Looking for a New Home
When our children were younger, there was a neighboring church in our community that hosted an annual “father/son campout.” We were part of it for several years and we always enjoyed it. Everyone, except for a few, slept in tents.
We’ll never forget the one weekend because it rained most of the time. Some of you know that water and tents don’t go well together. Unless you spend a lot of money, your tent isn’t truly waterproof. I remember getting half-awake in the night because it felt like my feet were wet. Sure enough, the tent was on a bit of a slope and the low side had filled up with water. My sleeping bag and the sleeping bags of my boys were all soaked at the bottom.
And because it rained most of the weekend, there was no time for them to dry out properly. That was miserable. I recall being so ready for that weekend to be over. I wanted to sleep in a soft, comfortable, dry place. I wanted to go HOME!
But you know, many people across the world today have been forced out of their homes. Wars, famine, failed governments, and religious persecution has caused millions of people to look for a new home. Property has been confiscated or destroyed. Family members have been lost, and those who suffer see no future in staying. So, they go looking for a new home.
Are you thinking about looking for a new home? You should be. Why do I say that? Because I’m thinking long-term, beyond this life and our earthly existence. If you’re a follower of Christ, then this world isn’t your home; it’s just a temporary place to live.
And that’s what we want to consider today as we look together at Second Corinthians and the first ten verses of chapter five. I invite you to join our study, “Looking for a New Home.” Listen now as I read Second Corinthians 5:1-10.
In this text, Paul outlines for us the STEPS in the process of “Looking for a New Home.”
The First STEP in looking for a new home is,
In the Market
I’ve only moved a few times in my life, but the first step was always a recognition of need. Going from renting to owning, a growing family, a change of job, or relocating to a different community are all reasons for needing a new home. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, you have to be “in the market.” In other words, you begin to check out what is available.
In our text, Paul relates this idea of “being in the market” to our focus, as Christ-followers on what is unseen. In chapter four, verse eighteen he writes, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” This is the context for Paul’s teaching.
He begins by reminding us that our current dwelling is only temporary. It’s actually quite fragile. He calls it a tent. Most of us have seen actual tent cities, or at least pictures of them. Homelessness in our inner cities or refugee camps is often the setting for large numbers of tents. They’re not made to be long-lasting or semi-permanent. They’re easily damaged by wind, fire, or water. Eventually, they’re going to wear out and need replacement.
This is true of our bodies too. In talking about this tent that is our current dwelling, the KJV uses the word dissolved. NKJV uses the word destroyed. But the word is actually quite appropriate for the collapsing or taking down of a tent. So, Paul says “we know that if our earthly house, the tent we dwell in is taken down…” Now really, there’s no if about it. At some point, our earthly tent will be unneeded. We will be in the market for a new home.
But let’s go on. If and when that earthly tent of our body is taken down, “a building proceeding from God we have, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” That wording may seem a bit awkward, but it conveys the concept accurately.
I believe Mark 14:58 helps us better understand this terminology. These words are recorded as part of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin. “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’” So, one temple, one tent, was going to be destroyed, and another one was going to be built without hands. What is that house built without hands? I believe it is the resurrection body we will receive – just like the one our Lord has.
When you study the original wording of this text you immediately learn that the building or house God has for us is much more substantial than the present tent we live in! The tent is temporary, it will one day collapse and be no longer needed. But look at the upgrade; a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And notice, Paul says, “we have…” present tense.
How can it be that Paul speaks of something still in the future for us as something we already have? I’m not currently living in a resurrection body, are you? Here’s the point; our union with Christ makes this building an actual possession even though we don’t yet live in it. Remember, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1.
And why are we in the market for a new home? Paul writes, “in this tent we are groaning, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” Here, Paul mixes the metaphors of building and clothing – not such a stretch for a tentmaker, right? We want to put on our heavenly dwelling place like a piece of clothing. The word, longing, indicates not just a desire but an intense craving. Our union with Christ should create in us a longing to be in His presence.
Paul’s statement in verse three reflects the culture in which he was writing and needs some explanation. In the Greek worldview, to be naked meant to become a disembodied spirit. Paul explains that our groaning in this earthly tent is not a desire to be “unclothed,” to become a spirit without a body, but rather to be clothed with our new body. The reason is, that we want what is mortal, what is perishable, to be swallowed up by life.
