Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Division 3 — “The Ministry & It’s Description”

Lesson 6: "The Ministry: Its Hope and the Assurance of An Eternal Home" - II Cor 5:1-10

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

II Corinthians 5:1-10, “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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 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. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 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. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


Introduction:

What is Paul talking about in this passage? Is he referring to a temporary body, or to the heavenly house or mansion which is to be given to the believer when he dies and goes to heaven? One thing is sure: Paul is not talking about the resurrection body he is to receive when Christ returns. That body is not in heaven; it is to be created when Christ returns. The believer does not receive his resurrected body until he is raised from the dead at Christ's return. (1 Cor. 15:12; 1 Thess. 4:14f).


If Paul is talking about receiving a body when he passes from this life into heaven, then he is talking about receiving a temporary body, a body that will house his spirit up until the resurrection. However, Scripture has nothing to say about a temporary body, although God may actually give us a temporary body when we die and go to heaven. There is nothing to keep Him from doing it, but Scripture is silent about the matter.


What Scripture teaches is what Paul is saying here: the believer goes immediately to be with the Lord at death. And, as already pointed out, the Scripture also teaches that the believer's earthly body is to be raised from the dead and perfected when Christ returns (1 Cor. 15:1-58). In light of this, curiosity naturally asks what happens to us when we die. How do we exist before God: with a temporary body or only as a disembodied or body less spirit?


-Note two facts.

-Scripture is clear: when we die, we immediately go to heaven to be with the Lord.


 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." (John 8:51).

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [but be present with the Lord]. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26).


"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ [immediately]; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you" (Phil. 1:21-24).


"...I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).


-Scripture is not clear about how we exist between death and the resurrection. Shall we be disembodied spirits or be given temporary bodies? Any comments about the matter are pure speculation, for Scripture is silent. However, two things must always be kept in mind about God.

a. God can cause us to exist as spirits without bodies. True, it is difficult for man to imagine a person without a body, but God can do it if that is the method He has chosen to use.


b. God can also give us temporary bodies if He chooses. Man can more easily imagine this, for he lives within a temporary body now. God could even cause the temporary bodies to become a part of our eternal bodies that we are to receive at the resurrection.


Just as our present bodies are to be a part of our eternal bodies, the temporary bodies could be a part of our eternal bodies. This is not to say or even to suggest that we shall receive temporary bodies when we die. Scripture is silent, saying nothing about the matter. The point is simply what the former point was: if God has chosen to give believers temporary bodies when they die, He can do it. God is God. In light of the above facts, the present passage will be interpreted to mean two things: that we shall receive immortality and that we shall receive a house, an eternal mansion in heaven. There are four assurances of this,

1.  Assurance #1: Personal conviction—the conviction that we have a house in heaven (v.1-4).

2.  Assurance #2: God—He guarantees the hope by the Spirit (v.5).

3.  Assurance #3: The Holy Spirit—He enhances the hope (v.5-8).

4.  Assurance #4: Judgment—it stirs the hope (v.9-10).


#1) Heaven-Assurance #1-Personal conviction-The conviction that we have a hope, that we have a house in heaven.

Look with me again at 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, “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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 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.”


Note the word "know." The conviction is firm and sure. It is not the kind of conviction that hopes something is true. It is the conviction of knowledge. Paul knew beyond question: he had a building, a house in heaven.


The earthly body is pictured as a tent that houses man's spirit, his real self, during its earthly pilgrimage. But the tent (body) is ever so frail and temporary; it goes through the wears and tears of this life, and it deteriorates and eventually dissolves. The believer's body dies (2 Peter 1:13-14). However, the Christian believer never fears, for he is to receive a building from God, a spiritual house made eternal in the heavens. The heavenly house lasts forever; it does not have to suffer wear and tear. It is not corruptible: it does not age, fade, deteriorate, or waste away; and he never has to leave it. This is the believer's glorious hope. However, while in the world—while in his present tabernacle (body)—the believer has two significant experiences,

          -First, he groans for his house in heaven. Note how deeply Paul desired his heavenly home: he groaned and earnestly desired. He yearned, longed, and ached for his heavenly home. The word "clothed" means that he wanted to be clothed with his heavenly home and fitted for it just as though he was being fitted and clothed with a suit. It means that he wanted to be sheltered, covered, and enclosed in his heavenly home.

