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Bible Commentaries

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

2 Corinthians 5

Verses 1-10

  1. Intro:
    1. Are you afraid to die? Do you have a fear of death? Are you afraid of death/afterlife or afraid of dying/i.e. the way you’ll die?
    2. Old Indian proverb says, "Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it."
    3. Richard Baxter(Puritan) speaking of his constant sickness said, “(it) made me study and preach things necessary, and a little stirred up my sluggish heart to speak to sinners with some compassion, as a dying man to dying men.”
      1. He also said, “Man always knows his life will shortly cease, Yet madly lives as if he knew it not.”
      2. The 3 crosses behind me will always remind us that, “The bad thief is crucified, the repentant thief is crucified, and the Son of God is crucified.”
      3. Death is one thing that faces all men, “rich & poor, astronaut & prostitute, infant & teen, grandparents & parents, you & me”.
      4. Each one of us has been given “2 dates & 1 dash!” (1900-2001)
    4. Man has done everything to soften the impact of death…especially by coming up with different theories to either dismiss it entirely or at least soften its blow!
    5. The 3 most popular are:
      1. Reincarnation – is a new birth into another body.
        1. They believe we are recycled eternally. Reaching higher levels of happiness IF you’ve lived a good life, lower levels of misery IF you haven’t.
      2. Soul Sleep aka Intermediate sleep. They have no conscious existence from the time of physical death until the day of resurrection. A hibernation if you will.
        1. This leads to despair, or you develop the attitude of “Eat, drink, & be merry, for tomorrow you die!” [no, 2 Millennia of Siesta!]
      3. Purgatory – (root=purge) Means “a place of spiritual purging.”
        1. Basically, death moves into a temporary state where others can pray to free us from punishment.
        2. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, defines it, “an intermediate place between heaven & hell, where the unfinished business of earth is settled.”
        3. This doctrine is built from 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 where it says, “thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be free from this sin.”
          1. There are definitely some contextual problems, & even my Catholic bible says in its foot notes & I quote, “His belief(Judas) was similar to, but not quite the same as, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.”
          2. This is of course an apocryphal book ("hidden things") which we do not see as part of the Canon of scripture. [These books do not claim for themselves the same kind of authority as the OT writings; They was never part of the Hebrew bible; They are never quoted in the NT, nor by Jesus; They contain teachings inconsistent w/the rest of the bible]
          3. This was excepted into the canon in 1548 – The Catholics actually prefer Deutero-canonical (deutero = 2nd-cannon)
    6. Let’s answer 8 questions & we’ll start by launching from 2 words in 4:18...temporary & eternal.
      1. Remember, "Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it."
  2. IF A MAN DIES WILL HE LIVE AGAIN? (1)
    1. That’s what Job asked, If a man dies, shall he live again? Job 14:14a
      1. Then he answered himself, All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. Job 14:14b
    2. The writer of Prov. 23:18 said, For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.
    3. When it comes to theories about death you hear, “we think”; “we believe”; “we hope”; yet the bible says, We Know! See vs.1.
    4. Tents are fun to camp in…but they are not a home!
      1. A tent is only a temporary place! [Even Gods Tent/Tabernacle was Temporary, till Temple]
      2. We will one day set aside this Earthly Tent in exchange for Heaven’s Suit!
  3. IS IT NATURAL TO LONG FOR HEAVEN? (2)
    1. For in this we groan - we groan because we are weary, rain-soaked campers longing for home.
    2. Do you get upset when the waitress takes away the 1st dish of a 7 course meal?
      1. No, because you know they are going to replace it with something better.
  4. IS THERE SUCH THINGS AS GHOSTS? (3)
    1. ​​​​​​​No, there is no such things as ghosts! [or as Ray Parker Jr. Sang, I ain't afraid of no ghosts]
      1. Ghosts are defined in Webster’s as, The supposed disembodied spirit of a dead person.
        1. We will not be kicked out of this tent to roam homeless!
