Sunday, March 9, 2014

Are You Groaning?

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.            1 Corinthians 5:1-5  NKJV

The truth be told, I have been doing a lot of groaning lately.  You see a few weeks ago I was participating in some winter recreation when suddenly I was reminded that my body is not twenty something anymore.  Unfortunately it has been a somewhat prolonged reminder which has on more than one occasion elicited groaning on my part as I experience the proverbial pain in the neck.  The dictionary defines groaning as a mournful sound uttered in pain or grief, due to a sudden or continuing overburden.  O how I can relate.

Yet we find that the Bible tells us that there is another reason that we groan, and as funny as it may sound, it is usually a result of similar circumstances.  You see, we all recognize the fact that this body is just a temporary home for us until that day in which we will receive our new bodies as we enter into God’s presence.  Notice if you will that Paul uses the word tent to describe the bodies we now possess.  A tent is considered a temporary dwelling rather than a permanent one, and it is for this reason Paul describes our present bodies as such.  I think given a choice, most of us would prefer to live in a house rather than a tent and enjoy the permanence and protection a house affords.

Paul also mentions the fact that we groan because of our burdens.  I think most all of us have had occasion to be reminded of the physical limitations of the bodies we now have, and have longed for a stronger or more durable one.  Paul groaned under the weight of his own troubles, and he put it this way;

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18  NKJV

The promise we find here is that the glory of our new bodies will completely overshadow whatever we have endured while waiting for them.  Something that occurred to me while reading this passage was the statement that the future glory will be revealed in us, and not to us.  Ray Stedman put it this way; “The word literally means “into us”.  This glory is not going to be a spectator sport, where we will sit up in some cosmic grandstand and watch an amusing or beautiful performance in which we have no part.  We are to be on the stage.  We are going to be involved in it.  It is a glory that will be “revealed into us” and we are part of it.”  

Yet if that wasn’t enough, Paul also goes on to tell us this;

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  Romans 8:19-23  NKJV

Paul says that creation itself groans for the same reasons that we do.  At the fall, when sin entered this world, creation was corrupted just as we were and suffers because of it.  Have you ever considered that all of the natural disasters that occur around the world is nature’s way of “groaning”?  Hard as it might be to believe, Paul tells us here that creation finds itself in much the same position that we do. When we are revealed in our new bodies, so too will creation receive its newness and this is what it is waiting for just as we are.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.  Revelation 21:1  NKJV

I have given quite a lot of thought lately to just how much I will enjoy my new body when the rapture occurs.  Obviously my present physical predicament is the main reason but I can’t help but wonder if the troubles we face because of our physical predicaments are God’s way of helping us realize and look forward to the gift of an immortal, incorruptible body which will be ours for all of eternity?  After all, how could we enjoy fully all that Heaven has to offer if we still were walking around in an earthly body with all of the limitations it has?

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will 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 corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”       1 Corinthians 15:50-54  NKJV

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

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