Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
know that if this earthly tent be destroyed, it will be followed by an enduring habitation - a mansion, not a tabernacle. In the earthly body he groans, not because it is a body, but because it is flesh and blood suffering under the effects of sin, and hence he longs for the house which is from heaven." It is a heaven for body as well as soul that he so ardently desires. To be bodiless even in glory is repulsive to his nature, since it would be nakedness. Death is repugnant. The separation of soul and body, however, is only temporary; it is not for unclothing, but for a better clothing, one suited to the capacities of spirit. If the fourth verse repeats the second verse, it enlarges the idea and qualifies it by stating the reason why he would be "clothed upon," viz. "that mortality might be swallowed up of life." And this longing is no mere instinct or natural desire, but a feeling inspired of God, who "hath wrought us for the selfsame thing." A Divine preparation was going on in this provisional tabernacle - a training of the spirit for the vision of Christ and a training of the body for the immortal companionship of the spirit. An "earnest" or pledge of this was already in possession. The sufferings sanctified by the Spirit, the longing, the animation of hope, were so many proofs and tokens of awaiting blessedness. How could he be otherwise than confident? Yea; he is "always confident." Though now confined to the body, yet it is a home that admits of affections and loving fellowships; and though it necessitates absence from the Lord and the house of "many mansions," nevertheless it is a home illumined by faith. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." The home is in the midst of visible objects that exercise our sense of sight, but our Christian walk, or movement from one world to another, is not directed by the eye, but by faith, the sense of the invisible. We know what are the functions of the eye. If we did not, the antithesis would convey no meaning. The eye receives impressions from external things, communicates them to the soul, is a main organ in developing thought and feeling, acts on the imagination and the will, and is continually adding something to the contents of the inward nature. Faith is like it as a medium of reception, unlike it in all else. Faith is not conversant with appearances. We do not see Christ in his glory; we see him (using the term figuratively) in his Word by means of the Spirit; and this seeing is faith. How do we know when we have faith? It attests itself in our capacity to see the path leading to eternal glory, and it enables us to walk therein. The path is from one home to another - from the home on the footstool to the home by the throne of Christ, and faith has the reality and vigour of a home sentiment. So strong and assuring is St. Paul's confidence that he prefers to depart and be with Christ. "At home in the body;" yes, but it is a sad home at best, and trial and affliction had begun to make it dreary to him. To die is to be with the Lord, and he was "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." Whether absent or present, at home or away from home, we labour that we "may be accepted of him." To make himself and his life acceptable to Christ was paramount to every other desire; to labour was his absorbing thought. Such an energetic soul as his must have felt that its energies were immortal. There was no selfishness in his hope of heaven, no longing to be freed from work, no yearning for the luxury of mere rest. It was to be with Christ, for Christ was his heaven. If this was his confidence, if he was labouring untiringly to be acceptable to the Lord Jesus, was he understood and appreciated as Christ's apostle and servant among men? The burden of life was not the work he did, but the obstacles thrown in his way - the slanders he had to bear, the persecutions open and secret that followed him everywhere. He thinks of the "judgment seat of Christ." It will be a judicial inquiry into works done and "every one" shall "receive ['receive back'] the things done in his body." Measure for measure, whatsoever has been done here shall return to every one. The individuality of the judgment, the complete unveiling of personal character, the correspondence between the reward and the good done on earth and between the retribution and the evil done here, he brings out distinctly. This was with him a fixed habit of thought. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." How near the two worlds are - the growing field here, the harvest in another existence hereafter! But observe another idea. "We must all appear," we must be made manifest, every one shown in his true character. Not only will there be recompense as a judicial procedure, but a revelation "in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." St. Paul had vindicated himself again and again from the charges made against him; but the battle was now going on, nor was there any sign of its speedy abatement. It was natural that he should have the idea of manifestation prominent in his mind, since we all think of the future world very much according to some peculiarity in our experience on earth. How engrossed, heart and soul, in his apostleship is beautifully indicated by the fact that heaven itself was the heaven of St. Paul as the apostle of Christ. The sufferings of the man are never mentioned. First and last, we have the autobiography of an apostle, and hence, looking forward to the glory to be revealed, the supreme felicity is that he will appear in his true character as the Lord's servant. - L.
I. I AM TO OPEN TO YOU THE BEAUTY AND PROPRIETY OF THE SEVERAL METAPHORS HERE USED.
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved.1. The description which the apostle makes of the present state in which we now are.
2. His description of the future state, in which the faithful shall be hereafter.
3. The certainty of that happy state. The one habitation is certain as the other. But what certainty is there of such things, may some say? May we not abuse ourselves, if we look for that which no man ever saw? Is not this to build castles in the air? The apostle answers to such surmises, here, in my text: "We know that we have a building of God," etc. We have solid grounds for this persuasion that it amounts to a knowledge.
I. HE SAITH IT WAS A THING KNOWN; A MATTER THAT WAS DEMONSTRABLE BY PROPER ARGUMENTS. It was not a probable opinion, but an undoubted conclusion. There were sound arguments which led them to this unmovable belief. What were they?
1. For they knew that Jesus their Master, who made discovery of these things to them, had certain knowledge of them himself, and could not deceive them. He was not like to many idle persons, who draw maps of such territories as they never saw.
2. They knew likewise that this person, who could not but speak the truth, had promised to purified souls, that they should see God (Matthew 5:8). How can we behold, then, the glory of God, unless all our powers be mightily widened beyond the highest of our present conceptions.
