The Double Groan of the Gospel

Introduction

It would be ridiculous to deny that Christian are drenched with countless blessing both material and spiritual. Yet it would not be overstating the case to recognize that every Christian personally, and Gospel workers in particular, have the greatest share or portion not in this life but the next. Glory, for the main part, belongs to worldly men. In this valley of tears believers are often heaped with shame.

It is in the context of despised, inglorious, faith that the apostle Paul mentions a ‘double groan’ of the Gospel to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5.10. His double aim is confidence in their travail for the Lord and consolation for the afflictions and reverses they endure.

The Gravitational Groan

Our home is not down here, but with God in heaven above. Paul contrasts the temporary, flimsy, earthly body with the permanent, indestructible, heavenly frame – one day soon we will be like the risen, exalted, Lord Jesus, death swallowed up in glory, in the Temple prepared by God. Contemplation of this new resurrection body, in the likeness of the glorified humanity of our exalted Lord Jesus, should be light a magnet which draws our hearts, by soul-transforming, heart-rejoicing, triumphant-overcoming, walking by faith and not by sight. After all, who would not swap a canvas or a caravan (trailer) for what is celestial concrete?

“For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.”

The Grieving Groan

We still live in the body, with all its fickleness and frailty. With the spirit yearning intensely, and our slow progress in sanctification, we sigh and long for higher, holier, climes, immune from the stresses and strains, attacks and anguish, problems and pains, pollution and persecutions of this life – we weep and long for the total relief of those products of the fall that will mark the world to come. Beyond the scene of time, tears will be wiped from every eye. It is this glorious prospect which transforms pain to joy, and makes our real and weighty sorrows seem, comparatively speaking, light and momentary.

“For while we are still in this tend, 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.”

Guarantees when Groaning?

There are many things we could say at this point. I can think of at least TEN – let me suffice with two:

First, Paul met this glorified Christ on the Road to Damascus & later, as he intimates, in 2 Corinthians 12.1-6, had an unutterable, surpassingly excellent vision and revelation of the glory of God and the exalted Lord Jesus Christ. This was the hope in which this Pharisees of Pharisees has always lived – it is impossible to explain Paul unless this hope is real.

Second, and chiefly here, it is the down-payment of the initial installment of glory from the Spirit, given to believers, which guarantees the life to come. This is a commercial and legal term: the deposit always sealed the deal which could not be undone, reversed or backed out of by the one who had paid the first installment.

It is not like putting a 1% deposit down on a house, or a 10% down payment to secure a purchase – that can be forfeited to the vendor if the purchaser takes ‘cold feet’. It is more like the contract when you purchase property in France – when you sign the purchase agreement or Compromis de Vente (unless the bank refuses the mortgage), the date has now been set, when the sale will be complete, known as the Acte de Vente.

Has the light shone in the heart? Has the Holy Spirit created faith by which you embraced God’s Christ? Have you experienced the miracle of new birth occurred and are His signs of life, or marks of grace, apparent – the Spirit has been given, so that also means, that your resurrection body of glory is already set aside, and absolutely guaranteed by God, and now awaits the final day. At that time, as the prophet says, in Daniel 12:3:

“Those who are wise will shine like the like the brightness of the sky above and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever.”

Are you a godly believer in Jesus, or a servant of the Gospel, with little portion in this life, but a heart for the Glory of God? And are you experiencing this double Gospel groaning? Be confident, child of God! Refuse to live by sight! Continue the walk of faith, full of gladness in your grief, in spite of how things seem, for soon grief will be glory!

