Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank our Lord God for all of you that join with us in the worship of our God on site and via our videos. I pray that the Holy Spirit would enable me to serve Him in my spirit today as I bring us the word of God in today’s sermon from the second book to the Corinthians. (Rom.1:6-9) And I pray also that we all would worship God in spirit and in truth today. (Jn.4:14-23) For His glory. And for our joy.
With that said, please take out your Bibles. I am going to read all of chapter five in Second Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 5:1-21. Hear God’s holy word. Read.
2 Corinthians 5:1. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord– 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight– 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. 12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us in our worship today. Pray.
I mentioned last week that I intended to take a two-week break from our Galatians series. I hope to pick up with Galatians 4:8-20 next Lord’s Day. If the Lord wills. Also, next Sunday evening I plan to begin a series through the book of Joshua. A bit of a challenge. But I hope it will be interesting and profitable to our faith. Remember Jesus is the true Joshua that takes us into the true Promised Land. (Heb.11:1-40)
The doctrine – We are new creatures in Christ.
Well today’s sermon is a topical message. I have taken my title from the seventeenth verse of the chapter. As Believers in Jesus Christ, we are new creatures in Him. We have been born again by the Holy Spirit. (Jn.3:1-9) We have been raised from spiritual death to spiritual light. We once were children of wrath, but by receiving Jesus we become the holy and beloved children of God. (Eph.2:1-9, Jn.1:10-13)
Think of this. Before we believed we hated God. (Rom.8:7) Now we love God. Before we believed in Jesus we had a stony heart. Now as new creatures in Jesus we have a Spirit-gifted new heart. (Ezek.36:24-29). As new creatures in Christ, He has given us a new heart, new thoughts, new affections, new words, a new family, and a new eternity – all in Christ.
Beloved, I want us to really believe this. We are not what we once where. We are not that old man. We once where all of those vile things. But know in Jesus we are new, we are clean by His blood, we are holy in Jesus. (I Cor.6:9-11)
I want us to look at this chapter through the lenses of this one doctrine that we are new holy changed children of God in Jesus Christ. (Jn.1:10-13, Eph.2:12-21)
New creatures in Christ have saving faith in Christ.
How we are going to do this is by faith in the word of God. We are going to believe what the Bible says about us.
Look how Paul puts this in 2 Cor.4:17-18.
2 Corinthians 4:17. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (I Cor.2:9)
New creatures in Christ are able to believe the Bible.
In 2 Cor.5:7 he says, we walk by faith and not by sight.
It was Jonathan Edwards that said, Lord stamp eternity on my eyes. God wants us to reason by faith. He wants us to look at physical things with spiritual eyes. God wants us to look at temporal things in light of eternal things.
For us to acknowledge and enjoy the good things for us in our passage, and I would argue also the good things in our life, we have to have eternity with Christ stamped upon our eyes, we have to live like new creatures. (Gal.2:20)
New creatures in Christ are spiritual and eternal creatures. New creatures in Christ are destined to live with Christ. And to glorify Him and enjoy Him and worship Him and serve Him perfectly forever. The Bible says so. This chapter says so.
So new creatures of Christ have faith in Christ and in God’s word. And see what this enabled Paul to do. He could soar above many of the common difficulties that so quickly upset and undo us. His vision of Christ and his desire for Christ’s glory and his longing for the eternal estate caused him to serve Christ with joy.
New creatures in Christ temporarily reside in temporary bodies.
Now chapter five obviously gets its context from chapter four. In chapter five he repeats and emphasizes some of the things he wrote about in chapter four. I will combine a few of these things.
In chapter 4:7 Paul speaks about children of God as jars of clay.
2 Corinthians 4:7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
We do not often think of ourselves that way. But if you ever stop and think about it, we are really like a little bit of clay pressed together. Even as God made Adam out of the earth. (Gen.2:4-7) I think the Hebrew word for Adam comes from a root word that means “to be red”. The idea is that Adam was taken from the soil, like the red clay you see in the south.
