The Earnest of the Spirit

June 26, 2014

The Earnest of the Spirit

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.   For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:    If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.    Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.    Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)    We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.    Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him”   (II Corinthians 5:1-9).

God gives us much reason for having hope.  The Apostle Paul began this chapter by saying “for we know.” In two other verses in this portion he makes mention of the confidence we have.  In verse six he says “We are always confident.” In verse eight he says, “We are confident.” Hope gives us reason for living.  If we are without it, it’s easy to be despondent and depressed.

The “earnest of the Spirit” is verification that God still has something better for us.  The word “earnest” means a pledge.  When the Bible speaks about earnest money it meant a down payment.  If we count our blessings, we will most likely be amazed at all God has already done for us.  Would you believe that he is saving the best for last?

The Bible teaches that at the moment we are saved the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us.  Romans 8:9 says, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If someone is genuinely saved he can’t help but realize that he has another spirit.  Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

When a believer comes near the end of his life it’s a consolation for him to know that God has something better for him.  His body, which Paul calls his earthly house and his tabernacle, begins to fall apart.  He is more and more limited in what he can do.  What a thrill it is to know that God has waiting for us “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” That is speaking of our new body.  I Corinthians chapter fifteen gives us reason to believe that it will have abilities that far exceed those of our physical body.  Even this earthly body is a marvelous manifestation of the power and wisdom of God.  Our heavenly body will be even more glorious.  Verses 41-44 say, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.    So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:    It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:    It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

When we die we will enter into what theologians call an intermediate state.  We will be with Christ, but we will not immediately have all that God has planned for us.  We will need to wait until the day of the resurrection.  That will take place when Christ comes back in the clouds to call his own to come up and be with him.  We read about it in I Thessalonians 4:16-18.  “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:   Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.    Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  In Luke 16:19-23 we read about the beggar Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom.  He is still waiting  for the day of the resurrection.  Paul says in verse two that we groan “desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.”  In verse eight is the promise that we shall be “absent from the body” and “present with the Lord.”

The truth is that the Bible leaves us with some questions about the intermediate state.  The Bible offers nothing to substantiate the Catholic teaching about purgatory. After death there is nothing left for us to do to be admitted into heaven.  Christ finished the work of our redemption when he died on the cross.  There is no reason to believe there will be a time when we are unconscious, or what is sometimes called soul sleep.

Unless he is alive when Christ comes in the air, the believer passes through three stages of life.  First is the time from birth to death.  After death he enters into the intermediate state.  The third stage is when he is given a heavenly body with some amazing capabilities.  For all we know, God may have even more stages planned for us.

It is hard for us to understand how we can function without a body.  When the Bible uses the word “tabernacle” it really means a tent.  We usually think of a tent as a temporary shelter.  Our earthly tabernacle, our body, is made from dust of the earth.  It goes from dust to dust.  It is delicate and deteriorates.

For the child of God, the best is always ahead of us.  We have a glorious future.  Dear reader, if you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, for you the best is in the past and the worst is yet ahead.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   God will judge and punish you if you have rejected his gracious offer of pardon and provision for a glorious future.  There is still hope for you if you will repent and ask God to forgive you and make you a child of his.  It is a decision you need to make now because no one knows how much more time we have.  Why not do it now?

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