3. Of this change they saw an instance in our Lord Himself.
4. Accordingly they knew that He did ascend up to heaven forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:10, 11).
5. For they knew withal that their very bodies should be made like unto His (John 17:24).
6. And this truly they knew, as well as anything else, that He lives for evermore, and can make good His kind intentions and gracious promises (Revelation 1:18).
7. Especially they knew by the change that He had wrought in their souls that He could easily do as much for their bodies. It was no harder for Him to give a luminous body than it was to illuminate their minds; to turn this earthly house into an heavenly than to fill the spirits of common men with the spirit and wisdom of God.
8. To conclude, they knew likewise there had been some alteration already made, upon occasion in the body of some of them, and that others also felt an higher elevation of their soul. As for the body, St. Stephen's face was seen as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6. ult.). Let us believe the testimony of men so well assured. For to think that there is no habitation for us in the heavens, because we were never there, is as foolish as if a man that had never stirred beyond the door of his cottage should imagine that all the goodly buildings he hears of at London are but so many clouds in the air, and have no real being. Let us but a little awaken our souls to look beyond this house of clay.
II. IT IS CONSIDERABLE THEN THAT THIS WAS A MATTER GENERALLY KNOWN; A THING WHEREIN THEY WERE ALL AGREED. They had a knowledge and not a mere opinion. And yet an opinion that is not private, but common, carries no small authority with it. We are all very much overawed by that which is universally received. They were all satisfied that this was the very truth of God, there was no dispute or division among them about this doctrine. It was the common faith of God's elect; the common hope of their heavenly calling, and, in one word, the common salvation (Titus 1:1, 2, 4; Ephesians 4:4; Jude 1:3). It was not the belief of St. Paul alone. This shows that they had no superficial thoughts of the life to come, but that they were exceeding serious in the belief of it.
III. They knew these things so clearly that THEY MADE THEM THE AIM TO WHICH THEY DIRECTED ALL THEIR DESIRES AND ENDEAVOURS. This particle "for" sends our thoughts back to the words before, and gives us an account of that character which we there find of the Apostles of our Lord, who "looked not at the things which were seen, but at the things which were not seen." They were so persuaded of this happy state hereafter that it was always in their eye. They slighted and trod upon all other things in compare with this, A great token of the sincerity of their belief; for otherwise they would not have been so foolish and unthrifty as not to have made some present temporal benefit of that great knowledge and power wherewith they were endowed.
IV. But more than this; they were so sure of this building of God in the heavens THAT THEY ENDURED ALL SORTS OF MISERIES AND PAINS IN THIS LIFE MERELY IN EXPECTATION OF IT.
V. THEY WERE SO SURE OF THIS THAT IT SEEMED TO THEM AS IF THEY HAD THIS HOUSE NOT MADE WITH HANDS IN PRESENT POSSESSION. They speak as men that belong to two countries, and have estates in this and in another kingdom. Such men say, "We have a building." Though they cannot dwell in both their houses at once, yet they call them both theirs. They had a right and title to it. They had good deeds and evidences to show for it, which proved that it was settled on them by the will and testament of Jesus Christ their Lord and Master, to which they had the witness of the Spirit in their hearts. They might challenge it as their own, and lay hold on eternal life, which words instruct us that we must work in this earthly house wherein we dwell. We are in a place of labour and not of idleness and sport.
II. I AM NOW TO SHOW YOU THE FORCE OF THE APOSTLE'S ARGUMENT THAT THE ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL GLORY IS THE BEST SUPPORT UNDER ALL TEMPORAL CALAMITIES. For this reason we faint not, for we know that if this earthly house of our tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
1. This assures the soul that all the afflictions of this mortal life are but light and transient, and when longest and heaviest, if once compared with that eternal weight of glory which succeeds them are as nothing.
2. During the present short space of suffering this assured hope of a blessed immortality revives and entertains the soul with the most delightful views of it.
3. This assurance contributes further to the support of the afflicted mind as it disposes it to a meek and quiet resignation to the will of God.
III. TO MAKE SOME GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE DOCTRINE OF ASSURANCE, WHICH IS FOUNDED ON THE WORDS OF THE TEXT.
1. I observe that an assurance of heaven is attainable in this life.
2. I would observe that it is not easily nor suddenly to be attained. It requires much labour, self-denial, and vigilance.
3. I would further observe that there is no small danger of mistaking in this matter. Mention some of those sources from which false assurance arises.(1) It is often the effect of wrong notions in religion, such as the Jews had, who must needs think themselves the favourites of heaven, because they were the children of Abraham.(2) A too sanguine and confident temper of mind often betrays men into these false hopes.(3) This false assurance often flows from gross ignorance, even when there is little or no bigotry or superstition in the case. Because, perhaps, they have done nobody any harm, and never committed those open immoralities which they see others to be guilty of.(4) Some suddenly attain good hopes of themselves through mere indolence and aversion to thought. They hope, but they do not know why, and are fully persuaded of they know not what.(5) That even infidelity is sometimes the means of inspiring men with false and confident hopes as to their future state. So that hence it appears that it is an easy thing to be mistaken in this matter.
4. I would observe that though this false assurance be very common it is very dangerous, and if continued in, of irreparable detriment. It is a dreadful thing to go down into the grave with a lie in the right hand.
