2 Corinthians 5:1-8
Stephen Caswell © 2004
Death -- What Must It Be Like?
What must it be like to step on shore, and find it - heaven?
To take hold of a hand, and find it - God's;
To breathe a new air, and find it - celestial;
To feel invigorated, and find it - immortality;
To rise from the care, the loneliness, and turmoil of earth - into one unbroken calm;
To wake up and find it - glory?
This morning we have come to remember our friend Keith Dorr. Keith was a loving husband, caring father and grand father, and a faithful friend. We all miss him and have come here today to honor him. Does the Bible speak about the afterlife? This morning I want to look at 3 things from this passage. 1. Death Is Not The End Of Life, 2. Our Desire Is For Eternal Life, 3. Our Destination Can Be Heavenly life.
1. Death Is Not The End Of Life
2 Corinthians 5:1: 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.
Paul starts off by saying for we know. Our experience with death didn’t catch God by surprise. He has a plan to rescue His people. Knowledge of the after-life gives us peace in our present lives. Paul describes death as taking down a tent. Tents are only temporary dwelling places. They aren’t very secure and deteriorate quickly. Our current bodies, like tents are only temporal dwellings. God knows that our bodies are fragile, sinful and weak. To rectify this, He has prepared a permanent home for believers, a new body like Christ’s resurrection body. He has prepared an eternal body for us in heaven.
My Fears Were Removed
For many years I was afraid of death. For good reason I feared judgment, punishment and hell. After I received Christ as my own Lord and Savior I no longer felt this way. A large burden had been lifted from my shoulders and I was no longer afraid. The Lord showed me through His Word that death is not the end but a doorway to eternal life with Christ. Life won’t cease to exist. Neither will we go into soul sleep. We will just change the address that we reside in from earth to heaven, from a temporary tent to a solid house.
A Profound Truth
A preacher caught the real meaning of the resurrection in his sermon entitled, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. This is a profound truth. Jesus Christ destroyed death by dying and rising again. Hebrews 2:14-15: Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Death is but a doorway to eternity. Our loved ones who die in Christ are not lost. We know they are in heaven. Our brother Keith is there right now! He received Christ as His Savior when 17 years old. By trusting in Christ we can exchange an earthly tent for a heavenly building.
Some Christians say of their dead who die in the Lord that they have departed! Others speaking, as it were, from the vantage point of the Glory World, triumphantly and joyfully say, they have arrived! What joy we can have in sorrow. We are be able to say with confidence, Absent from the body — Present with the Lord!
2. Our Desire Is For Eternal Life
2 Cor 5:2-5: 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.
No one wants to die. One of the strongest desires mankind has is the desire to live. Paul says that we groan for glory. Everyone hopes for heaven. We, believers earnestly desire to exchange our mortal bodies for immortal ones. For we know what God has promised. The bodies we have are weak, limited, and constantly deteriorating. They are sinful and totally unsuited for heaven and eternity. We also groan because we desire a better life. We desire a life free from sin, sickness, pain, sorrow and death. Romans 8:22-23: For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Put simply, we all desire immortality. I have Good News for you. God has promised eternal life to those who will receive it as a gift. How can you obtain eternal life? By believing in Jesus Christ who died for your sins; in fact all of our sins. By believing that He rose from the dead to give us a new life. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He gives us eternal life. I did this when I was 19 years old. From that time on I have known that I possessed eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 says: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
3. Our Destination Can Be Heavenly Life
2 Cor 5:6-8: 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.
How do we get to heaven? We don’t, the Lord is the one who carries us home!
How Do We Get There
Sometimes Jonathan runs around so much that he wears himself out. Then he lies down on the lounge and falls to sleep. To his amazement he wakes up later in his own room. How does he get there? He gets there because his daddy comes along with big strong arms and carries him to the room he belongs in. This is exactly what God does for His children. When the time comes for us to fall asleep our Heavenly Father will come along with big strong arms and carry us home. We will suddenly find ourselves in glory!
Finally, Paul says that we are confident. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Lord will take every one of His children home. We know that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. However, when the time comes for us to leave our earthly bodies we will immediately be with the Lord. When the Lord calls His children to heaven they commence many new things. They commence a new life; immortality. They live in a new home; heaven. They have a new, deeper relationship with God; our Father. We, believers will see Him face to face. The destination of every believer is heaven. This is where we long to be. Heaven is where God’s children belong. I have not yet seen it. But others have and have recorded it in God’s Word. Some have had a glimpse before death.
Moody Saw Heaven
A few hours before entering the Homeland, D. L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said, Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go. His son who was standing by his bedside said, No, no, father, you are dreaming. No, said Mr. Moody, I am not dreaming: I have been within the gates: I have seen the children’s faces. A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle he spoke again: This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!
For the believer we know that Death is not the end but simply a doorway home. Therefore we earnestly desire immortality; to exchange the temporal for the eternal. We long for a better life. We are also confident that we will go to meet Jesus Christ. We know that when we are absent from the body we will be present with the Lord which is far better. Can you face death with this confidence? Have you received the gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ? If not, why not do it today? Why not ask Him to save you from your sins? Amen!!
2 Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.