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Groaning for Glory - 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

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What sort of existence and experiences are departed believers enjoying right now? Is the heaven we go to when we die our final destination? Paul described it as "far better" (Phil. 1:23) but it's going to get even much better! Paul lightly touches on what happens when a Christian dies and awaits the resurrection, but it's enough to give us confidence. Let's consider today the "intermediate" or temporary transitional heaven before the resurrection of our bodies.

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5/18/2008
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Groaning for Glory
2 Corinthians 5:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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What sort of existence and experiences are departed believers enjoying right now? Is the heaven we go to when we die our final destination? Paul described it as "far better" (Phil. 1:23) but it's going to get even much better! Paul lightly touches on what happens when a Christian dies and awaits the resurrection, but it's enough to give us confidence. Let's consider today the "intermediate" or temporary transitional heaven before the resurrection of our bodies.
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From the Edge of Eternity

From the Edge of Eternity

What happens when a believer dies? What will heaven be like? What about infants and children who die? When do our bodies get resurrected? What will they be like? These questions and more occupy our thoughts from time to time. In this new series, From the Edge of Eternity, we will follow a believer from death into the different stages of eternity: the Intermediate State, the resurrection of the body, the Kingdom Age and the Eternal State. Since forever is a long time, it only makes sense that we both understand and prepare for this "ultimate journey".

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Outline

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I. Our Destination--What We Know (Vs 1)

A. We Move From Earthly to Heavenly

B. We Move From Tent to Temple


II. Our Frustration--Why We Groan (Vss 2-5)

A. Because of What We’re Getting (Vss 2-4)

B. Because of What We Have (Vs 5)


III. Our Affirmation--When We're Confident (Vss 6-8)

A. We're Always Confident Here

B. We'll Ever be Confident There


Consider This:

1.
Could it be that your concept of a person's "soul" is too limited? What factors have contributed to that? What would change that?

2. If the soul is the "real you", the core of who you really are, then why is the resurrection of the body so important an issue?