5. We cannot be too careful in determining a matter which is in its consequences of so vast importance.
IV. TO SHOW IN WHAT MANNER WE ARE TO PROCEED IN THIS AFFAIR, OR HOW A RIGHT ASSURANCE OF FUTURE HAPPINESS MAY BE ATTAINED.
1. In order to a well-grounded assurance of future happiness there must be a well informed conscience and a good understanding in the right way to salvation. In order therefore to a well-established hope of heaven there must be a right knowledge of the nature of that happiness which is to be there enjoyed, the proper qualifications for it, and how those qualifications are to be attained.
2. In order to establish our hopes of future bliss there must be a sincere renunciation and departing from all known sins, those that are more secret as well as those which are more open to the eye of the world.
3. To this must be joined the love and practice of universal righteousness, or a sincere and humble obedience to all the precepts of the gospel.
4. To attain unwavering hopes of immortal glory there must be a large and particular experience of the power of religion in the government of our passions and propensions. This goes a great way to establish our hopes.
5. To all this must be joined a lively and active faith.I shall now conclude all with two or three brief reflections.
1. Let it be well remembered that there may be a good and comfortable hope of heaven without a full assurance of it.
2. Let those who are of a more sanguine and confident temper learn hence to guard against a spirit of delusion.
3. Let us all then be persuaded to labour after it in the way now prescribed.
(J. Mason, A. M.)
Homilist.I. THE GOOD MAN'S PRESENT HOUSE. The mind occupies the body. We "dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust."
1. This house is earthly.(1) From the body returning to the earth, we see that it is composed of the same material.(2) It draws our spirit down to sublunary objects.
2. Movable. A tent can be easily taken down.
3. Decaying. The term "dissolve" means properly to dis-unite the parts of anything.
4. Exposed. It is situated in a locality where it is liable to the ravages of time and rough usage.
5. Inconvenient (ver. 2). How much of our attention it requires in order to ensure its preservation! It needs daily cleansing, repairs, and protection. Often is it giving us extreme anxiety, putting us to considerable expense, or causing us severe pain.
6. Inferior. Paul desired a better, i.e., a suitable habitation. He longed for the period when his vile body should be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body.
II. THE GOOD MAN'S FUTURE HOUSE. The redeemed soul's final domicile wilt be the clay tenement in its changed and beautified condition (1 Corinthians 15.). This will be —
1. Superhuman. "A building of God, a house not made with hands." Jehovah will be the architect of this future abode. Though built by the Almighty, the Christian's present house decays as if it had been the work of some poor mortal. The latter, framed thoroughly by the Highest, will be more in harmony with the unchangeableness and excellence of our adorable Maker.
2. Eternal. The body the believer shall ultimately have will never be taken down by death.
3. Unexposed. Its site is to be "in the heavens." There will be nothing to weaken it or mar its beauty.
4. Attractive. Hence the godly in every age have, like the apostle, longed to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
5. One for which the saint is prepared (ver. 5). Every one that wishes to possess the building of God, must be meetened for it.
6. Assured (ver. 5). God sends forth the Holy Ghost to witness with the believer's spirit that he shall finally have the better body. Conclusion, have you such a house in prospect?
(Homilist.)I. THE BODY IS ONLY THE HOUSE OF THE SOUL. Note —
1. What kind of a house?(1) It is only a lodging-house: The soul is not sent to dwell in it, but to sojourn in it, while on the way to another world. "We are strangers and sojourners, as all our fathers were."(2) It is a weak house. The soul in the body is not lodged as in a tower or castle.(3) It is a house that is daily in danger.(a) It is in danger from without. There are storms to blow it down, and a very small blast will sometimes do it.(b) It is in danger from within. There are disorders to undermine the house. The seeds of diseases, when we know not, are digging like moles under the mud walls, and soon destroy the house.(4) It is a dark house. How many dangers come to the house from without which are never perceived by the eyes till they arrive.
2. The peculiarities of this house.(1) It is a curious house of brittle materials.(a) The body is a stupendous piece of workmanship, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." The very outworks of the house are admirable. Observe the wisdom of God in that beauty and majesty that are in the face, in the faculty of speech, etc. How God has put the eyes and the ears in the head as in their watch tower, that they may the better serve for seeing and hearing. Two arms to defend ourselves. These are the guardians of the house. Nay, there is not a hair, nor nail in the body, but has its use. But what is all this to the curiosity within?(b) But the more curious, the more easily marred. The greatest beauty is soonest tarnished. So we are exposed to the greatest danger by a small touch.(2) It is a house that needs reparation daily. Your meanest houses, once right, need nothing for a year. But this earthly house needs reparation daily. Hence eating and drinking are necessary, the house must be patched up with more mud daily. And some are so taken up with repairing the body that all the day they do nothing else.
3. Uses from this doctrine.(1) Prize your souls above your bodies, as you do the inhabitant above the house.(2) Make not your body a war house against heaven.(3) Take care of the house for the sake of its inhabitant.(4) Never ruin the inhabitant for the house.(5) Beware of defiling the house, seeing it has such a noble lodger.(6) Take heed to the door of the house. Let it be duly shut and be discreetly opened. Open your mouth with wisdom.(7) Take heed to the windows of the house. The soul got its death-wound at first by the eyes.(8) Provide in time for a better house. You must depart from this.
