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#16 Soul Hope

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                                      “SOUL HOPE

                   (A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 06-24-07                       2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Proposition:      The immortal soul of every human makes its home either in the body in life or in the Lord in death, has as its ambition to please the Lord and will appear at the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded according to what they did while in this body.                                                                                                    

i.    introduction

-     THIS morning I want to walk you through a brief survey of a word that shows up in the Bible 330 times…and let’s see what we can learn about this word and the impact it has on how we live.

      “…my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation.” (Psalm 35:9)

-     OK, there are 13 words in that verse, so right now you don’t know which word is the basis of today’s message.

-     HERE is another verse,

      “As for me, I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.’” (Psalm 41:4)

-     I KNOW that is just two verses, and the first one is off the screen, but did you catch the one key word in both verses?

-     I WILL give you another chance.

      “But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol [death], For He will receive me.” (Psalm 49:15)

-     I AM sure you have it now. The word is “soul”

-     YOU will find the word, soul, all through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation….over 300 times.

-     WHAT is the soul?

-     GENISIS 35:18 is one of the first references to the soul in the Bible. Rachel is the wife Jacob loved and worked 14 years to get. She was in severe labor with her second son, and it says,

      “It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” (Genesis 35:18)

-     GO to the opposite end of the Bible, Revelation 6:9, and you will read about the final triumph of the Kingdom of God, where John writes,

      “When the Lamb [Jesus] broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained…” (Revelation 6:9)

-     SO, it appears from this and many other Scriptures that the soul is that part of you and me that lives on when our physical bodies die.

-     WHEN the Bible describes the elements of yours and my humanity it refers to us as body, soul and spirit.

      “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23)

-     IT is important to learn from this verse that our gift of salvation encompasses body, soul and spirit….as the one person that you are.

-     THE Bible considers you and me a whole entity and does not compartmentalize….except when it describes what happens when we die.

-     THE body is the most obvious part of us, and it is the part that gets the most attention….at least from us.

-     BUT I doubt that any reflective person here this morning would take exception to the fact that we are much more than a skeleton with sinews, muscle, flesh, organs and a circulatory system.

-     IN fact, the most important part of our existence now and for eternity is determined in what the Bible describes as our soul and spirit.

-     AND the Bible, in a very broad way, describes the soul as that part of you and me that is the seat of our will, our emotions, that part of our personality that defines who you are.

-     YOUR soul is who you are in your innermost being.

-     IT is where you do your desiring.

*     In 1 Samuel 1:15, when Hannah, who was barren, got desperate for a son, it says that she “poured out her soul before the Lord.”

-     YOUR soul is where you do your choosing and make your decisions in life.

*     In Deuteronomy 4:9, before Israel gets to the Promised Land, God warns them when they get there to “keep their souls diligently” so they will not forget the goodness of the Lord.

*     Leviticus 26:15 describes the sorrow of the soul that rejects the commandments of God.

*     Ezekiel 18:4 says that the soul that chooses sin will die….that is a death far more serious than physical death.

*     In fact Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him [God] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

*     That is why, in Psalm 6:4, David pleads with the Lord to rescue him and save his soul.

*     And speaking of salvation, the apostle Peter writes, “…though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

-     SO, your soul is that part of you in this life that is either separated from God or saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

-     AND when you die, your soul departs your earthly body, as we learned from Genesis to Revelation, for one of two destinations…either the living presence of God or hell, depending on one thing….your relationship with Jesus when you die.

 

 

ii.   soul hope

-     NOW we are ready to pick up this subject in the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Corinth….2 Corinthians 5:6-8.

-     REMEMBER, from last Sunday’s message we talked about when this tent (body) is torn down, we have the hope of a building from God….eternal in the heavens.

-     NOW, he takes a slightly different direction on the same subject, starting in verse 6,

      “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

-     IN spite of being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down in the years he has been serving the Lord, the Apostle Paul tells us that he is…

*     always of good courage (verse 6), and,

*     actually, even though he has been on the run from Ephesus and recovering from a life-threatening illness, he has good courage at that moment (verse 8).

-     THE Greek word for courage literally means a quiet confidence….in the face of every struggle and trial of life, even death.

-     WHY this confidence?

-     BECAUSE what he cannot prove from physical circumstances, he can know with the confidence that faith brings….that his soul has two homes in this life.

-     THAT essence of who you are, the inner you, your soul….through faith in Jesus Christ has two homes.

-     THE first home of the soul is your physical body, that tent that Paul said, back in verse 1, is being dissolved….wearing down from life.

-     BUT the soul of every follower of Jesus also has, in this life, a simultaneous home which is Jesus Christ.