And obviously this refers to our material being, our outer man that is subject to decay. God the Holy Spirit reminds us that our physical bodies are from the dust. And in this life, we are like a piece of pottery, subjecting to breaking. Not very strong at all. Not a permanent body at all. And so, this body will return to the dust. Exactly as God has said from the very first book in the Bible. And the Bible and the universal experience of all men have proved God to be 100% correct.
Look at our nation beloved. Look at our world. Jars of clay terrified that they are jars of clay. Man is busy doing everything they can to prevent their own clay jar from being broken. But broken it will be. I say they are doing everything but the one thing needful. Repentance of their sins to God and faith in Christ as their Sin-Bearer. (Jn.11:23-27, Jn.3:36)
Paul’s point is that even as Believers we are subject to weakness and decay and disease and accident. Even Believers will die physically.
You see Paul wants us to reason by faith. When our body is ailing, when we are physically breaking down, when we go down into the grave, we are not to think that something strange is happening to us. (I Pt.4:12) True Believers are not exempt from the common maladies of this life. In fact, often times following Jesus will incur for us an extra portion of physical hardships and sufferings and even death in this life for the name of Jesus.
Remember the apostle Paul said a number of times that Believers are to imitate him as he imitates Christ. (Phil.3:17, I Cor.4:16, 11:1, I Thess.1:6, 2 Thess.3:7) This is an amazing statement. But it is not pride. This is the Holy Spirit raising up a Believer to true and strong faith in Jesus. A real Believer like you and like me, real sins, real faults, real struggles, but real faith joining him to Jesus. Paul is an example of what strong faith in Jesus can do. For which we ought to pray that God would enable us to imitate him.
Physical death did not hold the apostle Paul in bondage. He was not terrified of it. Physical death was not the worst thing that could happen to Paul. He had been delivered of this cringing fear when he believed in the Risen Christ.
Christ breaks that awful slavery of the fear of death over us. (Jn.14:1-6)
Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews says.
Hebrews 2:14. Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
Listen to how our secondary standard summarizes our primary standard on this.
WLC 85 Death, being the wages of sin, why are not the righteous delivered from death, seeing all their sins are forgiven in Christ? A. The righteous shall be delivered from death itself at the last day and even in death are delivered from the sting and curse of it;(1) so that, although they die, yet it is out of God’s love,(2) to free them perfectly from sin and misery,(3) and to make them capable of further communion with Christ, in glory, which they then enter upon.(4)
(1) 1 Cor. 15:26,55,56,57; Heb. 2:15 (2) Isa. 57:1,2; 2 Kings 22:20 (3) Rev. 14:13; Eph. 5:27
(4) Luke 23:43; Phil 1:23
New creatures in Christ can face sickness and death with hope and courage. In Christ we can do all things. (Phil.4:13)
New creatures in Christ are temporary travelers in a temporary world.
Now in chapter five Paul uses another metaphor for our physical body, this time he moves from earthen pots to earthly tents.
Remember being a true Believer in Jesus with all of the amazing privileges we enjoy in Him, Jesus does not give us physical superpowers. Just like a clay pot, a tent of canvas will soon wear out and dissolve. That is our material body.
Now someone might say, well if you have enough faith then you do not have to suffer these physical maladies. Oh beloved, beware of people that twist scripture to say something that it does not say. The most Pentecostal Pentcostal lives in a canvas tent and so does the most frozen chosen Presbyterian. All people do. Your tent may last 2 days, or it may last 102 years. But it is a tent. It will wear out. Will.
Read psalm 90 the psalm of Moses that says people are like dust and grass. Here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore he teaches us to pray this.
Psalm 90:12. So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
God clearly does not want any Believer in Jesus to be surprised by death. Not by our own. And not by our loved ones. I am not saying this in a morbid fashion. Look at Paul’s focus. It is on life after physical death. We will speak on that in a bit. But this is something that we ought to face directly and with a sober mind and by faith in the Son of God and by faith in the word of God.