II. MAN'S BODY IS A TABERNACLE OR TENT FOR HIS SOUL, Paul was a tent-maker, and he takes a lesson of his frailty from what was among his hands, teaching us to do the same. It is so-called —
1. Because it is easily taken down. Whatever force may be necessary to pull down a house, it is easy to pull down a tent.
2. A tent is a movable house, one that is carried from place to place. So while we are in the body, we are not come to the place of our rest or settled habitation.
3. Tents, though mean without, may be precious within. However mean outwardly the body be, it has a precious soul within, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, capable of enjoying God for ever.
4. Uses of this doctrine.(1) We need not wonder at sudden death. It has often been seen that a tent has fallen down when not a hand touched it.(2) Let us lay our accounts with hardships while we are in the body. They that dwell in tents do not expect the ease and conveniences which a house affords. The ease is coming in the building of God.(3) Let us live like pilgrims and strangers who are quickly to remove.(4) Let us be preparing for an abiding mansion, and be careful to secure our title to it.
III. THE EARTHLY HOUSE OF THE TABERNACLE OF OUR BODY WELL BE DISSOLVED BY DEATH.
1. In what respects is death a dissolution?(1) Death dissolves the union betwixt soul and body.(2) Death dissolves the body itself.(3) Death dissolves —(a) The vital flame that kept the body in life.(b) The communion betwixt the parts of the body. No more blood flows from the heart. No more spirits from the brain. Then all falls down together. The eyes see no more, and the ears hear no more.(c) The joints and bands with which the body was united. In the grave the strongest arms fall from the shoulder blade, and every bone lies by itself.(d) The most minute particles of the body, and though the bones last longer, yet they also moulder into dust at length.
2. This body shall be dissolved.(1) There is an unalterable statute of death under which men are concluded. "It is appointed unto men once to die."(2) Daily observation tells us we must die.(3) All men consist of perishing materials. "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return."(4) We have sinful souls, therefore dying bodies. The leprosy is in the wall of the house, therefore it must be pulled down.(5) We are hasting to a dissolution. "Our days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle. They are passed as the swift ships, as the eagle that hasteth to the prey."
IV. WHEN THE TABERNACLE OF THE SAINTS' BODY IS DISSOLVED BY DEATH THEY HAVE A HOUSE OF GLORY IN HEAVEN READY FOR THEM.
1. It is a dwelling house, not a house in which to lodge, but to abide.
2. It is a royal house, a palace. "They shall enter into the king's palace." Christ calls His saints to a kingdom, and their house is suitable to their dignity.
3. It is a holy house, a temple.
4. It is a heavenly house.(1) It is situated in the better country, blessed with a perpetual spring, which yieldeth all things for necessity, conveniency, and delight. That land enjoys an everlasting day, "for there shall be no night there." An eternal sunshine beautifies it.(2) As for the city, this house stands "in that great city, the holy Jerusalem," a city which shall flourish when all the cities below are in ashes. A city that never changeth its inhabitants. Blessed with perfect peace, nothing from any quarter can ever annoy it.
5. It is a father's house.
6. It is a spacious house. This clay body is a narrow house, where the soul is caged up for a time. But that house hath many mansions.
7. It is a most convenient house. Every saint shall find his own mansion prepared and furnished with every conveniency for him. O believer, art thou in poverty and straits? There is an incorruptible treasure in that house. Are you groaning under the tyranny of sin? There you shall walk in the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
8. It is a safe house. The gates "are not shut at all by day," for there is no danger there. No unclean thing can enter it.
9. It is a glorious house.(1) The visible heavens are but the porch of the seat of the blessed.(2) It is the house in which the King's son is to dwell with the bride for ever.(3) It was purchased at a vast expense, even the blood of the Son of God.(4) The indispensable necessity for washing and purifying, to fit persons for dwelling in the house, shows it to be glorious.
10. It is all everlasting house. It is eternal in the heavens.Conclusion —
1. Behold and admire the happiness of the saints.
2. Seek a house now into which you may be received when your earthly house is dissolved.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
I. THE CATASTROPHE WHICH PAUL SAW TO BE VERY POSSIBLE. "If our earthly house," etc. He did not fear that he himself would be dissolved. He does not say, "If I were to be destroyed." The "we" is all unharmed and unmoved. Many people are in a great fright about the future; but Paul regards the worst thing that could happen to him as nothing worse than the pulling down of a tent.
1. The apostle perceived that the body he lived in was frail in itself. Most likely he had a tent or two to repair lying near which suggested the language of the text. A tent is but a frail structure, and Paul felt that no great force would be required to overthrow it; it was like the tent which the Midianite saw in his dream, which only needed to be struck by a barley cake, and, lo! it lay along. A house of solid masonry needs a crowbar and a pick to start its stones.
2. Paul had many signs about him that his body would be dissolved. His many labours were telling upon him, and so were the cold, hunger, nakedness, and sickness he endured, and, besides, his tent might come down any day through the violence of his persecutors. Once he most touchingly spoke of himself as "such an one as Paul the Aged," and aged men cannot get away from the consciousness that their body is failing. Certain crumbling portions warn the old man that the house is dilapidated; the thatch which has grown thin or blanched tells its tale.
