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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:An Eternal House in Heaven
Text:2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation
 
Preached:02/04/2018
Added:2019-01-22
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


An Eternal House in Heaven”
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
 
When I was six years old my family lived in Germany while my father did research at the University of Giessen on listeria monocytogenes. I didn’t know much German and there were no English schools. I had a bicycle and my parents, perhaps feeling sorry for me, allowed me to skip school and ride my bicycle for most of the day.
 
I was fascinated by the German countryside. Rural Germany was still rebuilding after World War II. Carts were pulled by oxen, horses still plowed in the fields, and ladies were in fields working. But above all, in the distance, high on the crest of the hills, I could see castles. They were magnificent! Through the eyes of a truant first grader, nothing could be more impressive than a castle on a hill in Germany.
 
Yet the greatest earthly castles cannot begin to compare to the eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands which verse 1 tells us we who believe in Jesus will receive. What makes that eternal house which believers are promised so special? What makes it so unique from mansions here on earth?
 
Designed by the Only Perfect Architect
 
In verse 1 we are told that it is a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. In other words, it is designed by the ultimate Architect, an Architect who knows exactly how to design a house to make it perfect for those who will live in it. Have you ever gone into a house, maybe a very nice house, almost a mansion perhaps, yet noticed that there were flaws in the design? Maybe the kitchen wasn’t just right, or the door to the bedroom or living room could be placed in a more convenient way.
 
Those little quirks, those after thoughts and regrets, will never come to those who have an eternal home in heaven. - For that eternal home has been planned by the ultimate Architect, God Himself. Hebrews 11 describes how Abraham was looking forward to his eternal home. Hebrews 11:10 says, for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
 
One whole chapter of the Bible, Revelation 21, describes with symbolic language the great care and detail that God, as the Architect, has put into the plans for our eternal home.
 
The Perfect Carpenter
 
Not only is our heavenly home designed by the only perfect architect, but it is built by the only perfect carpenter. Many years ago, friends of ours built their “dream home.” They built on a nice plot of ground, with five acres of land. They hired the best architect they knew, though, as they were to find out later, he wasn’t perfect. There were design flaws.
 
But the real problem they had was with the builders. The builders didn’t stick to their schedule; their materials were of low quality at times, as was their workmanship. Our friends were greatly concerned with the builders of their dream house. But that will ever happen with your eternal home. Not only is the architect, God the Father, perfect but so is the carpenter doing the work, Jesus the Son.
 
In John 14 Jesus makes this remarkable statement: “In my Father’s house are many rooms – (the KJV, “many mansions”). If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
 
Jesus, is not only our Savior from sin, not only the Lord of our life, but also a carpenter here below, and a mansion maker in heaven. Even now, He is preparing that perfect place for those who believe in Him.
 
An Eternal Guarantee
 
This eternal house, perfectly designed and built, is also protected with an eternal guarantee. Verse 5 assures us, Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
 
When our neighbors sold their house many years ago they sold it with a homeowner’s guarantee. After all, they had put on a new roof. The compressor for the central air had been replaced. And the furnace, electrical circuits and wires were all in good shape, so why not sell it with a guarantee?
 
The house sold quite quickly, but that was years ago. That guarantee is meaningless now. If the roof leaks, the furnace fails, or the air compressor seizes, it’s the responsibility of the new owners. But problems like that will never happen in our eternal home in heaven. Our eternal home has an eternal guarantee, brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit.
 
While the work of our triune God overlaps, there is a sense in which God the Father is the architect, Jesus, the Son, is the builder, and God the Holy Spirit serves as the guarantee, not only of our entrance into heaven, but also of the perfection of our eternal home.
 
The Resurrected Body
 
Now suppose that you were to come to this mansion, however, but were not in good enough shape to make it up the steps. What if you were just too weak and tired to walk down the streets of gold? What if you wanted walk over to the garden where the tree of life is planted, but knew you would run out of breath trying to do so? That will never happen! Those who believe in Jesus will live in this eternal home with resurrected bodies that will bear a likeness to the body Jesus Christ has.
 
