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Sabbath Mornings at Ballymacashon – 28th July 2013


Ballymacashon Congregational Church

Lord’s Day 28th July 2013
Service Theme: Living and Dying in Christ


Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

1 For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
4. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…

As Christians, our eyes are fixed on eternal things, for the things that are visible are brief and fleeting) but the things that are invisible – the things of God – are deathless and everlasting. So the clay jar with the priceless treasure has a wonderful vista of eternity! That’s where we pick up Paul’s amazing teaching on the Christian and death, which we see in chapter 5:1-10.


1. Paul’s Teaching on Death!
What does death do to a Christian? Death is the door to a new body!

a) It will be a PERMANENT body! For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Notice here that our present body is described as a ‘tent.’ A tent is uncomfortable, is cold, is feeble, is subject to storms and weather, and is temporary! A tent is never a permanent structure. So, living in a tent we are vulnerable! But, says Paul, when this tent is dissolved, as it surely will be, we have another structure, another body, – look at its description here…

Structure. It will be a HOUSE. This permanent building is not a temporary structure it is a BUILDING! So you see, this heavenly body is everything that this earthly body is not! It is safe, and weather-proof, and strong, and comfortable.

Designer. It is designed by God, and not made with hands. There is nothing that our hands can DO which will prepare us for this heavenly body! Our admittance to that place and our assurance of a heavenly body is only made available to us in Christ, by the way of the Cross. God designed it that way. Hebrews 11:10

Permanence. It is eternal. This heavenly house is not designed to be moved about! It will never rot away, it will never be blown down, it will never be rained on, or deteriorate!

Location. It is in the heavens. Jesus talked about this house. John 14:1-2. So, heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people!

b) It will be a HEALTHY body! For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [3]If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. While we are in this body, we GROAN!

Now, there is a bit of corrective teaching going on here. The Greek philosophers had taught that the body is a tomb, imprisoning the soul, and that the soul would be far better off without this body altogether. Perhaps some of the Corinthian Christians also believed that. Paul needs to remind the Corinthians that after death there is not some kind of disembodied existence. A Christian looks forward to a NEW BODY in heaven! This was one of the great Corinthians problems, and Paul had already had to write about this in 1st Corinthians 15, where he tells the Corinthians that we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Cf Philippians 3:20-21 So, Christians don’t wan to be rid of this old body that we dwell in, to divest ourselves of it even though we are groaning with the burden of it – but rather we might be further clothed with the glorious healthy body of heavenly living!

c) It will be a GUARANTEED body! Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. I’m absolutely sure that I shall have this body! So was Paul! There are two reasons why Paul is so sure:

a. Objectively – God has done the work! God, who alone is truth, has already told us in his inspired Word, that He has redeemed his elect, saved them and will keep them! Trust His Word! Now, notice that God is WORKING US FOR HEAVEN!

b. Subjectively – The Holy Spirit is already witnessing within! This is a recurring theme in Paul’s writings. Paul was sure that he was saved, and on the road to heaven and about to be clothed in the manner of Christ, because he already had the down-payment – the deposit! It was the Holy
Spirit, dwelling within, that gave him that marvellous assurance.

So, the Christian must never fear death! It is the way that a Christian, prepared by God for heaven, is given a whole new incorruptible body in heaven!

2. Paul’s Teaching on Life – in the anticipation of Death!
Now, there is a logical progression in this passage. If death for the Christian brings access to heaven, the presence of God and a new glorious, heavenly body, how will that affect the Christian’s life here? Paul says:-

a) The Christian Life is a COURAGEOUS Life! Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: The NKJV uses the word ‘confident’ but the Gk word would be closer to courageous.

b) The Christian Life is a SELF-CONTROLLED Life! (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We walk by faith! We closely examine our ways and we take each step in the light of the relationship we have with the Lord! We read his word, and we regulate our lives by it! So we don’t walk just by looking at what we see around us… We walk by what we know of God! One day, when we shall be in heaven, we shall see God! Only then can we live by sight!

c) The Christian Life is a GOD-PLEASING Life! We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Whatever happens to us, whether we are in this body, or in our future heavenly body, we live to please the Lord and not ourselves. 1 Thes. 5:9-10

3. Paul’s Teaching on Events after Death!
Paul elaborates here on a theme from Hebrews, where we read, And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27. We will all stand before God one day – and we will be judged. And this will surely motivate us to serve the Lord! Note:-

a) The Certainty of judgement! For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Don’t lose sight of this great truth. There is a coming day of judgement, and we shall answer at that final, divine assizes, and none shall escape!
b) The Universality of Judgement! All must stand there!
c) The Majestic Arbiter of Judgement! This is the judgement seat of Christ, the great Judge before whose judgment-seat we must appear, the Lord Jesus Christ, who himself will appear in flaming fire;
d) The Standard of Judgement! according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. We shall be judged according to what we have done! God knows what we have done! He knows it better than we do, for he knows not just our external moves, but our internal motives. And don’t think that you will be able to claim that you were a good person. On that day you won’t be judged by the standard of your peers, and your fellow sinners. You will be judged against God’s standards, and you will be found seriously wanting!
e) The Sentence of Judgement! that every one may receive the things done in his body. We shall be punished for things done in the body, which will be very particular (unto every one), and very just, according to what we have done.

Paul therefore wrote: Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 2 Cor. 5:11. I won’t worry about that day – and neither will you, if you know Christ as Saviour – for on that day, you will be clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and will be prepared for heaven, because Jesus has paid for your sin, by His death on the Cross.

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