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Sunday, October 29 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

Last week’s study saw us looking at the life of a Christian as it pertains to facing challenges. We learnt that because of the treasure of God inside of us; we become targets of attack. We may be pressured in every way, but we are not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; because the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us! In today’s study titled “Living by Faith” we will be considering some interested terminologies. Paul used an interesting phrase in the first chapter of this second letter to the Corinthians: “…the sufferings of Christ abound in us,” as we see in 2 Cor.1v5).

He describes the suffering he and his companions endured as they lived and preached the gospel of Christ. He uses words like “tribulation, trouble, afflictions, burdened, sorrow, anguish” and “many tears.” Paul’s purpose in these reports in 2 Corinthians is not to create gloom and doom. Because, scattered throughout his report of suffering there are intense statements affirming the comfort of faith. God “comforts us,” (1:4), “…for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ,” (1:5). Paul acknowledges: our hope is steadfast (1:7); God is faithful (1:18); and we are fellow-workers for your joy (1:24).

So, the apostle objectively reports the suffering they endured as ambassadors of Christ, but not to promote despair; rather, to stress the endurance possible by faith. As Paul describes their suffering, more than once he speaks of death! He said, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves,” (1:9), and he speaks with joy of deliverance “from so great a death,” (1:10). He uses the poetic expression, “the aroma of death leading to death,” (2:16). Then he says: “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, then death is working in us, but life in you.”

How do you go through something that can best be described by the terminology of death? How do you go through something that can best be described as death? The more direct question for us today is: How do we face death? Now that we have that as a backdrop, let’s step into 2 Cor. 5.

VERSE 1: “For we know that if the earthly tent [our physical body] which is our house is torn down [through death], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

This is how Christians handle death; in fact, this is the only way to face it; knowing that when this earthly body is destroyed, there is another body: “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” A close look at the details reveals The Importance of Knowledge. This verse is introduced by that simple phrase that is filled with meaning: “we know!” Guessing affords no power in facing death. The philosophical speculation of men supplies no strength. Paul writes of that which we can know here in 2 Cor. 5:1. This is the knowledge enjoyed by those who walk by faith, not by sight.

Now to the essence of the verse, two bodies are mentioned. One we have now; another we will have then. One is earthly, the other is “eternal in the heavens.” The present body is called a “tent,” while the future body is called a “building.” A tent is a temporary habitation of a traveller. A building is the permanent habitation of a resident. The tent is the body we now occupy; the building is the glorious body we are destined to occupy, so long as we walk by faith (see Phil. 3:20,21).

VERSE 2: “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our [immortal, eternal] celestial dwelling,” The LB says: “How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes.”

Paul continues with this statement: “In this we groan…” We know what it means to groan, but Paul was talking about something beyond the ordinary groaning we do. He defined it as: “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” This is the groaning of wanting to occupy that other body – that eternal building from God, prepared for those who walk by faith! This may be this is easier to grasp through the years of experience. Or more meaningful to us, as we grow older. That is why it is common for aged Christians to long for that eternal body they will occupy in heaven. And it may also be, the more you suffer, the deeper your appreciation of that which is eternal. (There is a legitimate, commendable mood that seeks death, see Phil. 1:23). “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;”

This was written by a suffering man. An inspired apostle – Yes. But do not rule out his experience of suffering – which is the background of the text. He said this, expressing his hope and the hope of all – who walk by faith: “For we know, that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.”

VERSES 3 & 4: “so that by putting it on we will not be found naked.  4 For while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened [often weighed down, oppressed], not that we want to be unclothed [separated by death from the body], but to be clothed, so that what is mortal [the body] will be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection].”

Here, Paul further explains this groaning. It is not just the thought to get out of suffering; or just the emotion or longing of pure escape, but – “that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

The body we will have in eternity will be free of the diseases, pains and burdens of earthly existence. It is about living in a glorious body prepared by God (Phil. 3:20,21), in a place prepared by God (heaven), for those who walk by faith. As we struggle in “this tent,” we long for this eternally clothed existence (not naked, but eternally clothed, immortally clothed.)

VERSE 5: “Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfilment of His promise].

Paul was not merely guessing or speculating here! Remember verse 1 begins with, “For we know…” How did Paul know? “By revelation,” (see Eph. 3:1-6). The Holy Spirit has revealed it; Paul wrote it and we can know it, and take our confidence in it. As we walk by faith, God is preparing us for better things. Amen!

VERSES 6 - 8: “So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises] -  we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

These verses express both obligation (obedience) and ground of confidence (trust). It is our ground of confidence – as we live by faith – that when these bodies are destroyed – “we have a building from God, eternal in the heavens.” That’s our ground of confidence. Those with this confidence walk (active mobility) by faith.

What does that mean in practice? It means hearing, believing and doing as God directs. It means not living according to what you see in the temporal world. It means even in the face of death, maintaining your obedience of heart to God. As we walk by faith. verse 8 says, “we are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from body and to be present with the Lord.”

CONCLUSION (VERSES 9 & 10)

“Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth] or away from home [and with Him], it is our [constant] ambition to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].”

If you want to face death the way Paul faced it, make it your aim to please the Lord. If you want hope to strengthen you and get you through the struggles on earth – make it your aim to please the Lord. As you please the Lord – though the body may deteriorate, your spirit will soar to great heights. You will be strong and courageous. And you will be ready

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” It is important to note the movement in the text from hope to accountability in 2 Cor. 4:16-5:10. As we accept the promises of the gospel, by the activity of our faith (walking by faith, not sight), we personally embrace the necessary accountability to stand before “the judgment seat of Christ.”

Parts of this study was culled from http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-2-corinthians-5-1-10.htm

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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