      2. (Lyrics) If there's something strange - in your neighborhood - Who ya gonna call? - GHOSTBUSTERS. No, don’t need to. No such thing as Ghosts. Demonic manifestations, yes. [Not going to call: Bill murray, Dan Aykroyd, nor Harold Ramis]
  5. WHAT IS STRONGER THAN DEATH? (4)
    1. ​​​​​​​Life not death swallows the believers up!
      1. 1 Cor.15:53,54 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
  6. HOW DO WE KNOW GOD WILL DO THIS? (5)
    1. ​​​​​​​God has already placed a down payment on our eternal home.
      1. And if the H.S. is just a down payment imagine what the full payment will be?
      2. Story: A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed: "Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!"
  7. SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? (6-8) [the Clash, English Punk Rock Band]
    1. Ever have a relationship from a distance? (Kelly, at San Diego State/dating/Train)
      1. Whether writing letters, calling them, emails, Facebook, sending each other digital pictures, or Skype…still nothing compares with being with them in person!
      2. Same with our relationship with our Lord!
    2. (7) Paul drops in a Parenthetical.
      1. This verse instructs us how to live in the meantime.
      2. Slide#14 Most Hindus have a desire to visit the city of Banares at least once in their lifetime. It’s also called Varanasi (on the banks of the Ganges/1 of the oldest cities of the world). It’s aholy city to them, with 1500 temples. The road encircling the city is 36 miles long. To walk all the way around the city with devotion is deemed a very holy thing!
        1. But we believe, that how you walk is far more important than where you walk.
  8. WHAT SHOULD BE A CHRISTIANS #1 AIM? (9)
    1. ​​​​​​​Our aim – our goal, our ambition?…to be well pleasing to Him!
      1. (LKGNT) “to devote one’s self zealously to a cause.”
      2. Remember the old game Trivial Pursuit? May that not be used to define your life.
      3. What’s your aim in this life? (Some set their sites on riches. Yet “riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”) 4. Is this your one passionate aim to please God wherever you’re at?
        1. Remember, we have dual citizenship!
        2. Paul determines to please God in both bodies!
    2. Pleasing –used in Titus 2:9 of slaves who give satisfaction to their master.
      1. Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back. Titus 2:9
  9. IS GOD A FRUIT INSPECTOR? (10)
    1. ​​​​​​​We must all not only appear, but have our whole character made manifest.
    2. Jesus will look beyond Quantity & inspect Quality!
      1. LAX Customs demands, “No bad/foreign fruit is welcome in our country”.
        1. They have specific trashcans with signs on them to dump the fruit before inspection.
          1. You might do the same. Go ahead & dump your bad fruit now!
    3. He’ll look at our deeds, both good or bad
      1. 1 Cor.3:13-15 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
    4. He’ll look at our Motives
      1. ​​​​​​​1 Cor.4:4,5 For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
        1. “We are making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a crown.”
    5. 3 Things in life are sure: [not death & taxes]
      1. Birth starts our life! (true both physically & spiritually)
        1. “You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.”
          1. And you’re not ready to die until you’ve been Born Again.
        2. You couldn’t do anything to prepare for your birth, but you have everything to do w/preparing to die!
        3. Are you prepared?
      2. Death ends our earthly life!
        1. Are you ready to die? Ready to meet your Maker?
        2. Have you made your reservations? No one can book the flight for you!
        3. Illustration: E-Tickets! - No paper tickets necessary now. No lines. Just a confirmation # is needed.
      3. Opportunity is limited to our life here!
        1. Purgatory, Reincarnation, & just Ceasing to Exist are not biblical options.
        2. There are no 2nd chances in the hereafter. Remember, it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
        3. The impact we make here ripples through the hereafter.
          1. This is the testing ground for eternity! William Barclay
    6. So what is death like…does it hurt?
      1. ​​​​​​​Read quote from Catherine Marshall, “A Man Called Peter”.
    7. A Christian is of 2 worlds:
      1. We are not to despise this world; but instead find it shining from the reflection which is to come.
    8. Slide#18,19 "Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it." To the unbeliever heaven is...Unbridgeable!

