“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”– 2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (ESV)
Because heaven is a better place than earth, the apostle Paul would rather have been there, with God. This sentiment simply states Paul’s feelings and longings. There is nothing wrong and much is right to desire to enter heaven in the presence of the Lord. What might you choose to have instead of being in the presence of Jesus Christ right now? Is there anything that would hold you fast to this world? We are not suggesting that anyone should attempt to change God’s plan or timing. He has us here for a purpose and that is to please Him in all we think, say and do. To tell others of His grace. God’s timing for us is perfect. We will be here right up until the moment God has decided we are to be in His presence. And when we are there all that we hold dear now on this earth will be gone from our desires. Someday, we will be transformed to be like the body Jesus has after His resurrection. But now, we have our goal to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and help others find Him as their Lord and Savior.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 (ESV)
True believers in Jesus Christ are confident with respect to the future even though we do not know what the future is going to be in this world. It is the very presence of the Spirit in the lives of believers that provides this confidence with the promises of God. Eventually our time and life on this earth will come to an end, when it does, we will be with the Lord. Now we are at home in a world that is not our own and even our bodies will someday be done away. Also it means we not in the Lord’s presence physically. ‘Being at home’ and ‘being away from home’ refer respectively to being in one’s own country and being a stranger living abroad. In other words, the image of the external being that we observe, is passive and passing, while the internal provision of faith is active and abiding. We focus our attention not on visible things that are temporal but on those that are invisible and timeless. We live not by what we can see in this world but by the faith God has given us to believe.
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15-16 (ESV)
It is true that the physical bodies are by nature in a steady decay. There is no miracle or magical method that will arrest what the Apostle Paul calls ‘wasting away.’ That fact does not stop our unending search for renewal; attempting to find ways to slow the physical decline and maintain the vitality of youth. Our verses come in this chapter just after Paul has detailed what he has experienced in his body on account of his effort to bring the gospel and teaching of Jesus Christ to them. All that has happened has been for the sake of those who were served in Paul’s ministry. In other words, when the gospel enters the hearts and lives of an ever-increasing number of people, God’s grace abounds. These are fellow believers who begin to lead unbelievers to Christ. And as a result, all believers now live to please God and express their thanks to him. The effect of physical decay on Paul is that he does not lose heart and we shouldn’t either. We are promised that the eternal part of us which is within our soul and spirit is renewed every day.
“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:5 (NASB)
Context is important. The passage in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 explains what Paul wrote but was made part the previous chapter, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. One fact that we can know and rejoice in is that God has plans for those who have believed and accepted the free gift. We are reminded of this truth in our verse today. God has prepared us for living with Him in heaven. We realize that his plans for us are really beyond our ability to comprehend. Because God knows that, He has given us His Holy Spirit. Paul writes that God has prepared us “for this very thing,” but what is that thing? It is to be covered with a resurrected body and the future glory that God already has prepared for us. To put it differently, God has for us, an existence of which the unspoiled life of Adam and Eve in paradise is a reflection. God has given us the Holy Spirit as a pledge concerning matters that will be revealed in the future. Now we are receiving a taste of the Spirit but in the hereafter we will receive the full allotment that God has in store for us.
“For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” – 2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul’s testimony giving God credit for enabling him to press on. It was a mystery for Paul. It was once, a challenge for Christ on the cross. Jesus had at his command the unlimited power of God. It was His but nevertheless He willingly chose to follow the course of weakness to the cross. He refused to use any of His divine nature to soften the pain and suffering while he, the Son of God, hung on the cross bearing the rejection of God the Father for the sins of all in the world. Paul reminds us that Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God. In His resurrection the magnitude of the untapped power was displayed. The truth in this verse is that, as Jesus rose from the dead by God’s power, it is by that very same power we can live and serve Him in faith. We may feel weak and unable to live as we ought, but we know that we have the promise of God’s power available to us. In that power we can do what He wants us to do. Let’s remember that as we live this day.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.” (ESV)
It is all the non-believers in the world who should convince us who believe in God Almighty that we have a different spirit than we had before we believed; for by God’s grace and because of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, we became Christians. As we read in John 3:6 where Jesus explained to his night-time visitor, Nikodemus “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” A true believer can soon tell whether he is born of the Spirit by the change in his life. Just as we considered a few days ago, our new spiritual birth brings to us new love. Our love results in joyfulness. Joyfulness fills our heart and we have peace. Our peace is present in establishing our patience. Patiently we offer kindness to all. Kindness develops into goodness. We advance in faithfulness because of the goodness. We learn self-control from faithfully trusting. None of this fruit happens if we do not first receive a new-spirit from God who has given us a new creation and done away with the old. What blessed promises.
