Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. More specifically today’s passage begins with the eleventh verse of the fifth chapter and continues through to the eighteenth verse of the sixth chapter. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet not henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in strips, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, but love unfeigned. By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:1-10).
“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but we are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture within the second epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find what might be some of the most powerful language in the entire epistle. With this being said I am absolutely convinced that in order to truly understand the words and language which are found here you must needs first recognize that which is presented in the opening verses. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifth chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul speaking of this earthly house of this tabernacle being dissolved and its direct contrast to a building of God—a house that was not made with hands and is eternal in the heavens. What we must needs recognize and understand when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture is that what the apostle Paul is speaking of and referring to are these earthly bodies made of flesh and blood. When the apostle Paul writes concerning these earthly houses of this tabernacle he is referring to these physical and natural bodies which are made of flesh and blood. What’s more is that through the words which are presented here we discover that there is indeed coming a day and a time when these natural and physical bodies can and will be dissolved. Regardless of whether we are those who experience death in Christ before the last trump and before Jesus descends with a shout and with the voice of an archangel or whether we are alive and remain at that time our physical bodies can and will be dissolved. Just as the heavens will recede and roll up like a scroll and just as the heavens and the earth will fade away so also will our earthly and natural tents fade away and experience destruction.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous words found in this passage and I can’t help but think about two individual temples which stood on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. There was a temple which was built during the days of Solomon which would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem until the time of Zedekiah king of Judah and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. In the year 586 B.C. the Babylonian army would invade the southern kingdom of Judah as well as the city of Jerusalem. During this invasion the wall and gates of the city would be destroyed and burned with fire and the Temple which stood on the Temple mount would also be burned to the ground with fire. For seventy years the physical Temple would lie in ruins in the midst of the city of Judah as the land of Judah would lie fallow and desolate. For seventy years while the children of Israel were captives and exiles in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans the Jewish Temple would be nothing more than a heap of rubble, dirt, stone, dust and ash. This would be the case for seventy years until during the reign of Cyrus king of Persia the children of Israel would not only be permitted to return unto the land of Judah but also rebuild the Temple. It would be during the days of Joshua the high priest, Zerubbabel the governor of Judah as well as the prophets Zechariah and Haggai the temple of the Lord would be rebuilt in the midst of the land. What’s more is that it would be during the days of Ezra the priest the Temple of the Lord would be rebuilt and during the days of Nehemiah the walls of the city together with its gates would be rebuilt and repaired. During these days that temple which was made with human hands and that temple which was also destroyed by human hands would be rebuilt with human hands as it would once more stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something to be said about a physical and natural temple that is made with human hands which can in the same sense be destroyed with human hands. This reality would be manifested nearly four decades after the Lord Jesus ascended unto the right hand of His Father in heaven. It would be in the year 70 A.D. the Roman army would invade the land of Judaea and would utterly destroy the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is that it would be during this invasion the walls and gates of the city would once more destroyed and the Temple which stood upon the Temple Mount would be destroyed. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and pay attention to this for there is something to be said about physical and natural temples made with human hands which can in fact be destroyed by human hands. There is something to be said about physical and natural temples which were made by human hands that can not only be destroyed with human hands but can also be rebuilt with human hands. Consider the fact that although the first Jewish Temple would be built with human hands and would ultimately be destroyed by human hands it would also be rebuilt with human hands. That temple which would stand upon the Temple Mount would later be enhanced and increased by Herod and would eventually become known as Herod’s temple. For centuries and generations that Temple would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and would even have the very Son of the living God enter into its courts. On more than one occasion this Temple of the Lord would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and would witness the divine presence of the Lord Jesus entering in the midst of it. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible it is that at one point there would not only be the physical Temple made with human hands present upon the earth but there would also be the very temple of the physical body of the Lord Jesus present upon the earth as well.