Verses 11-21

  1. Intro:
    1. Let’s talk about Crazy Christians!
      1. No, not the ones that see Jesus in the clouds Slide#3a.
      2. Not the ones that see Orange Jesus Slide#3b.
      3. Not the ones that see Tortilla Jesus Slide#3c. [or my fav]
      4. Not the ones that see Toast Jesus Slide#3d.
      5. oy vey to blank
    2. I’m talking about the biblically bona fide Crazy, sold out, on fire, fool for Jesus, wrecking the world, kinda Christians. Like what Paul is accused of here! (vs.13)
    3. (13) Beside ourselves – To stand out of one’s self, to stand beside one’s self. Inferring mental imbalance. To be crazy.
    4. Mwen fou pou Jezi! (I’m a fool for Jesus/Creole)
      1. Festus said of Paul, Paul, you’re beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad! Acts 26:24
      2. Others said of Jesus, He is out of His mind. Mark 3:21
    5. Has it ever been said of you? – Do people think you’re a little weird for being a Christian in our day & age, or for holding to your “archaic puritanical beliefs”?It’s those men who tediously copied the scriptures. Those who lit the torch of the reformation. Men & women who gave their lives as Martyrs. Those who speak openly for Christ. Those who have given up lucrative careers to quietly serve the Lord in ministry. Those who have given up working at a Christian Ministry to go back to the secular work force to reengage unbelievers. Those that have sold all to move to a foreign land or a different culture…men & women of whom the world was not worthy.Paul says, “Fool for Jesus” or “Sound mind for Jesus”…either way…“I’m for Jesus!”
      1. Ok, so how do I get tagged or targeted “Fool for Jesus?”
        1. With Paul’s 7 simple reminders of God’s Crazy Love towards His children.
  2. We’re Crazy Christians...BY BOTH OUR FEAR & LOVE! (11a,14a)
    1. ​​​​​​​Let’s talk having both the terror of the Lord & the love of Christ!
      1. Note the tie between vs.10 & 11.
        1. How can the Christian prepare for the Judgment Seat of Christ?
    2. The terror of the Lord (11)
      1. Terror = fear - It is not the sense of being afraid of being clubbed to death or whipped by an angry God.
        1. It is an awesome reverence, a fear that grows out of respect. A healthy fear of God.
        2. The fear excited by the thought of standing before the judgment seat of Christ & having one’s whole life exposed & estimated.
    3. How can such opposite emotions as fear and love(vs.14) dwell in the same heart?
      1. Certainly they are found in the hearts of children who love their parents and yet respect them and their authority.
        1. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Ps. 2:11
    4. The love of Christ (14)
    5. Paul didn’t say, “my love for Christ is what compels me!”
      1. Compels = to hold together, to press together, to constrain. It is a pressure that confines & restricts as well as controls.
      2. And it is in the pres. tense indicating the continual habit of life.
    6. The love of Christ - means Jesus’ love for us as seen in His sacrificial death.
      1. We love Him, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
      2. It is then His love that empowers us to do what we do.
        1. If we are not compelled by the love of Christ then the love of Christ is not in us!
        2. “Secret love” is a love that never shows itself in action.
          1. Open rebuke is better then secret love/love carefully concealed. Prov.27:5
    7. What makes a young families head off to the mission filed? What power enables average believers to go into hospitals & lay hands on individuals with terrible deadly diseases?…The Love of Christ compels them!
  3. We’re Crazy Christians...BY MAINTAINING OUR MISSION! (11b)
    1. ​​​​​​​We persuade men - Christ has commanded us to spread the Gospel to all nations, and we must be obedient.
      1. Someone asked the Duke of Wellington what he thought of foreign missions, and his reply was, “What are your marching orders?”
        1. ​​​​​​​Whether we be Christian or non-Christian or even anti-Christian, we all try to articulate as persuasively as we can, what it is that we believe, of course in the hope that others will be persuaded!
      2. We can’t kick back in our lounge chairs of life w/our remote control in hand…We must get involved. We must intervene. We must tell people their lives are not OK!
  4. We’re Crazy Christians...BY MAINTAINING OUR PERSPECTIVE! (15,16)
    1. ​​​​​​​Why did He die?
      1. That we might live through Him - 1Jn.4:9
      2. That we might live with Him - 1Thes.5:10
      3. That we might live for Him - 2 Cor.5:15
        1. Christ died our death for us that we might live His life for Him.
    2. We not only died with Him, but we also were raised with Him that we might “walk in newness of life”.
      1. C.S.Lewis said, “It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” (C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 9.)
      2. [Preference this next quote w/Morality is good. Moralism is bad]
      3. Bill Hybels in his book, "Christianity's Toughest Competitor: Moralism," (People thinking that they’re pretty good moral people) Quotes Ted Turner in a 1993 issue of USA today, “I don't want anybody to die for me. I've had a few drinks and a few girl friends. If that's going to put me in hell, then so be it.”
      4. In 1994 “Good Friday” of course being a Friday also fell on April 1st, known of course as, “April fools day”.
        1. When Jesus died on that 1st Good Friday, truly it was a Good Friday to the one thief, & yet it was April fools to the world’s greatest fool, who rejected Christ’s provision of salvation! - He missed heaven by 9 words"Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
  5. We’re Crazy Christians...BY EMBRACING OUR NEWNESS! (17)
    1. ​​​​​​​New Creature/creation – The rabbis used this term to describe those whose sins had been forgiven.