Transcript

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Lord, now we shift gears. We have been giving you praise and now we receive your instruction and we pray Lord that this would ever be as much a part of our worship as the previous several minutes. The songs that we sang was worship but now listening to You in order to learn and grow and use what we learned is also a part of worship. And we pray that our minds would be sharp and our hearts ready and our lives conforming to what we read about and hear Your Spirit speak to us through the pages of scripture. In Jesus' name. Amen.
I had a friend who lost his grandmother a few years ago and we affectionately her by the name Grandma Boo, that's what she was known by, all of her kids and grandkids and great grandkids as Grandma Boo. She died at 99, almost 100, we were hoping that she would make it to a hundred but she didn't. She loved life, Grandma Boo did. But she was groaning for glory. And no wonder, she lost her daughter, she was there to bury her daughter. She buried her own grandson, several of her friends died and so I remember when she said, "You know I think I know more people now in heaven than I do on earth. And I think I'm ready now to leave earth and be in heaven." So as good as this life was, she knew that there was something far better after this life. What a testimony. 
There was a guy in Michigan who lived over a hundred years of age, who also had a joy for life. True story and he was known in his neighborhood as Uncle Johnson, that's how everybody knew him, Uncle Johnson. He was a happy-go-lucky guy, one day he was outside gardening and a friend walked by and heard him singing praise songs and said, "Uncle Johnson, boy you're sure happy today, aren't you?" He said, "Well you know I am happy and here's why, I've been thinking lately and I've been thinking this, if the crumbs of joy which fall from the master's table in this world are so good, what do you think that great loaf in glory must be like?
You know, death is a blessing. And here's why: The Bible says, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." As good as you might look now, and you can get the best suit on and the nicest dress on and look prim and proper. Anything that decays cannot inhabit or inherit something which is incorruptible, a permanent home. Irwin Luxor wrote a great book called One Minute After You Die and in that book he writes, "Only on this side of the curtain is death our enemy. Just beyond the curtain, the monster turns out to be our friend. The label death is still on the bottle but the contents are eternal life. Death is our friend because it reminds us that heaven is near. How near? As near as a heartbeat, as near as an auto accident, as near as a stray bullet, as near as a plane crash. I four eyes could see the spirit world we might find that we are already at its gates. But death is not the end of the road. It's the bend in the road, it leads to somewhere. We find that the tomb, the grave, is really the entrance into life. Now the only way we know that, the only way that we would ever see that is by looking through the lens of scripture. It's only by looking through the lens of the word of God that we understand anything that there is about this life, death, the afterlife, heaven, only through that lens."
Back in 1999, there was a movie that was out and you probably heard of it or even saw it, called The Matrix was that this visible world is nothing but a virtual reality computer program, and that everybody's living in this delusion of physicality and we see people and see things and experience things but really it's just people plugged into a common source, a common life, a common computer, and it's just a computer program. And so, toward the beginning of the film, Morpheus says to Neo who's sort of the main actor of the film, he says, "I have two pills in my hand, take the blue pill, wake up in your own bed, believe whatever you want. Take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland." Now just a few people in that film saw beyond the curtain into the really real world. And I've discovered that there's a whole world filled with people who have taken the blue pill, they wake up every morning, they believe whatever they want about life, death and the afterlife. And only a few people have peered beyond this to the really real world. I hear people say, "Well I, I don't buy into this supernatural, I live in the real world." And Paul the apostle would say, "Okay this is the real world but there's a really real world, even more real and much more permanent than this one."
Well last week we were in I Thessalonians 4, last week and the week before. We discovered some things about death in that message, we discovered that when we die our relationship with Christ is actually deepened. We discovered that after death there's a great reunion, if you're a believer in Christ you will reunite with moms and dads and children and brothers and sisters and friends who are also believers. It will be a great reunion in heaven. And also we touched on the idea of the future resurrection. But here's the question today: After we die, until the resurrection, what will life be like? What will we look like? What will our form be like? What is the experience now at the point of Christian departure (death) until the resurrected body?
