Pastor Tom Ascol continues in his series on 2 Corinthians. In a message entitled “Life After Death” pastor covers 2 Corinthians 5:1 – 10. Humans, it seems, almost universally wonder “What happens when we die?” Public fascination with near-death experiences seem to bear this out. Indeed, a group of doctors and scientists report, after a four-year study, evidence that human life continues after biological death. What does this mean for those alive today? There are two key points.
The first point is the surety eternal life will follow this temporary life. Paul contrasts this life to the next. He uses pictures such as “this tent’” and earthly home” in contrast to a “building” and “house” made by God and a “heavenly dwelling.” Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was convinced eternity awaits humankind. This confidence gives Paul the resilience he needs to continue on in ministry knowing that a time is coming when he will have a new and glorious body. The Greeks in Paul’s time viewed the body as something of a throw-away container, a prison in which the soul had to exist until being freed by death. This is not the biblical picture of our bodies. God created both the body and soul as a cohesive unit. Jesus died for us; He redeemed not only our souls but also our bodies which will be resurrected. That will be permanent as opposed to today’s temporariness! Paul continues. Temporary as this life it, the believer’s life has an anticipatory element. Our text tells us we are burdened and groaning. Yet, according to Ecclesiastes 3:11 God has put eternity into our hearts. Whatever trials we may have are only preparatory toward our eternity. We were made for something more than this life! Thus, in addition to temporal life being temporary and anticipatory, eternal existence is certain.
Paul’s second point is this: we ought to live with cheerful confidence. Pauls’ words, we are to be of “good courage,” have inherently the distinct element of cheerful confidence. Cheerful, courageous confidence follows from remembering what is always true; God has saved us and made us His own, He is always with us. We live, then, by faith, not by sight. Biblical faith is not a blind leap into the dark, it is the assurance of things hoped for. This hope is not a shallow looking to some future possibility but a certainty made sure by God’s promises. Things may or may not go well for us here in our temporal life but we have an eternity with Him to which we confidently look forward. That makes suffering tolerable, enabling the cheery confidence to which Paul exhorts believers. It is no wonder believers long for heaven.
All of this is tempered by the coming judgment. As we have seen, in addition to temporal life being temporary and anticipatory, eternal existence is certain. While believers will not be judged except for rewards resulting from a life live for Jesus Christ, non-believers will be judged for their sins, a judgment before which they will be unable to stand. Even today, however, non-believers can come to Jesus in repentance and faith, trusting Him for the salvation He promises. Oh, come today.