The Wonder of Your Eternal Home

Steve Viars December 1, 2007 2 Corinthians 5:1-21

 

- Our Church’s Theme this Year has been Reaching New Heights

- the fellow on the front of our bulletin cover has signified what we attempting to do...to get to a better place in a variety of ways...

- we’ve tried to do that personally...that’s why we’ve studied extended passages of Scripture about how to grow and change...and I hope that as this year comes to a close, many in our church family would be able to say that you have taken specific steps toward practical holiness this year...that you have reached new heights in your  Christlikeness...in your sanctification...

- we’ve also tried to do that numerically...and while we’re not all about number per se’ around here, it is...The mission of Faith Baptist Church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

- so without apology, we evaluate the effectiveness of a given period of time on the basis, in part, of whether that is happening...is there evidence of men and women coming to Christ?...are people being baptized to identify themselves publically with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as their only hope of heaven?...

- and by God’s grace, that has happened this year as well...we’ve just come through the best November in our history, on the heels of the best October in our history---you get the point...that is part of reaching new heights...real transformation in the lives of people...

- another primary reason we selected this theme is because we knew that this was going to be a year where we going to be launching a number of new ministries...more than in any other one year period of time in our church’s history...and we anticipated that at times it would be a bit messy...and that has certainly come true...but there is no question that, by God’s grace energizing the faithfulness of many of His people, we are at a better place in our ability to do community based outreach ministry than ever before...praise the Lord that He has allowed us to reach new heights...

- the point is that the theme had several emphases on purpose...

- however, there’s one more that I’ve been looking forward to studying with you all year...and finally, we get to begin that today...because our Christmas series is all about Reaching the Ultimate Height...this month we’re going to study the marvelous doctrine of heaven...

- with that in mind, would you please open your Bible to II Corinthians 5 [page 142 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you]...

- Now, I understand that there will be different responses even to the announcement that we’re going to spend a month studying heaven...

1. Some will say, that’s great, because I’d like to learn more about what the Scripture says about this topic---if it’s in the Bible, I want to learn about it...that’s a healthy place to be.

2. Others, from an equally healthy perspective might say --- I’m glad we’re going to study this because the older I get, the more I look forward to going there.

- Several of the members of our church have passed away this year...

- and I’ve made a comment at some of those funerals that really comes from the heart—no one explained to me when I went into the ministry that if you stay at the same church for a long period of time, part of your responsibility will be to bury a significant percentage of your congregation...

- I realize that might sound a bit morbid, but it doesn’t make it any less true...

- and I hope its OK for a pastor to grieve too, because I profoundly miss some of those folks, and think about them often...[cf. the BC cartoon from last week]...

- I find myself, after each one of those events, longing more for heaven...

- and that doesn’t mean I’m not energized about all that God has for us to do here...but the death of a member of our family ought to focus our attention on heaven...

- so if someone responds to the announcement of this topic with gratitude because you miss someone you love...there is not necessarily a bad place to be...

3. A third possibly healthy perspective would be the person who would say...PV, I want to hear more about heaven because I am tired of the struggle with sin on this earth...

- maybe you would say that in reference to world events...

- maybe you are thinking more of a struggle with a stubborn sinful habit in your own life...

- perhaps you would say after being sinned against, or watching someone you love struggle with sin...

- Seldom do I go through a Monday in our counseling center without having that exact same response...after being immersed in some of the terrible choices that men and women make...I often say---I long for heaven.

- so if for any of those reasons this topic would be attractive to you, I think we would all say that that’s good...

4. Here’s what’s not good...I wonder how many people who call themselves followers of Christ find the subject of heaven boring or irrelevant...

- do you remember the scene in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – where an old spinster named Miss Watson was chiding Huck for his antics...Mark Twain portrayed it like this:

“She went on and told me all about the good place.  She said all a body would have to do there was go around all day with a harp and sing, forever and ever.  So I didn’t think much of it...I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said, not by a considerable sight.  I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together”.

- obviously Miss Watson didn’t have a very biblical view of heaven, and incidentally, Huck Fin didn’t have a very biblical view of hell...

- but I wonder how many followers of Christ are so tied to the things of the world that the glory of heaven isn’t very attractive...

- it would be an unwelcome intrusion into our busy schedules---an interruption of career goals of holiday plans (MacArthur)...

- I want to go to heaven – I just don’t want to go now...

- not until after I’m married...not until after we have grandkids...

- I haven’t even been to Hawaii yet!...

- friend, all I could say about all of that is...if the doctrine of heaven is not a significant motivator to you, than something is seriously wrong with your spiritual life...

5. Here’s what else is not good...

- there is a rise in our culture of all sorts of ideas about angels and the afterlife that are found nowhere in Scripture...

- to some degree that has always been the case---we’ve had ideas bantered around like soul sleep and purgatory...those have been with us for a long time...

