A. Next week Advent begins: we’ll be looking at four prophecies of Christ in the book of Isaiah.
B. 2Corinthians 5:1–5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage.
C. Last week we focused on the intermediate state and the day of resurrection. We talked about how in our present state we are burdened because we don’t yet have our new bodies. We have been given the promise, but our feasting and satisfaction are still to come.
1. And so we groan, waiting for the time when the good work God has begun in us will be completed in the day of Christ Jesus.
D. Today we will focus more on this life, while we wait for the great day of promise. For though we have much to look forward to, we also have much to help us, strengthen us, and encourage us in this life right now.
II. We are living in God’s story.
A. 5:5 “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
1. In v.5a Paul tells us that all he has been talking about in v.1-4 is from God. God is the One who has destined us to be resurrected like His Son on the last day. He is the One who will clothe us with an eternal house at Christ’s return. He is the One who allows us to be burdened now by the weakness and frailty of our earthly bodies. And He is the One who sent us the Spirit who moves us to groan and yearn for the new existence that will swallow up this present one.
2. God is the great producer/director, who is moving all things in history to a great and final climax, when the Hero will appear & smash the villain & all his helpers. He will rescue the victimized maiden, and carry her off to be His lover. This is the dramatic finish to which all of history inevitably moves. And God’s Spirit moves His chosen people to long for this day more and more. He is the Spirit who cries out within us, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come!" (Rev.22:17)
3. “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God.”
III. And God provides us with His faithful support and provision along the way.
A. Yes, God has written our story, including the suffering and the waiting. But He has not left us without the help we need on the journey.
B. 5:5 “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
C. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a pledge – or guarantee – of all the glorious things which God has promised to His people on the last day: "The Holy Spirit of promise... is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." (Eph.1:13-14)
D. Paul here uses financial language, the language of the marketplace, referring to a down payment, a pledge, a portion of the price – in pledge that the rest is coming, a word of promise that at some set point the payment will be completed. The fact that God has given us the Holy Spirit is proof that all the rest He has promised is on its way.
E. In Rom.8:23 Paul makes the exact same point, but to communicate the idea there he uses not the language of the marketplace, but the language of the farm. He says, “We...who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
1. The first fruits refer to the beginning of the harvest - the first part of the crop.
2. Giving someone a taste of what you’re cooking.
F. The Holy Spirit is for believers the first part of our inheritance. The joy of the Holy Spirit, the peace that passes understanding, the love of the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit, all the things the Spirit does in us are foretastes of the glory to come:
1. Cultivating in us an appetite for the things of Christ,
2. moving us to look to God as our Daddy,
3. creating in us a distaste for the things of the flesh,
4. filling us with love for our brothers and sisters in Christ,
5. opening our eyes to His glory in the world around us,
6. Showing us the grace and beauty of God in Christ,
7. comforting us in trouble,
8. strengthening us when we’re weak,
9. assuring us of God’s presence and love.
G. The Holy Spirit is more than just our Helper while we walk through this difficult life. The Holy Spirit – and everything He does in our lives – is God’s sign of a much better life in store for us.
1. The Spirit’s work in us is a precursor, a harbinger, a foretaste of a glorious existence that far outshines anything we could ever even imagine in this world.
IV. But it’s even more than that. The NT tells us that the transformation which will occur on the day of Christ’s return has already begun!
A. We know that God will do a great work in us on the last day: making us perfect and pure, completely joyful and perfectly loving, making all of our earthly imperfections fall away and transforming us into a glorious bride prepared for Christ, clean and fully sanctified, holy and blameless, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
B. But the thing we often fail to realize is that this work has already begun. The first piece of us has already been resurrected!
C. We have been given new life in Christ! We are alive in a way we didn’t used to be alive. We are alive in a way unbelievers are not alive.
1. It is arrogant to say that? I don’t think so. It’s what God says in His word. And WE didn’t do it! God’s the One who did it. We did nothing. It’s all by His grace and power.
D. The new birth (John 3:1-8) is a kind of resurrection by the Holy Spirit’s power (Eph.2:1-6). And that’s just the beginning of a process which continues by the Spirit’s work in us.
