2 Corinthians 5:1-5
Greetings, everyone! Grace to you in our living Lord Jesus Christ, and welcome to Wednesday’s edition of EDiBS. It’s good to be with you here at the midpoint of our week, and as always, it’s a special blessing to be able to spend some time together in God’s Word. Today we’ll be opening to the beginning of 2 Corinthians 5, and there are some great things for us to see as we study this particular passage! Thanks for coming along today; let’s pray and prepare our hearts for what God has for us.
Almighty God, thank you for another day to spend with you, and thank you for the chance to do that through your Word and in the fellowship of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Please bless all who hear and study the Scriptures today – we ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.
As we get started today, we begin a new chapter with the declaration of a great comfort. Our focus: our temporal, earthly tent.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
About 10 years ago, I was in Iowa for a family wedding. While there, we had a night of sudden and rather severe thunderstorms. On the morning after, talk was going through the town that a popular campground on the river had been flooded during the night. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but when we drove down to see the damage for ourselves, we were greeted with the sight of floating tents, washed out campsites, and damp, rumpled campers who were slowly retrieving their gear from the water and along the riverbank. As I looked at the chaos, it struck me that all those tents, designed for comfort and protection, weren’t much good against the onslaught of that storm – and it got me thinking about some spiritual comparisons which Paul just happens to be treating in today’s text.
Verse 1: 2 Corinthians 5 opens with a continuation of Paul’s imagery regarding our physical bodies. They are temporal, he says. They are outwardly wasting way. They are bodies which ultimately will die. They are tents of flesh, tents which many times do not seem adequate to stand up against the storms of life. But right away in verse 1, Paul reaffirms what he has been saying all along: if our earthly bodies are destroyed – and not if, but when – we Christians need not be without hope, and why? Because, as the New King James Version puts it, “We have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” What a wonderful picture! That Paul would describe things in this manner is especially poignant, I think, because he was a tentmaker himself and knew the temporal nature of the material he worked with. Tents in his day (and also in our day, as we’re seeing more and more) were also a mark of those who had no permanent home, so it brings yet another point to bear, doesn’t it: when we exchange our earthly body for our glorified, heavenly one, it will no longer be a tent, but a building, a permanent dwelling place, a place we will finally call home forever.
Verses 2-4: Though I’m in my early fifties these days and my children will laugh when they hear me say this, I still consider myself a relatively young man. Barring the fact that Jesus may come at any moment, if God allows it I most likely have at least several years left here in this world with this earthly body of mine. Yet when I read verses 2-4 here in the text, I still, even as a youngish person, identify with the Word of God in a deep and heartfelt way. These verses talk about the fact that though our true home and our permanent dwelling place is indeed in heaven, we are nonetheless here for a time in this sin-tainted, deteriorating world living with sin-sick, deteriorating minds and bodies. As Christians, though we love life and receive it as a gift, though we recognize God’s blessing in our lives and receive every good and perfect gift from Him, oh, how we long…
To be free from the sins and iniquities and infirmities and frustrations of our physical state!
To be clothed with what is immortal and imperishable and sinless!
To be released from the trouble of this world and be ushered into our heavenly habitation, where there will be no more pain or suffering or crying or dying!
And this, of course, is not pie in the sky thinking; not an opiate for the masses designed to deaden us to the pain of this life. It is instead an expression of reality at its apex! There is a heaven, just as there is a hell, and in the case of our passing from this life into the presence of God, for those of us who are in Christ we need not fear what is to come. We need not fear a lack of covering. We need not fear the absence of a place in the household of our heavenly Father. Paul says emphatically that we will not be found naked; instead, for the Christian what is mortal will finally be swallowed up by life.
Verse 5: And to signify that truth and provide us with hope and endurance as we wait for the coming of the Lord, to empower and equip and guide and lead us through this life as we eagerly await the return of our Savior, what has he done for us in the meantime? Look at verse 5: He has given us His Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come! Not only is God preparing a place for those who love Him, a place so profoundly beautiful and holy that the mind of man can’t even think a thought high enough to begin to describe it, but in the interim, until that time comes, God is also holding us close to Himself and keeping us in His gracious love by the power of His Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This leads, as we’ll see in our upcoming sessions, to the greatest, utmost, joyful confidence not just regarding what will be ours in the future, but how we can live our lives in the now as well.
As we wrap up, for the second day in a row we have this encouragement from our Bible, God’s Holy Word: Though outwardly wasting away and groaning, understandably hard-pressed by the cares of life, for anyone who is in Christ this is not the end. It is not all there is. The future is a forever one, it is literally glorious...and it is yours in the Lord Jesus. Put all your trust in Him today, and know that He will see you through this momentary time of trial as He readies you for the eternal glory that is to come. God is faithful, and He will do it!
God’s peace everyone; take care, I’ll see you again next time!