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!