When Paul writes of the mortal being swallowed up by life, my mind immediately goes to First Corinthians 15. His use of katapino means to drink down in one gulp. The change will be instantaneous. Here are his words. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
There are hints in this text that the apostles regarded the coming of the Lord as imminent. In their minds, it was possible that they wouldn’t die. Part of the groaning in our earthly tent is our natural fear of death. This isn’t the fear of the unbelieving; just the fear about how the process will unfold for us personally. If death was going to deprive Paul of a body, he would rather have this new being come down on him while he was still alive. It would be like putting on a new garment, and that new garment would swallow up the old one.
So, I ask you, “are you in the market for a new home?” If your focus in life is on the unseen, then you realize that everything you can see or touch is only temporary, including your physical body. And depending on your age, you have a greater or lesser awareness of the inevitable collapse of your earthly tent. But don’t despair, because you already own, by faith, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The Next STEP in looking for a new home is,
You’ve taken the first step in looking for a new home; you’re in the market. Now what? When you find a place you like, you’re ready to sign a contract, right? As a Christ-follower, the contract for your new home is already signed and guaranteed. Why do I say that?
Look at verse five. “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” The KJV uses the words “hath wrought.” That’s past tense, isn’t it? Remember, I said earlier we are possessors of our new home by faith.
And the one who has prepared us for this very purpose, this new form of existence in a new home, is God. He wrote the contract, and He gave us His Spirit as a pledge, a down payment, a guarantee, that it will be fulfilled. Now, I know, we don’t normally refer to our salvation, our relationship with the Lord, as a contract; it’s a covenant. But it is an agreement.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Those are the requirements of the covenant, confess with your mouth and believe with your heart. When you meet those, God meets His; He saves you!
Because of this assurance, we are confident that, as long as we are “at home” among our own people (that is, among those physically alive) we are “away from home” where the Lord is. It can’t be any other way. First Corinthians 15:50 assures us, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”
This doesn’t mean we have no connection or contact with God; we do. We have prayer, the Word, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. But Paul had, and so should you and I, heavenly homesickness, a strong yearning to be with the Lord.
Earlier in First Corinthians chapter 15, Paul wrote, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so, it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
This confidence that Paul expressed and that we have comes because we walk by faith and not by appearance. In other words, our faith rests on the actual appearance of the heavenly things that are promised to us.
The Final STEP in looking for a new home is,
Preparing to Move
I have friends who recently bought what was, for them, a new home. But the previous occupants had just “up and left,” leaving behind spoiled food in the refrigerator, and junk throughout the house and garage. Not only that, but the place was also incredibly dirty.
Most people I know aren’t like that. In the days leading up to the move, they don’t trash the place. And when they’re ready to move, they pack up all their stuff and give the home they’re leaving a decent cleaning. They may not shampoo carpets or wash walls, but they don’t leave the place looking like a pigpen, either.
Paul says in verse 9, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” As we await the timing of the move to our final home, like Paul, we should make it our goal to live a life that honors God. Paul’s use of the word aim isn’t proud or egotistical. It comes from a Greek word that means “to love what is honorable.” Paul’s whole life and ministry demonstrate to us that it is right to strive for excellence, set spiritual goals, and strive to make everything we do honorable before God.
The motivation for this goal is that we will all appear before the bema, the judgment seat of Christ. Corinth had a bema, a raised platform where the athletes of that day’s Olympics were crowned for their victories. So, Paul’s audience immediately knew what Paul was talking about. The focus here isn’t so much on judgment, but on rewards.
This is certainly not the judgment of the wicked. And it isn’t the judgment of our sins because Christ already took care of those on the cross. In fact, the words used here don’t refer to moral good or moral evil. Instead, Paul is comparing what is worthwhile and eternally valuable with that which is useless. In First Corinthians 3 he talks about two kinds of works: gold, silver, and precious stones. Then he lists wood, hay, and stubble, and says that all of these will be tested by fire. What endures is worthwhile, lasting, and eternal. What burns is lost.
As Believers, God doesn’t expect us to forego the enjoyment of wholesome, earthly things. But we should use those things in a way that glorifies Him and points others toward Him. We ought to spend the bulk of our energy and time on things that have eternal value.
Are you looking for a new home? Or are you satisfied with the “tent” you’re living in? You can dress it up, remodel it, and reinforce it but it’s still temporary. Or do you have an intense desire, a craving to move to your new home?
Is your new, eternal home under contract? Are you remembering that the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life is the down payment or guarantee of the fulfillment of that contract? Are you living by faith, confident in the ultimate appearance of the heavenly things promised to you?
And finally, are you preparing to move? Is it your highest goal to live in a way that is well-pleasing to your Master? If so, you can be confident in the rewards that await you as a faithful servant of the Lord.