STUDY II Corinthians
5:1-10 (click here for notes)
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. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 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.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 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. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV)
Paul has explained our being born again as having treasures in jars of clay. In our mortal bodies we have the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and we do not lose heart because of the trials we face. We can confidently walk through suffering and persecution and loss because we have the treasure of the presence of God holding us together.
Now Paul pursues the subject of the "jars of clay" which are our bodies. Not only do our clay pots hold the presence of God, our own selves are contained in them. In chapter 5 Paul uses the metaphor of a tent to further describe our condition.
Our Temporary Tent
1. What is the "earthly tent we live in"? (see Isaiah 38:12; 2 Peter 1:13-14)
2. Why is this "tent" merely "earthly"? (see Genesis 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:47)
3. What is the "building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" which we anticipate? (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-54)
4. Why does Paul describe Christ-followers as "groaning" in spite of their salvation? (see also verse 4; Romans 8:23)
5. Receiving our "heavenly dwellings" is the final demonstration of what? (see v. 5; Romans 8:23; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20-21)
Clothed In Heavenly Dwelling
We wish "to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling," Paul continues, "so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." (v.4b)
6. How is this imagery of mortality being swallowed up by life opposite of the usual understanding of death? (see Psalm 69:15; Proverbs 1:11-12)
7. Where else does the Bible reverse the traditional image of death? (see Isaiah 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:54; Hosea 13:14; John 5:24)
8. What does this reversed image of life swallowing death suggest to you about the natures of death and life?
9. God has made us for "this very purpose," Paul says, and has given us the Spirit to guarantee what is to come. What exactly is to come? (see John 5:25-29; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:49-54)
Home In the Body, Away From the Lord
10. Paul says that we know that "as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord." Does this verse suggest we do not have God's presence with us as long as we're alive on earth? (see John 14:16-17; 5:24; 3:3-8; 16:7-14; 17:20-23; 26; Matthew 28:20b; Ephesians 1:13-14)
11. What does Paul mean when he follows his statement about being "at home in the body" but "away from the Lord" with these words, "We live by faith, not by sight"? (see 4:18; 1 Cor. 13:12; Romans 8:24-25; Hebrews 11:1; 1 John 3:2)
12. "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord," Paul declares. How can we be certain that Paul means we are with the Lord immediately after our bodies die, not that we experience "soul sleep"-nonexistence (except as a memory in God's mind) until the resurrection? (see also Philippians 1:23-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; John 11:25-26; Matthew 17:3; Luke 16:19-26)
13. How do we know that our spirits go to God when we die? (see Ecclesiastes 12:7; Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46; 2 Timothy 1:10)
14. What is the "spirit" that returns to God; how can we know it is not our "breath"? (see Psalm 34:18; 51:10-11; 17; Ezekiel 11:19; Matthew 26:41; Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 3:4)
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." Many of us were taught that no one will know until the "great white throne judgment" at Jesus' final return whether or not we are saved.
14. Since both the righteous and the wicked will be judged for their "works" when Jesus returns, what is the essential difference between the two groups? (see Matthew 7:21-23; John 6:28-29; Romans 2:12-16; 5:1; 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Revelation 20:12-15)
15. If our salvation is secure once we accept Christ as our Lord yet all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, for what are Christ-followers being judged? (see Matthew 24:14-30; 31-46; Luke 19:12-27; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; James 3:1)
16. How do we know that Christ-followers do not have to feel uncertain and fearful about the outcome of the final judgment as many of us were taught we would, and why might non-Christ-followers be fearful? (see John 3:36; Romans 2:5-6; 5:9; 9:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 6:15-16; John 11:25-26; 12:47-48; 1 Corinthians 3:14-15; 6:2-3; 11:28-34; Hebrews 10:25-27; 2 Peter 2:9 1 John 3:14)
17. How does one "please God"? (see Romans 14:17; Ephesians 5:8-20; Colossians 1:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)
18. Describe your traditional understanding of death and judgment.
19. How has this understanding changed since you met Jesus?
20. About what details are you still confused or uncertain?
21. How have your understandings of death and judgment affected your relationship with Jesus and your perceptions of salvation?
22. What do you most fear about dying? About appearing before Christ's judgment seat?
23. In what area(s) of your life are you not "pleasing God"?
24. Have you admitted that you are hopelessly flawed and need Jesus as your Savior? Have you accepted Him and his death and given your heart and memories and habits to him to transform by his forgiveness and love? Are you allowing him to convict you of sin and pride and "controllingness"?
25. Ask Jesus to teach you what is true about death and judgment. Let him direct your study of the scriptures and reveal reality to you. Ask him to be Lord of your life, and give him access to your hidden motives and memories that drive your behavior. Ask Jesus to shine the light of truth in your heart, and open yourself to his transforming love and honesty. Let him make you new!
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted April 6, 2002.