For we know
Paul has just contrasted our light affliction with a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and things which are seen and temporary with things that are not seen and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Now, Paul writes more about this contrast between the earthly and the eternal.
that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
Salvation isn’t just for the soul or spirit, but for the body also. Resurrection is how God saves our bodies. We have a glorious new body to come. The British preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “The righteous are put into their graves all weary and worn; but as such they will not rise. They go there with the furrowed brow, the hollowed cheek, the wrinkled skin; they shall wake up in beauty and glory.”
5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s work in us now in daily renewal and spiritual strengthening is a foretaste and guarantee of future completion of that work in resurrection bodies and complete sanctification. (The Reformation Bible)
A man in the middle of many painful trials took a walk in his neighborhood and saw a construction crew at work on a big church. He stood and watched a stone craftsman work a long time on a block but could not see where the block would fit, because the church appeared to be finished. He watched the man work on the block carefully and methodically, slowly shaping it into a precise pattern. Finally, he asked, “Why are you spending so much time chipping and shaping that block?” The craftsman pointed up to the top of the nearly completed steeple and said, “I’m shaping it down here so it will fit in up there.” The man in the middle of the trials instantly knew that was God’s message to him: He was being prepared down here so that he would fit in up in heaven.
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing.
8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
The truth that to be absent from the body means we will be present with the Lord proves two false doctrines to be false. It refutes the false doctrine of “soul sleep” (saying that the believing dead are held in some sort of suspended animation until the resurrection occurs) and the false doctrine of “purgatory” (saying that the believing dead must be “cleaned up” through their own suffering before coming into the presence of God).
And that is what makes heaven, heaven — to be present with the Lord!
9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
Paul presents essentially the same idea in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, where he speaks of a coming assessment of each one’s work before the Lord. In that passage, he makes it clear that what we do and our motive for doing it will be tested by fire, and the purifying fire of God will burn up everything that was not of Him. We won’t be punished for what was not done rightly unto the Lord; those things will simply be burned up, and it will be as if we never did them. We will simply be rewarded for what remains.
We Are God’s Ambassadors
11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.
This is the greatest foundation for ministry, wanting to give something to others because Jesus gave you everything. When we really receive the love of Christ, it touches us and makes us want to serve others.
Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw
I was in Macao, a tiny colony off the China coast, where I stood beside the grave of missionary Robert Morrison. The stone is weather-beaten and mossy, so I could barely make out the name, date, and inscription, yet I found myself uncharacteristically moved with emotion.
Robert Morrison had been a young British man studying accounting when God saved him and called him to the mission field. When he arrived in China and the Chinese learned what his mission was, they booted him out. So Robert went to Macao, a Portuguese colony. He stayed there a little while and then returned to China, but again was deported, so he found a job with the East India Company as an accountant. Periodically he would return to China, only to be expelled each time. Morrison worked all day for the East India Company and at night he translated the Bible into Chinese. After 25 years he finished translating the Bible, and later he died in Macao. For days after his death, there was no agreement on where to bury his body. The Chinese certainly did not want a Christian to be buried in their cemetery, and the Roman Catholics were not about to have a Protestant buried in their cemetery. Finally someone negotiated with the Roman Catholic archbishop, who sold one cemetery plot so they could bury Robert Morrison. He was rejected all his life and even rejected in death.
Rarely do we recognize the cost that other people have paid to be faithful to the Lord Jesus. In our society, we focus so much on our own personal needs that few people will stand up and say, “Whatever God asks, I will do.” Are you willing to do that?
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Being a new creation is a gift from God received by faith!
“God is surely the author of the second creation as he was of the first.”
–Murray J. Harris
“A phrase which argueth the greatest change imaginable, and such a one as can be wrought in the soul by no other power than the power of God.”
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
HERE is “All Things New” by Steven Curtis Chapman. The truth of this song is cause for great rejoicing!
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.