AT HOME WITH GOD
Scripture Text: 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—
for we walk by faith, not by sight—
we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
How can we forget some of the final lines in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy keeps saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Most of us feel the same way. Man has always felt a fondness for that dwelling called home. Adam and Eve were grieved when they were cast out of the garden of Eden—their home. Noah and his family listened as the waters covered their homeland. Moses left his homeland to follow the will of God for his life. Jesus found that a prophet was not without honor, except at home. The prodigal son knew that even as a servant, home was better than the pigpen. We rejoice today as we round the corner to “our home.” Whether it be a cardboard box in an alley, or a fine air-conditioned bastion of comfort in the stifling heat, we are glad to get home. As temporary as the structures on earth are, our home in heaven will be permanent. God challenges us to live daily in preparation for that great eternal home that He is preparing for His children. It will be untouched by the elements of nature, unscarred by strife, pure, clean, and holy, and yes—IT WILL LAST FOR ETERNITY! Do you feel as good about the home God is preparing for you as the one that may be gone tomorrow? If we anticipate that home with joy, how wonderfully we will live our lives today!
Propositional Statement: I seen a bumper sticker the other day as I was driving across the Glenn Jackson bridge. It was another sequel to the ‘got milk?’ commercial. It said, ‘got hope?’ When we walk by faith, we can courageously face the realities of our world. We have the opportunity to live a life of righteousness and blessedness; having hope. How much better is that than dealing daily with struggles that drain our lives of hope and goodness? Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, Socrates, the renowned Greek Philosopher, drank the poison hemlock and lay down to die. “Shall we live again?” his friends asked. The dying philosopher could only reply, “I hope so, but no man can know.” —Gospel Herald Isn’t is amazing that Socrates, one of the supposedly wisest men ever known, had no hope of salvation?
I. At Home in the Body and Absent from the Lord or PREFER Absent from the Body and be at Home with the Lord
----Paul was a tentmaker and he was probably comparing our bodies to the weak, temporary, and ordinary nature of a tent. Our glorified bodies will be starkly different though; because they will not be subject to weakness, nor ordinary. In fact, they will be eternal in nature. Our bodies have a transitory nature! It’s like the difference between a Motel 6; and a Suburban Ranch Home. (Did not say mansion because…)
A. In the Body.
What things do you identify with the body? The most clearly identifiable illustration of being in the body is having a “Body by Jake.” You know, (Swedish accent) “I’m going to pump you up!” I don’t mean to put down being physically fit; but there is a difference between being physically fit and worshipping a body with more time and attention than we give God. 1 Timothy says it like this: “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Maybe there is not so many of us who have to worry about that; and even I have a lot of work to do in that area. But, what is not so clear; is the reliance that we place upon the temporary things in life, as opposed to the eternal things. Also in Corinthians are the following passages that give us a view of what we are building in our bodily homes: “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
What do I do while I am in the body and away from the Lord? Now, might be a good time to mention, that Paul is not saying that he is completely separated from the Lord while he is in the body. He is simply expressing the fact that while he is in the body and absent from the Lord; that he should be “about his Father’s business!” Reflecting upon prayer, the indwelling Spirit, and fellowship through the Word, John MacArthur says that Paul was “simply expressing a heavenly homesickness, a strong yearning to be at home with his Lord.”
In another commentary on this point, MacArthur says, “Life for Paul was a race to finish, a battle to win, a stewardship to discharge. Once the race was over, the battle won, and the stewardship discharged, Paul saw no reason to cling to this life. The only reason for him to remain on earth was to serve God, and he stated his readiness to leave when that service was complete: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Tim. 4:6–8)
B. With the Lord
One of the accusations leveled against Christians these days is that we are ‘off our rockers’ because we want to die. Sometimes that idea is used by some who would rather not have to be responsible to God; and just want to hurt the cause of Christ. And we Christians say, sometimes uncaringly and pathetically that the person that has passed on “is in a much better place.” On the face, the statement is blatantly true; but what comfort is there in that when we are experiencing the pain of loss? What I want you to notice here, is that Paul does not say he wants to be a martyr or that he wants to die; but he rather prefers to be absent from the body at home with the Lord. The word in the Greek language means to ‘think well of’ or ‘take pleasure in.’ Overall, it might mean to be ‘well-pleased with.’ Paul’s idea of life is not to die for God; but to live for God and demonstrate God’s glory in His Life. How is God defined in your life today? Do you demonstrate God’s hatred of sin? How about His love for righteousness and truth? Do you demonstrate His love and mercy in your life? He wants you to be concerned with these things!
Transition: Paul must have really thought a lot about the difference of living in this broken world and living with His Father in Heaven. He best says it like this: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” Again, for Paul living meant that good things would be produced; but in death, there would be a new home; a desire to be with Jesus. I will speak more about this later; but sufficed to say for now, there was a reason why Paul would think it better to be with Jesus rather than go on living here, even when it meant having a more fruitful life in following Jesus.
Another interesting point in the passage here; is that Paul includes the idea of courage. He identifies courage as being an attribute of both being at home in the body, and preferring to be at home with the Lord. How many of us would willingly go to heaven right now? Or do we rather have an attitude like, “I want to go Lord, But I have a few things to settle here before you take me!” Or maybe the opposite is true for you? You are not optimistic about what you might accomplish now; but defeated? You are just so hurt by life, you hope for something better? Paul seems to be saying, “While living in this world takes courage, so does the prospect of being translated into another realm.” (Look at the passages/how Paul talks about courage
It says in Romans, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 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. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Because we have the Spirit of God within us, we can have courage and patience in times of trouble.