- but now, with all the TV programs about angels, and reports of people dying and going to heaven and coming back with first-hand reports...there are all sorts of ideas out there...- so it is a strange cultural mix...where on the one hand you have lack of interest [even sometimes in the hearts of God’s people]...and on the other, you have interest, but based on ideas that are foreign to the Word of God...for all these reasons, I believe it is good for us to end this year by thinking about Reaching the Ultimate Height

- this morning we’re talking aboutThe Wonder of Your Eternal Home

- read II Corinthians 5:1-21

-so we’re talking about The Wonder of Your Eternal Home, and with the time we have left, let’s look forFour reasons heaven is a wonderful place.

I. Because You’ll Receive Your Heavenly Body – vv. 1-5.

- that’s what the first five verses are all about...it’s...

A. The comparison between your body now and your body then.

- and the picture that Paul uses is the difference between living in a temporary tent, and living in a permanent home...

- so this is not about receiving some sort  of home, or mansion in heaven...the Bible does talk about that and we’ll study it in due time...but the focus right here is on what it’s like to live in a body now, and what it will be like to live in a body in heaven...

- now, why did he liken our body to an earthly tent?...

- well, remember that we always interpret the Bible first through the lens of how this would have impacted the original audience...many people in Bible times, especially those who were poorer, lived in tents...

- Paul’s occupation was that of a tentmaker...and he wasn’t doing contract work for the Coleman company to supply weekend merchandise for vacationers...

- that is where a person lived...

- and think about what that would be like...some of you have been to third world countries where entire hillsides would be covered by “subdivisions” of houses made out of cardboard boxes, or a few pieces of wood, or some kind of canvas or tent...and that’s it...

- and Paul says...that is what it is like to live in the physical body you have right now...at best, its like a tent...in heaven---this body is going to be like a strong, reliable, permanent house...

- now, here’s what that means...

B. The groaning associated with your physical body will be over.

2 Corinthians 5:4 - For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

- you might say, in what sense are we groaning in our physical bodies?...

1. There is no physical disease in heaven.

- our sister Barbara Drenth died this year after struggling with a rare disease of the blood that I can’t even pronounce...that disease will not be present in heaven

- our brother Charlie Ford died this year as a result of a lung disease that resulted in part from working in an environment that was very hard on the lungs before companies knew all we know now about environmental safety...there won’t be lung disease in heaven...

- Forrest Johnson died this year from cancer --- there won’t be any cancer there...

- Lester Wilkerson died after a 7 year struggle with Alzheimer’s – that won’t be in heaven either...[our friend Will Johnson won’t be falling down in heaven-develop]

- now, you might say...PV, are you sure?...we’ll study this text in more detail on another Sunday...but try this on...

- Revelation 21:4 - and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

- how’s that for a place you ought to really want to go?...

- and as wonderful as that is...it is likely that what Paul had in mind primarily in reference to the groaning of the body was...

2. There is no struggle with sin in heaven.

- if we are thinking correctly, we understand that that, by far, is the biggest problem we have with these bodies...

- they are not intrinsically sinful...but they are certainly intrinsically weak...and easily habituated...

- it’s like living in a stinkin tent...

- we saw this same emphasis a few months back when we were studying Romans 6-8...

- Romans 7:14 - ...I am of the flesh, sold into bondage of sin.

- Romans 7:17, 20 – sin which dwells in me

- Romans 7:21 – evil present within me

- Romans 7:24 – Wretched man that I am.  Who will set me free from the body of this death?

- and if we are serious at all about changing and growing...we all know how it is...

- not impossible...but certainly not easy...we groan in these bodies because of both the physical and spiritual weaknesses involved...

- which is why Paul would conclude that discussion by saying...Romans 8:23 - And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

- now, you might say, what does this have to do with Christmas?...

- there wouldn’t be any home for your body...unless the second Person of the trinity was willing to take on a body Himself...

C. This is one of the reasons Christmas is so amazing.

- John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

- the word dwelt literally means “tabernacled”, or tented...

- That’s why the Christian Counselor’s New Testament translates that verse like this:  CCNT – John 1:14 – Now the Word became flesh and tented among us...

- you might say – does that mean what I think it means?...you better believe it...at Christmastime, Jesus Christ took on a tent...he took on a body for you...the only difference between His and yours is that His was perfect...there was no curse of sin...because He was born of a?...virgin...

- and He proved that that body was perfect by being tempted in all points yet without sin...

- and then, in that body...as the perfect Lamb of God, he was crucified in your place...

- what were we taught to say at the table?...this is my...body which is broken for you---do this in remembrance of me...

- what does verse 21 of the chapter we’re studying say?... 2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- Jesus did that in His body, so that you could look forward to the redemption of yours...

- [develop – you’ll notice that I have set up the outline today on a broad assumption – that you have trusted Christ as your Savior and Lord...]

- what about the person who would say – well, I’m not going to trust Christ, so if the Bible is true, I won’t receive a glorified body, but I’ll just cease to exist...

