May 31, 2020 The Eternal Weight of Glory

The Eternal Weight of Glory

Our scripture reading this morning is 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 5:8

 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.[1]

 

The word, “therefore,” links this verse with the verses preceding it. The apostle Paul had just communicated the affliction, persecution, and bewilderment that the apostles had experienced. He even says that they were struck down. Have you been struck down? Most of us have been. Maybe you are struck down right now.

 

This affliction and accompanying trials were a kind of death to the apostles. But this death only resulted in a resurrection life that enabled and energized them to speak on behalf of Christ. Verse 15 makes it clear that these experiences were not just those of the apostles. These experiences, resulting in life springing forth into speaking, were for the Corinthians, too. If they were for the Corinthians, then they are for us!

 

Have you been afflicted? Have you been struck down? Then the resurrection life will bring you out of the affliction and it will spring forth, like flowers after the rain, into speaking!

 

Have you been afflicted? If you have, you don’t need to lose heart. That is what Paul wrote: “We do not lose heart!” I tell you, if you lose heart then you are not walking by faith, you are walking by sight.

 

What does it mean to walk by sight? To walk by sight is an expression that means to live your life by what you see around you, even by what you feel. It is to live by your senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling. Of course, we use our senses to make sense of the world. But, we ought not to let them be the determining elements of all our decision making. You see, if we live merely by our senses then we are no better than the animals. Animals live by their senses. We have a higher calling.

 

What does it mean to walk by faith? To walk by faith means to live by faith. But people have funny ideas about what faith is. Faith is trust. To walk by faith means to trust in what God has spoken. God has said something and we trust in its truth.

 

In verse 16, Paul is trusting in what God has revealed about what is happening to us and what will happen to us. He writes that “our outward man is perishing.” This is obvious, isn’t it?

 

In the 1980s a trio started giving seminars on how to physically live forever. They went by two names: People Unlimited and Eternal Flame. Here is what they looked like back then. (Show pic)

They claimed to have the secret of “cellular regeneration.” They charged $600 and more for their seminars. At one time, around 1991, they had upwards of 30,000 on their mailing lists. Needless to say, they made a lot of money. Their salaries were several hundred thousands of dollars in the early ’90s. By the mid-’90s even the gullible were starting to have doubts. In 1994 one journalist attended one of their seminars and there were only 30 people present. But they continued to have meetings, and people continued to come for the next 20 years even though it was obvious the founders were aging. Here is a photo of one of the founders much later. (Show)

 

In 2014 one of the founders, Charles Paul Brown, died from complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He was 79. His “cellular regeneration” didn’t work. Amazingly, his book is still being sold on Amazon!

 

It is too obvious that everyone ages and everyone dies. You don’t need revelation to tell you that. But, of course, the Bible does.

 

When Paul writes, “our outward man is perishing,” we might think that he is writing about our bodies. And, our bodies are certainly part of our “outward man,” even the main part. But, if Paul meant body, he would have used the word, “body.” The outward man means our body with the soul as its driving force. More simply, body and soul. The “inward man” is our human spirit along with the transformed parts of our soul.[2] Remember, our minds need to be renewed and our souls transformed.[3]

 

The outward man, then, is mainly the body but with our unrenewed minds. The inward man is our human spirit with our renewed minds. Paul writes that our inward man is being renewed “day by day.” This renewal, though, is not automatic. We have seen before that in order for us to be renewed, the Lord needs our cooperation.[4] The good news is that, if we cooperate with the Lord by seeking Him and feeding upon his word, the Lord Himself will renew our minds. The power to renew comes from Him, not from us.

 

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,[5]

 

Paul says that our affliction is light. It is not always light. Sometimes it can be heavy. What he means is that in comparison to the glory that awaits us it is light. Whatever affliction we experience, whether we think it is light or heavy, the affliction is working! It is working to change us and it is working a glory that we will receive in the next age. The expression in this verse is quite encouraging: “…working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

 

The literal translation of the phrase, “far more exceeding,” in Greek (the language of the original manuscripts) is “excessively into excessively.” I do not think there is any stronger way that Paul could have worded the tremendous and unimaginable glory that awaits those who are being renewed! The glory that we will receive is “excess into excess” or “excessively into excessively”…if our inward man is renewed…if we cooperate with the transformation…if we obey the command in Romans 12:2 to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

 

Do you see that this glory that awaits is to motivate us to live for him today? It is to encourage us to have our minds renewed! There is an excessively excessive glory waiting for you!! Take your own transformation to heart!

 

while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.[6]

 

Everything that we see around us is temporary. Our jobs, our possessions, our circumstances, even the earth itself! Don’t live for the temporary. Do not let temporary things make your decisions. Marvelous things are promised and these are the things that are eternal, although they be invisible. They are unseen, but they are more sure than the things that we see because Jesus Himself has promised them.

