Summary: In this lesson we focus on the need to long for the things of God, and to be sure we are living by faith and walking in obedience.
A. The story is told of an evangelist who was preaching away during a gospel meeting.
1. He paused and asked the congregation a question – How many of you want to go to heaven?
2. “If you want to go to heaven, then, please raise your hand,” he said.
3. Everyone in the audience raised their hand, except for one man sitting near the front.
4. The preacher pointed his finger at the man and said, “Sir, do you mean to tell me that you don’t want to go to heaven?”
5. The man replied, “Sure I want to go to heaven, but he way you asked the question, it sounded like you were getting up a busload to leave immediately.”
B. Let me ask you this question: Do you really want to go to heaven?
1. If God were to pull a bus up to the front door right now, and allow any of us to board the bus for heaven, right now, would you get on the bus? Or would you ask if there’s a later bus?
2. I’m afraid that the truth of the matter is that many of us want to go to heaven, but not right now.
3. The fact that we want something more than heaven reveals a weakness in our understanding of what heaven is all about, and what the purpose of life really is.
C. The apostle Paul didn’t feel that way.
1. He longed for heaven, and he was ready and willing to go at any moment.
2. Let’s see how he expressed his confidence about these things in today’s section of Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5.
I. Understanding the Word
A. Let’s begin with 2 Corinthians 5:1: Now 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.
1. You might remember from last week’s sermon, that the main point of the end of 2 Corinthians 4:13-18 was that, in the midst of his adversities, Paul focused on those things that are not presently seen, but these unseen things are what count, for they are eternal.
2. Paul supports this conviction in chapter 5, verse 1, saying that we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed (this earthly tent is our perishable, mortal bodies, which are a part of the temporary things that are now seen), then we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (this is the imperishable resurrection body, the eternal, unseen things).
3. The wasting away and the affliction that Paul saw at work in his life may even lead to his death, but his confidence in the coming “eternal weight of glory” (4:17) could not be shaken, since it was based on what God himself will provide – something not built by human hands.
4. Paul’s comparison of the “earthly tent” and the “building from God” is intended to communicate the difference between temporary and permanent.
a. If you have spent much time in a tent then you know that they are not very secure, or permanent, nor are they all that comfortable.
b. When you think of strength, durability, security and comfort, you usually don’t think about a tent. As you can see in this picture, tents don’t keep bears out very well!
5. So Paul was confident and not at all worried about losing his earthly tent, because he knew that God had a far better heavenly one in store for him, and for the rest of us as well.
B. Look at verses 2-4: Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
1. Paul’s confidence in God’s future provision caused him to “groan” in the midst of his present suffering as he longed to inherit the glory God had in store for him in Christ – that was to be clothed with his heavenly dwelling.
2. When Paul compared the clothing of the heavenly dwelling with the present clothing of our earthly tent, he considered the present circumstances like being naked – unclothed.
3. How uncomfortable are you when you are unclothed – a little uncomfortable, right.
4. That’s something of how we should feel in our present earthly state, like we are unclothed, and we should be longing for our heavenly clothing.
5. We long for that which is mortal to be swallowed up and replaced by that which is immortal – eternal life.