-Secondly, he groans both for release and for immortality. Paul does not just groan to be naked, that is, to die and be released from the trials of this world; he is burdened (note that he says this) to be clothed with his heavenly home.


You see folks, the minister suffers, and sometimes he suffers terrible trouble as discussed in the former passage and outline. The burden sometimes becomes so heavy that he just groans under the weight. But the groaning, as stated, is not to die in order to be released from the burden. The groaning is for his eternal home, that his mortal body might be swallowed up by eternal life.


"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).


"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Cor. 15:53).

"But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).


"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building" (Hebrews 9:11).


"For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10).


#2) God- Assurance #2- He guarantees the hope by the Holy Spirit.

Look with me again at 2 Corinthians 5:5, “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”


God guarantees that we shall receive immortality, shall receive our immortal house in heaven, and guarantees it by the Holy Spirit. Paul had just said that he knew he had a house in heaven. He did not just hope that such existed nor was he just expressing a wishful thought. How could he be so certain? Because of God. God has done two things for us.

-A) God has "wrought" us, that is, made us, worked us out, fitted us, fashioned us to undergo an immortal change. How? When we trust Christ as our Savior, God puts His presence and power into our bodies and we become immortal or eternal beings.

-The believer partakes of the divine nature.


"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).

 

-The believer becomes a new creature.


"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

 

-The believer becomes a new man.

 

"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephes. 4:24).


"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:10).


-B) God gives us the presence of His Spirit. This point deals more with the presence of God's Spirit within the believer. The point is this: the Holy Spirit Himself is the "earnest" or "guarantee" or "pledge" that God is going to give us immortality that He is going to give us an immortal home in heaven. The Holy Spirit is the very "first installment" of heaven.


"Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:21-22).


"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our niheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" (Ephes. 1:13-14).


"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:16-18).


"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).


"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).


"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).


"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).


"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


#3) The Holy Spirit- He enhances the hope.

Read again with me II Corinthians 5:5-8, “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”


The third assurance is the Holy Spirit—He enhances the knowledge that we have a house in heaven. He does three significant things for us.


A-The Holy Spirit stirs confidence and courage to face the present life. The word "confidence" means courage, or to be cheered up. In this world all believers face such things as:

•  pressure

•  trouble

•  sorrow

•  accident

•  rejection

•  loss

•  disease

•  death


No matter what they face, the Holy Spirit stirs the courage to face it all. How? Again, note the word "knowing." The Holy Spirit enhances our knowledge...

• That our present home is the body, but it is temporary and passing. Therefore all trials and problems will quickly pass away.

• That we are now absent from the Lord. The idea is that we are to be with Him. The Holy Spirit stirs a longing within us to be with Him. And that longing gives us courage to march on through this life.

 

B- The Holy Spirit stirs faith within us. Knowing that our present home (body) is only temporary—that we are soon to move to our heavenly home—stirs great faith in us. True, we do not yet see our heavenly home, but the Holy Spirit stirs faith within us—faith to walk through all the trials and problems of this life.


C- The Holy Spirit stirs great courage, even a preference to be with the Lord. This is a crucial point, extremely important for day to day living. The Holy Spirit not only gives courage to live day by day; He gives the courage to die. He even stirs within the faithful believer a preference to be "present with the Lord." Some people may question this fact, and some may even scoff at the idea. It is certainly true that many do not understand it. Nevertheless, it is a fact that many believers often experience. They actually long to be with the Lord; to be clothed with immortality and perfection, and enabled to worship and serve Him without infirmity and failure.

It must be stressed that this desire and longing is not born of the believer himself:

-It is not a creation of his own ideas and thoughts.

-It is not worked up by his own desires and man-made hopes.

-It is a conviction—the sure knowledge, a state of mind—that is created by the Holy Spirit who is within the believer.


#4) Judgment- Assurance #4- It stirs the hope.

Read with me again 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


Judgment stirs the longing to please God and to receive our heavenly home. Judgment stirs diligent "labor" in order to please God. The word means to constantly aim, to be constantly ambitious, to strive earnestly. Paul says that he is to be judged; therefore, he works his fingers to the bone. Why? That he may be accepted by God. The word means well pleasing in the sense of being accepted.

But note the major point. There was a second reason why Paul labored so diligently: he was to face the judgment of Christ!


*Next Lesson: The Ministry: Its Compelling Motives, II Cor 5:11-16



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