TOPIC: HOPE ETERNAL
Devotional Reading: Romans 7:14-26
Background Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16- 5:10
Lesson Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16- 5:10
Golden Text: Now we know that if the earth we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:1.
By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
• Discuss the ideal response of Christians to trials and tribulations.
• Explain the meaning of life after death.
• State the rewards of believers in Christ Jesus, after death.
There is no doubt that we live in difficult times. Christians often face life’s challenges like failure, depression, poverty, sicknesses and diseases, persecution, bereavement and so on. These challenges sometimes change our perception about life and God.
The popular President Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America (1861-1868) captured the attention of biographers like sugarcane attracts ants; and books about his life would easily fill a warehouse. His life was characterized by troubles, sorrows, failures, travails and disappointments. He failed in business, was defeated in elections, had a nervous breakdown and eventually lost his wife to the cold hands of death.
But being a strong-minded man who would never give in to retrogression in life, he decided to take the bull by the horns and ultimately became the President of United States of America at the age of 61. Over hundred years ago, the hopeless are still learning from the ordeals of Lincoln. Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth was written during a difficult time in his relationship with the church. It was an intense struggle. However, for Paul, such suffering for the sake of Christ was a privilege and a necessity when compared with the future glory that shall be revealed. This he described as “Hope Eternal.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED
A. Hope Eternal, Paul’s Motivation 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The language of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth suggests that he was faced with severe suffering in the Roman Province of Asia. Although the precise nature of the suffering is not known, he never complained or shifted the blame to others. His confession in verse 1 forms the basis of his encouragement and so, he was not hopeless. Even though they were physically worn out, they were renewed spiritually day after day. He graciously acknowledged that the trouble they suffer is insignificant and temporary in nature when compared with the eternal glory. They were rather occupied with the unseen things and the eternal glory reserved for him. After all, what can be seen is only momentary but the unseen lasts forever (v.18).
Absolutely, Paul was motivated by the assurance in verse 1 that they will not lose heart (discouraged) because God has given them the ministry. He, therefore, encouraged the Corinthians to remain vigilant because the things they had to endure presently were only temporary and insignificant. As an alternative, they should be focused on their true and eternal destiny with Christ in glory. Though they are suffering presently, their suffering is not worth comparing to God’s glory, which will be revealed in the future (Romans 8:18).
Paul’s sufferings were intense and unending but he counted them as light and momentary compared to the consequent eternal weight (i.e. ’solid worth’) of glory. Believers who are suffering for the sake of their faith in Christ should be encouraged with these words of Paul. After all, suffering is inevitable in the Christian journey. We must not give our hope because our challenges are only but for a moment. Even when we suffer for the sake of doing the will of God, the outward man is only being affected, but the inward man is being renewed daily by the grace of God.
Discussion Time 1
1. Discuss the old saying, “While there is life, there is hope.
2. How can Paul’s declaration in verse 17 be a source of encouragement to those who are suffering for the sake of their faith?
B. Guarantee of Our Future Glory. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
Paul was explicit in his encouragement to the church in Corinth. He referred to the physical body on earth as tent, which is temporary. He said, when it is torn down perhaps by way of death, there is a permanent home in heaven built by God for His people to live in. Although there is groaning and the desire to be clothed with heavenly dwelling, we will not be found naked. According to him, while we remain in this physical body, we cry and are troubled because of our desire to have new bodies so that what is earthly will be transformed by life (v. 5). Interestingly, he made it known that God had prepared us for the great change and has given us His Spirit as the assurance for everything.
Paul constantly referred to his frail body in this letter. But in this passage, he looks beyond life on earth to the future, when we will have new bodies after the great transformation. However, the contrast he made between tent and house shows the temporary nature of a body in this life when compared with what is to come. The meaning is that when the body dies and goes back to dust; we will have a resurrected body and an eternal building to live in forever, whose architect is God. This refers to putting on immortality, as explained in 1 Corinthians 15:35-54. It will take place at the rapture. Therefore, believers are guaranteed a glorious future. God has created us for this purpose (Philippians 3:21), working in us His good purpose in ways beyond our understanding (Philippians 2:13).
Discussion Time 2
1. What is your understanding of this statement, “Building n built by human hands” verse 1?
2. Discuss why believers should shift their focus from physical and material things to things that are spiritual and eternal as they grow in faith.
C. The Motivation of Our Future Reward 1 Corinthians 5:6-10
Paul’s assertion in verse 6 is amazing. He said, “Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.” For him, their life was only a matter of faith and not of sight. They were quite encouraged and preferred to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Consequently, their desire was to please God, whether they are at home in the body or away from it. He confidently declared the certainty of appearing before Christ to be judged by Him in verse 10. Of course, it will be a time for each one to receive a reward according to their deeds, whether good or bad while in the body.
Paul’s motivation for future reward is well analyzed in the passage. While we live in the body, we are in our temporary home and absent from the eternal home with the Lord. Nevertheless, to die and be absent from the body means we are ushered into the presence of God awaiting resurrection. However, whether present or absent from the body, Paul’s concern was to please the Lord and to bring glory to Him. Based on these facts, Christians should live with the consciousness of the day of judgment, when our work on earth will be judged. In view of the fact that we shall leave the body at physical death to reign with Christ, let us labour with all sincerity so that we will be able to please God.
Discussion Time 3
1. How can Christians please God?
2. Discuss how Christians should live in view of the day of the Lord, according to verse 10.
Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity
▪︎ Divide the class into two. Let group A list at least ten
common challenges and group B the matching solutions. They are to read everything aloud.
▪︎God is the Architect and Builder of lives.
▪︎ Tough situations do not last. Death is not the end of life.
▪︎ We shall all appear before the judgment throne of God.
▪︎ Life is a fleeting shadow.
▪︎ There is reward for those who will endure to the end.