With all of this in mind there is something to be said about the incredible reality that for nearly four decades there were two temples which were present within the earth in the midst of Jerusalem and Judaea—and ultimately in much of the known world at that time. At one point there was not only the physical and natural temple made with human hands which stood upon the Temple Mount but there would also be a spiritual temple which wasn’t made with human hands. After the ascension of the Lord Jesus unto the right hand of the Father in heaven and after the Holy Spirit arrived in that upper room in the midst of the city of Jerusalem there would be a second temple present within the earth—one that was not made with human hands. What makes this second temple so incredibly unique when you take the time to consider it is that it was not bound by the same geographical limitations as the earthly and natural temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. While initially this temple would abide and remain within the city of Jerusalem there would come a time when it would move beyond the city of Jerusalem and would spread out throughout Judaea and Samaria. From chapters two through seven this spiritual temple would abide and remain in the city of Jerusalem until a great persecution broke out about the church’s first martyr—Stephen. It would as a direct result of this persecution breaking out against the church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem that all those who made up the spiritual body of Christ and all those who made up this spiritual temple of the living God would be scattered abroad throughout all of Judaea and Samaria. From chapter eight onward throughout the rest of the New Testament book of Acts there would be a physical temple which would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem while there would be a secondary spiritual temple that would be present throughout the known world at that time.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words found in the New Testament book of Acts and how for almost four decades there was a physical Temple made with human hands which was present upon the earth while there was also a spiritual Temple which was made without human hands which was also present. For almost four decades both of these temples were present in the earth as one was built by the hands of man and the other was fashioned and formed by the Holy Spirit. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it helps us to understand that which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth and fifth chapters of this second epistle. What’s more is that you must needs carefully consider the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as that which is found in chapters four through six of this second epistle. Not only this but I would also dare say it’s necessary to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of his first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. If you read each of these passages you will discover the apostle Paul not only referring to the church as the temple of the living God but you will also find the apostle Paul speaking of the church as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Moreover you will find the apostle Paul referring to the church as the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the earth. There is something truly unique and powerful when thinking about the church as both the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus as well as the temple of the living God and of the Holy Spirit. With all of this being said there is the need to recognize that when we speak of the church we must also recognize that it is made up of individual members who are of flesh and blood—both Jews and Gentiles alike. We dare not misunderstand and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to our role and function within the earth.
The more I think about and consider these words the more I am brought face to face with the fact that while it is in fact true that we are the spiritual temple of the Holy Spirit made without human hands we nonetheless are made up of individual members containing bodies of flesh and blood. While the physical and natural temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem could in fact be touched by and destroyed with human hands the spiritual Temple is of such a composite and makeup that it cannot at all be touched nor affected by any human hands. Despite the fact that in the year 70 A.D. the Romans invaded the land of Judaea and destroyed the second Jewish Temple by burning it to the ground there would remain a Temple present in the midst of the earth which could not be destroyed by human hands. In fact—despite this spiritual temple being made up of members of flesh and blood and despite the reality that persecution can indeed touch the physical bodies of the members of the Temple the Temple itself can never be touched by human hands. Despite the great persecution which would break out in the city of Jerusalem after the death of Stephen and even the great persecution which Rome would mount against Christians man could never destroy the spiritual temple of the living God. Oh they could force the members of the body of Christ to be crucified but they could never destroy the temple or the body. They could force the members of the body to be burned at the stake and yet they could never destroy the temple or the body. They could force the members of the body of Christ to enter into the arena and be mauled by wild beasts or slaughtered by gladiators, however the temple and the body could never be destroyed.
If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when thinking about this it’s that despite the enemy and adversary’s best efforts to destroy both the temple and the body he has never been able to destroy either. For two thousand years the enemy and adversary has been seeking to make war with the seed of the woman and it is this reality which we find in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel. In fact I would dare say that we must needs consider that which was found in these two prophetic for within them we find the dragon making war with the saints of God as well as the beast which comes up out of the sea making war with the saints as well. Not only this but in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we find it written concerning the beast and the false prophet and how they would make war with and against the saints of the most High God. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in both the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel as well as the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ:
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:7-8).
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. A concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:9-14).
“I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I cam near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart” (Daniel 7:15-28).
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (Revelation 12:1-6).
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:7-12).
“And when the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:13-17).
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leapoard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:1-10).
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:11-18).
