Comfort in Death
Comfort in the face of death
2 Corinthians 5:1-11
Much of what Paul has written about in 2 Corinthians revolves around comfort
In this chapter his is giving comfort in light of death and dying
I am sure that death and dying is not anyone’s favorite topic and perhaps is not what we would want to think about this morning
Yet Paul has much to say that can give us comfort even in light of death
ð A man who loved Jesus
ð A man who unashamedly served the Lord and shared Christ
ð As he was preaching some religious leaders captured him
ð Led him away and stoned him until he was dead
ð In the midst of that Stephen saw the clouds roll away and Jesus standing at the right hand of the throne of God
ð He prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit.”
ð Then “Do not hold this against them.”
ð Stephen stared death in the face and saw victory
ð He faced death with a great deal of confidence
Many today do not have this same sense of confidence; rather they have a great deal of fear.
Hebrew 2:14-15 speaks of those who lived their whole lives in fear of death and tells us that Jesus came to set them free from that fear and bondage
I talked with some teens one day who told me that the fear/thought of death was always on their minds; they said they played loud music to make them forget about it.
Paul give us four reasons why we can look into the face of death with great confidence:
1. We can face death with confidence when we realize that we are now living in a tent
2. We can face death with confidence when we understand what happens when we die
3. We can face death with confidence when we anticipate eternal life
4. We can face death with confidence when we are assured of our personal salvation.
I. We can face death with confidence when we realize that we are now living in a tent vv. 1, 4
Twice Paul refers to our earth house (body) as a tent. What do we know about a tent?
1. Tents are insecure
Not a good fortress if you are looking for protection
Not a good place to seek shelter from: Wild animals, severe weather, etc.
We like to camp down in Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay. One of the things that we have noticed is that storms arise very quickly from the water and that there is not much to block the intensity of the storm when it hits.
At least twice we have seen high winds and rain come in and rock the campers and destroy the tents.
*Not always the case, but if anything is destroyed it is the tents
In the same way tents are insecure so are our bodies:
ð Life is uncertain
ð Can be destroyed in a second (Illustration of tornados this past week in KY and IN)
ð No matter how much $$ we save up, how careful we are, or how much insurance we buy, LIFE IS INSECURE!!
David sums it up in 1 Samuel 20:3
Then David took an oath again, and said, “Your father certainly knows that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
2. Tents are uncomfortable
Tell by how many really “rough it” when they are camping (few tents)
Always manage to find a tree root or rock
Bathrooms are a ways off
Lots of noise around
No TV or kitchen table
There are many things that are uncomfortable about our “tents” as well
Sickness and disease
Finances at times
As we age it seems at times we become more “uncomfortable.”
How many of us have felt uncomfortable in our “tents?”
Notice what he says in verse 4
The confidence comes not from knowing these things but from knowing that they will pass away. God will take away our “tents” and give us a “building.” A house in the heavens.
Goes with what Jesus told His disciples in John 14
II. We can face death with confidence when we understand what happens when we die vv. 6-8
One thing that people fear most is the unknown
Certainly as it applies to death and dying people fear the unknown
1. Many ideas about what happens:
We just cease to exist: No afterlife, no heaven, nothing
Endless cycle of reincarnation until one becomes divine
*Based on how you life up or down in cycle
Tribal religions believe that the soul continues here on earth and joins with other souls of those departed in a place of darkness where there is neither joy nor sorrow
Islam teaches that in the end God will judge. Those who have done more bad than good will be condemned to hell. Those who have done more good will go to paradise where they can drink wine and be entertained by heavenly maidens whom they can take as their wives.
Some teach that people may go to purgatory to continue to be judged for a time
Some believe they become angels
2. Paul tell us a bit about what happens
1) We go into the presence of the Lord vv. 6, 8
There is not intermediate state to care for our sins: Jesus did that
We (believers) go directly into the presence of the Lord
See in Luke 16:19-23 With rich man and Lazarus
Even David in OT Psalm 23 had this hope or assurance
2) We will be given a new body vv. 1, 2
1 Cor. 15:50-55
1 Thess. 4:13-18 Our bodies will be raised when Jesus returns for Church at an event we call the rapture
1 John 3:2
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
3) We will appear before the judgment seat of Christ vv. 9-10
This will be a judgment for reward to our works
No one will stand at this judgment and be condemned for their sin
*All who are here will be believers
*Some will receive a greater reward than others
*All are and will be saved
For believers this can be something to look forward to and not to dread!!
III. We can face death with confidence when anticipate eternal life
Paul was longing for everlasting life vv. 2, 4
Same thought in Phil. 1:21 “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
1. Paul longed for eternal life because it was secure v. 1 “eternal in the heavens”
Nothing can take us away from God’s love
2. Paul longed for eternal life because mortality and death would end v. 4
Mortality will be swallowed up in life
3. Paul longed for eternal life because it was guaranteed v. 5
Nothing in this life is a certainty
Even when we buy things with “lifetime warranty.”
4. Paul longed for eternal life because he would be rewarded
Pressed on for the prize
5. Paul longed for eternal life because he would see God and be with his Savior
6. Paul longed for eternal life because it would be better than he could think or imagine
IV. We can face death with confidence when we are assured of our personal salvation
Paul wrote in verse 1 of what he “knew” not what he hoped for.
Peter talks of that confidence in 1 Peter 1 “place reserved in heaven for YOU!”
When one has the Son of God that one is assured of everlasting life
It all begins with faith in Jesus Christ
Paul shared with great confidence v. 8