Pastor-teacher Don Hargrove

Faith Bible Church

Saturday, March 27, 2010




#4 Death as a Collapsing Tent

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Preparation for Bible Study:

            The importance of Bible doctrine is first of all in regard to eternal salvation.  We are told to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to gain eternal life.  We are told that Jesus Christ became a substitute for us on the Cross – and by “us” I mean every member of the human race.  The sins of every person who ever lived were taken by God the Father and in a moment of time they were imputed on Jesus Christ on the Cross and judged.   That is why the Bible says those who believe in Jesus Christ possess eternal life. 

                        John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

            The offer of salvation applies to every person of the human race without exception.  When Jesus Christ went to the Cross, He was judged, He died for every single member of the human race (Heb 2:9) – it has nothing to do with who and what you are, it has nothing to do with the color of your skin, your I.Q, your political views, or the fact that you are different from others in any way. 

            Jesus Christ was judged for each one and everyone and as a result He provided at the moment of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone this fantastic and unique spiritual life.  It is a supernatural life.  There is nothing like the ministry of the Holy Spirit, our Mentor, Teacher, and Enabler, John 14:27; Galatians 5:16-17, 22-23.  God the Holy Spirit is the Mentor and the Teacher of all Bible doctrine.   That is why believers are warned about grieving the Holy Spirit through personal sin, and quenching the Holy Spirit through failure of faith, failure to trust God (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19).

            If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior take a few minutes and simply trust in Him for eternal irrevocable salvation.  If you are a Christian the issue is simply fellowship.  We break fellowship with God when we sin, and are restored to fellowship upon confession of our sins, 1 Jn 1:7-9.  The living illustration of this is in

            John 13:8 Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.


Death as a Collapsing Tent

            The Apostle Paul spoke of death as the dismantling of a tent.  

                          2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

            On the Greek word for tent Thayer’s Greek Lexicon notes:  σκῆνος, σκήνους, τό (Hippocrates, Plato, others), a tabernacle, a tent, ...used metaphorically, of the human body, in which the soul dwells as in a tent, and which is taken down at death:


            There is also the issue of the context and flow of thought in 2 Corinthians 4-5.  In the original Greek New Testament there are no chapter or verse divisions.  As a matter of fact there were not even any spaces between words.   Few chapter divisions are more unfortunate that this one since what follows in 2 Cor. 5:1-10 details the thought expressed in 4:16-18.  Furthermore 5:1 begins with explanatory conjunction gar introducing the reason for what preceded.   Note the controlling thought from the previous chapter:

                        2 Corinthians 4:18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

            Failure to appreciate this fact unduly complicates these difficult verses by removing their contextual restraints.

            Paul had been referring to his mortal body as wasting away, 

                          2 Corinthians 4:10-11, 16  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh...  16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

            Then he compares his body to a worn-out earthly tent soon to be destroyed.   This is why the eternal perspective (2 Cor 4:17) should be maintained.   With the eternal doctrinal perspective the Apostle Paul had enormous confidence and encouragement in the fact of knowing that to be at home in the body means to dwell in “the earthly tent,” to be wasting away, to be in a state of mortality away from a face-to-face presence with the Lord.  Our bodies are in a state of “decaying” every single day.  Each day we are indeed one closer day to being with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

            What sustained Paul was the realization that this was a temporary and transitory state.  He focused not on the present but on future conditions, not on the seen but the unseen.  To live this way is to live by faith, not by sight.  It is to live in light of ultimate rather than immediate realities (Rom 8:24-25).    If the choice were Paul’s he would have seized the opportunity to depart this pilgrimage life and take up residence, i.e. to be home with the Lord.  But the Plan of God was for him to press on.    Paul knew that he must press on to receive a good report at the evaluation Seat of Christ,

                        2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether [divine] good or worthless.       

            Our present body is like a tent where our spirit dwells; it is a temporary structure.    Tents deteriorate in the face of changing weather and storms.  If used regularly, they often need repairs.  A tattered tent is a sign that we will soon have to move.    Death takes from us the tent to the palace; it is changing our address from earth to heaven.  The Apostle Peter likewise thought of his temporary human body as a temporary tent,

                        2 Peter 1:13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly tent, to stir you up by way of reminder,

            Perhaps you’ve met camping enthusiasts who want to camp out most of the year.   They can do that, of course, until the rains come or the snow begins to fly.  The more uncomfortable they become, the more willing they are to move into a house.  Thus the persecuted and infirmed long for heaven, while those who are healthy and fulfilled wish generally to postpone death indefinitely.  But the time will come when even the strongest among us will have to leave our tent bodies behind.

            Some people act as if they intend to live in this body forever, not realizing that it is about to collapse around them.    A tent reminds us that we are only pilgrims here on earth, en route to our final home.   We should not drive in the stakes too deeply, for we are all leaving relatively soon.  We are all aliens, this earth is not our home: 

            1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens [this is not our home – we are just passing through], scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia [you could add Tulsa, Houston, Dallas, and a thousand other place], who are chosen [in eternity past] 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood [picture of appropriation of the work of Christ on the Cross]: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Christian doctrine matters!

In Him,