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Guaranteed

Date: Nov. 1, 2020

Author: Bob Henkins

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:5

Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Last week when Julia came home from the grocery store, she noticed that the fresh grated Parmesan Cheese had big green spots from mold. I thought when you just buy something it’s supposed to be fresh. And just yesterday, our online purchase said it was delivered, but we never got it. And as I was preparing this message, these incidents got me to thinking what do you do when the food store says “Guaranteed Fresh” but it’s not? Or when they say they have a “next day delivery guarantee” but you never see your stuff? So, it begs the question, what is a “guarantee” if there’s nothing behind it? If a company isn’t held to their “guarantee” then what’s the point of having one? We are guaranteed things all the time, but how often have you been left feeling empty with a failed guarantee? When was the last time you experienced a guarantee that really lived up to its name? And if you complain about these guarantees, they tell you, “You need to read the fine print.” And you know what that means, that’s their escape clause. As I said, all this got me thinking, “What in this world IS TRULY guaranteed but death and taxes?” (Fair or otherwise) Illinoisans will know what I mean by that. But sadly, in reality, there are no guarantees in this world. But in contrast to this, Paul says that we DO have a guarantee in this world, and that guarantee comes from God and it is of what is to come. What does he mean by that? Let’s find out through today’s passage.

Our passage starts to in chapter five at verse 1. Let’s take a look, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Before we get into the guarantee, we have to understand the context and see what’s going on in the text. Paul starts this chapter making comparisons between earthly tents and heavenly buildings. But when you get deeper into the text, we find that he is really comparing our earthly body to a tent. But why in the world would he compare our body to a tent? Well, firstly, our bodies have more in common with tents than we realize and secondly, I think he wants us to realize the frailty of this world and so he doesn’t want us to put all our hope into our bodies or this world but into something that will last, like God and in heaven.

It seems that Paul spoke of tents because it was something that he was familiar with because he manufactured them. He was a tentmaker by trade (Act 18:3). I think tents, by design, were meant to be temporary. They were designed for mobility, to be portable, quick to set up and easy to break down as you packed up and broke camp heading for your next location. Tents were not meant for permanent dwelling. They don’t hold up to the harsh elements, such as the wind and the rain. One summer, we went on vacation to camp in Iowa with some of our friends. While we were there, we experience a windstorm with 60 mph winds. Over the years, I’ve camped in some pretty diverse and somewhat harsh elements, rain and snow, but that windstorm was one of the most difficult nights I’ve ever experienced. Two family’s tents collapsed and were destroyed that night. I remember Liz and I, lying on our backs with our legs braced against the tent poles trying to hold them up. I pulled our van up next to our tent to try and block the wind, but it had little effect. When those gusts came swirling through, I would see the tent get squished down flat until I could see the outlines of the people lying down inside. It was a night I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Not only do tents not hold up to the elements, eventually they will wear out and break down over time. This summer when we went to Yellowstone, we camped in Montana and while there the door zipper broke and the support pole for the rain guard over the top of the door punctured a hole in the tent. Also, there isn’t much comfort living in a tent, you have to sleep on the cold hard ground in sleeping bags. Even with an air mattress or cot you can have problems. [It can lose air or it gets cold] Also, there is no security with tents. You can’t lock them, to keep someone from stealing your stuff, and they wouldn’t do much to protect you if say a bear decided to attack. Now, while I think it’s refreshing to go tent camping in the great outdoors, nobody wants to live in a tent permanently, if you did, you’d probably be considered homeless or a refugee. In my opinion, tents do not guarantee your safety or shelter, but they’re more like a suggestion.

And as Paul made more and more tents, he came to realize how similar they were to our human bodies. Like tents, our bodies are temporary. Moses said, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”(Ps 90:10) No one lives forever. And as we get older, this becomes more apparent as we’re not able to do the things we used be able to do. And even though our bodies breakdown more often we still have this desire to want to live in them forever. As we live our lives, we go through these stages, as a kid, we go to a lot of birthday parties, and as we grow older that changes and we start to go to a lot of graduation parties, then to a lot of weddings. And then later in life, it changes again and then it becomes funerals. This is the frailty of human life. Even though we can possess honor, power and wealth, all of us are destined to die. And once our body is destroyed it can never be restored and because of this, many people despair. That’s why Paul says in verse one, “For we KNOW that IF the earthly tent we live in is DESTROYED, we have a building from God, an ETERNAL house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Knowing that our bodies are weak and our time on earth is short, Paul doesn’t want the Corinthians to despair. He wants them to know that even if our body are destroyed, that’s not the end of everything. Because as believers, WE HAVE SOMETHING TO PUT OUR HOPE IN. Once, Jesus told his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms;…” (Jn 14:1-2a) Jesus wanted to comfort his followers and give them something to hope in. There’s no housing problem in the kingdom of God. Everyone will have their own room in God’s house, which I sure will be beautiful. And we won’t be enslaved to a mortgage like we are here on earth. It’s part of our inheritance from God, as we are his children. Our ancestor of faith, Abraham, looked forward to seeing this eternal house whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10) And St. Peter encouraged us saying that it will never perish, spoil or fade; because it’s eternal (1 Pe 1:4). God constructed this building on the foundation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which destroys the power of sin and death. And the apostle John caught just a glimpse of it from God when he gave him a vision of it. John described the water as clear as crystal, and the abundant fruit for all to eat, as it shined with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel. John said that God >, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) For although our bodies will be destroyed, we can still have this kind of hope. So, we shouldn’t lose heart, but rather live a powerful life full of spirit.