Let's look at II Corinthians chapter 5, the first eight verses, and let's just skim them first. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. If indeed having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed but further clothed that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now he who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident 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 confident, yes well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Now Paul brings up three important truths: First is our destination, second is our frustration and the third is our affirmation. He tells us what we know, he tells us why we groan and he tells us when we're confident, which is always. 
Let's just look more carefully at verse 1, at our destination. Now this is what we know: "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Do you notice how frequently Paul uses such terminology as ‘we know" like he says here? You never read Paul saying, "Got my fingers crossed and I guess, I hope, boy wouldn't it be great if…." But he uses this unambiguous definite language "We know." Back in I Thessalonians he says, "We don't want you to be ignorant brethren." As if to say, let me dispel any ignorance that there may be, I want you to know." Now what is it we know? We know according to verse 1 that when we leave earth as a Christian we go to heaven. We know that when we move from this tent, this physical body, we go to a permanent temple, a house. Now the analogy was simple and everybody understood it in the first century, because there were still people back then who lived in tents. They were nomadic dwellers, and there still are some today in the Middle East. Bedouins, they'll pitch their tent, their animals will feed and graze until there's no more food and then they'll move on and pitch their tent somewhere else. Paul himself, this was his profession, he was a tnetmaker. So, the analogy is clear, one is temporary (that's the tent, one is permanent (that's the house, the building). One is flimsy (that's the tent), one is sturdy (that's the building). One is weak (that's the tent), one is strong (that's the building). Also any Jewish person reading this would maybe think back immediately to the tabernacle in the wilderness where God was once worshipped in a tent until them moved to a permanent location called the temple, known in Judaism as the house. That's what they salled it, the house. So here's the principle in verse 1, the principle is this: the way we look when we die isn't the way we're going to look forever. (Can I get a hallelujah out of that one?) The way we look when we die isn't the way we're going to look forever. The real me is spirit. This is only a tent you're looking at, but the real me is able to convey and communicate who I am via this medium called the human body. But it's temporary. And if you've ever camped, you loved to go out in a tent, it's a lot of fun, but not for very long. I once went camping for three mongths. I took a trip around the United States, had a truck and a tent and I'd set it up every night. You know, honestly, I had fun, but I'm over it. You know after a few days you start longing for things like a shower, walls, a real bed. It's something very temporary, your body is like a tent, your body is temporary and after a while the threads start to unravel. After a while the flaps become more prominent. After a while the tent starts to leak, it's just the nature of the temporary body. Now it's interesting how some people want to make their tent live forever or look like it's a brand new model, younger than it really is. So they'll stretch the flaps, and nip and tuck, and dye the threads. And somebody will go, "Why, they died, they were so young." "They were a hundred and forty when they died, are you kidding?" Now Paul calls our body a tent, James goes a step further and says, Not only is it that temporary, it's even less temporary, he says, "What is your life? It is a vapor that appears for a time and then vanishes away." So James says, "Here's your body, here's your life, whff, that's it. And then another whff comes, that's the next generation and then another and hten another and then another. We are temporary, our bodies are meant to not last. We take down the tent. In fact, did you know, the last letter Paul ever wrote was II Timothy? And in chapter 4, toward the very end, the end of his life, he says to young Timothy, "For I know that the time of my departure is at hand." Remember that little phrase, that little verse, the time of my departure, the word is analucis, it means it's time to take down the tent and move on. That's the word he used, he was vacating the tent.