II. Walk by Faith; Not by Sight. In an attempt to be creative and discount the words of Scripture, an online blogger wrote a story called: ‘Walkin By Sight.’ In his blog he says that faith holds back our society in ludicrous and absurd ways. Besides the fact that he totally takes the biblical passage out of its context and mis-defines what Scripture is saying; he creates a religious straw-man to knock down! The straw-man is one that totally ignores the natural world and science; and one that lives life blindly accepting everything without thinking. He concludes by saying, “To “walk by faith, not by sight,” is to ignore the valuable knowledge reaped from (the scientific method, mine)and to comply to a life where you walk with a kaleidoscope attached to your head, forcing you to see reality in distorted fragments, condemning you to never truly viewing what lies before your eyes. This creates a situation where there is nothing to prevent you from jumping off a cliff, you believe will lead to your salvation. So in order to avoid a population running around outside my apartment, more or less blindfolded, I ask you, please for the good of mankind, walk by sight.” What would you say to this blogger? What does it really mean to walk by faith, and not by sight? How does one come to the conclusion that faith is blind and sight is the only reliable thing to depend upon?
A. Walk by Faith
Faith is hope in something better than we see here in this world. Faith is developed by living what the Scripture says. In other words, faith is not just a belief; it is a belief based upon ‘evidence’ and ‘exercise.’ It’s not that our experience determines the truth; but that it supports the truth when we rely upon God in our lives. When Jesus is the one we ‘look to’ and ‘focus on’ in our lives. MacArthur says, “Such faith is not a wishful fantasy or a vague superstition but a strong confidence grounded in the truth of Scripture.” Hebrews says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith develops assurance and conviction in our lives. Elements that are noticeably absent when we simply rely upon only what we can touch with our hands and only upon what we see with our eyes. Further Paul couches this phrase within his comments about living a life transformed; and radically different from those without faith and hope. Part of living a courageous life is believing when you cannot see. We see many things before we understand them; and the question here may be, “can we be elevated beyond what we see?”
B. Not by Sight
What example do we have from the ones who have gone before us? In Hebrews 11, the Bible summarizes the lives of those who were outstanding! (outstanding /in the military) Hebrews says, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” In other words, without seeing with their eyes; they accepted the fact that they were made for a different purpose. They saw the difference between their transformed lives and their surroundings. They also hoped for justice and vindication. They simply accepted that they were ‘just passing through.’
In fact, the Bible speaks about Jesus being the first-fruits of our salvation. He is the first to be resurrected and have a glorified body. Hebrews 9:11 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;” The greater and ‘more perfect tabernacle’ or ‘tent’ distinguishes our earthly bodies with our future glorified bodies. In a similar reference, Jesus pointed to the massive walls of the the stone temple and said, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.” I have not thought about how come the Jews did not ask him how he was going to destroy it; but they did ask how he was going to rebuild it. They said, it took forty-six years to build, so how would you do it in three days, smarty-pants! John tells us that Jesus was telling the Pharisee’s about his own body when he spoke of the temple. And we understand that when the Book of John says, “So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.”
ILLUS>Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world one day, Moody said to a friend, “Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. “At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all—out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”
In a sermon given in 1866 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, C.H. Spurgeon commented on the topic of sight. He said, “the principle of sight is a very changeable one. You can see well enough, you know, in the day, but what will you do in the night when you cannot see? It is well enough to talk of walking by sight in the light, but what will you do when the darkness comes on? It is very well to talk about living on time present while you are here, but when you go upstairs and lie on your deathbed, what about the principle of living for the present then? When you cannot stay here any longer—when, notwithstanding all the ties which held you to earth, Death begins to drag you away and you cry to him—“Stop! I cannot leave wife, and children, and business just yet!” And when Death remorselessly tears you away from all that is dear to you—how about the principle of sight then? It is a strange principle to die with, but, let me say, on the other hand, that the principle of faith does best in the dark!”
There are certainly deep truths to be considered when we think about our reality and the supernatural acts that God has accomplished within that reality. A simpler, easier truth is what I bring you today! Are you living by only what you see? Is it possible that you can have a greater understanding of life when you know Jesus? Do you have hope? How do your definitions of ‘faith’ and ‘sight’ stand up to reality and have you reconciled them in your life?
How would you define your existence today? Are you at home here in this world? Or do you long for something greater? Paul, by no means is intent on glorifying death, nor is he advocating blind faith. He is doing something very important for us! He is weighing the differences between this world and the next. He is speaking about transformation!
But even further, we are presented with a more serious choice here…..a life or death choice! And a question,“What impact does the thought of death and its grip upon you help you understand? Does it remind you that there is no hope? …. That death is inevitable and that you must accept finality and fatality?
(thoughtful tone) You know, I think the reason that one of the reasons that Paul ‘thought it better’ to be with the Lord is because life is much better than death. Here in this world, sin brings the penalty of death; …. so we long for immortality. The Scripture says, “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.” In response to the power of sin, the Bible says, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
Please bow your heads and pray with me….
1. Pray for expectation in the hearts of those here. That we won’t be homesteaders; but will glorify you in our lives.
2. I pray that we will have hope in our lives and that hope would come from knowing about the relationship that we have with you and how that relationship can transform us.
3. I pray that we will place our faith in things eternal and not in things that perish. May we recognize the difference as we live for you Jesus.
4. I pray that life will be about truly living! ….and preferring what is best instead of what looks good.
5. I pray that you will prepare us to be closer to you! And that we can prove our love for you through our actions.
6. Lord, I pray that you will remove the blindness from our eyes and build our faith! The enemy has blinded some from understanding why Paul would long to be with you and yet see the necessity in serving you here.