Divine Tension: Future Tense Living in a Present Tense World

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Divine Tension: Future Tense Living in a Present Tense World

(Now and Then)

2Corinthians 5:1-10     October 5, 2003


Scripture Reading:


Paul opens and closes 2Cor. 4 with the confidence that he, and other true servants of Christ like himself, do not lose heart in spite of present difficulties in life and ministry.

The reason he gives for this is that the ministry of God’s glory is very present and real to sustain him.

He can confidently express this because, even though the glory of God resides in him like a “treasure in a jar of clay”, it is the very fact of his fleshly weakness that allows God’s glory to shine so brightly.

So concluding that the glory of God in him is his greatest credibility in the face of his accusers, he is faced once again with his unworthiness and becomes re-broken as a fit vessel for the Lord’s even greater brightness.

The death of Jesus becomes the life of Paul.

Now if we talk like this about not losing heart, what more might be said about actually gaining heart?

How might we “flesh out” the glory of God even more so we not only don’t lose heart but gain it?

So Paul leads us now in 2Cor. 5 to our assurance of the reality of heaven.

It is the reality of heaven that awaits us as we endure the realities of earth.

It is the future that overcomes the present.

But this creates a divine tension that springboards us even more toward what know to be true about God.

Do you struggle with such things? What is actually true about God, I mean?

Perhaps you are like the guy who was an avid sports fan. He gave his fall months over to football. His winters were set aside for basketball.  Every spring was consumed by baseball. He had been an avid sports fan all his life. But finally he had had it!  He decided to quit the sports scene once and for all.  He wouldn’t go near those places ever again. Why?


--Every time he went; they asked him for money.
--The people with whom he had to sit didn't seem friendly.
--The seats were too hard and not at all comfortable.
--He went to many games, but the coach never came to call on him.
--The referee made decisions with which he couldn't agree.
--He suspected that he was sitting with hypocrites--they came to see their friends and what others were wearing rather than to see the game.
--Some games went into overtime, and he was late getting home.
--The band played some numbers that he had never heard before.
--It seems that the games were scheduled when he had other things to do.
--He was taken to too many games by his parents when he was growing up.
--He didn't want to take his children to any games, because he wanted them to choose for themselves what sport they liked best.

Of course, the insinuation here is that these are the things people often grow uncomfortable with about church.

Perhaps they have lost sight of the real reason to come.

But the winning season is just around the corner and the scoreboard will read in Christ’s favor.

He is the victor and the champion and he will seat his faithful fans and followers in the winner’s circle.

But we must weather the cost of life’s troubles and unpleasantries when so many grow tired and depressed.

Dr. Gary Almy, resident psychologist at the Lydia Home, and author of the book, How Christian is Christian Counseling?, talks about the wide incidence of depression these days (a door to door survey in Boston revealed that 85% of people were taking some type of psychiatric medication) and the infatuation of medicating ourselves into stupefication with the new ‘designer’ drugs available.

Supposedly, depression is caused by a wrong level of serotonin in the brain, but he says it is impossible to measure the level of serotonin in the brain, only in the rest of the body which operates differently than the brain.

He says 62.5 % of patients report improvement when taking anti-depressant drugs, but studies have shown that 60% will report improvement when taking placebos.

The problem why we think we have to medicate for most depression cases is that depression has come to be thought of as purely a biological problem (and it can be in some cases) rather than spiritual.

It is painful to feel guilt, or unforgiveness, or hatred, or jealousy, or envy, etc.

But the pain is God’s way of focusing us on Him.

But we don’t want to face Him, or deal with Him, or actually think about Him that we might be accountable to Him.

So we medicate even though there is no real decisive test for depression except vague feelings.

The world wants a ‘God-free’ understanding of humanity.

People come for help with depression often because they are short on spiritual resources.

Now if Paul only had his eyes on the world he would have plenty to be depressed about, which is why he says in 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen in eternal.”

Paul has a cure for depression. It is spiritual, but it is also real.

It is one of the truest things about God. It is heaven.

Getting there would be really hard without our Heavenly Father's help!

Paul has the directions and he has shared them with us all along.
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 Make a Right onto "Believeth Blvd." Keep straight and go through the green light, which is Jesus Christ.

From there, you must turn onto the "Bridge of Faith," which is over troubled water.

When you get off the bridge, make a Right turn and Keep Straight. You are on the "King's Highway" Heaven-bound.

Keep going for three miles: One for the Father, One for the Son, and One for the Holy Ghost.

Then exit off onto "Grace Blvd." From there, make a right turn on "Gospel Lane."

Keep Straight and then make another right on "Prayer Road." As you go on your way, yield Not to the traffic on "Temptation Ave."

Also, avoid SIN STREET because it is a DEAD END.

Pass up "Envy Drive" and "Hate Avenue."

Also, pass "Hypocrisy Street," "Gossiping Lane," and "Backbiting Blvd."

However, you have to go down "Long-suffering Lane," "Persecution Blvd.," and "Trials and Tribulations Ave."

But that's all right, because VICTORY Street is straight ahead!

Like one woman who was asked by a co-worker, "What is it like to be a Christian?"

The co-worker replied, "It is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc., and then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

Now that is what the knowledge of heaven will do for you.

The future is yours in the present – if your will just think about it.

Let’s read what Paul has to say in 2Cor. 5:1-10 for ourselves.

Big Question:

How does God direct our hearts toward heaven?- OR - What will happen in heaven that gives us hope now?

We will receive an indestructible body.

We will receive an incorruptible body.

We will receive the goal (or end result) of our created existence.

We will receive close communion with the Lord, who is our faith.

We will receive final justice.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (v. 1)

          B.      Implication

We will receive an indestructible body.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 2-5)

          B.      Implication

We will receive an incorruptible body.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (v. 5)

          B.      Implication

We will receive the goal (or end result) of our created existence.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative (vv. 6-8)

          B.      Implication

We will receive close communion with the Lord, who is our faith.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five

          A.      Narrative (vv. 9-10)

Judgment will be:




          All Inclusive (our habitual behavior and not isolated acts)

          Only works – not our salvation will be judged


We will “receive back” (from the good we have done)

Agent is Christ


“For things done ‘in the body’ – no chance of sin in eternal state

(We will have an ‘appointment’)

We do not want eschatological ruin.

No one knows when this will take place – at our death or at Christ’s return. But we should be certain that it will be close to our appearance with him.

No way to displease Christ once we are at home with him. But we should make the best use of our time now.

          B.      Implication

We will receive final justice.

          C.      Illustration

The Bridge:

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days' work" he said. Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence - so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.

The carpenter worked hard all that day -- measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge . . . a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all!

And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched... "You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done." The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother. "I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but, I have many more bridges to build."

Remember This . . . God won't ask what kind of car you drove, but He'll ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation. God won't ask the square footage of your house, but He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won't ask what your highest salary was, but He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

God won't ask what your job title was, but He'll ask if you performed your job to the best of our ability.

God won't ask how many fiends you had, but He'll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, but He'll ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won't ask about the color of your skin, but He'll ask about the content of your character.

God won't ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation, but He'll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven, and not to the gates of Hell.

          D.      Application


Big Answer:

How does God direct our hearts toward heaven?- OR - What will happen in heaven that gives us hope now?

We will receive an indestructible body.

We will receive an incorruptible body.

We will receive the goal (or end result) of our created existence.

We will receive close communion with the Lord, who is our faith.

We will receive final justice.

Timeless Truth:

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