Now look back at verse 1 at notice that we trade in the tent for a building, if our earthly house this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God. Now what is he referring to when he says a building? Some people believe it's heaven itself. Others says, well it's more specifically a mansion in heaven as Jesus promised in John 14 verse 2, "In my Father's house there are many mansions." The building then is the heavenly mansion. It seems however in reading the text that Paul is speaking about something more close than that, something we wear, something we're clothed with. It makes more sense as I read this in context that the building from God must be a reference to our glorified resurrected body. Okay, there is a different view, there is a third view. And I just, I just touched on it last week, I want to elaborate a little bit this week. Some people believe that the building from God that Paul is referring to is a temporary intermediate body that we receive upon death as we wait for our bodies then buried in ground, to be resurrected. And we can't be dogmatic on this, this is only a possibility. And by the way, it's a view I do not lean to but I just want to cover it today. Some people think this way, just as there's an intermediate heaven that won't last forever because God will make a new heaven and a new earth and that's our ultimate destination, then there must be an intermediate body to enjoy that intermediate heaven until we get to the new heaven and the new earth. And so they'll cite examples. For example, Moses who died but was at the transfiguration with Elijah and Jesus and the disciples saw him. Moses was dead but he had some physical form so he could talk and they knew it was Moses. Or, this view will say, look at Paul the apostle, who said, "I was caught up into the third heaven," II Corinthians 12. And he says, "Whether I was in the body or out of the body, I don't know, only God knows." And so this view will say, because of his uncertainty whether he was in or out of the body, it must mean that he had some different form, different than his earthly body.
Well the disagreement comes in verse 1 as to what period of time he was referring to. Was he referring to immediately after death or was he referring to eventually after death? Notice in verse 1 Paul tells us what happens if, not when. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed. Now here's Paul waiting for Jesus to come back, hoping he'll come back in his lifetime, but if that doesn't happen, if I die in the meantime, and then he tells the rest of the story. So, simply this verse is giving you and I a way to contrast something temporary with somewhere permanent. It's basically saying, "yeah, we live in the real world, but there's a really real world that's much better and more permanent."
In fact a little girl, I love this story, she was walking with Grandpa one evening and she looked up and she saw the stars starting to sparkle and come out and she said, "Grandpa, if heaven looks this good on the wrong side, Grandpa can't you imagine how good it must look when we're on the right side?" Paul says, here we are in this temporary body, on the other side it looks much better. So that's our destination, that's what we know, and that's in general terms. 
Now he expresses the frustration, this is why we groan. Notice that's what he says, "For in this," verse 2, "we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. If indeed having been clothed we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed but further clothed that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now he who has prepared for this very thing is God who also has given us the spirit as a guarantee." Let me first tell you what Paul is not saying, Paul is not expressing the pagan Greek view, the view of Plato, the Platonic view that says, the body is a prison, we're trapped and death is good because it frees us to be who we're meant to be. This was not Paul the apostle expressing some morbid desire for death. This isn't a Herman Munster theology, some ghoulish weird, ‘I really just want to die.' No, quite the opposite. What he is hoping for is for the Lord Jesus Christ to return so that there has to be nothing in between him and that experience of the full presence of God in the resurrected body. He's groaning for glory, he's eager for Jesus to return so that he can experience his glorified body. He uses the word groan, it means to sigh with longing, how descriptive. Here's Paul going, "Ohhh," groaning, sighing with longing. Have you listened to yourself lately when you get up in the morning? You ought to do that. In fact, I dare you to tape record yourself when you get up in the morning, I'll be you sound like that. I'll bet when you've been lying in a position for a long time, whether taking a nap or going to sleep, you get up in the morning, you get up and you go, "Ohhh," you're stif. Now I notice personally that that groaning becomes more prominent as the years go on. I discover my body is limited and I groan and it's okay to groan, it's scriptural to groan.
Late in his life, somebody once asked John Quincy Adams how he as doing. He was elderly at the time and here's his answer, "John Quincy Adams is well sir, very well. The house in which he has been living is feeble, the shingles are coming off the roof, the foundation is a bit shaky and he has received word from its maker that he must vacate soon. But Mr. Adams is fine, sir, just fine. That's our sixth President of the United States, groaning for glory, knowing that he will vacate the temporary body.