E. We have things in our experience which illustrates this.
1. A tiny fetus in a mother’s womb. Even the mother may not know of the existence of that microscopic life, but everything that person is going to be, everything that person is going to do, and every way that person is going to affect the world is all wrapped up in that little package.
2. Jesus in the womb, destined to put all His enemies under His feet (1Cor.15:25). Invisible to the world, the tiny fetus contains not only a whole life, but a whole redemption, a whole people, a whole new world.
a. This is the point Isaiah makes in Isaiah 53:2 “He grew up before Him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” Insignificant, easily trampled, yet destined to be a great Redwood.
3. So, it is also true about the people of Christ: though they look weak/powerless/insignificant in the world’s eyes, they already have life growing in them which will last for eternity, a life which will eventually blossom in glory in the new heavens and new earth. This new life has already begun in us, though, of course, it exists with and wars against our old self.
4. Is it possible that there’s a connection between Jesus saying we only need faith as large as a mustard seed (Matt.17:20) and Jesus saying that the kingdom will like a mustard seed which grows into a great tree (Matt.13:31-32?
5. The point is that this is more than just a promise; this a life which has already begun.
F. There is a time coming when our whole lives will be lived in the Spirit, when we will be fully “of the Spirit” in body & soul. And we anxiously await that day. But to help us await that day, God has enabled us to live in the Spirit now, that we might have hope & long for more, long for the rest of it.
1. The future age has already begun in small measure. In a sense the future has broken in upon the present. The power of the future age has already been introduced. Even now some of the powers/blessings/privileges of that age have come upon us in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
2. When a person receives Christ and is indwelt by Christ through the Spirit, that person becomes a participant in a new mode of existence, a mode of existence that really belongs to the future, and not to the old era. We live on the earth, but it’s as if we already have one foot in heaven because through the Spirit we already participate in that far greater world which is to come.
3. That’s why Paul tells us in Col.1:27 that “Christ in you” is “the hope of glory.”
A. Deep down every person has a sense that we’re not home. This is why man is incurably religious.
1. We can imagine a place which would truly be home. And we try to turn this world into that place.
2. But we all know this place is broken & needs fixing. And that mankind is broken & needs fixing.
B. And yet, the message of this generation screams: There is no beyond! There is no one up there! There is no eternal hope! All we have is now and all we have is each other.
1. Today people see Christian talk about “a better life to come” as a way believers fantasize, refusing to look at real life in the eye and deal with it. They see it as a cop-out, a false hope. They think we’re waiting for a future which will never come, instead of living in the now.
C. But God’s people do not put their faith in what others think. We trust in the word of our God, which has a very different message.
1. It tells us that the Son of God came to this earth in human flesh and bore the punishment of our sin upon Himself on the cross. It tells us that He was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of our Father in heaven, from where He poured out His HS upon His church.
2. God’s word promises that a great day is coming when Christ will return and renew all things. There will be a new heavens and a new earth. We will receive new bodies in that great resurrection. And that will be our true and eternal home.
3. We will have no more sin, no more pain, no more loss, no more confusion.
D. This glorious home is our inheritance. Christ is preparing it (John 14:2-3) and when it is time, we will inherit it. This is the hope that fuels our lives every day.
E. But this future state is not merely future! The Holy Spirit is already at work bringing about the early stages of this new existence (Eph.2:1-7; Rom.6:3-11; Col.3:3).
1. It is God’s down-payment and guarantee of our inheritance. (2Cor.1:22, 5:5b; Eph.1:13–14)
2. It is the first fruits of a glorious harvest coming to the people of the Lord. (Romans 8:23)
3. It is God’s seal that we truly are among those who belong to Him. (2Cor.1:21-22; Eph.1:13, 4:30)
F. The work of God making all things new has already begun! We have already been partially resurrected! In the new birth something inside of us is brought to life by the Spirit’s power. And the process is continuing. All this is a sign that the rest of the job will also be completed.
G. God doesn’t want us to be left wondering about whether we have a glorious, eternal future with Him. He guarantees it by giving us His Spirit. God wants us to know we have eternal life -1Jn.5:13.
H. Not everyone who is waiting for the return of the bridegroom will be allowed in, of course. But how do you know whether you’ll be welcomed in or rejected? You can tell by whether or not you have oil of the Spirit in your lamp (Matt.25:1-13).