Reading Time: 6 Minutes
Birth and death are two of the most profound “holy ground” moments of life.
When Toni gave birth to our three children, I was amazed at the athletic effort needed to deliver a child. I was completely awed by the creative power of God to bring forth life.
I have also been with families, as their loved ones breathed their last breath. These are painful, but also “holy” moments in a person’s life.
On one occasion, I was with a family as their mother and wife died. At the very moment of her death, the television show “Highway to Heaven” came on the TV in her room.
I believe God gave the family this experience to encourage them and comfort them that the woman they loved was in heaven. She had left her earthly existence to immediately begin one in the heavenly realm.
The question is whether what I have stated as fact is actually true. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul adds more information about heaven.
Immortality Versus Resurrection
The immortality of the soul was a Greek concept. In essence it believed that every living being has a soul that is immortal and not subject to death.
I’d like to split hairs over whether people have immortal souls or not. The Bible teaches resurrection, but not the immortality of the soul.
Our birth is dependent on the breath of God. In the creation story we read, “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2.7).
In a like manner, God has the ultimate say about death.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. (Psalm 104.29)
Immortality in the strictest sense is independent of God or the gods. It is something inherent to living beings.
The Hebrew-Christian belief in resurrection makes life – all of life from birth to death – completely dependent on God.
Paul described resurrection life with these words. He wrote, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5.2).
— Fact #1 – We are dependent on God to give us life beyond death. Good news. Just as God has fashioned a body completely suited for earth, we have another body fashioned for life beyond our time on earth.
— Fact #2 – Some form of bodily existence is the fact of resurrection life.
Paul wrote, “For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling —
“If indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked.
“For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5.2-4).
I am “out of my league” to attempt to describe this phenomena. What I know is that Paul anticipated some kind of bodily existence that was fashioned by God.
A person who experienced resurrection life was not an disembodied spirit, but a living embodied person.
What this will look like, I don’t know. This is something we must trust to God, knowing how good he is.
— Fact #3 – The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, guarantees that God is at work with us now and will be in the future.
Paul’s words were, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5.5).
I believe it was Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote, “God first showed us his love by giving us our lives. Then, he gave the life of his Son, so we might live forever.”
Everyone who lives in a friendship relationship with Jesus can join Paul in the confidence of eternal life after death.
“So we are always confident; even though 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.
“Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5.6-8).
Paul’s confidence is that to be absent from this earthly life is to be fully alive in the presence of the Lord.
Clearly, this fact must be embraced through faith. However, faith is not some leap in the dark. Faith is based on experience.
Paul’s conversion, and our conversion, should fill us with faith in what will happen in the future. A transformed life is not an illusion. Rather, it is a reality.
The personal relationship we have with the Holy Spirit is the guarantee (verse 5) and the “seal” (2 Corinthians 1.22) of God’s work in our lives.
We can trust our future, because of the present relationship we have with the Lord.
Present Behavior and Future Joy
Paul anticipated the future joy of a new body and a face-to-face relationship with Jesus. His expectation the future determined how he behaved while on earth.
He wrote, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
“For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5.9-10).
Jesus taught us to pray,
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6.10)
Paul made it his aim to do God’s will as he knew that he would serve God in heaven. So should we.
Paul knew that people are judged in heaven based on their earthly behavior. He made it his goal to always live in such a way as to please his Savior.
We would do well to imitate Paul.
May We Pray for You?
Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team that is honored to pray for you. Please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. We will pray for you.