3. Paul knew that so many others whom he had known and loved had already died, and he gathered from this that he would himself die. Our crowded cemeteries supply ten thousand arguments why each of us must expect to die in due time. Now this was all that Paul expected on the sad side, and truly it is not much. Certain Swiss peasants were feeding their flocks when they heard a rumbling up in the lofty Alps, and knew what it meant. In a brief space their fears were realised, for a tremendous mass of snow came rushing from above. What did it destroy? Only their old, crazy chalets. Every man was safe; the event was rather to them a matter which caused a Te Deum to be sung in the village church below than a subject for mourning. So the avalanche of death will fall, but it will only dissolve your earthly house. To-day we are like birds in the egg; death breaks the shell. Does the fledgling lament the dissolution of the shell?
II. THE PROVISION OF WHICH THE APOSTLE MOST SURELY KNEW. He knew that if his tent-dwelling was overthrown he would not be without a home. He did not expect to be in purgatory for the next thousand years, and then to leap from purgatory to Paradise. He had not even the thought of lying unconscious till the resurrection. He says not "we shall have" but "we have."
1. What did the apostle mean?(1) That the moment his soul left its body it would at once enter into that house of which Jesus spoke in John 14:2. Do you want to know about that house? Bead the Book of the Revelation and learn of its gates of pearl, etc. If after that you desire to know more take the advice given by John Bunyan, who bade his friend live a godly life, and go to heaven, and see for himself.(2) That in the fulness of time he would again be clothed upon with a body. At this present in this body we groan being burdened. We are "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
2. How Paul could say he knew this. This enlightened century has produced an order of wise men who glory in their ignorance. How odd that a man should be proud of being an ignoramus, and yet that is the Latin for the Greek "Agnostic." How different is our apostle! He says, "we know." Whence came this confidence?(1) Paul knew that he had a Father, for he felt the spirit of sonship; he knew also that his Father had a house, and he was certain that if he lost the tent in which he lived he would be welcomed into his Father's house above. How do our children know that they can come home to us? Did they learn that at school? No, but by their children's instinct, just as chickens run under the mother-hen without needing to be trained.(2) He knew that he had an elder brother, and that this brother had gone before to see to the lodging of the younger brethren (John 14:2).(3) He thought of the Holy Ghost, who condescends to dwell in these mortal bodies, and, therefore, when we leave our earthly house He will leave it too, and as He has been our guest, in His turn He will be our host.(4) He knew that when he died there was a Paradise prepared, for he had been there already (chap. 2 Corinthians 12.). Remember that this is the place to which the. Lord Jesus admitted the dying thief, "To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise."(5) He knew that when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved there would be a new body for him, because Christ had risen from the dead. If Jesus be alive and in a place of rest He will never leave His own without house or home. There is such an attachment between Christ and the believer; yea, more, such a vital, indissoluble marriage union that separation is impossible.
III. THE VALUE OF THIS KNOWLEDGE TO US. Secularists twit us with taking men's minds away from the practical present that they may dream over a fancied future. We answer that the best help to live for the present is to live in prospect of the eternal future. Paul's confident belief —
1. Kept him from fainting.
2. Made his present trials seem very light, for he felt like a man who sojourns for a night at a poor inn, but puts up with it gladly because he hopes to be home on the morrow.
3. Transformed death from a demon into an angel; it was but the removal of a tottering tent that he might enter into a permanent palace.
4. Made him always calm and brave. Why should he be afraid of a man that could not do him harm? Even if his persecutor killed him he would do him a service.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. WE HAVE THE VIEWS WHICH CHRISTIANITY TEACHES US TO TAKE OF LIFE.
1. The first view which it gives us, suggested by the text, is that life is a pilgrimage. The text speaks of "tabernacles," tents; we are dwelling in tents.
2. A second view of life, in the text, is, that it is uncertain.
3. The third view which the apostle takes of life is that, even as to believers, it is a life of trouble and affliction. "We in this tabernacle do groan."
4. But there is a fourth view of life of which the apostle takes, at least in the verses which immediately succeed the text. He teaches us that life is to be subordinated to one great end, so to please God as to have the testimony that we are accepted of Him. The highest heaven of a good man is to be accepted of God. Such are the views which Christianity teaches us to take of life.
II. WE HAVE THE VIEWS WHICH CHRISTIANITY TEACHES US TO FORM OF DEATH. Meditate on that word, "unclothed!" Death, then, is not the termination of our being. "Unclothed!" Then there is no cessation of consciousness. "Unclothed!" Then, of course, everything in the body which obstructs the operation of the mind must necessarily be removed. "Unclothed!" Then there is a change of place as well as condition. The connection of our spirits with the body renders us inhabitants of the earth. "Unclothed!" Then must we become conscious, by virtue of this unclothing, of the presence of those spirits who have undergone the same process before us, and have been unclothed like ourselves. We are not now at all conscious of the presence of disembodied spirits; they are, for the while, lost to us. "Unclothed!" but the import of this word is not yet exhausted; then must we become conscious at once, in a manner we cannot be on earth, of the presence of God. The body hides God from us, and prevents the immediate recognition of God by the spirit.
III. WE HAVE HERE THE VIEWS WHICH CHRISTIANITY TEACHES US TO FORM OF THE FUTURE PERMANENT STATE OF BELIEVERS.
(J. Walker, D. D.)I. THE BELIEVER'S PRESENT STATE.
1. Temporary. To impress this the apostle compares the body to a house, composed of earthly materials, which must soon return again to its original element. The damps Of infirmity and waters of affliction soon undermine the frail tenement. The figure of a house, however, is too stable a metaphor. Hence the body is called a mere tabernacle (Nehemiah 8.).