Now back to this controversy of what we'll look like the moment we die, people often ask me that. And I think the best answer is simply to say when they say, "Well how will we look when we die?" I like to say, "Better. Much better." But that usually doesn't suffice or satisfy and here's how that argument of controversy is framed. Here's Paul saying, "Look one thing I don't' want to be is disembodied or his words ‘naked'," in verse 3, so that must mean that if that's such a dread that God's going to give me a house, a temporary form as soon as I die. So here's the presumption: The presumption is that I'll be given a body in place of the body that's being buried on the Earth in the ground, it's an intermediate body, it's a temporary body; until our physical bodies buried can be resurrected. That's the thought, that's the idea I just mentioned. I don't lean to that and here's why: There is a science to interpreting the Bible, I don't know if you know this or not but there's a solidified science with rules on how to interpret scripture, it's called hermeneutics. (If you want to impress your friends, say, "Let's talk about hermeneutics.") But it just means how to interpret the Bible. And there's five basic rules. Rule number one, you always interpret a text in the light of its context, you don't take a verse out of context. Number two, you always interpret a text in light of the words that are used. Number three, you always interpret a text in light of the grammar, how the words are related to each other. Number four, you always interpret a text in the light of the background that you find the truth in. Number five, and here's this one, you always interpret any text of scripture in the light of the unity of scripture. That is, you can never isolate a text, you can't pull it out of the context of the rest of the Bible, there must be a harmony between this text and the rest of the Bible. You don't interpret a passage in a way that conflicts with other passages of scripture; it's easy to understand why. Here's the reason: though God used different authors to write the Bible, we believe the ultimate author is God himself, he inspired that. So God isn't going to contradict himself. So when youitnerpret a text there has to be a unity.
So what does the rest of the Bible say? Well there are several passages. When Stephen died in Acts chapter 7 and he knew he was about to leave this world as they were stoning him to death, he looked up and said, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit." He knew that his spirit would leave, be disembodied from the physical body and join the Lord, "Receive my spirit." Hebrews chapter 12 verse 23 describes those dead believers saying, "They are the spirits of the redeemed in heaven now made perfect." Also, if we receive a temporary body immediately once we die, then why does Paul in a number of his books, constantly talk about as a major theme the resurrection of our physical body? Why does he make such a big deal? In fact in I Corinthians 15, a passage we will get to, the apostle Paul says the only time when death is fully conquered and we receive ultimate victory is when our bodies are resurrected. He says at that point "when corruption will put on incorruption, when mortality puts on immortality, then death will be swallowed up by life and then it will be fulfilled. Oh grave, where is your sting? Oh death, where is your victory?" 
Now look back in verse 3 at a couple of things. Notice how Paul refers to the moment of death as being naked. "If indeed having been clothed, we shall not be found naked." It speaks of disembodiment, he's not speaking about re-embodiment at the moment of death but he calls it naked. Oh and by the way, why would he dread being naked if he was going to be re-embodied immediately after death. There's no dread, what's the problem. Also in verse 6 and 8 notice that to be home with the Lord means to be absent from the body. So here's the scoop, believers get resurrected. That is, their physical bodies buried in the ground will be resurrected, when Jesus Christ comes back for the church. That's abundantly clear, I Corinthians 15 and what we read last week, I Thessalonians chapter 4. Now to say that we die and we get a new body immediately is tantamount to saying the resurrection has already happened. And Paul deals with that. In II Timothy chapter 2 he mentions two individuals (how would you like to be mentioned in the Bible, your name's written down forever, as somebody who was in error? Well he does that, he writes down Haemoneus and Philetus, he says, "who have strayed concerning the truth saying that the resurrection is already past." But it's not past, it's future, we wait for it. 
Irwin Litzer, I mentioned his name a moment ago wrote that great book One Minute After You Die helps us, this is what he says, "One plausible explanation might be that the souls of the departed dead may in some ways have the functions of a body. If that is the case, it would explain how they can communicate with one another and have a visible presence in heaven. If that seems strange to us," he writes, "It may well be that our concept of the soul is too limited." And I agree with that, I think that's our problem, we have a very limited concept of what our soul is capable of doing and expressing and being like. We think, "Well it must mean since I can't relate to it, I only relate to physicality, it must mean that you just sort of wisp away into nothingness. And you're somehow in the wisp with the Lord." That's just a limited view of the soul. So here's Paul groaning for glory. And that's what we ought to be doing, groaning for glory, wanting Jesus to come back when that resurrection comes.
