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"Homeward Bound"
2 Corinthians 5:1-8

Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 28, 2003

When writing his letter to the Philippians, Paul was in prison. He was there for having preached the gospel faithfully, for simply having done what God wanted him to do. Humanly speaking, he was in a grim situation. Yet, he was very confident. He told his Philippian brothers and sisters that he knew he was going to be released; because God still had much for him to do. But nevertheless, he was not afraid to die. He had a great longing to be with Jesus; and that longing was what made him live as he did. "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21).

How can we, who have also trusted Christ, live in that same sense of anticipation - even during times of suffering or trial? How can we live with such confidence? Paul tells us about this in his second letter to the Corinthians. He tells us how it was that, even under a time of suffering, Paul was able to live with great energy and anticipation. It was because ...

I. WE KNOW (v. 1).

Paul knew what his future was; and this empowered his living. During another time in prison - this time knowing that he would not be released but would be put to death, He expressed great confidence in what he knew (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Not only did Paul anticipate a "crown of life", but he anticipated a glorified body. Even if this temporal dwelling place was destroyed, God had another for him -

A. One that is not a "tent" (temporal), but a "house" (permanent).

B. One not made with "hands" - that is, subject to imperfections; but one made by God.

C. One that is "eternal" - never again to be destroyed; never to be subject to decay (4:16-18).

D. One that is not on the earth, but "in the heavens" - that is, a glorified body fit to exist forever with God.

But though we know this, Paul says ...

II. WE GROAN (vv. 2-4).

A. In the present, this body causes us to suffer. It suffers limitations of health, or ability. Often it plagues us because it is so easily subject to temptation, and because the principle of sin wars against us in it.

B. This body also frustrates us because we know it's not our eternal home. There is in us a longing for eternity; but we live in a body that is not made for eternity. In fact, our falleness has brought falleness to the whole of the world; and we know that when we are in that eternal body, our glorification will also impact the whole of God's creation (Romans 8:22). We don't long to be disembodies ghosts (v. 4). We long for the sort of glorified body that will serve as a fit and eternal dwelling place for our redeemed souls.

Paul is certain of this; and this certainty is the secret of his confidence. Therefore, he says ...

III. WE WAIT (vv. 5-8).

A. We look ahead to what God has prepared for us (John 14:1-5).

B. We are encouraged in this hope because God has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of what lies ahead (Rom. 8:23-25; Eph. 1:13-14).

C. We live, then, with a sense of confident anticipation; knowing that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. Nothing on this earth can ever take our prospect away (Rom. 8:35-39).

* * * * * * * * * *

What should we do until then? See verses 9-10.

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