By Don R. Hastings
The Christian’s attitude toward death is that it is a passage-way through which they must travel as they journey toward their eternal home in heaven. Death is a time for putting off the corrupt, physical body, so that our souls may be clothed with a glorious, spiritual body. Knowing this, we do not “faint”; that is, become despondent, as we grievously suffer, but are “always of good courage.”
Happy During Afflictions
We can be happy while enduring heartaches and troubles on this earth because this earth is only the temporary dwelling place of our souls, “for we know that if the earthly house . . . ” (text). The only way we could “know” this wonderful truth is by Divine revelation. Paul does not write, “It may be. . . ” or “Perhaps . . . . ” His writing is confident and such assurance should produce confident assurance in us that what he wrote is true (Heb. 11:1).
This “earthly house” will be “dissolved” (Eccl. 12:7). This will take place at death (Jas. 2:26). If we are still living in this bodily frame when Christ should come again, it will be changed then (1 Cor. 15:51,52).
This temporary, perishable tabernacle will one day give way to an eternal, incorruptible building. Just as the Israelites dwelt in tabernacles as they journeyed toward the promised land, so our spirit dwells in tabernacles as we journey toward the promise land. Just as the Israelites passed through the waters of Jordan, so we must pass through death.
No longer will our souls dwell in a temporary tabernacle, but in an eternal building (text). This building is in a city and all of it has been made by Deity (text; Heb. 11:10,13,16; John 14:1-3). This new dwelling place of the soul is “in the heavens,” not on the earth as the Premillennialists teach.
With Paul, we should greatly long for that spiritual body which will be “conformed to the body of his glory” (Phil. 3:20,21; text). This spiritual body will be incorruptible (pain and disease free), glorious (no blemishes), powerful (not weak and tired), spiritual, and immortal (not subject to death – 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 50-54).
In this body, we “do groan, being burdened” with the heartaches, stress and struggles of this life. Paul did not want to be “found naked” as an outcast (text; Rev. 3:18; Mt. 22:11-13). He didn’t want to be a disembodied spirit, but did strongly desire the glorious spiritual body awaiting him.
“Now he that prepared and made us ready for this state of immortality is God. He does this by the training and discipline he gives those who obey him while here in the flesh” (Commentary on New Testament Epistles, By David Lipscomb, Vol. III, p. 71). An “earnest” is a pledge, down-payment, or guarantee that a promise will be kept. The work of the Holy Spirit in revelation and confirmation serves as a guarantee that there will be life beyond the grave! We are of “good courage” because one day we shall be “absent from the body” and “at home with the Lord” (text).
Things Necessary To Do To Inherit Heaven
In order for us to receive our glorious, spiritual bodies and to “be at home with the Lord,” we must:
1. “Walk by faith, not by sight” (text; Rom. 1:17). We walk by faith when we: Let the Lord direct our footsteps (Prov. 3:5,6), are obedient to His commandments (Heb. 11), trust in His promises (text; Tit. 1:2), value that which is spiritual more than that which is material (example: we would rather feed the soul than the body and read the Bible more than watch television, etc.), abide within the teachings of Christ (Rom. 10:17; 2 John 9).
We live by sight when we: live to possess riches; only judge the value of something by the dollar value; fulfill fleshly lusts; go after that which is pleasant to the eyes (Gen. 3:6); live to be popular with the world (Jas. 4:4); consider human wisdom of greater worth than spiritual wisdom.
2. “Make it our aim . . . to be well-pleasing unto him” (text). Are you seeking to please yourself or the Lord? Are your speech, thoughts, actions, dress, etc. pleasing to the Lord?
Remember, we shall be individually judged by what we have done (text). We shall be judged by the Bible (Jn. 12:48). The Lord will be our impartial, righteous judge (1 Pet. 1:17). We often emphasize that we may receive a “bad sentence” at the judgment, but the context of this verse shows that those who live by faith can look forward to the judgment (Matt. 25:34).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 23, p. 712
December 4, 1986