16 January 2013

Accepted of Him -- Part 1

2 Corinthians 5:10 contains the second direct New Testament mention of the judgment seat of Christ.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Here’s what we have in the verse:

1.  We MUST all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (cr. Hebrews 9:27).
2.  The reason – to be rewarded for our deeds (cr. Ezekiel 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10).
3.  The first word of the verse – and this is what we’d like to focus on – is For…  What that means is that the statements of verse 10 are made to explain or give the reason for something else that is stated in the chapter.

Let’s start all the way back in verse 1 to find out what that is.

1 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.

What is our earthly house of this tabernacle?  Reading on, we understand this to be our temporal, earthly body.  So what then is this house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?  Well, that would have reference to our eternal, heavenly body (cr. 1 Corinthians 15:42-54). 

So the verse is an expression of this confidence: as believers, we KNOW that when we die and move out of this earth-suit, we have a new body waiting for us in heaven.  This confidence is repeated throughout the chapter.  We are not hoping to get to heaven.  If we have trusted Jesus Christ, there is no doubt about it. 

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 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.

In this…  In this what?  In this earthly house of this tabernacle – in this body.  In this we groan…  Why?  Because we’re burdened.  Burdened by pain and disease.  Burdened by affliction and fatigue.  Burdened by sin and weakness.  And it’s not that we’re just looking for an escape; it’s that we’re looking forward to something better (cr. Philippians 3:20-21) – earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven…not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon… 

(As a side note: Based on this passage and other arguments, I have heard some speculate that the new body is the believer’s “mansion,” spoken of by Jesus in John 14:1-3.  The concept definitely fits the context here.)

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Notice again: we know (v. 1); we are always confident (v. 6); we are confident (v. 8).  The basis for this confidence is found in verse 5 – the earnest of the Spirit. 

The cross reference is Ephesians 1:12-14.  According to that passage, here is every believer’s testimony:

1.  You heard the gospel – Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the scriptures. 
2.  You believed the gospel.  You placed your faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
3.  At that moment, God cleansed your sin and gave you His righteousness.  And in that perfect, sin-cleansed, righteous condition, God sealed you with the Holy Spirit.  And that holy Spirit is the earnest (down payment) of our inheritance (2 Corinthians 5) UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION.

That sealing of the Holy Spirit does two things:

1.  Because God saved you, you’re going to heaven.  But if God saved you for the sole purpose of taking you to heaven, He would have taken you the moment you trusted Christ.  What the Bible teaches is that God did not save us to keep us out of hell or to take us to heaven, He saved us to live a holy life that glorifies Him.  This sealing and indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to life a live that…should be to the praise of His glory (vv. 12, 14).  The down payment is holiness (notice the small “h” in Ephesians 1:14).

2.  This Holy Spirit sealing does keep you saved until the day that you move out of the earthly house of this tabernacle and upgrade to a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (cr. 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:12; et. al.)The until the redemption of the purchased possession of Ephesians 1:14 matches the waiting for…the redemption of the body in Romans 8:23.  (Notice also how the groaning of Romans 8:22 lines up with 2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

Again, these truths not only result in the confident assurance (v. 6 w/ 1 John 5:13) but in a certain desire and longing to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better (v. 8 w/ Philippians 1:23). 

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Here is where we’re going.  All that build up to make this point.  Based on the confidence we have – we KNOW we’re going to heaven; we’re looking forward to enjoying our new bodies – we are laboring for God.  We’re not working to get saved and go to heaven; we’re serving the Lord who has saved us and sealed us and promised to take us there. 

This is the order of Ephesians 2:8-10.  We are NOT saved BY good works; we ARE saved TO good works. 

Now, there is an obvious difference between the accepted of him here and the accepted in him of Ephesians 1:6.  Accepted in him speaks of my standing – my eternal position before God.  It is based entirely on the finished work of Jesus Christ.  This secures my salvation.  Accepted of him speaks of my state – my temporal condition before men.  It is based entirely on my own labors.  It has no bearing upon my eternal destiny.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
The statement of verse 9 is that we are laboring for God so that we may be accepted OF Him.  According to verse 10, the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is to determine whether or not the life I lived after I got saved was acceptable to the one who saved me.

Got created me to please Him (Revelation 4:11).  He saved me to glorify Him (Ephesians 1:12-14).  Have I fulfilled my purpose?  The judgment seat of Christ will tell. 

If I have fulfilled my purpose; if my life is found acceptable to God – then He will reward me for it.  If not, then I will suffer loss (of reward).  More on all that later. 

In closing, we should all be compelled to give more time and attention to whether or not our words and our thoughts (Psalm 19:14); our attitudes and our motives; our desires and our decisions; our priorities and our activities are acceptable to the Lord (2 Timothy 2:15).  Because His is the only approval that will matter when we enter into eternity (Galatians 1:10).  

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