Bible Passages: 2 Cor 4:16-18, and 5:7-11
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV)
7 For we live by faith, not by sight.
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. (2 Cor. 5:7-11 NIV)
Key OT/NT passages on how this passage fits within the Bible story as a whole
The word for ‘church’ essentially means a gathering or assembly – in Acts 19 (above) the word ‘ekklesia’ (underlined above in translation) refers equally well to a riot or a courtcase. In Bible terms, though, it means people gathered to God. In that regard, Adam and Eve represent a proto-church as they walk with God in the garden. Following the Fall, Adam and Eve are scattered East of Eden. Beginning with Abraham in Genesis 12, God promises to regather a people to himself (Gen 12, 15). This finds expression as God’s people are assembled at Sinai. It is here that the people are gathered as Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God (Exodus 19:1-6 – described by Stephen as an assembly, or ‘church’, in Acts 7:38). This gathering of God’s people was marked by God’s presence, his words of promise and direction, and the establishment of God’s people as his own possession.
Jesus, in choosing 12 disciples, is re-establishing the people of God. By faith, they become God’s new kingdom people, having come to him (Heb 12:18-24), and being seated with him (Eph 2:6). This New Testament assembly or church is centred on Jesus as its head (Eph 4:15), indwelt by the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), serving one another (Gal 5:13), united by him (Phil 1:27), and awaiting the day of Christ’s return (Rev 22:17).
Brief note on key themes of series
The series aims to build our understanding of the church, and our commitment to it, by exploring the doctrine of the church from four angles. The church centred on Christ, belonging to and loved by him. The church focussed on the future, awaiting the final day when we will be the bride of Christ. The church working as one, united in Christ and showing mutual grace. And the church is gathered around God’s word, informed by and addressed by the true God through his living word.
Structure of this week’s sermon
As God’s church, we are…
1) Fixing our eyes on the future
As God’s church, we don’t belong here on earth, but we fix our eyes on our heavenly home. Our present experience is seen with our eyes but temporary. Our future glory is not yet seen with our eyes, but it will last for ever. We are longing for (lit.) an ‘eternal weight of glory’. As we do so, we are to ask: Am I patient for God’s future, knowing that my future glory far outweighs what I have now?
2) Persuading others about the future
In 2 Cor 5:11, Paul allows the news of future judgement to motivate his evangelism. We are a church which knows that the time is short, and that there will only be two destinations. As a church, are we seeking to warn others of coming judgement and the return of Christ? We need to ask: As I long for God’s future, am I seeking to bring others with me?
Summary of author’s main point
Christians have a certain heavenly future which far outweighs their present troubles
Aim/purpose for original audience
Be patient and persuade others as you wait for your certain heavenly future
Aim/purpose for us today
We are to be patient and persuade others as we wait for our certain heavenly future
Key area of application
How would you complete the sentence, “I want to share the gospel with people because…”? If there are only two destinations in the future, that relativizes the social cost, and maximises the gospel urgency. How concerned are we not only to enjoy future glory, but bring others with us?