While many commentators believe that verse 1 refers to our heavenly home, many others believe that verse 1 is describing our resurrected body in comparison to our present frail bodies. They point out that Paul is using a metaphor for our frail bodies when he writes about an earthly tent in verse 1. They carry that metaphor over to our resurrected bodies in heaven which, in their view, becomes a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
 
There is validity to both views. We have an eternal home in heaven – the “many mansions” of John 14. But we also have an eternal home in resurrected bodies which will have a likeness to the body of Jesus Christ. Writing to the Philippians, in chapter 3:20-21, the Apostle tells us, …Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.
 
Although Jesus is now in heaven, He is there with a truly human body. He is in heaven with a body of flesh and blood, gloriously transformed. And the promise of Scripture is that one day our body will bear a likeness to His.
 
Yet that body, although bearing a likeness to the body of Jesus, will still be our own body. It will be the very same body you were born with and lived in on earth, but gloriously renewed. In Job 19:25-27 we read this remarkable statement by a man who suffered excruciating pain, including physical pain. Yet he exclaimed: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
 
And that body, which bears a likeness to the body of Jesus - this selfsame body gloriously renewed - will never again experience suffering. In Revelation 21:1-4 the Apostle John writes: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
 
The temporary nature of our present bodies is likened to living in a tent. Living in a tent can be a fun experience for a while. But as time goes by the tent gets worn. It gets ripped and torn; the fabric weakens, the tent develops leaks. Sometimes the tent gets cold, other times it seems to catch a fever because it gets so hot. Even you children who love to go camping wouldn’t want to live in a tent all your life, would you?
 
And the same is true for us. The body God has given us is very good for the time that we are on earth. After all, if Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in the physical bodies which God gave them. Sin brought disease and death, but when Jesus comes back we will receive resurrected bodies, bodies that are so much better to live in than our present bodies that the Bible compares it to living in a house - a mansion - as opposed to living in a tent.
 
Living by Faith, Not by Sight
 
How are we to respond to such great and precious promises? Verse 7 tells us, We live by faith, not by sight. When we live by sight, what do we see all around us? We see death and decay. We see the impermanence of life, that life is like a wisp of smoke, a mist, like grass that withers. We see that our body grows old and worn. As 2 Corinthians 4:17 puts it, outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. When we live by sight we see - and experience - the trials, temptations and heartbreaks of life.
 
Yet, when we live by faith in Jesus Christ, instead of by looking to the sights of this fallen world, we experience what is written about in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 that ...though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. We discover that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs the troubles of life. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
When we live by faith in Christ, instead of the sight of the world, we can exclaim with Paul, in Romans 8:18: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. When we live by faith in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, instead of living by sight, we can take great comfort in knowing that this life is but a brief span of time leading to an eternity of blessedness in the life to come.
 
Living by faith and not by sight, incidentally, doesn’t mean that we live with a blind faith, oblivious to the realities of the world in which we live. But it does mean that we live by faith in Christ alone, and see the world and all of life through the lens of God’s Word, fully assured that He is true to all His promises.
 
No Fear of Death
 
And because God is true to all His promises, when we live by faith in Christ and not by sight, we need not fear death; instead, we can face death with confidence. After all, we have an eternal house in heaven waiting for us. We have the assurance that our bodies, sown in weakness, will be raised in power. We know that Jesus shed His blood to cover our sins, so there is now no commendation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We need not fear the final judgment, for the righteousness of Christ, and His perfect record of obedience is imputed – credited – to all who believe in Him.
 
We understand that when we die a physical death our soul goes immediately to be with the Lord and to rejoice in His glory and grace. On the last day, when Jesus returns, we know that our bodies will be raised from the grave and joined with our souls. Thus, body and soul, we will be with the Lord forever.
 
Those are some of the thoughts Paul is writing about in verses 2-4 and verse 8. For instance, when he writes about being away from the body and at home with the Lord, he is referring to the intermediate state between the time of physical death and the time of our bodily resurrection when Jesus returns.
 
