2 Corinthians 5.1-10

Title: Confidence in our Future

Text: 2 Corinthians 4.16-5.10

CIT: What struggles we endure now are so very temporary. A clear understanding of just how temporary this life is spurs us to share what we know to be true with the hopes that others can be saved, too.

Introduction: Fred Smith’s Blog, The Gathering, this past week was entitled: The Measure of a Man. How odd it is to consider the elements that go into the make-up of a person, the variables that change him and make him who he is. It seems to me that every time I read Fred’s blog I learned something new about him. This past week I learned that his dad lost the use of his right arm in an accident that he had as a little boy. Fred’s father, when he was just a little boy, slipped and fell and cut his arm on a mason jar filled with peaches. That cut was deep and severed the nerve in his right arm. His father had to have surgery and as it would turn out the surgeon was drunk and botched the surgery. The result was a young boy who basically lost the use of his right hand.

Fred’s father never really seem to view himself as handicapped. He understood that he could not use his right arm and so learn to compensate for the difference. He couldn’t catch or throw with his right arm but he could still run and kick.

Fred and his wife was cleaning out some old boxes came across an old red carpenters pencil that his dad used to mark his wood before you would make cuts. His motto was: measure twice, cut once. He also came across a plaque that simply had the word think on it. Fred’s dad had received that plaque as an award from IBM many years before. Both the pencil and the plaque brought back fond memories of Fred’s father and Fred was reminded of the impact his dad made you not only his life, but in the lives of many others. Fred remembered his father using a carpenter’s pencil to make many things. He remembered that plaque hanging on the wall – not as a symbol of success, but rather as a declaration – think before you act.

What is it that makes us men? What is it that brings value to us as people? I wonder sometimes if we find our value in many of the wrong things? We judge a person by the clothes that they wear or the vehicle they drive. We apply social status to folks because of position or wealth. We admire and honor athletes because of their speed, agility and strength. Magazines are filled with the young and the beautiful and credibility is given to celebrities when they address social and cultural struggles. I’m amazed at how people are moved when George Clooney makes a comment about global warming or Leonardo DiCaprio addresses political issues like they are the experts.

Well, that’s neither here nor there. Fred closes his article pointing his readers to a genuine life lived that has impressed the important things of life upon others:

Because Mom and Dad grew up in poverty they had few treasures to pass on to their children. Later in life they bought a number of expensive items they wanted to give us as heirlooms. Of course, we appreciated the gesture but had no interest in those. We wanted the pencils and the plaques – the things that carried our stories and our memories.

It’s probably the same for you. None of us really want the china as much as we want the mixing bowl. We want the common things that not only remind us of our family but of who we are as well. They make us whole and our memories intact.

For anyone else this plaque and pencil would have no value at all, but these two items now hanging on the wall of my study remind me of my father’s character and his values – and what he overcame in life.

In some ways, today’s passage asks the same question: What is the measure of a man? This passage has confused many scholars who think that Paul was addressing certain Gnostic teaching and, understandably so. Some say he was for it and others against. But I don’t think that’s the issue here at all. The Gnostics taught that the body and soul were separate. They taught that a man could keep his soul pure and yet indulge his body in immoral and unethical practices. But that’s not anywhere near what Paul is trying to communicate to these people. Instead, Paul offers us a contrast between the temporary, earthly substance and the eternal, heavenly unseen. He speaks of the perishable body that is passing away and the imperishable soul that is being renewed day by day. Paul’s confidence in the future hasn’t anything to do with his intellect or his celebrity, but rather with what he knows to be true. Let me show you how I’ve outlined this text:

Simply put, Paul shows us his confidence in the future by giving us:

  1. Two examples which contrast the now and the not yet:
  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building
  1. Two experiences born out of suffering and persecution in this life:
  • The one groans and yearns for the other
  • The Holy Spirit is given as a guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal.
  1. Two expressions of our faith:
  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold
  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judged

Transition: Let’s look at this 1st section v 16-18 of chapter 4 – the Two Examples.

Paul shows us his confidence in the future by giving us:

1.     Two examples which contrast the now and the not yet: rd 4.16; His confidence, So we do not lose heart. And then you have the 1st example;

  • The outer man and the inner man; and explains in v 17-18; the outer man is wasting away through suffering and persecution, but somehow, the inner man is being renewed day by day! How? He fully comprehends the difference between the two!
    • One is momentary – the other is eternal
    • One is light – the other is a weight that is beyond comparison
    • One is affliction – The other is Glory
    • One is transient – The other is eternal

How? He fully comprehends the difference between the now and the not yet.