Now go back to verse 5 because it answers a very important question, the question is: How can we be sure that's really going to happen? So he looks not ahead, but now he looks back. "He who has prepared us for this very thing is God who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." Now follow me here: The word guarantee, arabon, better translation down payment, first installment, you give a down payment, it means you're going to pay the rest off. Or let's put it in relational terms, you give your girl an engagement ring, that's a ring of promise, if you get an engagement ring it must mean there's going to be a wedding and a wedding feast. And the Bible says we're the bride of Christ, we're engaged to Jesus. He's given us a wedding ring, a down payment, a first installment. It must mean we're going to enjoy the wedding. Now what is it that we've been given? The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and the Holy Spirit has come into our lives, and you've noticed, you've changed since you gave your life to Christ. You have new desires, new hopes, the hope of heaven. All of that is a foretaste, let's call it a preview of coming attractions. And so it's like what Uncle Johnson said, "Man if the crumbs of joy that fall from the master's table are this good, can you imagine what that great loaf in glory will be like? The Holy Spirit is the down payment, it gives us that yearning. We know this is going to happen because of what has already happened.
Well let's end this, here's the third main thing that Paul brings up and that is when we're confident, this is the affirmation. "So," he says, "So we are always confident knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight. We are confident, yes well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." This is what he's saying, "Even though I already have a down payment, I want more. Even though I have some contact with God, I can pray to him, I can fellowship with him in his word, I have that inner dwelling of the spirit, I want the ‘full meal deal.' And so even if it means a certain temporary nakedness, I want to be present with the Lord. I'll be confident whether I'm in this body, alive, or I'm in heaven. You see, this is Paul the apostle groaning for glory, this is Paul the apostle clicking his heels saying, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home," longing for heaven. Now the reason that God's people can be so confident, again is very simple, because there are only two places that God's people are at and that is either on earth or in heaven. They're not soul sleeping somewhere, they're not in Purgatory somewhere, you're either on earth as a believer and the moment you leave this earth you are in God's presence. That's why he says, "I'm confident to be away from the body and present with the Lord.
Friday was a very sad day for some of us, self included. I did a funeral for a four-month old baby. It was very difficult. You can't even imagine the kind of grief that parents go through and it was very dear to our hearts because I had performed the wedding for the grandparents and dedicated the father of this baby years ago and now we're burying his daughter. And I remember at the end of the service, it was a well-meaning statement, one of the funeral directors, it's just a typical thing that is said at a funeral but it just sort of left me with that down feeling as he said, "Now we will go to the cemetery to the final resting place of this baby." So at the cemetery I opened up by saying, "With all due respect, I just want to modify a statement, this is not the final resting place of this baby. This body will raise again, this is a seed that is being planted, as Paul said. That's why we sleep in Christ, if you go to sleep you get up again. This baby will awaken to resurrected glory and in full glory be once again with her parents in the future. That is a guarantee. And that's why Paul says, "We are confident."
Let's just sum up what we know so far. At the very moment, at the very instant a believer dies, the body will go into the ground and be buried, number one. Number two, at the very moment a believer dies the soul or the spirit, same thing, goes directly into the presence of God. There is not a believer in heaven today who's not there in spirit only, awaiting the resurrection. Number three, at the moment of death when the spirit or soul leaves and goes to be with the Lord, there is a perfection, an instantaneous perfection of the soul in God's presence. Again I refer you to Hebrews 12:23 that describes those dead believers as the spirits of the redeemed (here it is) in heaven now made perfect." So if I die today, I keel over dead, my soul will instantly be in heaven, my body will probably be placed in a local cemetery. My perfected soul will be in God's presence. And what will my perfected soul be doing in God's presence? Seeing in God's presence? Well, let's see, the devil won't be there, the world won't be there, the flesh won't be there, so there'll be no temptation. There'll be no persecution there, no mockery from the world for what I believe in, there'll be no disharmony, no disunity, no fights, no quarrels among believers; perfect harmony. There's not going to be any effort in heaven, nothing I need to pray about, nothing I need to fast for, nothing. There'll be no repentance, there's nothing I need to repent of at that point. There'll be no evangelism, no crusade in heaven, no witnessing, no need, everybody's saved. I'll be very conscious, very aware, able to express, able to articulate in some fashion, able to remember. And, one day I will reunite with my body which will be glorified in resurrected form (something we'll talk more about in future studies) because God designed us to be both spirit and body. Not just soul, not just spirit, not just body; but both together. And that's why Paul makes a big deal about the resurrected body of a Christian.
