Monday, February 19, 2024

Eternity Written in the Human Heart: Where is Home in a Fallen World?

My fiancé and I went to see The Chosen in theaters this weekend, season four, episodes 4-6. And we really enjoyed it. It was very powerful. Particularly I really enjoyed episode 4. You have Jesus seeing the faith the centurion who doesn’t even need Jesus to come to his house to heal his son, he simply believes that Jesus will do it, and Jesus is amazed by his faith. He is excited. But suddenly, his own disciples disappoint him greatly, james and john ask to sit at his right and left. And it's just exhausting for Jesus. He leaves the area and goes and prays. And I just felt the power of that moment. That we groan in this life with the problems and difficulties.

Sometimes as Christians we feel as though we’re caught between heaven and Earth. We long to be in heaven with God. We long to escape the flesh, to be free from the evils of this world. Yet we know we have a job, a duty to minister to this world and be salt and light to the world. But it’s tough. We long for something greater.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, "I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter." -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, pg. 3

Ecclesiastes says he has set eternity in the human heart. There is a piece of eternity within us, and we long for something more.

We long for a place we’ve never been. Our hearts ache for eternity. We’re going to talk about that tension between heaven and earth in the Christian life today.

We’re looking today at 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, verses 1-10. Our structure of faith today is an hour glass shape, the bottom represents our life on Earth, the top portion represents our future in heaven.

It says in 2nd Cor 5:1, “For 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.”

I believe Paul is referring to earthly tent here, as our physical bodies, but some translations, like the KJV render it as earthly house. But again it’s most likely the same thing, your body, housing your soul.

One day every person in here will pass away, our earthly tent will be destroyed. But we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, so a new heavenly body, that does not age like this body does. It’s not built by human hands. Our earthly bodies grew from our mother’s body, right? But the heavenly body is created by God.

Verse 2-3 says, “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.”

Yet while we live in this earthly body, our flesh on Earth, we do groan. We sigh. We long for something better. We long for something new. We long to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.

It gives us this picture then of being clothed vs being found naked. In Christ, while in the flesh, we often wonder, am I properly clothed, am I living the Christian life correctly? We wonder if we’re really saved. We battle against sin. So we are concerned with staying clothed in Christ, and not being found naked.

But when we die, and go to heaven, the uncertainty is over, the spiritual battles are over, and we’re safe. In the flesh, we remain in a sense, guarding against sins and evil, but in heaven, the time of guarding is over. We won’t be found naked then, but clothed.

Next, “4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

Right now my brothers and sisters we are burdened. We deal with physical health issues, mental health issues, addictions, and temptation, we are burdened, lightly, with the troubles of this world. We groan. The 1828 dictionary calls it uttering a mournful voice in pain or sorrow.

Can you relate? We can all relate. That’s why we’re being told by Paul, this is the current state of things. But it is temporary. It’s like an hour glass, our lives, slowly the sand is draining, and one day we will be with Jesus.

It’s fascinating an unbeliever dreads the day of their death, they do anything they can to escape it. They won’t even dare think about it. For the Christian we are excited for the day when we’ll be with Jesus face to face. We long for the day when we’ll pass from this temporary flesh to our eternal dwelling.

Next in verse 5, “5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

We talk about the uncertainty of life in the flesh, and wrestling with God, wrestling with our prayer life, trying to keep focused on Jesus, yet we also see an assurance here, that if we have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is this deposit, a guarantee of what is to come. The Holy Spirit will witness to me, when I’m wrestling, “Yes you’re safe and secure. Be at peace.” Or the Holy Spirit will also witness to me, you’re in sin, go to your Father, and seek His help toward forgiveness and repentance.” And then I do that.

We have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like our link to the heavenly world. He glows brightly within us, telling us of God and Jesus and heaven and judgment and the world to come.

Verse 6, “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.”

Living in the flesh in the pain and sorrows of Earth is a breeding ground for uncertainty, confusion, and doubt. But God counters that by telling us, “you can always be confident.”

Know that you are currently away from the Lord. You are not in his direct presence. We are still in the earthly realm.

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” -2 Cor 5:7

On Earth we live in faith. In heaven we will live by sight. We will literally see God. We will literally see Jesus. We will see angels. We will see it all. Right now it’s different. Right now we trust, though we can’t see. We believe and know it is in fact true.

Notice the dividing line. The bottom portion of the hour glass represents Earth, the top represents heaven. These worlds are vastly different. Yet we’re linked to heaven through Jesus Christ.

Next, 2 Cor 5:8-9: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

Second time he says, “we are confident.” We are confident in what we believe.

Next he writes, that yes we would prefer to be away from the body, in heaven, right now. My preference: Be there. So Paul makes this argument, since you want to be in heaven, therefore make it your goal to please Him.

So our goal in the flesh, is this: Please God. Whether we’re in the body or not, always, heaven or Earth, the goal is to please God. Live by God’s leading. Love God’s son Jesus. Walk in relationship with God. All those things are pleasing to Him.

Then lastly in verse 10, ““For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Our goal is to please God, because, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. All our deeds, every word we spoke will be brought into judgment at the gateway between the bottom and top parts of the hourglass. The gateway entry point, is the judgment seat of Christ.

Those we have lived by faith in Jesus Christ, and lived holy as He is holy will be rewarded, and welcomed into the eternal kingdom. Those who have rejected Christ, denied Christ, or have made a practice of lawlessness, will face judgment and condemnation.

The judgment seat of Christ is a great reminder that the next life isn’t automatic. I read a quote recently from the late R.C. Sproul that the world thinks the only requirement for heaven is to die, that everyone goes to a better place. But that isn’t true. Only those who have Jesus Christ as savior, and have repented of their sins, will have eternal life. There is a heaven, there is also a hell. And it’s perfectly just. God is just. The judgment seat will be entirely just. We’ll know it’s right, when we go there. Each of us will, either to be rewarded, or condemned.

Let’s review our main points from today:

1. Your earthly body is temporary, your heavenly body will live forever

2. We are clothed in Christ, but we want to avoid being found naked (keep your garment on)

3. Groaning and burdens in the flesh are to be expected

4. We have the Holy Spirit connecting us to heaven now

5. We are always confident that God is with us

6. We live by faith today, next life by sight

7. Our preference is to be with God in heaven

8. Our Goal is to Please God on Earth

9. We all must pass through the gateway of the judgment seat of Christ

10. The New Heavens and New Earth are real home

Point number 10 I think is key here. Where is home, really? I think about the house where I grew up on Ross avenue in Wisconsin. I miss it, sure. But it wasn’t really home. My grandmas kitchen, home? My other grandmas garden, home? My house here in Owosso? None of it quite feels like home. We get hints of it. We get a taste of it. But we’re always groaning in the flesh, in this life, for something greater. For something better. We’re longing for home. Home isn’t here. We get hints of it. But our real home, the place that will truly feel like home, because it is home, is with God, in the new Jerusalem. That city is home. God is home. That’s where we belong. Accept the groanings of this life, but live in hope, because we have a confident assurance, that if we leave this earthly tent, we have a heavenly dwelling that will last forever. Amen.