App.: Let me ask you a question this morning: Do you? Do you know the difference? He gives us a 2nd example in v1 of the next chapter (5): rd v 1;

  • The tent and the building;
    • An earthly tent – A heavenly building; You’re probably thinking of your family tent and your home. That’s a good comparison. But, these people see this reference; the children of Israel traveled out of Egypt and wondered in the desert carrying the ark of God; It was set up in a Tent. That transient tent was no comparison to the Tremendous building they now saw in the Temple in Jerusalem.
    • One is made of perishable material – the other is an eternal, God-made building;
    • One can be destroyed – the other can not

Two examples which contrast the now and the not yet:

  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building

Transition: Now Paul gives us two experiences; look with me in v 2-4;

 

2.     Two experiences born out of suffering and persecution in this life:

  • The one groans and yearns for the other; in the flesh, we groan, we yearn for the other; Paul has mentioned this to us before, in his letter to the Romans: rd 8.18-23;

Ill.: As believers, there is an experience that non-believers cannot comprehend. They cannot understand how we long for and even groan for the eternal home of heaven. The suffering is like birthing pains – yes, it is hard; however, we know there is a joy for us that is just beyond this light, momentary suffering.

Now that’s the 1st experience listed by Paul. Note the 2nd experience for the believer and we see it here in Romans 8.23, as well as 2 Cor 5.5;

  • The Holy Spirit is given as a guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal. This matches Paul’s teaching elsewhere; Eph 1.13-14;

Listen, there is no other experience than this one that is promised to you when you become a Christian.

  • You hear the Word of Truth – the Gospel of your salvation
    • God is holy
    • You and I have rebelled against His holiness.
    • The punishment for your unholiness, for your rebellion is death; as God told Adam and Eve, You shall surely die; Romans 6.23 – The wages of sin is death, but here’s the good news…
    • The Gospel, The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, who paid that penalty. He was crucified on a cross for that sin. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us. For by his stripes we have been healed.

Appeal: If you have never accepted Christ as your Lord, I offer him to you today. Right here right now, you can know what I’ve been talking about! You’ll understand what I mean when I refer to Paul’s two examples and you’ll comprehend what I’m saying when I tell of the two experiences Paul mentions here. Furthermore, You’ll get the two expressions of our faith.

3.     Two expressions of our faith: rd v 6-8;

  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold; We know we live in this tent, but we deeply desire and long for home.

Ill.: Phil 1.12-26 is a parallel passage; Our suffering leads others to Christ. I don’t want to suffer, but I want others to come to Christ. I’d rather be with Jesus, at home in glory; however, my time here is well spent.

But there is a 2nd expression of faith – obedience; rd v 9-10;

  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judged; So people see this as a fear tactic. It’s only a fear tactic if you’re living in disobedience.

Ill.: if you’re taking a test, you’re only scared if you haven’t studied. But, if you’re fully prepared, you’re excited.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware of the fear of standing before the Lord. But Christians don’t have to fear hell. Paul has already told the Corinthians this earlier:

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12–15)

I think of many today who see that this life is all that there is. Live it up in the moment because there is nothing more. Many who see this life as all there is put great value on looks and possessions and prestige and position and power. But Christians know better: They know the measure of a man isn’t his good looks and charm or his fame and his fortune.

  1. They understand the two examples which contrast the now and the not yet:
  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building
  1. They have known these two experiences born out of suffering and persecution in this life:
  • Where the one groans and yearns for the other
  • Where the Holy Spirit has given as a guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal.
  1. They have lived out these two expressions of our faith:
  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold
  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judged

So, let’s close today’s message with some thoughts:

  1. Do not let the struggles of this life or the suffering we endure through weakness communicate to you that God is absent in our message. For we are confident in our eternal future which inspires and motivates us to share this message of hope in spite of our temporary suffering.
  2. Christian: Stop living in this moment like it is all we have. Instead, start living like this is all momentary and temporary and our future far out weighs whatever this day brings. It saddens me when believers freak out about temporary things. Like a vapor it appears for a moment and then it is gone.
  3. Stop living like there are no consequences for disobedience and start living like you will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the life you’ve lived. You and I will all stand before the Bema seat – the Judgment seat of Christ. Will what you lay at his feet survive or be burned up, as with by fire?
  4. If you have never committed your life to Christ – would you do so today?
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