2. Afflictive (ver. 2). Shall we illustrate it by an humble cottage buried in snow, whose inmates groan for deliverance? Or shall we take the fact that the atmosphere presses with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of surface? The tabernacle is oppressed, the weight is great, no man can remove it, or make his escape but with the loss of life itself. Though death cannot crush at once, he makes us feel his pressure. Ultimately it must succeed, but as the silver rises in the barometer by the pressure of the air, so the weight of affliction causes the believing soul to rise towards God.
3. A state of earnest longing and ardent hope — "In this we groan, earnestly desiring." Grief is vocal, and from the heart soon finds its way to the lips. To .groan, when oppressed, is natural, to desire heaven is supernatural. Here the believer stands distinguished from the vast masses of the creation which groaneth and travaileth in pain. It is a maxim among moralists that no man can desire evil for its own sake, which is just the sentiment of the apostle. We cannot desire death for its own sake; we cannot wish to be left naked, houseless, by the dissolution of the present tabernacle; but such are the happiness and glory found in the house not made with hands that we desire to exchange habitations.
4. One of certain knowledge, and Divine assurance of future glory (ver. 1). But whence does this knowledge arise? Not by intuition. The mind possesses a capability of knowing it, but nothing more. Not from the senses, for its subject is altogether supersensual. The Divine testimony of revealed truth is the foundation, the Holy Ghost is the great agent, and faith the appointed instrument of this knowledge.
II. HIS INTERMEDIATE STATE.
1. It is a state of simple abstract being. The apostle speaks of no new house, tabernacle, or clothing; but of a complete divestment of all, in being "naked" and "unclothed." He speaks of the understanding, conscience, memory, imagination, will, and affections being laid naked and open before God, and the whole invisible world, while all the inhabitants thereof are equally laid open to the view of the soul when divested of mortality.
2. It is a state of conscious existence. Is it possible that insensibility can reign in the direct presence of Christ, who is the life and fountain of all knowledge and happiness? Was not Abraham conscious in Paradise when he replied to the rich man?
3. It is a state in which trial and probation are ended. An impassable gulf was fixed between good and bad spirits, according to the testimony of Abraham, as recorded by Luke.
4. It is a state of imperfection in relation to knowledge, the corporeal powers, and the manifestation of future glory.
III. HIS FINAL AND ETERNAL STATE. What is the house not made with hands? Is it material covering or vehicle into which the soul enters on its departure from the body? This notion was entertained by Plato and his followers, but stands opposed to our text, which speaks of the soul "being naked and unclothed." Besides, if a material covering be meant, the apostle says it must be eternal. It would therefore exclude the resurrection of the body. Neither can the house not made with hands mean the ethereal heavens, including sun, moon, and stars, they as well as the earthly house, pass away. The "heavens," therefore, must mean the abode of God — the glorious city of the New Jerusalem. But mark that the "house" is not said to be the heavens, but a fabric in the heavens — viz., the resurrection body. We are now prepared to observe that the final and eternal state of the believer will be a state of —
1. Restitution. If we have lost by the sin and apostasy of the first Adam, we gain more by the death, resurrection, reign, and faithfulness of Jesus, the second Adam.
2. A state of reward.
3. A state of pure unmixed life. "Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."
(D. McAfee.)I. ALL THINGS SUBLUNARY ARE CHANGEABLE.
1. God has condemned this world to dissolution (Hebrews 1:10, 11). The individual house or tabernacle must be dissolved. Our fathers, where are they? "It is appointed for man once to die." Neither wealth, temperance, nor medicine can protect the frail tabernacle from dissolution.
2. All our enjoyments are liable to the same change. They stand on two insecure legs, insufficiency and uncertainty.
3. It never was God's design that this clay tabernacle should stand for ever. What a mercy it is for Christians that they are mortal (John 17:24).
II. HEAVENLY THINGS ARE PERMANENT AND ETERNAL.
1. The building itself is eternal; the leprosy of sin has never affected its walls; no curse hangs over the New Jerusalem. Adam was expelled from Paradise, and the Jews were expelled from an earthly Canaan; but the redeemed shall never be expelled from heaven. "I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out."
2. The perfections of heaven are eternal also, entire exemption from all sin. What does the proud man think of this? Is it a blessing to be humble? What does the covetous man think of this? Is it a blessing to be delivered from the bondage of a greedy disposition? Good men, in proportion to their being good men, love that heaven because there is no pride, envy, malignity, temptation.
III. THE CHRISTIAN DUTY OF EARNESTLY DESIRING THE HEAVENLY STATE.
1. A calm and settled conviction of its existence. "We know!"
2. A deep sense of our need of it (ver. 2).
3. The exercise of walking in the road that leads to it.Conclusion —
1. We must all die, our tents must be struck soon. The man who loves this world will not be pleased at this conclusion, but the Christian man will be delighted at it.