    2. All things are become new – not turned over a new leaf, not reformed, not rehabilitated!…But All NewTransformed!
      1. ​​​​​​​One of the questions on the Hunter & Safety course I took years ago was, “What was the 3 main parts to a rifle?” (Lock, stock, and barrel)
        1. We’re changed…“Lock, stock, and barrel”!
      2. “We are not saved by evolution but by creation!” (Spurg)
    3. New?
      1. We now have a new view of Christ.
      2. We now have a new view of people around us.
        1. We see them as sinners for whom Christ died. - We no longer see them as friends or enemies; customers or coworkers; Republicans or Democrats; we see them the way Christ sees them...as lost sheep who need a shepherd!
      3. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​We now have a new view of other Christians.
        1. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28
      4. We now have a new view of our value system, relationships, our philosophy of life.
    4. The best story I’ve heard of being a “New Creation” is of St. Augustine.
      1. In his younger years he had indulged in great sins. After his conversion he met a woman who had been the sharer of his wicked follies. She had approached him winningly & said, to him “Augustine,” but he ran away from her w/all speed. She called after him, “Augustine it is I”. He turned around & said “But it is not I. The old Augustine is dead, & I am a new creature in Christ Jesus!”
    5. Note vs. 18 says all things are of God – “We can’t don this new wardrobe ourselves anymore than a caterpillar can clip on a set of wings & call itself a butterfly. An inward transformation must take place.” Swindoll
      1. A lizard w/snorkel gear is not equal to a frog.
        1. Christ invades our life & performs a creative act, a metamorphosis transformation.
  6. We’re Crazy Christians...BY OWNING RECONCILIATION! (18,19)
    1. ​​​​​​​It’s a Ministry of Reconciliation!
      1. Because of his rebellion, man was the enemy of God and out of fellowship with Him.
      2. The Cross has brought man and God together again.
        1. Reconcile = “to effect a change, to exchange, to change thoroughly.”
      3. God does not have to be reconciled to man, it is sinful man who must be reconciled to God.
        1. Religion” is man’s feeble effort to be reconciled to God.
      4. So, the Person who reconciles us to God is Jesus Christ, and the place where He reconciles us is His cross.
  7. We’re Crazy Christians...BY REMEMBERING OUR AMBASSADORSHIP!(20)
    1. ​​​​​​​In the Roman Empire, there were two kinds of provinces: Senatorial provinces and Imperial provinces.
      1. ​​​​​​​The Senatorial provinces were made up of people who were peaceful and not at war with Rome. They had surrendered and submitted.
      2. ​​​​​​​The Imperial provinces were not peaceful; they were dangerous because they would rebel against Rome if they could.
        1. It was necessary for Rome to send ambassadors to the imperial provinces to make sure that rebellion did not break out.
          1. Since Christians in this world are the ambassadors of Christ, this means that the world is in rebellion against God.
          2. This world is an imperial province as far as God is concerned. He has sent His ambassadors into the world to declare peace, not war.
    2. Some facts about Ambassadors:
      1. An Ambassador spends their lives on foreign soil.
      2. An Ambassador is chosen to represent someone.
      3. Ambassadors are protected (a nation provides its ambassadors w/every need & stands ready to protect him).
      4. Ambassadors are held accountable (they must say what they are told to say).
      5. Ambassadors are called home before war is declared (God has yet to declare war on this world & before he does he will pull out his Ambassadors).
        1. Shame on U.S. For not protecting our Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens on 9-11.
    3. George Shultz, when Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, kept a large globe in his office. When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them. He would say, "You have to go over the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country." They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent - unerringly.

      When Shultz's old friend and former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan, even he was put to the test. This time, however, Ambassador Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: "That's my country."Said the secretary: "I've told that story, subsequently, to all the ambassadors going out. 'Never forget you're over there in that country, but your country is the United States. You're there to represent us. Take care of our interests and never forget it, and you're representing the best country in the world.' "
      1. Christians, never forget whatever country, whatever piece of soil he has placed you on temporarily. First & foremost you are a citizen in the greatest country ever “Heaven”…don’t ever forget that!
  8. We’re Crazy Christians...BY ACKNOWLEDGING THE RT OF GOD! (21)
    1. ​​​​​​​(21) This is the righteousness both that God requires & provides in justification.
      1. “God treats Christ like he lived our life, He treats us as if we lived His life!”
      2. This is our simple message folks! (i.e. vs.21)
        1. Know it. Understand it as best you can. Memorize it. Share it!
    2. Tell the good news! - What does a honey bee do when he finds a field of flowers. When he arrives back at the hive does he selfishly try to keep its location to himself? - Is he afraid the nectar will run out? No, he quickly does a little GPS dance, telling everybody his good news. He explains what it is & how to get there! Soon, many are blessed by the much awaited nectar!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/2-corinthians-5.html. 2017.