The Expository Files

We Are of Good Courage

 2 Corinthians 5:7
 

You can find the people of God in either one of two places. All of them. Every last single, solitary one of them. No exceptions! Period. (Have I gotten this point across yet?).

Where are these two places? Well, every child of God is either on earth waiting to go and be at home with the Lord, or he/she is already at home with the Lord. For that reason, children of God are "of good courage".

This is Paul's point to the Corinthians. Either we are "at home in the body" and "absent from the Lord" or we are "at home with the Lord and absent from the body".

The Text
"Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord - for we walk by faith and not by sight - we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:6-10).

Of Good Courage
"Therefore, always being of good courage...we are of good courage" (2 Corinthians 5:6,8).

Heaven was not only Paul's destination; it had also become his motivation. The hope of heaven gave Paul the strength and courage he needed to endure and overcome.

The word "courage" is from the Greek word "tharrhountes". It means to be bold and confident. A very similar word in the Greek is "tharseo". It is translated "take courage" or be of good cheer" (KJV) which meant "don't be afraid!" or "cheer up!".

This well describes one of the blessings that men and women of faith receive from the Lord when we allow our faith to become what it ought to be. It enables the Christian to "confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6).

In The Body - Faith
"...and knowing that while we are at home in the body that we are absent from the Lord - for we walk by faith and not by sight -..." (2 Corinthians 5:6b-7).

At the present time we live by faith in the promises of God. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). The word "assurance" means "evidence" or "substance". What this means is that while we live by faith in things not seen, we do not live by an unsubstantiated faith based on no evidence. Our faith has been substantiated and it is reasonable, It is not blind or irrational.

The best evidence for the reliability of our faith in the unseen is that which has been seen, specifically the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Because He lives, and was actually seen alive by many, we are assured that our faith is viable (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 1 John 1:1-3).

But it is still faith because we have not gone to be with the Lord yet. Nor can we in these bodies of flesh and bone. We have not received the promises of our new home yet. But we have as our hope, motivation and destiny, a home with the Lord waiting for us.

At Home With The Lord - Sight
"...for we walk by faith and not be sight - we are of good courage, I say, and prefer to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:7,8).

My study of the Scriptures leads me to believe that when the righteous die, they go immediately into the Lord's presence, and have done so since His ascension into heaven. Where before His death, they went to a waiting place, they now go directly into His presence. But, they are not complete until the resurrection when they will be reunited with their bodies which in turn are changed into spiritual bodies. Right now, the righteous dead are disembodied spirits, or souls, waiting for their new bodies. However, they are conscious and in the Lord's presence. Note the following:

The Scriptures indicate that when Jesus arose and ascended, something changed with the state of the righteous dead. They left Hades and were led by Him as He ascended back to God (Matthew 27:52,53; Ephesians 4:8-10).

Our text, as well as these other other passages, indicate that when the righteous die they go to be with the Lord (Acts 7:59; Philippians 1:23; Revelation 6:9-11).

When Jesus returns, He will bring with Him the souls of the righteous dead, which indicates they will already be with Him. They will at that time be reunited with their bodies which will change in a twinkling of an eye (1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44;50-52).

Then, the righteous will be taken by Jesus to the Father, no longer as disembodied souls but rather now equipped anew with spiritual bodies through which they can fully enjoy the blessings of the redeemed throughout eternity (1 Corinthians 15:24; 2 Corinthians 5:4,5).

So for now, Paul expected that when he died his soul would go and be with Jesus to await the resurrection. With his victory in eternity secure and his struggles over, and in the presence of His Lord and Savior, Paul says that "To be absent from the body and at home with the Lord" is something he preferred to remaining on in the body. But, as always, our attitude should be "not as I will, but as Thou will." We seek to fulfill God's purpose as we run our course on earth. But when life has run its course, we shall not be discouraged as we live and die by faith.

Basis of our Good Courage
"Therefore, we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:9,10).

Of course, the basis of our hope is the promises of God. But while this is true, it is also true that these promises of one day being at home with the Lord are not unconditional. They are conditioned upon our proper response to grace. The choice of living or dying does not belong to us, but the choice as to what to do with our lives does. Men and women of faith have it as their "ambition" to please the Lord, now and forever.

The word "ambition" comes from the Greek word "philotimoumenta". It is a verb meaning "to aim, honor, love, aspire". It becomes our life's endeavor to please the Lord by our living, realizing that we will be judged on that basis. But our labor becomes a labor of love as we realize that the goal of our efforts is a home with God. Any who suggest that those in the grace of God are judged by something other than the deeds they have done in the body, "whether good or bad", are in error (cf. Romans 2:5-11).

What this means is that we must obey the gospel and continue to walk in the light. When we fall short, we must repent and ask for forgiveness. Thanks to God's grace and love, we are assured of forgiveness if we continue to walk in the light (1 John 1:6-2:1).

But 'walking in the light" ought not to be a problem for someone whose "ambition" is to please the Lord in all things, for His commandments are not burdensome. In fact, this is the secret of maintaining "good courage". We walk by faith and look forward to the day when faith will become sight. Life, even during the stormier times, is better lived by faith. Yes, you can now find the people of God in one of two places, but the time is coming when they will all be found only in one place.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 6.1; January 1999



 

 

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