by Mike Ratliff
13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. (2 Peter 1:13-14 ESV)
Unlike Peter, the Lord has not made it clear to me the putting off of my body will be soon (see the passage above). However, I do not deny that my desire for the ending of this tabernacling in this earthly tent grows deeper with each skirmish or battle in the Truth War. However, over the last few years as I have witnessed the growing darkness in American culture and the corresponding apostasy in the “visible church” my focus has been more and more on the eternal. This, of course, leads to much joy because my life is lived more and more from a heavenly perspective even when experiencing much resistance from those who hate God’s truth.
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, the Apostle Paul declares to us the incredible utility that comes to true believers through the Cross of Christ. In this, he shows us how we should prepare ourselves unto it, by whom, and to what end. As we fight the good fight, stand firm in the face of the growing apostasy consuming the visible church, God is not unaware of what is going on. He knows our thoughts and the intents of our hearts. He knows what our motives are. Therefore…
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV)
Here is v1 in Koine Greek: οιδαμεν γαρ οτι εαν η επιγειος ημων οικια του σκηνους καταλυθη οικοδομην εκ θεου εχομεν οικιαν αχειροποιητον αιωνιον εν τοις ουρανοις
The two words at the beginning of this passage, “we know,” is the Greek word οιδαμεν. This is a very interesting word. It means, “to know intuitively.” Paul’s point here is that we know intuitively what he is sharing in this passage because of being a child of God. This knowledge accompanies the New Birth in Christ. This is something that applies across the board with God’s truth. The unregenerate simply cannot grasp it no matter how well we share it or what books they read. Nothing can open their heart to understand God’s truth unless it is by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit according the mercy of God (Titus 3:5).
In v1 Paul is telling believers that if their earthly home is destroyed that they have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. This is the truth that what is alive spiritually in us is our real person, not the body. This is why Paul used the Greek word for tent, σκηνους, here to describe our bodies. This is the material portion of our person. In this age, in pop-culture especially, it is as if this σκηνους, is what it is all about and that it will go on forever. However, the truth is that this earthly (η επιγειος) home or tent (οικια του σκηνους) will be destroyed or dissolved (καταλυθη) in God’s timing. The word Paul used here that is translated as “destroyed” in the ESV means “to demolish.” Yes, this is going to happen in due time, however, those in Christ have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
This is a description of death of the mortal body. However, unlike those who have no eternal hope, those of us in Christ should see this as an encouragement as the reality of our mortality comes to bear. The word translated as “building” in v1 is οικοδομην, which means, “the process of building something.” In other words, God is, as I am typing this, building a new house for my spirit, which will be disembodied at the point of my death, leaving my old body remaining on earth. My new body is completely new, “a house not made with hands,” οικιαν αχειροποιητον. This is the completion of my eternal body. My new body has two qualities that we must understand now. The first is that it will be similar to my current body and identifiable, however, it will not be identical because it is αχειροποιητον or unhandmade. Instead, it is produced by God. This is the same word used by Christ referring to the resurrection of His body after three days and nights in the tomb. The bodies we have now were born into this world, but those resurrected in Christ, the righteous dead (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), will be changed by God to new, glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). The second quality of my new body is that it is going to be eternal, αιωνιον.
Of what does this αιωνιον quality consist? This is the idea of eternality focused on what characterizes God Himself. The life that is given at salvation to believers is the promise of ζωην αιωνιον (life eternal), not denoting duration of a period of time, but to the quality of the life. This life can never be lost or taken away once a person is justified by faith, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
On the other hand, αιωνιον, is always related to time using the form αιωνια as in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 translated below as “eternal.”
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)
Therefore, what we see and experience in these bodies is temporal or transient, but what awaits us with God in our new bodies is αιωνια or eternal, which is that which is not temporal, cannot be lost, nor destroyed. This life that awaits all those in Christ is εν τοις ουρανοις, in the heavens. This is where God is and where the believer will find his or her ultimate rest.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV)
This should be an encouragement to all of us truly in Christ, but it should also be a point of reflection for those who should examine their motives for what they are doing attacking those who stand firm on God’s Word as the Truth and live and minister accordingly. Those who say they are Christians also, but who are following hard after every wind of human philosophy while ignoring what God’s Word clearly says should really stop what they are doing and do some serious self-examination. However, as we saw above, the truth is only intuitively apparent to those truly in Christ for they are born again. They are regenerate and can see the truth plainly while those who are unregenerate are spiritually blind and can only see the temporal while being consumed by the lies of our enemy.
This post really isn’t about persecution of Christians that is going on right now all over the world, but it certainly applies. Islam has declared war on Christianity. Those Muslims who have become radicalized by their leaders believe they are serving their god Allah by killing Christians who do not convert to Islam. It is happening in the Middle East and Africa and if things keep going the way they are in the U.S, well, be prepared. God may very well have judged this country and allowed this evil government to weaken us and given over our culture to its lusts and now our worst enemy possible, militant, radical, Jihadists who call our country the great Satan may very well be allowed by God to attack us with impunity. If that does happen and if you are given the option of converting to Islam or dying or watching as your family is killed before you unless you convert, what are you going to do? Where is your treasure? I know this, if my flesh is in control, I will fail this test, but if the Spirit of Christ is in control I will pass it and will find myself standing before my Lord as one of His martyrs.
My brethren, be encouraged in the Lord. No matter what your circumstances are now, what awaits those who are In Christ in eternity is going to be according to ζωην αιωνιον in οικιαν αχειροποιητον.
Soli Deo Gloria!