When it comes to things like this, there always seems to be two contrasting kinds of people. Those who hope in the world and those who hope in the kingdom of God. Those who put their hope in this world, try to hoard treasures during their lifetime. As a result, they become selfish, greedy and mean. They have no room in their hearts to think about others. But when they die, they lose everything. Death rips away everything they’ve tried to hoard. However, as Christians we have hope. Those who have this hope have room in their hearts to love and serve others. They live as pilgrims with their hope in the eternal building in heaven.

Paul continues with his analogy and now he connects the tent / building metaphor to clothing. Take a look at verse 2. “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,” Here Paul alludes to something saying, “Meanwhile we groan….” What is he alluding to? To the eternal building built by God to be revealed. And that will happen when Jesus returns and bring it all to fulfillment. So, while we are waiting for things to be revealed, we groan. We groan and long for heaven because of the limitation of our earthly body. We groan because life is hard. And we groan because we desire to live a holy life but can’t because of sin and the weakness of our mortal body. So, we despair, but this leads us to long for our heavenly dwelling. Sometimes we groan because we really don’t want to go through hardship. Like when we have to do something that we don’t want to do, we resist and groan. Like, having to do a task at work, that’s tedious and long, we groan. Or as a student has some difficult homework to do or having to study for an upcoming exam we groan. This is natural and a part of life. But the groaning Paul mentions is different. It comes from our longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, “because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.” (3). Here, “naked” describes one whose earthly body has died and they are waiting to be clothed with a spiritual body when Jesus comes again. At that time, our bodies will be raised into glorious, spiritual bodies (1 Cor 15:42-44). Verse 4 tells us that, “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Paul longed to be clothed with a heavenly dwelling, that what was mortal might be swallowed up by life. Why do we need to be clothed in this way? While on earth, we need an earthly body. However, in the heavenly kingdom we need a spiritual body in order to be fitted to live there. Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 15:50) so we need a spiritual body. Here we learn that we should not groan only over our brokenness and mistakes, but in the great hope that Christ will clothe us with a glorious spiritual body. The groaning of a Christian must be different than that of worldly people who have no hope. Not only that, we should not avoid hardship instead, with or hope in heaven, we need to work hard as a steward of God’s world while we are here.

But how can we really be sure of this hope? Let’s take a look at verse 5. “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Often, we come to believe that something is trustworthy by looking at the expertise of the one who made it. However, even experts make mistakes. But God never makes mistakes. God is the one who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. God is the one who raised Jesus from the dead. God is almighty God. What is impossible with man is possible with God (Mk 10:27). It is God’s unchanging purpose to give us an eternal house in heaven and a glorious spiritual body.

Still, how can we have any assurance of something we can’t see. Verse 5 also tells us that God has given us his spirit as a deposit to guarantee what is to come. So, what does that really mean? It’s hard to explain until you’ve experienced it, but I’ll do my best. Paul refused to believe it until he experienced personally the transforming power of the Holy Spirit when he was on the road to Damascus. When we receive the Holy Spirit into our heart, we are completely transformed, we become a new creation in Christ. Before we receive the Holy Spirit, we are oblivious to God’s work, but afterward we are able to know God and see what he has done for us. We are able to know what is right and wrong and we’re convicted of our own sins. We are a changed person from who we used to be, not wanting to live a worldly life.

For me, I experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit while I was in college. At the beginning of college, I lived a pretty wild life enjoying the pleasures of sin. I knew about God, but I didn’t know God. But though Bible study, the Holy Spirit began to open my heart and slowly God began to reveal himself to me, who he is, what he’s done, and his love and care for me. And over time, my desires to enjoy the pleasures of sin began to diminish and my desire to please God began to grow. Even though the Holy Spirit came into my heart, I still have my old self that I battle with. I have impatience, and frustration and still fall prey to my old ways. But to see that failure and acknowledge my sins and repent because I want to please God is evidence of the work of the Spirit in our lives. The spirit changes our hearts and that is a miracle.