5 Comments

  1. Timothy Bloedow November 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    On similar lines, I also found this helpful in my morning email inbox: http://www.ransomedheart.com/daily-reading/glorious-freedom

    • Andrew Kerr November 18, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

      Heartened that you were helped! We could apply these truths in nine ways:
      1. Comfort. In all our afflictions for the sake of Christ the knowledge of this glory lifts the burdens under which we groan or at least makes them seem ‘light’. Perhaps this might be thought of part of what Jesus meant when he said ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ He lightens it with the prospect of glory.
      2. Contentment. Paul tells us about a thorn in the flesh which made him wish he was free of it. Instead Christ assured him that the grace He would give from His Mediatorial throne would be all sufficient. If there was an opportunity of this gracious power resting on Paul, he was content with anything that might come his way or be thrown at him.
      3. Courage. Men may hate us and destroy our earthly bodies, as many of the Christian martyrs have found, but they cannot touch our glorious resurrection body, eternal in the heavens, which God has prepared for those who love Him.
      4. Conformity. It is the duty of believers, 2 Corinthians 3.18, to behold the Lord Jesus Christ with unveiled faces, in all His person, work and offices, through the means of grace in Scripture, and be metamorphosed, transformatively, into ever increasing degrees of likeness to the the Savior, the perfect revelation and disclosure of the Image of the Father. Read, pray, listen, study, meditate to and upon Him in His Word start glowing brighter in holiness!
      5. Compassion. There are many people to whom we minister who are true believers and in all their affliction and when their time of sickness, death, or sorrow comes, we are to read, preach, share and bring these texts before them to console them in their sorrows.
      6. Confidence. We may be treated shamefully in this world and hated by all men on account of Christ. We may be false accused, ostracized, imprisoned, slandered, misunderstood – in short, we may have few friends and not many who follow our words or witness or work – we may feel like lepers entirely forgotten in this world with absolutely no glory in this life. Yet we must remember, as we seek the glory of God above, that our share and portion of glory is to come in the next life.
      6. Compensation. We are to remember that in comparison to the great weight and worth of glory to be revealed in us, in the unseen world, that we will be more than amply reimbursed and recompensed by God. This prospect of an immortal, glorious body, the dwelling of the Spirit, makes all reverses, difficulties, and afflictions, slight and momentary. We should therefore not be afraid to spend and be spent for him who spent all and became poor to purchase glory for His people at the Cross, and make us rich with glory!
      7. Confession. How little we have fed our souls on this things. What relative ignorance we have of these truths. How unstudied and how little we have relished the glory that lies ahead. How impoverished we are as a result. God pardon our failure to read, believe, the Word and live in light of it with longing for glory. Forgive us for being disobedient to the command, which is always for our good “Set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on things above, and not on earthly things.”
      8. Chanting. We should more often sing to ourselves the Psalms of Christ’s exaltation either typified or foretold. For example Psalm 2, 8, 16, 45, 68 and 110. “The LORD said to my Lord ‘sit at my right hand'”.
      9. Cherishing. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5.7 that “we walk by faith and not by sight”. Instead of being daunted by the things we see around us and becoming envious of the wicked, proud, and so-called successes of the false teachers who peddle their spurious messages which are applauded by all and sundry, we should fix our eyes on the glory to be revealed: Hebrew 11.1 tells us that faith apprehends the substance of eternal realities, so that, right now, through the relishing of the means of grace, and the Spirit of God, we get little appetizers of the glory that will be hours. Such grace and glory, shed abroad in our hearts, fills us with a joy which is inexpressible and full of glory. If no mind has conceived or tongue has told what God has in store for those who love Him,1 Corinthians 3.8-10, by sovereign grace, God, Himself, has revealed it to us by His Spirit. So Cherish it!

  2. Daniel November 21, 2017 at 6:24 am #

    Wonderful thoughts! Very helpful, as I am struggling with a time of physical limitation and set-aside, this speaks to me.

    • Andrew Kerr November 21, 2017 at 11:32 am #

      To the Glory of God – His own grace to you Daniel.

      If you can get your hands on AW Pink and ‘Comfort for Christians’ there is a chapter on it which deals with real trials for Paul which became ‘light and momentary’ in light of eternity. My copy is by baker books but I think banner also do it. It is short digestible chapters.

      A

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