If there is one thing each of these passages presents and describes for us it is the great and unrelenting war that has been mounted, is mounted and will continue to be mounted against the saints of the most High. Both the Hebrew prophet Daniel as well as the apostle John saw the beast making war with saints and even—for a season—being given authority and power over them to prevail against them. Perhaps the greatest truth that is found in the twelfth chapter is the rage, the fury and the malice of the dragon toward and against the woman. Despite the dragon’s best efforts to destroy the woman who had given birth to the Messiah earth itself helped the woman in her defense against the dragon. Completely and utterly outraged at the divine and supernatural protection that seemed to be afforded to the woman the dragon then turns and directs his attention to her seed—those who name the name, walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. By the time we come to the end of the twelfth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus we find the war which began in heaven transitioning to the earth and taking place between the dragon and the seed of the woman. If there is one thing we must needs understand and recognize when reading the twelfth chapter of this prophetic book it’s that the war which originally broke out in heaven would eventually transition to the earth as the dragon would direct his unrelenting rage and fury against the seed of the woman upon the earth. What’s more is that in the thirteenth chapter we read how the dragon gave the beast his power, his seat and his great authority. Each of these would be used by the beast to not only exercise authority upon the earth but also to make war with and against the saints of the most High God.
As you read the words which are found in the seventh verse of this particular passage you will find that it was given unto the beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them in addition to power being given him over all kindreds, and tongues and nations. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to this for it not only helps us to understand the war which took place in heaven but also how that war in heaven translated to a war on the earth. It’s actually quite astounding to read the twelfth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus and read of the war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels and how after the dragon was cast down to earth together with all his unholy angels there would be a war against the seed of the woman. In the final verse of the twelfth chapter we read of the dragon being wroth with the woman and going forth to make war with the remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God and which have the testimony of Jesus Christ. In the final verse of the twelfth chapter we read of the dragon making war with the remnant of the seed of the woman while in the seventh verse of the thirteenth chapter we read of the beast which came up out of the sea making war with the saints and overcoming them. Essentially it might very well be said that the beast is the dragon’s greatest warrior and champion for war against the saints. Despite all the dictators and political rulers, princes and kings throughout history who have made war against the saints of the most High God they will all pale in comparison to the beast and the war which he will make against the saints. It’s truly something worth thinking about and considering when you read these chapters and see how the beast which emerges out of the sea will undoubtedly take up the offense, the wroth and the war of the dragon and will raise himself up to make war against the saints of the most High God. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this for it not only helps us to understand history but it will also help us to understand the future.
The words which we find in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ are incredibly unique when you take the time to consider how war originally broke out in heaven between the dragon and his angels as they fought against Michael and his angels. When the dragon and his angels could not prevail against Michael and his angels and was expelled from heaven he would seek to bring the war of heaven down to the earth thus igniting a war upon the earth. The original target of the fury and rage of the dragon was the woman who had given birth to the child, however, what we find is the woman being unable to be overcome by the dragon. As if this weren’t enough the earth would open her mouth to swallow the torrential flow of water which came out of the dragon’s mouth. Enraged at what took place in the earth the dragon would turn and direct his attention to a different kind of war. Having already lost the war in heaven the dragon now sought to ingnite a war in the midst of the earth against the seed of the woman. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the war in heaven being translated on to the earth. The war in heaven would be entirely and altogether thwarted by Michael and his angels and the dragon would bring that war to the earth. What we find in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus is the dragon going forth to make war against the remnant of the seed of the woman—those how kept the commandments of God and had the testimony of Jesus Christ. This war would be entirely and altogether enhanced and take on an entirely different level when the beast who emerged out of the sea comes on to the scene and takes up the war of the dragon. WHEN THE BEAST OF THE SEA TAKES UP THE WAR OF THE DRAGON! WHEN THE WAR OF HEAVEN BECOMES THE WAR UPON THE EARTH!.
There is something which must be said about the war of the dragon against the remnant of the seed of the woman and the war of the beast against the saints of God—particularly when you think about the spiritual body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the fourth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints we find the apostle Paul speaking of himself and those with him as being troubled on every side and yet not distressed. Not only this but the apostle Paul would also speak of being perplexed yet not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken and cast down but not destroyed. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that he and the saints of God always bear in their body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. The apostle would go on to describe how we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. In the final verses of the fourth chapter the apostle Paul goes on to speak of the outward man perishing but the inward man being renewed day by day. Not only this but the apostle Paul goes on to describe how our light affliction which is but for a moment works in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. In light of this we are not to look at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal. This is ultimately the foundation for what we find in the fifth chapter of this same epistle written by the apostle Paul for in the fifth chapter he writes of this earthly tabernacle being dissolved and how we have a building of God—a house made not with human hands which is eternal in the heavens. It is this knowledge and anticipation that causes us to groan earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. It is with this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under ehim. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and rink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communication corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:12-34).