When we have received the Holy Spirit, we call God our Father. As God’s children we are heirs of God who inherit his kingdom (Ro 8:15-17). When we have this assurance, we can go through hardships in this world. That’s why Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed…” (2 Cor 4:8).

In this part Paul teaches us what our life goal should be when we have true hope in the kingdom of God. Look at verses 6-8. “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Here, “we are at home in the body and away from the Lord,” refers to living on earth in our mortal bodies. While we live in this world we are always confident that we will live in the heavenly kingdom forever with a glorious spiritual body. Paul stresses that we are “always” confident. That means that we live always with a sense of victory even though we go up and down according to the situation and our own spiritual condition. However, basically we have confidence. It is like the undercurrent of the ocean. Even though the surface waves go up and down, the undercurrent is steady. Those who do not have hope in the kingdom of God always have a sense of defeat. Even though outwardly they seem to be courageous and full of confidence, inwardly they always feel defeated. Finally, they will be destroyed by death. But when we have true hope of the kingdom of God in our hearts we will live with a sense of victory. That’s why I like the “Rocky” movies. In the movie, Rocky goes through many hardships, he gets beaten to a pulp, but he never loses heart and keeps on fighting until he finally wins the victory. Even in the first movie, he didn’t win but he had the spirit of victory, so it didn’t feel like he lost. Likewise, though sometimes we lose a battle, we know that in the end, because of Jesus, we will have final victory, so we can always live with a sense of victory through.

Some people think that the kingdom of God is only for the future. It is unproductive and unrealistic. They think that hope in the kingdom of God does not apply to young people but only to old people. But this is not true. The hope of the kingdom of God is closely related to our real life. So those who do not have this true hope are always fearful. But those who have hope in the kingdom of God are always full of confidence and spirit. Their lifestyle is different. Verse 7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” The people who do not have true hope in their hearts will live by sight. For example, the people of Noah’s day lived without God. They had no true hope. As a result, when they married, they only looked at the outer appearance and married anyone they chose. The fruit of these marriages looked good. But their inner beings were corrupted, and they became violent. This was the main cause of destruction through the Flood.

By faith means we trust God to bless us in the best way and to be responsible for our future. To live by faith means that we should not follow the pattern of this world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In order to live by faith we must know what God’s will is. In order to know God’s will we have to study the Bible. When we study the Bible we should not just try to get what we want. Rather, we have to listen to what God really wants us to do. Then God will surely guide us into the best way and bless us. People think that to live by faith is a losing job in our pragmatic society. But it is absolutely not a losing job because God blesses those who please him.

Now let’s take a look at verse 9-10. “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Paul wanted to leave this world and go to be with Jesus as soon as possible. However, whether he lived in this world or went to be with the Lord, his life goal was the same. It was to please God. Why did he set his life goal to please God? We are created to please God as our life purpose. The Westminster Catechism asks “What is man’s chief end in life?” The answer is: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God purchased us with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Cor 6:20). Romans 14:8 says, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” We make it our life goal to please God in whatever we do. Because of this we chose our key verse this year to be, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” because we want to live for the glory.

When we say we have to live for the glory of God, because of our sinful nature rebellion stir in our hearts and we react by saying, “Why should we live for the glory of God instead of pleasing myself? Who can please me if I don’t please myself?” But if we try to please ourselves, we’ll be miserable. We will be empty, weary and tired. For example, King Saul in the Old Testament tried to please himself instead of pleasing God. Then God’s Spirit left him, and he was tormented by demons. He became a slave of jealousy and a murderous man. His end was tragic. Then how can we please God? Verse 7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” So, we must live by faith. Hebrews 11:6 clearly says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” When we do something, motive is important. When we do it to please God, by faith, then God will surely be with us in whatever we do.

Verse 10 explains the reason why we should please the Lord. It says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Here the judgment seat of Christ is the seat of final judgment. First of all, the final judgment determines eternal life and eternal condemnation. After that, there is a judgment of rewards among those who are saved. It is the evaluation of how much one works for the Lord. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we have a desire to please God. This really shows our heart. Our goal is to please God. It’s a goal, we may never hit our goal, but we strive to hit our goals. If we live with our goal to try and please God, then when we stand before God, our hearts are free because we sincerely tried to please God.

Paul told the believers in Ephesus, “13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”(Eph 1) When we believe and have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, it is evidence that God has given us a guarantee of our heavenly inheritance. So to those who have not experienced the deposit, I say cry out to God, repent of your sins and ask him to show you. And to those who HAVE experienced the deposit, I say remember your first experience and once again marvel at God’s awesome power and grace.

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