“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NASB)
When we look at the first verse in our passage, Paul teaches that God is love and, He loves a cheerful giver. What an important bit to remember when planning gifts for Christian work. Then, the next verse Paul teaches that God is all-powerful. That is, God expresses his love to his people through his power. And why? In order to help us go even further in faith in giving. Let’s now, look at how Paul expresses this. The concept ‘all’ appears five times: all grace, all sufficiency, all things, all times, every good work. Paul describes the infinite goodness and greatness of God. God has power “to make all grace abound toward you.” He involves Himself in details of our lives, even in our decisions to give for a certain cause. In the service of the Lord grace brings more grace to the table. The believer’s grace in joyful giving can hardly be compared with God’s abounding grace to the believer for God showers his love on the joyful donor, who is unable to match God’s grace. He grants the gift of salvation, spiritual gifts, the fruit of the Spirit, and material needs as blessings.
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul was thinking about the results of his ministry in the city of Corinth. Many people had been brought into the family of God while Paul was preaching and teaching in that city. As he writes this letter he wanted to be sure to acknowledge that it was God who deserves the credit for the results of his work. Too often we are tempted to consider our Christian work is the result of our own efforts. We all need to consider and be careful to give our Lord credit for His work in our lives. God is involved in anything of value in our lives. We need to recognize that without God’s working in and through us nothing of eternal worth is accomplished. Let’s remember the promise that our ability, our sufficiency, and our adequacy come from God. He wants to use us to do His work, to do something worthwhile in life. Let’s allow Him to use us today. The words to the hymn, “To God Be The Glory” helps us to sing out the truth of God’s competence and ability to provide our adequacy in this life. “Great things He has done.”
“It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15 (ESV )
Gratitude is a positive and joyful emotion and especially so when it is for what God has for us. We have a sense of joyful appreciation for his grace. Does that mean, in a sense, we are still the beneficiaries of the very emotion of gratitude. By its very nature, gratitude exalts the giver. When we feel thankful, we acknowledge our need and God’s fullness, the riches of his glory. Just as when we humble ourselves and exalt the service provider in when we say, “Thank you,” so we humble ourselves and exalt God when we even feel gratitude to him. The difference, of course, is that we really are infinitely in debt to God for his grace, and everything he does for us is free and undeserved. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that the response it requires from us for God’s glory is most natural and; namely, thankfulness for grace. God’s all-supplying glory in giving and our humble gladness in receiving are not in competition. Joyful thankfulness glorifies God. A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are the same life. And what makes them one is thankfulness.
Thanks to Desiring God and John Piper for this contribution.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)
Our Father in heaven has done so very much for us. Our Bible verse today reminds us of one of His acts that has affected our lives in a meaningful way. That act is God’s creation of light in the very beginning. He is a God of light in many ways and our verse reminds us that He brings light into our hearts. Without the light of God in our lives we are filled with darkness. In the beginning when the foundations of the world were created, the dark world was lit up when God said, ‘Let there be light’. More exactly, daytime was distinguished from nighttime by the creation of light. Without light, there is only darkness. We can know how wonderful it is that we don’t have to live in that darkness or with it in our hearts? God has made his light shine in our hearts and it is a glorious light for us who have believed. Let’s be encouraged today as we recognize that God is a God of glory and He wants us to know of His glory. It is a promise that will bring light to our hearts and to our lives.