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestical bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 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. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruption shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swalled up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thank be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
If there is one thing I find absolutely incredible when you consider the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints it’s the language he used concerning the transformation of this physical and natural body. The apostle Paul wrote in this first epistle how flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven and how there needs to be a transformation which takes place in the life of that one who believes on the name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote and spoke about corruption putting on incorruption and mortality putting on immortality and this old body being destroyed. In all reality there are essentially two different elements to this transformation that is found in the fifth chapter of this second epistle. There is the transformation we experience when we make the conscious and deliberate decision to believe on, walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This is precisely what the apostle Paul referred to when he spoke of those who are in Christ being a new creation and how old things have passed away and all things have become new. In all reality we must needs recognize and understand that if we are to truly be a new creation in Christ there must not only be the passing away of old things but there must also be the making new of all things within our lives. The entire fifth chapter of this second epistle speaks of transformation—a transformation which takes place within our heart, our soul, our spirit and our mind and a transformation which takes place in the supernatural and spiritual realm. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize this for when we read the opening verses of the fifth chapter we find the apostle Paul speaking of this outward man—this tabernacle made up of flesh and blood—being done away with and our putting on an entirely new body.
In the fourth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul he spoke of the outward man perishing while the inward man is renewed day by day and we must needs pay close attention to this for it is the inward man that will last and will experience the greatest transformation. You can spend all the time in the world seeking to transform your external and outer body, however, that which is truly important is making sure your inward man is continually renewed and transformed. It was when writing unto the Roman saints the apostle Paul spoke of being transformed by the renewing of our minds and there is a great need for us to pay close and careful attention this truth. Directly linked to being transformed by the renewing of our minds is no longer being conformed to this world—essentially the same language we find in the fifth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. The more you read the fifth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints the more you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the transformation which must needs take place within our lives. First and foremost there is a transformation which takes place within our minds, within our hearts, and within our inner man as our inner man is transformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we have a great need of recognizing and understanding is that only to the degree and measure our inner man is transformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus will our outward man—though it perish—be transformed.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words presented in the fifth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this chapter which is filled with transformation. Although our outward man perish our inward man is renewed day by day and although we experience light affliction in this physical tent and in this life it is only for a moment and works in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The apostle Paul wrote about looking not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen and this includes that which we cannot see as we are changed and transformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is there will be times when it won’t look or feel like we are indeed being transformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus and during these moments it is very easy to allow ourselves to get caught up and lost in our feelings, our emotions and our thoughts. If there is one thing I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to it’s the absolutely incredible reality that when we speak about being transformed in our inward man and when we speak about being made conformable unto the image of the Lord Jesus Christ it is not something we are always consciously aware of. There are times in our lives when transformation and renewal is indeed taking place and yet we are completely unaware of its work within our lives. The first half of the fifth chapter of this second epistle speaks of our earthly tabernacle being dissolved and how we have a building of God—a house not made with hands which is eternal in the heavens. With this knowledge there is a groan that is present within us as we earnestly desire to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.
Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves at this juncture is whether or not we are indeed groaning for that building and that house which we have in heaven. In the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews it was written concerning Abraham that he was looking for a city whose maker and builder was the living God. In fact, I would like to present you with the precise words which are found in this particular chapter to help frame this reality within your minds: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). Shortly after these words which are found in this passage we find the following words which were written concerning those who died in faith: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
HE LOOKED FOR A CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS! WHOSE BUILDER AND MAKER IS GOD! CONFESSED THAT THEY WERE STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH! THEY SEEK A COUNTRY! IF THEY HAD BEEN MINDFUL OF THAT COUNTRY FROM WHENCE THEY CAME OUT THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE RETURNED! BUT THEY DESIRE A BETTER COUNTRY, THAT IS AN HEAVENLY! FOR HE HATH PREPARED FOR THEM A CITY!
There is something to be said about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find Abraham—and not only Abraham but also Isaac and Jacob—dwelling in tents and sojourning in the land. These men saw the promises of the living God afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. These men sought a country—a country which was vastly different from the country in which they had departed from. Oh if there is something we must needs recognize and understand concerning the call of Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans it’s that his departure from this country would essentially be a portent, a pattern and symbol of the departure we would make within our own lives. The New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews calls and invites us into the place where we recognize that we are indeed strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. As strangers and pilgrims upon the earth we know and recognize that this world is not our home. Not only do we recognize and understand that this world is not our home but we also recognize that this earthly and natural tent which we are clothed with is not our final tent and tabernacle. This earthly and natural tent which we are clothed with is but an outer shell and a vapor in the wind which here today and tomorrow is not. As surely and certainly as we seek a better country in the earth so also do we seek a better habitation in the sight and presence of the living God. We know that Jesus declared that He was departing and going unto the Father that He might prepare a place for us and yet we must needs recognize that the place He is preparing for us is as much a physical place as much as it is that which we use to occupy that place.