We are always with the Lord, whether in the body or away from the body, for nothing can separate us from the love of God, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
 
Rather than fearing death, we can face death with confidence if our faith is in Christ alone. By God’s power He takes what we fear – death – and turns it into the entranceway to heaven for all who believe in Him. And because of that we have the same confidence in the face of death as the Psalmist, who wrote, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
 
Dwight Moody, the founder of Moody Church and Bible Institute, summarized beautifully the confidence that those who trust in Christ have, even on their deathbed. He said to a friend who stopped by to visit: “You will read in the papers someday that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I will be more alive than l am now. I shall have gone higher, that’s all. - Out of this clay tenement house into a house that is immortal, a body sin cannot touch or taint, a body fashioned like His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born in the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die, but that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”
 
In the classic chapter on the resurrection of the body, 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle writes: What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body, (meaning our bodies will be in full harmony with the Holy Spirit, no longer struggling against the Spirit because of sin. Yet our bodies, like the physical body of Jesus, will be truly human).
 
And after quoting Hosea’s question: “Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?” He concludes: The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).
 
Our Goal to Please God
 
A third response when we live by faith, is that we will strive to put verse 9 into practice in our lives: So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
 
We do that in part because we realize we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, as verse 10 says, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.
The final judgment does serve to motivate us to please God by living according to His word.
 
But a greater motivation than fear is love. That is why Jesus said, in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will do as I command.” The greatest obedience is obedience that is motivated by love, not by fear.
 
My wife and I have a nice little dog, as far as little dogs go. And he obeys me, but his obedience is motivated by fear. If he runs across the street and I raise my voice to call him, his tail droops and he slinks back in obedience toward me, except sometimes, when in willful disobedience, he takes off running!
 
But years ago I had a dog, a Labrador retriever, who was incredibly obedient. If she ran across the street and I called her, she would stop immediately and race back to me. Her obedience wasn’t motivated by fear; her obedience was motivated by love. Her master was calling her! I have never had a more obedient dog. She truly and earnestly lived to please me.
 
It wasn’t because I forced her to obey me. It was because she loved me. Wherever I was, she would follow. And when she looked at me, it was with a look of sheer adoration and love. She gave credence to the old saying, “I may not be perfect, but my dog thinks I am.”
 
But God is perfect. He is the perfect architect, the perfect builder, and because His Son died to save us from our sins and rose for our justification, He is the perfect – and only – Savior. He also gives us a perfect guarantee that those who believe in Him with saving faith will one day live in those many mansions, in resurrected bodies with Him and all the redeemed of all the ages for all eternity. What a reason to live a life that pleases God here and now! What a reason to always look at our triune God with eyes – and heart, our whole being – filled with love and adoration!
 
* * *
 
This morning, is your faith and mine truly in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for our salvation? Do you look forward to the day when you will no longer look through a glass darkly, but see Jesus face to face? If so, may your faith and love for the Lord, and mine, be strengthened and increased as we look forward to our eternal home, as we look forward to living in that city having foundations, whose architect and builder is God! Amen.
 
- bulletin outline -
 
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. - 2 Corinthians 5:1
 
An Eternal House in Heaven”
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
 
I. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are guaranteed an eternal home:
   1) Designed by the only perfect architect (1; Hebrews 11:10)
 
 
   2) Built by the master carpenter (1; John 14:2-3)
 
 
   3) Protected with an eternal guarantee (5, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
 
 
II. Those who believe in Jesus will live in this eternal home with resurrected bodies (1-4;1 Corinthians 15:35-57) that:
   1) Will bear a likeness to the body of Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21)
 
 
   2) Will be our own body, gloriously renewed (Job 19:25-27)
 
 
   3) Will never again experience suffering (Revelation 21:1-4)
 
 
III. Our response:
   1) We are to live by faith in Christ alone, not by sight (7)
 
 
   2) We can face death with confidence (1-5; 8)
 
 
   3) Out of love and adoration we are to make it our goal to please God (9; John 14:15), realizing that we must all appear before His judgment seat (10)
 
 
 
 
 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 02/0, Rev. Ted Gray

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