Now I know what some of you may be thinking. You're thinking, "Goodness, but that's such a long time to wait. You think of poor Paul, he's been up there you know not wanting to be naked, not wanting to disembody, he's been up there two thousand years. Goodness, what a bummer he got. Oh my goondes, what a shallow way of thinking about eternity. Here's an analogy: Remember how when you were a little kid how time seemed like so long. Your parents said, "Just wait one week." "A week!" that sounded like years to you. Okay, now as you get older you notice the time foreshortens, doesn't it? Just like, "A week, a year, a decade, who cares?" Right? Doesn't your perspective of time change rapidly. And it seems as time gets faster and faster the more mature you get. I've got to believe that eternity is like that (snap) on steroids. And that what seems like a long time is instantaneous in heaven. See in heaven, in eternity, we're not limited by the time-space continuum any longer. There's no time. And so Moses had it right in Psalm 90 when he wrote, "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has gone by, or like a watch in the night." I think what it's going to seem like is death, presence of God, spirit made perfect, resurrection. That's what it's going to seem like. Paul is simply making the analogy, don't get hung up on the tent. Let it go, trade it in for a building as you wait for resurrection.
I want to close with this, it's something that I typically pull out at a funeral service but it fits the text so well. And I want you to listen to it. It's a conversation between a human being and God. Now God is called Mr. Tentmaker in this little story and it's the story of a person who obviously ages and goes to the hospital and listen to how it's written. "Mr Tentmaker, it was nice living in this tent when it was strong and secure and the sun was shining and the air was warm, but Mr. Tentmaker it's scary now. My tent is acting like it's not going to hold together. The poles seem weak and they shift with the wind and a couple of the stakes have wiggled loose from the sand. And worst of all the canvas has a rip. It no long protects me from the beating rain or the stinging flies. It's scary in here, Mr. Tentmaker. Last week I was sent to the repair shop and some repairman tried to patch the rip in my canvas. It didn'th elp much though because the patch pulled away from the edges and now the tear is worse. What troubles me most Mr. Tentmaker is that the repairman didn't even seem to notice that I was still in the tent. They just worked on the canvas whiler I shivered inside. I cried out once but no one heard me. I guess my first real question is, "Why did you give me such a flimsy tent? I can see by looking around the campground that some of the tents are much stronger and more stable than mine. Why, Mr. Tentmaker, why did you pick of such poor quality for me? And even more important, what do you intend to do about it?" The God speaks, "Oh little tent dweller. As the creator and provider of tents, I know all about you and your tent and I love you both. I made a tent for myself once and I lived in it on your campground. My tent was vulnerable too and some vicious attackers ripped it to pieces while I was still inside. It was a terrible experience but you'll be glad to know they couldn't hurt me. In fact, the whole occurrence was a tremendous advantage because it's this very victory over my enemy that frees me to be a present help to you. Little tent dweller, I am now prepared to come and live in your tent with you if you will invite me. You will learn as we dwell together that real security comes from my being in your tent with you. When the storms come you can huddle in my arms and I'll hold you. When the canvas rips we'll go to the repair shop together. Someday, little tent dweller, your tent will collapse for I have only designed it for temporary use. When it does, you and I will leave together. I promise not to leave before you do and then free of all that would hinder or restrict, we will move to our permanent home and together forever rejoice and be glad."
If you don't believe that, you've taken the blue pill, you'll just wake up and believe whatever you want. This is the red pill, this is Wonderland. This the really real world. Asnd Paul saw it, he visited the third heaven, no wonder he was groaning for glory.
Heavenly Father, here we are traveling through, passing through, here today, there'll come a time when this seat will not be occupied by us, we will not be here, that vapor will have breathed its last wisp and a new generation will come. The tent will be taken down and something more permanent. You Word declares that those who don't know you will have a body fit to endure everlasting punishment. And those who do know you will have a body fit to experience and enjoy everlasting heaven. Lord, I pray if anyone doesn't personally know Jesus, that in this interim we call time, that we would make a choice at this time to follow Christ. It's in his name we pray.

