Brethren Archive
2 Cor. v. 1-8

The Tent and the House

by Henry Dyer

In this precious chapter, two conditions of believers are compared and contrasted.  The present, in mortal flesh, is compared to life in a "tent," the future in resurrection glory to being clothed upon with a "house from heaven."  In a tent here, easily and quickly taken down; there in a house eternal, in the heavens.  The unclothed or disembodied state, in which the Christian is "absent from the body," is affirmed, but not especially in view in the chapter.  "There is—as the apostle says in 1 Cor. xv.—a, natural and there is a spiritual body."  The "natural" body is what we have now.  It came from our natural birth of earthly parents, and is likened to a tent in use only for a season.  The spiritual body will be a "house from heaven"—not made with hands, in which the saint is to dwell forever.  In this tent lifetime, he is "absent from the Lord," for flesh and blood cannot be with immortality.  When the apostle speaks of his desire "to depart and to be with Christ" (Phil. i. 21), he says that will be "far better" than the very best of his days in mortal flesh, in his tent life condition here, and therefore he was willing rather to be "absent from the body." And, as it was made known to the dying thief on that day of the Cross— "To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke xxiii. 43), so the believer who "puts off his tabernacle" (2 Pet. i. 14), goes to be with Christ.  But when the Lord comes again, when "the dead in Christ" are brought from their graves at His shout (1 Thess, iv. 17), clothed with their house from heaven, and the living saints changed in a moment into the full image of the heavenly, they are caught up together to be forever "with the Lord."  While in this frail tent state, we are "absent from the Lord," in that resurrection state, in our house from heaven, we shall never be away from Him, but "so"—in that glorious body condition, we shall "ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess, iv. 17).  "With CHRIST," in the disembodied state, in resurrection and clothed with our house from heaven, "with THE LORD."  And then the apostle, who says "we know" (ver. 1) these things, goes on to bring this knowledge to a practical issue in verse 9, where he says, whether it be as now in this mortal body state, with the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, or in that coming state in which there will be no frailty and no weakness, let it be our ambition here and now, to be "well pleasing to our God," in all that we are and do.  For there is a day yet to come, on which all that we have done while in this present mortal state, shall be reviewed by the Lord Himself, and rewarded according to His acceptance and estimate of it.   It is with this full in view that we are to live and labour.  Those brief days of mortal life in the "tent," will tell in the endless years of the life to come in our house from heaven.  For we each shall carry with us from Christ's judgment-seat, the record He will give to us of what His estimate is of all that has been done by us here.

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