21 May, 2024

May 19 Study | Hope

by | 13 May, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: 2 Corinthians
Theme: Character
Lesson Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1-21
Supplemental Texts: Psalm 147:10-11; John 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:35-56
Aim: Take comfort that “if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

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By Mark Scott

Hope is the fuel that throttles faith. It drives it forward, and as such, it is a powerful motivator. Anne Lamott said, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” The gospel is hope-filled, and ministers of reconciliation need buckets of it to continue to persuade others. 

In this beautiful section about the ministry, Paul has already stated that we have a ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1) and we have a treasure (4:7). Then he stated, “We have . . . an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (5:1, emphasis mine). In hope we long for that forever home.  

Hope Sustains Us in the Daily Grind
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 

Paul called our current address—the human body—an earthly tent. Someday it will be destroyed. But Christians need not worry because they have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven. It will last because it was not built with human hands.  

But the grind is so daily. Now we groan (to be made narrow, or contracted, or squeezed) and are burdened (weighed down). Our preference would be to go to our heavenly dwelling. That is where the earthly tent will be clothed for eternity. Christians need the heavenly clothes of immortality that can be provided only by Christ. The old life constrained by the things of this world will be swallowed up (as in drinking something down) by God’s life. God can bring this about in our daily grind, and he has given proof of that by giving the Holy Spirit like a deposit on that heavenly home (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22). 

Part of the daily grind is realizing that so long as we remain on this stained planet, we are away from the Lord. But faith makes us confident (to be of good cheer and have courage)—used twice in this passage—that we shall be at home with the Lord someday. Presently, we live in such a way as to please the Lord. This present service to him is rooted in the reality that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Judgments and rewards will be given out then (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15), so this makes the daily grind worth it. 

Hope Motivates Us in the Glorious Ministry
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 

This section is clearly one of the high-water marks of New Testament Scripture. In a similar fashion as Romans 3:21-26, it marks out how Jesus’ death on the cross made us right with God. But in this case that message of the cross is placed within a missional context.  

Paul gave two great motivations for sharing the message of God’s reconciliation. The fear of the Lord caused Paul to persuade others of their need for the gospel, and the love of Christ compelled him to help others become new creations. Paul’s credibility to persuade others was rooted in his “open book” policy of ministry. He did not need commendation from the church (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3). The church knew his heart. He lived a life of good conscience (Acts 23:1). He wanted the Corinthians to take pride in what really mattered (i.e., matters of the heart).  

The glorious ministry is centered in the death and life of Jesus. Jesus died—a large historical fact and huge theological truth. So, in a sense, the day that he died is when all those who accept him also died. Believers died with Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). This death announced Christians’ death to self so that they could no longer live for themselves but for Jesus.  

Earthly constraints made the people look at Jesus from a worldly point of view (fleshly). Jesus was at one time just an olive-skin colored Jew. But when they came to really know who Jesus was, they could see that he was the Savior of the world and the only One who could make them into new creatures.  

This glorious ministry was all God’s idea. He chose by his salvific act to reconcile (bring together parties that were alienated) people to himself. But then he went a step further. He entrusted this message to his ambassadors (elders or presbyters). A stunning truth is that God makes his appeal (encouragement) through people. He still uses people to save people. He has chosen, due to Christ’s sacrifice, not to count people’s sins against them. God was “hugging the world to himself” (Cotton Patch Version of the Bible) through Christ. God made the sinless Jesus sin for us. The result? We could become the righteousness of God. The appeal of this glorious ministry is simple: Be reconciled to God. It is your only hope. 

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