Additional Messages in this Series

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4/27/2008
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The Ultimate Journey
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
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What happens when a believer dies? What will heaven be like? What about infants and children who die? When do our bodies get resurrected? What will they be like? These questions and more occupy our thoughts from time to time. In this series, From the Edge of Eternity, we will follow a believer from death into the different stages of eternity: the Intermediate State, the resurrection of the body, the Kingdom Age and the Eternal State. Since forever is a long time, it only makes sense that we both understand and prepare for this "ultimate journey."
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5/4/2008
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View From Death's Door - Part 1
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
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Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, "A grave, wherever found, reaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul." He's right! Cemeteries remind us of our future on this earth--the only real estate we'll hold onto for awhile! But what happens to a believer after death? What about those who have died already? What are they doing now? Today and next week we will look at the experience of the death of the believer and what takes place afterwards.
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5/11/2008
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View from Death's Door - Part 2
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
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How can mortal man penetrate beyond the grave and find assurance and peace for his own heart? Philosophers won't help--they've been for centuries discussing life and death without any resolve. Scientists don't want to tread into the area of wrestling with such questions. Paul solved the problem when he wrote, "For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord." We don’t need to wonder or speculate. Why substitute human speculation when we have divine revelation?
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5/25/2008
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Rise and Shine!
1 Corinthians 15:3-4;15:20-28
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My mom used to saunter into my room to wake me up in the morning with a sweet call to "rise and shine!" One day our Savior will give a call for all His children to do the same! This week and next week we will be considering the resurrection of our bodies. Why is resurrection even necessary? What will our resurrected bodies be like? What capabilities will they possess? Will babies always be babies and the elderly always remain elderly when resurrected? As we begin, know this: the idea of resurrection isn't just a New Testament idea; it began long, long ago!
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6/1/2008
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Getting the Body You've Always Wanted
1 Corinthians 15:35-50
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I know I've gotten your attention with the title! This is one of our culture's driving goals--to look trimmer, healthier, younger and stronger than we are. The solution happens to be in the future with the resurrection of our bodies--it will be the body you've always wanted. Scripture gives some wonderful descriptions of the future strength, beauty and permanence of our resurrected body. Let's consider what the Bible says about how you'll look then.
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6/8/2008
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Jesus, Friend of Children
Matthew 19:13-15
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Today's subject is a tender one. The death of infants and children is the greatest fear of any parent. Does the Bible speak clearly about what happens when they die? It certainly does and it also gives great comfort to many who suffer the horrible loss of a little one. In this series on Eternity we must consider this subject since it affects so many and will also help us understand the fate of those who, like children, have diminished capacities.
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6/22/2008
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A Sneak-Peek Into What's Up There
Revelation 4:1-3
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In the early morning of his last day on earth, Dwight L. Moody, awoke suddenly and said, "Earth recedes; heaven opens before me." Those near him thought he was dreaming. "No, this is no dream, it is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go." After that sneak-peek of heaven, Mr. Moody entered his heavenly home. Today lets begin to consider our future home by glimpsing God’s heavenly Throne Room.
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6/29/2008
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What on Earth is Going On in Heaven?
Revelation 4-5
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The above title is more than just a play on words. Although there will be many activities going on in heaven, worship is one of the few things that we can do "down here" on earth that we will also do "up there" in heaven. That means that one of the ways you can get closer to heaven is to engage in biblical worship right now. Let's tag along with John for his extended tour of heaven.
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7/13/2008
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Gold, Silver, or Bronze?
2 Corinthians 5:9-11
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Next month, the eyes of the world will be on the Olympic Games in Beijing. Athletes from all over the world will compete, hoping to win the gold, silver or bronze medals that rank them as being some of the best on earth. This image of receiving an award from a judge on the raised platform of the Olympic Games is what Paul had in mind when he wrote about the future judgment of believers for their works on earth. Let’s see what this means.
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7/20/2008
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Heaven on Earth - Part 1
Revelation 20:1-3
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Mankind long ago gave up on the idea of a future Utopia. The idea of perpetual peace and undisturbed harmony became the stuff of fairy tale books. But that is precisely what God promised He will bring to this earth one day. And even though Satan has exercised a temporary authority over God's creation for several millennia, the story isn't over yet. Jesus Christ, who came two millennia ago as Savior, will return to rule as Sovereign for a thousand years. And no, this won't just be a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of His followers. This will be a literal dominion over a renewed earth. Let's explore this 1000 year phase of your eternal future.
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7/27/2008
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Heaven on Earth - Part 2: The Bad Guy is Bound
Revelation 20:1-3
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This world has been so tainted and marred with sin and Satanic deception that it's impossible for us to even imagine what it would be like with Him out of the way. Thankfully we have a clear description of what that will be like during the 1000 year reign of Christ in the Kingdom Age. Today we see the drama of Satan's arrest and incarceration, as the ultimate "bad guy" gets put away to make way for this future era of peace, prosperity and righteousness.
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8/10/2008
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Heaven on Earth - Part 3: When Politics are Perfect
Revelation 20:4-6
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It's the political season in our country and both sides are ramping up their platform to get as many votes as possible. The country is sharply divided on the two candidates but one thing is certain according to a recent poll: Americans consider both candidates to be risky if elected president. In Christ's Kingdom on earth, Christ will reign and all those who help Him administer will be in a glorified state, thereby minimizing any risk for shady politics. Get ready--you’re going to be part of the future political agenda of the King of Kings.
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8/17/2008
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Six Things That Will Surprise You About Heaven
Revelation 21:1-8
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I began this series talking about all the things I heard people say at funerals about the afterlife, from turning into angels when you die to having to answer Peter's questions at the gates of heaven. I have discovered that most people's (even Christians) ideas about what heaven will be like are vastly different that what Scripture reveals. We turn now to the Eternal State--after our initial experience of the Throne room of heaven, after our bodily resurrection at the Rapture, after the Millennial Reign of Christ. Here's a few things that might surprise you further:
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8/24/2008
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Future-Town - Part 1
Revelation 21:9-21
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Our English word town is related to the German word zaun (tuin in Dutch). The original idea behind the meaning referred to a space that a fence or wall would enclose. The town of the future described in this chapter, also enclosed by a wall, will be so magnificent that even John's depiction leaves us scratching our heads. This is God's revelation of the future Eternal dwelling of all believers. Let's do a walk-through today.
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9/7/2008
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Future-Town - Part 2
Revelation 21:22-22:5
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Today we will conduct a walk-through of your ultimate destination as a believer. We will walk with John as he describes what he saw as he was shown the New Jerusalem. It will be a social environment with such unique features, you'll have to bend and stretch your imagination just a bit. I will sum up this future cityscape by describing five conditions that will exist in God's Town
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9/14/2008
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Living Between Two Worlds
Philippians 1:19-26
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After studying about the believer's death, resurrection and heaven for four months now, maybe you can relate to these words by Puritan author, Thomas Watson, "Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us." Knowing what we know now about the believer's future world, how can life be different in this present world?
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There are 16 additional messages in this series.