2. The believers' best days are yet to come. There is an eternal house which the Saviour has gone to prepare.
(A. Waugh, D. D.)I. SO MY TEXT MAINLY SETS BEFORE US VERY STRIKINGLY THE CHRISTIAN CERTITUDE AS TO THE FINAL FUTURE. The dear, broad distinction between me and my physical frame. There is no more connection, says Paul, between us and the organisation in which we at present dwell than there is between a man and the house that he inhabits. The foolish senses crown Death and call him Lord; but the Christian's certitude firmly draws the line, and declares that the man, the whole personality, is undisturbed by anything that befalls his residence; and that he may pass unimpaired from one to another, being in both the self-same person. Then, again, note, as part of the elements of this Christian certitude, the blessed thought that a body is part of the perfection of manhood. No mere dim, ghostly future, where consciousness somehow persists, without environment or tools to act upon an outer world. To dwell naked, as the apostle says in the context, is a thing from which .man shudderingly recoils, and it is not to be his final fate. And now, if we turn to the characteristics of the two conditions with which my text deals, we get some familiar yet great and strengthening thoughts. The "earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved," or, more correctly, retaining the metaphor of the house, is to be pulled down, and in its place there comes a building of God, "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." The first outstanding difference which arises before the apostle is the contrast between the fragile dwelling-place, with its thin canvas, its bending poles, its certain removal some day, and the permanence of that which is not a "tent," but a "building," which is "eternal." Involved in that is the thought that all the limitations and weaknesses which are necessarily associated with the perishableness of the present abode are at an end for ever. No more fatigue, no more working beyond the measure of power, no more need for recuperation. And the other contrast is no less glorious and wonderful. "The earthly house of this tent" does not merely define the composition, but also the whole relations and capacities of that to which it refers. The '"tent" is "earthly," not merely because, to use a kindred metaphor, it is a "building of clay," but because, by all its capacities, it belongs to, corresponds with, and is fitted only for, this lower order of things, the seen and the perishable. And, on the other hand, the "mansion" is in "the heavens," even whilst the future tenant is a nomad in his tent. That is so, because the power which can create that future abode is "in the heavens." It is so in order to express the absolute security in which it is kept for those who shall one day enter upon it. And it is so, further, to express the order of things with which it brings its dwellers into contact. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption." Let no man say that such ideas of a possible future bodily frame are altogether inconsistent with all that we know of the)imitations and characteristics of what we call matter. "There is one flesh of beasts and another of birds," says Paul. Do you know so fully all the possibilities of creation as that you are warranted in asserting that such a thing as a body which is the fit organ of the spirit, and is incorruptible, like the heavens in which it dwells, is an impossibility? The teaching of my text and its context casts great light on what the resurrection of the dead means. We have heard grand platitudes about "the scattered dust being gathered from the four winds of heaven," and so on; but the teaching of my text is that resurrection does not mean the assuming again of the body that is left behind and done with, but the reinvestiture of the man with another body. It is a house "in the heavens." We leave "the tent"; we enter the "building." There is nothing here of some germ of immortality being somehow extricated from the ruins, and fostered into glorious growth. Or, to take another metaphor of the context, we strip off the garment and are naked, and then we are clothed with another garment and are not found naked. The resurrection of the dead is the clothing of the spirit with the house which is from heaven. And there is as much difference between the two habitations as there is between the grim, solid architecture of northern peoples, amidst snow and ice — needed to resist the blasts, and to keep the life within in an ungenial climate — and the light, graceful dwellings of those who walk in an atmosphere of perpetual sunshine in the tropics. Therefore let us, whilst we grope in the dark here, and live in a narrow hovel in a back street, look forward to the time when we shall dwell on the sunny heights in the great pavilion which God prepares for them that love Him.
II. And now note again HOW WE COME TO THIS CERTITUDE. My text is very significantly followed by a "for," which gives the reason of the knowledge in a very remarkable manner. "We know... for in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven." Now that singular collocation of ideas may be set forth thus — whatever longing there is in a Christian, God-inspired soul, that longing is a prophecy of its own fulfilment. We know that there is a house, because of the yearning, which is deepest and strongest when we are nearest God. "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Of course such longing, such aspiration and revulsion are no proofs of a fact except there be some fact which changes them from mere vague desires, and makes these solid certainties. And such a fact we have in that which is the only proof that the world has received, of the persistence of life through death, and the continuance of personal identity unchanged by the grave, and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And let no man take exception to the apostle's word here, "we know," or tell us that "Knowledge is of the things we see." That is true and not true. It is true in regard of what arrogates to itself the name of science. If it is meant to assert that we are less sure of the love of God, of immortality than we are of the existence of this piece of wood, or that flame of gas; then I humbly venture to say that there is another region of facts than those which are appreciable by sense; that the evidence upon which we rest our certitude of immortal blessedness is quite as valid as anything that can be produced, in the nature of evidence, for the things around us.
III. Lastly, note WHAT THIS CERTITUDE DOES. The apostle tells us, by the "for" which lies at the beginning of my text, and makes it a reason for something that has preceded. And what has preceded is this, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." That is to say, such a joyous, calm certitude draws men's thoughts away from this shabby and transitory present, and fixes them on the solemn majesties of that eternal future. Yes! and nothing else will. And we shall not let our thoughts willingly go out thither unless our own personal well-being there is very sure to us. And such a certitude will also make a man willing to accept the else unwelcome necessity of leaving the tent, and for awhile doing without the mansion.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Essex Congregational Remembrancer.Note —
I. THE APPROPRIATE DESCRIPTION GIVEN US OF THE HUMAN BODY — "the earthly house of this tabernacle." Notice
1. Its material origin. It is "earthly." How mysterious and complicated soever may be the machinery of the human frame, it is, after all, a composition of earthly materials.
