Don’t Fall Asleep

Bob Utley

2 Corinthians 5 deals with some unique theological elements that we need to hear.  At this time, Paul was looking at his own life and he was expecting to die.

2 Corinthians 5:1-11

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.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

Paul was worried in verse 4 about being unclothed. In Greek, they used the word, “naked” to talk about a disembodied state. In Jewish tradition, they believed in a holding place called “Sheol” or “Hades”.  I believe this is saying there is a conscious reality with Christ after we die. The Old Testament never talked about a disembodied state, but the New Testament says we’ll be with Jesus, but it’ll be in two stages.

In Christ, believers have eternal life, but believers are still dying in terrible, frightening ways. I believe I’m forgiven of sin, but I’m still struggling with sin. There is the current age where were caught up in the remnant of the fall, but in the kingdom realm, we still have access to all the benefits of the Kingdom by faith.

We are not at home in a secular culture like ours. There’s confusion, depression, and lack of life. We must keep a biblical view in perspective. Every person is going to stand before God and give account for every word and deed in the body. There seems to be another judgment in Revelations. Every Christian is given spiritual gifts when we are saved. We are going to give an account for the use of our gifts.

By the standards of the world, we are wealthy people. We will give an account of the use of our resources. We will stand before God for how we’ve lived for Him. Salvation is about me becoming more and more like Christ so others can find Christ through me. The goal of Christianity is not heaven when you die, but Christlikeness now.

2 Corinthians 5:11

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

There are two types of fear that Paul could be referencing in this scripture in relation to the judgment seat of Christ. The word fear has two connotations. One is reverential awe. To see him is to fall on your knees and be astounded at the splendor of the Creator, God. The other idea is terror or fright. Paul knows what’s going to happen to those who do not believe. And he knows what’s going to happen to those who do believe.

I believe Resurrection Day, even for the Christian, is going to be a very tearful day. We’re going to realize that our silence, our inactivity, our apathy, and our indifference have caused the eternal destinies of many people to go in the wrong direction.

I think as Paul looked at a lost world and at a saved world, he had some fear in his heart.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

The word “control” here means for someone to grab you so as to hold on to you and manipulate you. I don’t know you, but I know this. God knows you. God created you, and Jesus died for you. And if there’s any inkling of a desire to turn to God away from self, the Holy Spirit has already touched your life. Jesus died for the sin of the world.

Every human being potentially can be saved. The problem is not, sin that separates the world from God. The problem is unbelief. Unbelief is the issue in our day. Jesus has dealt with the sin problem.

I believe that we are spoiled baby Christians. That Western Christianity is probably the most self-centered Christianity the world’s ever known. We live in luxury. We’re ignorant of what our brothers and sisters around the world have to experience in Jesus’ name. We think coming to a building one hour a week is what God wants from our lives. I assure you this is far more than that. I assure you that what he wants, let me put it in terms, is a death to self.

We are made in the image of God, but in Genesis 3, that image was damaged, and no longer did men feel in fellowship with God. New Testament salvation restores the damaged image in mankind so that we can have that intimate Garden of Eden fellowship now, even before death.

It’s like that older lady in that hamburger commercial decades ago that said, “Where’s the beef?” I want to know where the beef is, dude. I want to know where the church is today. I want to know how we’re different from the world. And if we’re not, I want to know why. He who died and rose again on our behalf.

People say the widow’s mite is an example of the ultimate sacrifice. Modern-day Americans think they can’t do the widow’s mite or relate to these powerful commands of Christianity to sacrifice. However, Paul paid a significant price to follow Christ.

2 Corinthians 6:3

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, 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 yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

We wonder why the church is powerless today in society. It’s because we try to keep one foot in the gospel and one foot in society. How do I reach an American church with a radical call that says one hour a week or a few dollars in the offering plate or “Lord, thank you for our food”. It’s not enough. If you were to stand before Christ today, would you be ashamed? Or would you be excited to see him? We all struggle with these things. None of us are perfect. There’s none of us have this100% commitment all the time.

We fall asleep in Zion. We get comfortable. We can’t be pushed out of our comfort zone. May I ask you, please be available to God’s spirit. Be available to be outside your comfort zone. Tell the Lord you’re available to serve His church in whatever way He wants. Be open as he speaks to you. I know all the excuses. I’ve made them.

You are a special creation. You are a gifted creation. The world offers us nothing. We have peace. The world can’t take away. We have a purpose in our lives. We have joy amidst circumstances. We are different blood-bought people. Let’s live like it.