Sadly, many professing Christians put off seriously thinking about this day. And many will be unprepared.
The idea of living in a tent also teaches us that as new creatures in Christ we are travelers.
In the OT God would meet with Moses in the Tabernacle. The tabernacle was a tent. God placed His presence there as He dwelt with His people. (Exod.25:8, 36:8) And the idea is that the people were a sojourning people, they marched through the wilderness. They were not at home. They were going home. Home was the Promised Land. Read Hebrews chapter eleven. The idea of a God dwellings in a tent taught the people of God that they would be dwelling in tents because they would be traveling. But that God would be traveling with them! Immanuel.
Then when the people of God entered the Promised Land the temporary traveling tent of meeting became the (more) permanent Temple.
But the idea is that our physical body is a tent is that God has equipped us with the necessary temporary and traveling “home” while we are not yet in our permanent home.
In fact, Paul in First Corinthians 15 tells us that our flesh and blood “tent” cannot inhabit the eternal estate. (I Cor.15:50) Our temporal body is not equipped to sustain the atmosphere of holy heaven in the immediate presence of God. For that we will be given another “house”.
Living in a traveling tent, if we reason spiritually and eternally, is meant to create in us a right posture towards the world and the things of the world. Oh, I do not mean that we are to become hermits and separate from the world – physically. That is impossible anyway. Even true Believers carry around a little bit of the world in our remaining corruption.
And I do not mean that we are careless about our temporal bodies. No. Christ purchased us body and soul. So we are required to treat our body and soul with respect as they belong to Jesus. Remember Paul did not tell Timothy, Timothy so what you have a stomach problem, you will get a new body eventually so treat your “tent” any old way you want. No. He said take a little wine for medicine. (I Tim.5:23) Treat your tent carefully. It is the only one you will get on your pilgrimage. (WCF 5.2)
Also, being a traveler does not mean that we are utterly disinterested in the affairs of the land in which we travel. No. Just like Judah was told to pray for the welfare of Babylon while they traveled awhile there, so too we are properly concerned about the place and the people of our sojourn. (Jer.29:7) God in the NT also tells us to pray for the kings and leaders over us even as we dwell in a spiritual Babylon. (I Tim.2:1-4, I Pt.5:13)
But what I mean is that as tent dwelling travelers we understand that the place we are in is not permanent. It is not our home. The people, the place, and the things they are all passing away because in a sense, we are walking away. We are going up. We are heading towards the Celestial City to be with our Lord. Like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim in “Pilgrim’s Progress”. (Phil.3:1-14)
So as earthen vessels and tent dwelling travelers we do not become over happy with the things of this world nor do we become overly despondent by them either. Paul shows us that new creatures in Christ can live with a holy “contempt” of this world and its things because we are absorbed with a holy devotion and love of Christ and the next word. (see 2 Cor.5:14)
Listen to the apostle Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians in his first letter.
I Corinthians 7:29. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.
New creatures in Christ are spiritually united to the living Christ.
Now let’s look at why Paul is so courageous and even optimistic in despite being a jar of clay and a tent of earth. The answer of course is that he is taking his own Spirit-inspired counsel to consider this life and especially his physical life in a spiritual way with an eye to eternity.
Paul gives the answer in 4:8-18 speaking about Christ’s resurrection from the dead and therefore our own resurrection from the dead.
Remember Jesus is our Head. We are joined to Him by the Spirit and by faith. We are His Body. As our Head rose from the dead, so shall we who are joined from Him shall be raised from the dead. Beloved, the resurrection from the dead is an absolutely fundamental truth of our holy religion. Without this truth the whole of Christianity comes crashing down. If Christ was not raised. We will not be raised. And then our faith in Jesus is in vain. And we are pitiful people.
Oh beloved, but Christ was raised. And we are not pitiful people. We are blessed people. Paul wrote this.