 

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.[7]

 

In chapter 5 Paul now specifically speaks of our bodies. Our earthly house, or earthly tent, refers to the body we have. Earthly describes its location. Presently, while on earth, we each have a body. It is not only perishing but will one day be destroyed. (Unless we are alive when the Lord returns, then our bodies will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.[8]) But, even though our bodies will be destroyed, we have a building from God that we will one day receive. This “heavenly dwelling” (ESV) is not heaven. Rather, it’s nature is heavenly. Paul calls it a spiritual body in I Cor. 15, meaning that it is guided and directed by the spirit, not that it is composed of spirit. The imperishable bodies that we will receive will be physical in nature but they will be incorruptible.

 

For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling[9]

 

There is a longing we have to put off this mortal body, this “tent,” and receive our heavenly body. Christians who are between the ages of 20 to 30 might not feel the longing as much as others. I remember when I was in my 20’s. I was weight training. I was strong. I was healthy. All those things were by God’s grace, but when you feel physically fit and healthy, the promise of an incorruptible body is still encouraging, it’s just that you are not in any hurry to receive it since you are happy with what you have.

 

It doesn’t take too long, however, before the perishable nature of our physical forms makes itself know. Accidents, disease, and aging take their toll. I have been blessed with good health for most of my life. But, since I still train with weights, I somewhat discouragingly notice how my current strength pales in comparison to my strength as a youth.

 

We are going to receive bodies that never grow old, never tire, never lose strength! They will be glorious! The apostle John says there will be no more pain of any kind[10] (Rev. 21:4).

 

if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. [11]

 

Most people do not like the feeling of being naked if anyone else is around. I used to have this dream in Jr. High School and High School where I was wandering around the halls of the school naked. It was miserable and embarrassing. It is not a good feeling. Unless the Lord returns to the earth before we die, we will be without a body in heaven. We will not receive our resurrected bodies until Jesus returns. But God did not create us to be bodyless. He created us to be embodied. Hence, it is unnatural to be without a body.

 

Death separates our spirit and soul from our bodies. One theologian has described the experience of death as an ”unnatural tearing apart of a body-soul unity.”[12]

 

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.[13]

 

Our burden is not to be unclothed – without a body – but to be clothed with our immortal bodies. Even in heaven, being unclothed will not be a pleasant experience in itself. What will make it good is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ who we love and who loves us. There will also be the presence of our loved ones who have been redeemed and with whom we will be reunited. There will be peace and security there. There will be no more suffering the ills and weaknesses of our physical bodies. Yes. There are many good things about heaven! But that is not our final destination. Heaven is temporary for us. We groan to put on our resurrected, immortal bodies and we will live on a renewed earth. That is our longing.

 

How can we be sure this will really happen? Could it be that this is all wishful thinking of people who are just afraid of death? No! Paul continues:

 

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. [14]

 

This verse is a powerful assurance! The hope of a new body is not just a hope! It is not a fairy tale! God Himself will make it happen. We can know this by the promise in his word. (And God cannot lie.) But, we can also know it by the Spirit that he has given us as a guarantee! If you have the Spirit within you then that is a guarantee that you will one day have a renewed and immortal body!

 

I like guarantees from companies. When I buy something that has a guarantee that I can get my money back if I am not satisfied, I am happy about that. But, do you know what? Guarantees by companies are not a sure thing. Most are honored. But a company can go out of business. Then that guarantee is not worth anything. God does not go out of business! When God makes a guarantee, it is as sure as sure can be! God has guaranteed that you will receive an immortal body, strong and in vigor! If you are a Christian then you have the guarantee! Hallelujah!

 

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.[15]

 

Because we walk by faith and not by sight we are of good courage. As Paul concludes this section, we see that there are three conditions wherein the follower of Christ may find themselves:

 

  • In the body
  • With the Lord
  • In our resurrected bodies (and still with the Lord)

 

Of these three, the worst is the one we are in now. Even though it is unnatural to be “naked,” that is, to be without a body, Paul says that that is still better because we are with the Lord!

 

Do you see how bright the future is for the one who follows Jesus? When we die we get to be with the Lord and bask in his love and care in person! Then, later, we will receive our resurrection bodies! It is glorious!

 

What are we to do with these marvelous promises? Paul tells us:

 

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.[16]

 

These promises are so great that they ought to motivate us to please the Lord now. They should encourage us to live for Him and not for ourselves. They ought to bring us happiness and that enjoyment should change our priorities!

 

Brothers and sisters, let us be done with lesser things. Let us make it our aim to please the Lord. One simple way to do that is to ask yourself, “Will this thing please the Lord?” when you are considering a course of action. How glorious your body will be, in some measure, depends on what you do with that answer.

 

The same Spirit that has been given to you as a guarantee of your celestial body is the Spirit that will empower you to joyfully choose those things that please the Lord. When you ask, “Will this thing please the Lord?” the Spirit will not just give you the answer, He will make you happy in following the Lord’s will.

 

The Lord’s will is our deepest longing. It is even deeper than our longing for a new body!

 

 

[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Co 4:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Witness lee, Life-Study of Second Corinthians, Message Eleven.

[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Co 4:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Co 4:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Co 5:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8] I Cor. 15:52.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] The apostle describes the new heavens and the new earth, after the millennium, but his description applies equally as well to those who have received their glorified bodies before the new heavens and the new earth.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:3). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[12] Professor Michael D Williams in a lecture at Covenant Theological Seminary.

[13] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[14] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[15] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[16] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.