2. Its use. It is a "house." Every house is built by some man, but He that built this house is God.
3. Its temporary existence.
4. Its ultimate dissolution.
II. THE ASSURANCE THE APOSTLE INDULGED.
1. It is a building of God.(1) God the Father is the efficient cause or architect of this building. Abraham "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."(2) The procuring and meritorious cause of this building is Jesus the Mediator. "I go to prepare a place for you."(3) It is a building worthy of God.
2. It is permanent, "eternal in the heavens." All other buildings are weak and precarious. "In Thy presence is fulness of joy, at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
3. Where this building is situated. "In the heavens." The inspired writers invariably speak of it as a place of ineffable blessedness and unspeakable glory. If permitted to arrive there, we shall be ready to exclaim, as the Queen of Sheba did when she beheld Solomon's wisdom and prosperity, "Behold the half was not told me."
III. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH THIS ASSURANCE RESTED.
1. The testimony of God's word (2 Corinthians 4:13).
2. The consciousness which he himself had of being the subject of Divine grace (ver. 5).Conclusion — Let us learn from this subject —
1. To be habitually entertaining thoughts about death and another world.
2. The unspeakable value of the gospel. "Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel."
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
(W. L. Watkinson.)
I. IT WILL BE BETTER THAN THE PRESENT.
1. It will be directly Divine. "A building of God." The present body is from God, but it comes from Him through secondary instrumentalities. The future body will come direct, it will not be transmitted from sire to son.
2. It will be fitted for a higher sphere — "In the heavens." The present body is fitted for the earthly sphere.
3. It will be more enduring, "eternal."
4. It will be more enjoyable.
II. HE IS NOW BEING DIVINELY FITTED FOR THE BETTER BODY OF THE FUTURE (ver. 5).
(D. Thomas, D. D.)Mark 9:3: "As no fuller on earth can white them." Then there is something above art as certainly as there is something above manufactures? Now ask the fuller to look at his work, and at this work on Tabor. Fuller, didst thou wash this robe on Tabor? No, no. Why not? Why, it was washed with lightning, it was cleansed in heaven, it was dipped in the fountains of eternity. No fuller on earth can white like that. So be it. "Not made with hands." Manufactures? No. "No fuller on earth can white them." The arts? No. What is left then? Nature. Is that so? Be careful. Admissions will be turned against us presently. So this brings us to a third remarkable expression (Acts 26:13), "Above the brightness of the sun." Then nature goes. What radiance is this? We thought the sun was bright. We used to say of that old glory, "He puts the fire out." He blinds our little lamps.
1. Now this is exactly so with regard, for example, to character, saintly, holy, beauteous, inspired character. It is of a whiteness such as no fuller on earth can make it. Why, there be many fullers who are trying to whiten the world; rare fullers, costly fullers, energetic, fussy, busy fullers, but they get no further on. They are moralists, they lecture upon moral philosophy. There be many whitening fullers, persons who say that on such and such conditions they will renovate you. They will make new men of you if you will sign a vow, undergo a discipline, subject yourselves to certain scheduled operations, each coming in its own proper time, then at the end all will be well. Oh, poor fuller! What doth this great Christ do? He washes us in blood, and when we stand up from that catharism, the Fuller says, "No fuller on earth can white it like that." If you despise a saint, you have never seen one. A saint is holy. Why, He would not have any fuller on earth touch our souls. He only who made the soul can touch it, redeem it and work that wondrous miracle of washing white by cleansing with blood. Your character is not what it is on the outside. Your character is the quality of your soul, your motive, your purpose, your innermost self, and no fuller on earth can put that through any process of cleansing. "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."
2. It is the same with inspiration. It is not made with hands. What have I seen you do again and again? Have I not seen you searching for inspiration as if it were in black ink and in printer's letters? Yes, I have. We must get away if we can from these people to whom everything is valuable in proportion as it is handmade. Why, the literalist never read the Bible. It was only when he left his literalism and began to touch the higherisms that want names, found in heaven, rightly to express their intent, that he came upon revelation. He said, "This book told me all that ever I did, then it must be inspired." It is not made with hands.
3. And so with Divine hope. It is a light above the brightness of the sun. It is Christ's hope. He did not stop at the Cross. He endured the Cross, despising the shame. Why? Because onward, far away on the horizon line there lay a light that meant immortality and glory inevitable. And what is the practical application of this? It needs but few words to express it. We must go from the things made with hands to the things hands cannot touch. Here are the lilies, Christ says. "We have seen the lilies, we have touched the lilies." "Have you?" "Yes." Then consider them. "Why?" Because your Father in heaven clothed them and made Solomon ashamed of himself in all his pomp, and if He clothed the lilies He will not leave you naked. And we must live the supernatural life. That is the hard part of it. "Not made with hands." "No fuller on earth can white like this." Sun, there is a light above thee. Until we get to these conceptions and exactions we shall be living a very poor life. I am tired of houses made with hands. I have seen it all. Yes, I am tired of this fuller's work. It becomes dingy and poor in my eyes, And I get tired of nature. There is no monotony like the monotony of sunshine.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Links2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV
2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT
2 Corinthians 5:1 ESV
2 Corinthians 5:1 NASB
2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV
2 Corinthians 5:1 Bible Apps
2 Corinthians 5:1 Parallel
2 Corinthians 5:1 Biblia Paralela
2 Corinthians 5:1 Chinese Bible
2 Corinthians 5:1 French Bible
2 Corinthians 5:1 German Bible
2 Corinthians 5:1 Commentaries