In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul emphasizes to them (3:9-15) that they need to take care to use good materials for building of their (spiritual) house…and that the foundation for the house must be Jesus Christ. Some of the Corinthian believers are going back to following the mindset of their culture, and are engaging in worldly, selfish attitudes and behaviors. They need to return to their “first love”...an important message that Paul encourages the Corinthians to consider. He wants them to build on the foundation a spiritual house, or as Jesus tells it in the Sermon on the Mount, to build upon the Rock. If we allow Jesus to be in control of our lives, one day we will have a spiritual home with Him in heaven …and a spiritual body in order to take up residence there.
Jesus shares with his disciples in John 14:1ff that He is going to make things better. He is going away to prepare a place for them. He is going to a heavenly place to prepare to welcome them to a better home. Paul, in this passage, sees the body that we all have simply as a temporary shelter…a tent. The body is only a temporary house for the soul. And Paul is a tentmaker, so this is an easy analogy for him to make. In fact, I saw a saying recently that made this point succinctly. It said, “You do not have a soul…you are a soul and your soul has a body.” This is so true. Paul longs to be free from his present imperfect body. He truly anticipates his spiritual body that he will receive one day when Jesus Christ comes again. This should be the same experience and yearning for everyone who is in Christ.
Paul teaches the Corinthians that when a believer dies, the body goes to the grave, and the soul goes on to be with Christ. Some false teachers at that time denied that there would be any future bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12ff), but envisioned some sort of disembodied immortality. Even though it is hard to understand exactly what will take place in the end times, Paul says that believers will not be bodiless for eternity, but at the 2nd Coming of Christ, they will “be clothed again.” At the Second Coming, Christ (His Spirit) will reunite soul and body in miraculous manner to make a spiritual, eternal body that lives on with God forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13ff, 1 Corinthians 15:43ff). Paul describes this glorified body as “beautiful.” It will never decay as do our earthly bodies, for the spiritual body is suited for heaven. Paul longs for this! We must not be frustrated or fear as it relates to the trials and sufferings of this life, but we must be patient and long for eternity with the Lord. Paul’s ambition is to please Christ…to live for Him. This is due to the fact that he understood that death would be the beginning of his actually being in the presence of the Lord (Philippians 1:20-25). To have the hope of communion with Christ face to face following death should motivate all of us to live right now. In this, we need to be faithful and trust in Him in order that one day we can be with Him. John shares, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10, NIV). The Father has given each person the opportunity to receive a spiritual body, and it is all possible through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, shed on the cross. Jesus came and died in order to take away the sins of mankind. His blood washes our sins away. Jesus was the first one to be raised eternal from the dead in order that one day we might be raised with Him when He does come again. Like Paul, we need to see heaven not simply as a destination, but as a motivation. The tent that we live in will come down. We must long for something better…an eternal dwelling…and receive it.
It is known from history that some of the early Spanish explorers to this (Western) part of the world were searching for “the eternal fountain of youth.” One explorer in particular thought he had discovered it among the islands of the Bahamas. However, his was only a dream, as he would…before too many years…grow old and perish. Man has always had a yearning for this fountain or Holy Grail (as depicted by Indiana Jones and many other movies, etc.) If people would only realize that they do have access to this fountain…it is found in the Living Water of Jesus Christ. There is not much hope for this physical body…this “tent” is going to come down. We must not fear, though, because even the body dies, there is hope. We may be frustrated with the trials and the sufferings of this life, but we must be patient, long for an imperishable, spiritual body one day.
What is a significant concern to me, though, is that we live in a world where people live as if they are imperishable in these perishable bodies. I have known many other young people, even those raised in Christian families, who have chosen to live a worldly existence. I had a discussion with one such “Christian” young man one time, and I asked him why he was living the way that he was at the time. He said that “he enjoyed the world.” If the world system was entirely unpresentable, then it certainly would not be so easy for Satan to tempt people to give up the eternal for the sake of the temporal. I tried to get him to understand that the way we live now has eternal ramifications. He believed that he had plenty of time in order to straighten out his life. Fortunately for him, he was able to truly find the Lord and put aside his worldly ways. That is not always the case, however. We live in a time where people, including many believers, think that they can live however they wish in relationship to the world system and that it is ok. Many other believers have no time to be with the body of Christ, but are too busy. I believe that these are places where there is a great false sense of security at work. The Lord does not call us to be His spiritual people in this world that we would live in any of these ways, but that we would be productive citizens in the Kingdom of God and for the Body of Christ. Once we realize that our present living has eternal ramifications, it should focus us and motivate us toward living a faithful life for the Lord. Friends, we are building for eternity. Do we build with inferior materials or do we build with choice materials on the foundation of Christ? Don’t ever forget, the house we will have later on depends on the material we are using now. And if we are genuinely faithful, committed until death or until Christ comes again, we will have a home with Him for eternity.