2 Corinthians 4:14. knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
This is what he is getting at in chapter five when he says that if our tent is torn down we have a building from God, a house made not with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Cor.5:1)
He refers to our spiritual entrance into heaven the moment we physically die. But he is also looking out to the very last day, the day of judgment that will usher in the eternal estate when God will give us glorified bodies just like Christ’s! (I Jn.3:2)
Let me say something about Paul’s faith here. First, he does have some advantages over us. He was in fact immediately converted by the Risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He also did have direct revelation from God the Holy Spirit. He wrote holy Scripture. He was also taught by Christ Himself on a number of occasions. Also, he did go to the third heaven and saw unspeakable glories, but God forbade him to speak about it. (2 Cor.12:1-2) Side note: a good warning from buying the books of all the people that (supposedly) die and go to heaven. Paul really did. God said do not write about it.
But for all these unique privileges he is still the same new creature in Christ we are. He has the same kind of faith joining him to the same Christ. Yes, this is strong faith. But this is what faith can do. Faith can take God at His word. Faith can believe God without doubting. And I mean really. This is what a strong Christ in a real Believer can do. Oh, we should be like Elisha about Elijah. He wanted the Lord to give him a doubly portion of Elijah’s spirit, meaning his faith. (2 Kg.2:9, James 5:17)
I know the Bible says strong faith can move mountains. I think what this means is strong faith can truly and strongly believe in God’s word. God says, you are a new creature in Christ. You have every blessing procured by Christ. Your temporal body will be replaced with an eternal heaven body. And faith says, Amen!
The more strongly we believe in Christ the more assurance of being in an estate of grace and salvation we will enjoy. The more strongly we believe that Christ died, and that Christ rose from the dead and that He will return to receive us to Himself the more closely we will emulate the apostle Paul.
More than just not being afraid of death, the apostle Paul actually longs to depart this life.
2 Corinthians 5:2. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–
New Creatures in Christ get sad and discouraged by sad and discouraging things in this life. And sometimes these things make us long to go Home, much like the prophet Elijah. But more than that the idea of seeing Jesus, being with Jesus, hearing Jesus, worshiping Him without any hindrance of sin is the great motivator for the Believer.
New creatures in Christ are courageous.
Let me show you another wonder gift or virtue that Christ has given all those in Him. New creatures in Christ have courage.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord– 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight– 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
I am reading a book about a journey led by a fellow named Shackleton on a ship called Endurance to cross Antarctica on foot. The ship gets trapped in an ice flow and I think the men stay for 20 months on that pack of ice and they are finally rescued. The story of courage and pure grit is amazing. It makes me ashamed of my lack of courage.
But beloved, when we live by faith in the Son of God we have access to greater strength and greater courage. We can face the world, the flesh and the devil and still yet live for Christ.
Think of the apostle Paul and the early church. Christians were despised by the people of honor and wealth and power. Christians were considered to be fools and the scum of the earth. We worshiped a crucified Man!
But as true Believers we are not ashamed of the gospel of the Cross. In fact, like Paul we glory in the cross of Christ. (I Cor.4:13, Gal.6:14, I Cor.2:1-2)
Oh beloved, new creatures in Christ can withstand the hatred and disdain and mocking of the world. They hated our Christ. They will hate us. We can swim against the mass of humanity. We can walk on the Narrow Road all the while the mass of humanity walks on a broad and an easy and a populous road. Oh beloved, the populated and easy road is a road to hell.
We can walk following our Jesus on the hard and narrow road to heaven.
New creatures in Christ are active for Christ.
Lastly, we love to obey Christ. We love to speak of Christ and for Christ. New creatures in Christ are evangelical. Those that know Jesus and all His glories want other people to know Him also.
2 Corinthians 5:9. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
2 Corinthians 5:14. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Oh Beloved, look up your redemption draweth nigh. Turn your eyes upon Jesus.