In the fifth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find him speaking of our being absent from the body and present with the Lord and our being present in the body and being absent from the Lord. It is this separation from the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God and the Father in heaven that produces this inner groaning, this longing, this anticipation and this expectation within us. It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to ask you whether or not you are presently longing and yearning for your heavenly building and house which is made without human hands and secure in the heavens. The apostle Paul recognized the dichotomy and the disparity which existed between being present in the body and absent the body for so long as he was present in the body he was absent from the Lord. Conversely so long as he was present with the Lord he would be absent from this physical body. What made this all the more difficult for the apostle Paul is when you consider the fact that his being present in the body was for the sake and benefit of the churches and all those whom he had been ordained and appointed to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus.
Beginning with the eleventh verse of the fifth chapter we find the apostle speaking of the terror of the Lord and how because of that terror they persuaded men and yet were made manifest unto God. With this being said the apostle Paul declared and professed unto them how they did not commend themselves unto them again but gave them occasion to glory on their behalf. The apostle Paul would go on to speak of the love of Christ and how it constrained them because they judged that if one died for all then all were dead. Because He [Christ] died for all those who live should not live unto themselves but unto Him which died for them and rose again. It is this context the apostle Paul speaks of a man being in Christ and being a new creature—a new creature where old things are passed away and behold all things are becoming new. In all reality we must needs recognize that the eternal and living God is indeed all about making things new for when we read the words found in the final chapters of the prophetic book of Isaiah as well as the final chapters of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ we find the eternal and living God making all things new. Oh there is coming a day when there will indeed be a new heavens and a new earth just as there will surely be and as certainly as there already are and have been new creations in Christ. I have said it once and I will say it again that if you are a man or woman who desires to be a new creature in Christ old things must pass away and old things must continue to pass away. Not only this but all things must become new and must continue to become new. There is this great and powerful transformation which must needs be manifested and experienced within our physical beings as we are continually transformed into the nature, the character, the image and the likeness of the living God.
At the very heart and center of this transformation is our being reconciled unto the living God by and through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you truly want to experience being a new creation in Christ you must also recognize and understand the need to be reconciled to the living God by and through the Lord Jesus Christ. At the very heart of becoming a new creation in Christ is indeed our being reconciled unto Him as not only are old things passing away and all things are becoming new but the living God was reconciling the world unto Himself by and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ not imputing their trespasses against them. In the sixth chapter of this New Testament epistle we find the apostle Paul instructing the Corinthians not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers and then goes on to ask what fellowship righteousness has with unrighteousness. Not only this but the apostle Paul also goes on to ask what communion light has with darkness and what concord Christ has with Belial. The apostle Paul goes on to describe how the temple of God has absolutely no agreement and relationship with idols and that we are indeed the temple of the living God. What’s more is the apostle Paul goes on to quote the words of the prophet when he speaks of the living God declaring that He would dwell in us and walk in them and would be our God and we will be his people. In direct relation and connection to this is a conscious and deliberate decision on our part to come out from among them and be separate as we choose not to touch the unclean thing.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the incredible presence of transformation which is spoken of in this passage of Scripture. There is a great need for us to pay close attention to the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle of Second Corinthians for not only is there a transformation which we experience being new creations in Christ but there is also a future transformation we anticipate and eagerly yearn and long for. We must needs recognize and understand that we as the saints of God and the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who are not only transformed in our inward man as we are made into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ but we will also put on a new man when the Lord Jesus returns and descends with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and the sound of the trumpet. Perhaps the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are presently being changed and transformed into the image and likeness of the living God from glory to glory and whether or not we are looking for and pursuing that better country—a country which we will inhabit in our new buildings which are made without human hands. There is something to be said about those individuals who not only eagerly and anxiously wait to be transformed into the image and likeness of the living God but also as they wait for that moment when their physical and natural bodies can and will be transformed into that which is incorruptible and that which is immortal.