-     2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 says,

      “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

-     GALATIANS 2:20 says,

         “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

-     THIS reality of the home of the soul Paul knows by faith, not by anything he sees in his physical circumstances.

-     AND because the soul of the believer resides in his or her body….and also in Christ….when we face life-shattering trials, even death, we can do so in quiet confidence because we know that the moment our soul takes our leave of this body, our soul will be at home with the Lord.

-     HOW can I be confident of this? Because in this life I know that my soul is already at home in Jesus Christ.

-     NOW, when Paul says, in verse 8, that he would rather his soul be absent from the body…this is not the death wish of someone deep in depression.

-     BACK in 2 Corinthians 1:10, Paul said that God,

      “…delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10)

-     PAUL is simply contrasting the reality that the best this life has to offer doesn’t begin to compare with life lived in the actual presence of God.

-     SO, he is looking forward to the final consummation of what will be the eternal home of his soul…in Christ.

-     THIS is the source of our hope, our courage, and our confidence as followers of Jesus Christ.

-     WE have a home.

-     OUR soul has a home….now and when this earthly tent is dissolved.

iii.  soul ambition

-     NOW, this truth has huge ramifications for how we live now, while our soul has its home in this earthly body.

-     LOOK at verse 9,

      “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether [our soul is] at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)

-     SINCE Jesus is the home of my soul, then it doesn’t matter whether my soul is in my body or absent….my ambition, my goal is to please Him.

-     I DON”T need the threat of judgment or hell to make me want to please the Lord with my choices or decisions in this life.

-     HE is my home, that place where I find my identity, my salvation, my hope, my safety, my purpose, my encouragement, my nurture….He is my home right now in this life.

-     EVERYTHING I am I owe to Him.

-     WHY would I not want to make it my goal to please Him?

-     I WANTED to please my earthly father, because of his love for me, the home he provided, all the investment he made in my life…and all that he did for me.

-     BUT there were limitations to what my earthly father did for me. After all he was only human.

-     MY heavenly father, on the other hand, gave me life, loved me, saved me, and is preparing a place for me in His presence for all eternity.

-     CAN anyone here think of any reason that I would not want to make it my aim to please Him?

-     DON’T all of the fleshly sinful earthly demands made by the world on my soul pale by comparison with all He is to me?

-     I AM compelled by His love to please Him, with my life, my family, my strength, my decisions, my actions, my words, and my entertainments….with my soul because it has its home in Him.

 

iv. soul accounting

-     THERE is one more thought on the subject of the soul that is fairly sobering.

-     VERSE 10 says,

      “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

-     THERE are several things we learn from this verse:

1.   The words, all, and each one….leave no one out.

2.   What I do with my life has eternal consequence. My choices and actions follow my soul when it departs my body at death.

3.   God will hold me accountable before His throne for everything I did while my soul was resident in this body.

4.   This judgment seat is a place in eternity where all believers will be judged based on their choices and actions in this life.

5.   This judgment scene, while not effecting the salvation of the believer, will be where rewards will be handed out for what was done while the soul was still in the body…..good or bad.

-     THE Bible describes another judgment scene in Revelation 20, a great white throne where, after the resurrection, the division is made by God between those with faith in God through Jesus Christ and those whose names are not written in God’s book of life.

-     THAT is a different judgment. That is concerning those who are saved and those not saved….those destined for the eternal judgment of God.

-     THIS judgment is described in this verse and in Romans 14:10….and it is for believers whose salvation is not at stake, but it is the evaluation of our lives by God.

-     NOW, concerning what our reward is going to be, the Bible is silent….and I am not going to speculate.

-     BUT if all you get in this life, from someone you really admire, is a word of congratulation…and it means so much…how much more if our reward is only a “well done” from Jesus?

-     LET me leave you with two scriptures that support what Paul is talking about…one from the negative and the other from the positive:

      “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

      “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Hebrews 6:10)

-     THIS is all the more reason to live in such relationship with God that….

1.   He is able to easily convict us and bring us to repentance for the stupid things we do.

2.   Repentance is easy and natural for us, without resistance, so that we can be forgiven of our sin and not carry judgment with our soul when it stands before God’s throne some day.

v.  CONCLUSION

-     SO, there it is saints!

-     HOW is it with your soul?

*     Does your soul have its home now in Christ…so that when you die it will be no great change for you to have your eternal home in Christ?

*     Is your soul ambition to please the Lord?

*     Are you living in such a way that you will be able to appear before God’s judgment seat without shame or embarrassment?

-     IT is time to ask yourself these questions!

-     IT is time to get your soul right with God!

 

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