For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.2 Corinthians 5:1(NASB)
The beginning of chapter 5 is closely linked with earlier chapters, where we are encouraged not to lose heart because of the inevitable suffering and pain we all experience in our fallen, dying bodies. We may be living in an earthen vessel - a frail and deteriorating human frame, but as believers, we have the indwelling Spirit of the eternal God in our heart and have received absolute assurance of our secure, heavenly destination.
In his earlier letter to the Corinthians, Paul set out a most comprehensive treatise on the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, for all who are positioned in Christ and one with Him. In this passage Paul contrasts our present condition with our future dwelling place... and encourages us not to lose heart, when encompassed about by persecution and pain, or when hard-pressed on every side.
Despite being in the midst of death because of sin, we have an assurance of great glory to follow.. for we have been saved by grace through faith in Him. The present suffering and pain we experience in this mortal frame can never be compared with the great glory that is awaiting us because we are in Christ - "For we know that if this earthly tent which is our house is torn down", (through persecution, worldly oppression or death) we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, which is eternal, and kept for us in the heavens".
The moment we are born we start a journey towards our death, and for the duration of this earthly life we inhabit a physical frame that marches on to an inevitable conclusion, for one day, we all must face death. Paul describes this as living in a temporary, earthly tent, which will one day be torn down... and as the previous chapter indicates, may be due to persecution or suffering inflicted on those who are saved.
And yet the great comfort with which all God's children are comforted, is that this earthly body is not our permanent residence. The body we inhabit is simply a caretaker covering, that will one day be replaced with a much better, permanent place of residence - a resurrected, glorified body. He has promised an eternal home in which we will be housed.. an everlasting and secure heavenly dwelling-place, which is ours by God's grace, through faith in Him.
When the icy fingers of death encircles the throat of its victims, physical life ceases and the body goes into the grave - for from dust we were made and to dust we shall return. Nevertheless, the amazing truth in this verse is that whenever our earthly body is destroyed through death... the temporary tent which houses our spirit and soul will be replaced with a permanent building from God - a house not made with hands but one that is gloriously constructed for us by the Lord.
As part of the old creation we were excluded from heavenly places... for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. But as new creatures in Christ we have the assurance of our bodily resurrection - a house in heaven, not made by hands - a dwelling-place that is not part of the old, fallen creation, but a perfect dwelling-place - that will live eternally with our heavenly Saviour.
Heavenly Father, thank You for my life and the knowledge that by grace through faith I have been made a new creation in Christ and that this earthly body will be replaced with a heavenly dwelling, not made with hands but formed and fashioned by my God and Saviour. Thank You for the words of encouragement in Paul's letter to the Corinthians, that no matter what trials, tribulation, persecution and pain we may have to face while living in this earthly tent, we have the assurance of a permanent building from God - an eternal house in the heavens, for which we praise and thank You. Keep me ever mindful that this world is not my home and that my citizenship and eternal inheritance is kept for me in heaven. Thank You that one day I will be dressed in immortality and be made like unto Jesus - my God and my Saviour. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.