- friend, that’s simply not true---hell is also a very real place...and if God is a God of justice, it should be...but one of the many horrors of hell is that is a place – Mark 9:47-48 - ...hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

- now, you might say, how do I know I can count on this?...

- if you’ve trusted Christ, do you realize that God made a down payment on you?...

C. You’ve even been given a pledge of authenticity.

- you say, what down payment?...

- what does the end of verse 5 teach?...

- the word pledge is the Greek word appabwva – pledge, guarantee, down payment

- and what is the pledge?...the Holy Spirit...

- one of the reasons God gave you to Holy Spirit was to remind you that the day was coming when you would be able to put off the tent...and receive a resurrected body...which is a 5:1 - “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

- and I do not say this in a sensual way at all – but I just need to tell you, you’re going to be looking really good...you will have reached the ultimate height -- heaven is a wonderful place...

- now, let’s move further into the text...this is also true...

II. Because Finally You’ll be at Home with the Lord – vv. 6-9

- please lock on to that phrase at the end of verse 8 --- to be at home, with the Lord...

- Paul is trying to help us think about...

A. The beauty of a permanent home.

- this has always been the longing of godly people...

- Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

- think about the quality of that contracting team...as I said, next week we’ll study Revelation 21 which gives amazing descriptions of the beauty of heaven...but if God is the architect, and God is the builder, does anything else need to be said?...

- [if time allows, talk about going into the ministry, deciding early on that that might mean we would never have a home...how amazing it is that God has provided a beautiful place to live...but that’s nothing like heaven...]

B. The greatest aspect is the Person with whom we’ll be living.

- what does verse 8 say?...

- v. 8 – at home with the Lord.

- please think about that, and then tie it to the phrase at the beginning of verse 5...

- v. 5 – Now He whop prepared us for this very purpose is God...

- do you know what that means?...God wants us home...

- that is why Jesus told His disciples in that marvelous passage in John 14, He is going to prepare a place for us...

- He wants us home...

- [develop if time – first semester in college away from home --- finally got back late the night before Thanksgiving – dad says – Is that you, John boy?---his way of saying – I’m glad you’re home...] --- if time also develop, and won’t it be good that everyone else will be home, too – instead of all this moving around...

C. What about purgatory or soul sleep?

- some people believe that there is some intermediate state before a believer goes to heaven...

- that is not true...this passage is clear – to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord...

- on another Sunday we’ll talk more about how this fits into the coming kingdom of Christ, and the new heavens and new earth----this is a broad subject...

- but be sure of this---there is no intermediate state...

- the people who believe that have failed to factor in the doctrine of justification...

- the purpose of the intermediate state would be for some sort of purification...

- if you’ve trusted Christ---you stand before Him in the righteousness of His Son...

- that is the basis on which you will enter your ultimate height...and that has already been secured for you at the cross...

- so, how does that affect us practically?...

D. Therefore, we can face trials, and even death, with courage.

- v. 6 – Therefore, being always of good courage...

- v. 8 – we are of good courage...

- 4:17-18 - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

- this has really helped me face the issue of fear and worry...

- it is good for a follower of Christ to ask this question – what is the worst thing that could happen to me in this situation...I could die [if this plane goes down, if this diagnosis is bad, etc]...what’s the next step in that agenda...I would be in heaven...what’s so bad about that?...

- a Christian can face trials and even death in an entirely different way because of our assurance of our eternal home...

- what does verse 9 add to this?...

E. Therefore, our goal today is to please Him.

- the One who is preparing a place for us is worthy of our allegiance...and our devotion...

- the longer range your view, the better your decisions...

- God wants the hope of heaven to help focus our activities on earth...

- please consider these verses...

Colossians 3:1-2 - Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

1 John 2:15-17 - Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

Philippians 3:20-21 - For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Matthew 6:19-21 - Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

­ - now, are there some question that are beginning to formulate in your mind?...

- is the doctrine of heaven helping you focus your activities on earth?...

III. Because Your Faithfulness will be Rewarded – v. 10.

- re-read verse 10

A. Justice may not come today, but it certainly will come.

- there will be people in our services today who are going through very difficult water right now, and are trying to please God in the midst of very evil treatment by others...and may even be getting tired right about now...

- please keep this in mind --- heaven’s coming...just because justice hasn’t been served yet doesn’t mean it never will...

B. You will be recompensed for what you did in your body.

v. 10 – so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

- this chapter ends of a very definite, and very logical note...

- because there is an obvious connection between the sincerity of your belief in the doctrine of heaven, and the passion with which you participate in outreach...if there really is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned, then shutting up is not one of the options...

IV. Because Your Mission will be Validated.

A. We seek to persuade men.

- not with coercion...but with love, passion, and definiteness...

B. It even affects the way we view those around us.

- v. 16 - 2 Corinthians 5:16 - Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video