.

2.      Peter says in 1 Pet 2:11 that believers are aliens and strangers in this world. Our physical bodies and the earth are merely temporary residences, not our true home. We are simply passing through.

3.      In Phil 3:20, Paul made the same point when he flatly stated that our citizenship is in heaven.

·         For our earthly tent to be torn down refers to the time of our death.

·         When God destroys this earthly tent, i.e. He takes our life, He replaces it with a new and improved body.

·         House made without hands – communicates that the work is done exclusively by God. You see this same terminology used in…

Dan 2:34 “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.

2 For indeed in this house we groan (stenazo), longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,

·        Stenazo – to sigh with grief, groan

·         We groan –

Longing for, earnestly desiring what God has awaiting us

·         Flip back a few pages to 1 Cor 15:50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable

·        1 Cor 15:36 That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain , perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. A seed is simple and unimpressive in appearance compared to the flower, tree, or plant that grows from it.

·         In spite of all the troubles of this life, those without Christ cling to their earthly tent. We should gladly accept death. Salvation is the believer’s ticket to enter heaven, but death is the validation of that ticket!

3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.

·         will not be found naked – when we die, we will not as some would suggest just be spirits floating around without a body

·         Jesus’ example in one of His post resurrection appearances:

Luke 24: 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  39 “ See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet

Phil 3:21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

4 For indeed while we are in this tentwe groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by

life.

·         We groan – second time this word (stenazo) is used. The first time it was a longing for what awaits usThis time it is a sighing and longing to be free from the aches, pains, trials, tribulations, disease, hardships, and disappointments of this life

·         Even though we have been forgiven and have been spared the penalty of our sins, we still groan under and long to be free from the presence of sin

5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

·         God prepared us for an ultimate purpose. Salvation from sin is not that ultimate purpose for us .The complete picture of God’s plan for us is given succinctly in Rom 8:30. Rom 8:30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

The ultimate conclusion of God’s work in our lives is that He will give us a glorified body to be with Him in heaven and glorify Him forever.

·         I like the way John MacArthur puts it, “So God’s glorious purpose for believers stretches from eternity to eternity. It was planned in eternity past and will be fulfilled in eternity future; time is but a fleeting moment in the middle.”

·         God prepared us for this, but what means did He use for the preparation. The preparation is our lifetime here on earth, that fleeting moment sandwiched in the middle between eternity past and eternity future!  This is a very important point. We should view our present life as a training program. Sometimes we might mistakenly think that our life here on earth is the important part and that our time is heaven is more of an afterthought, like the icing on a cake. If we think that, we don’t have it quite right. God designed us for heaven but fashions us during our earthly lifetime to prepare us for what He wants us to be for eternity.

·         God gave us His Spirit to “seal the deal”. He was not required to give us anything since He has given us His promise which is more than sufficient, yet He gives us His Spirit as a further pledge that He will give us a new body for eternity!

See part 2 of this verse by verse look on 2 Corinthians 5.

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