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November 28, 2008

A Divine Promise from God

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he points out a very important quality that is necessary for the minister of God. He tells Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV).

Every Christian should be able to understand what the Scripture says through personal study and making sure the text that is preached from the pulpit on Sundays is used in a correct exegetical and hermeneutical manner. Those who sit and listen to the preacher on Sundays should not assume every word that comes forth from their mouths is 100% correct, though it should be, but too often, a verse can be misinterpreted to make a text of Scripture say something that it does not.

The second chapter of the Apostle Peter’s second epistle provides a clear description of the destructive doctrines, doom, depravity and deception of false teachers of the gospel. Those who abuse a text of Scripture, not just once but also over a period of time, for any particular purpose that is not directly related to a more in depth biblical understanding of the Bible is subject to the consequences described in that chapter and should be forewarned and corrected.

Exegesis and hermeneutics are taught more thoroughly in seminary but even at a very basic level, one can use a bible software like e-Sword and it is a tremendous blessing to any layperson who is a student of the Word of God, becoming like the Bereans in Acts 17:11.

This is why the Scripture encourages every Christian to be diligent in their study of the Bible, rightly dividing the word of truth from what is false, or incorrect.

A misinterpretation of any text of Scripture opens the minister up to further scrutiny by the congregation, to discern if the minister’s motives for using a particular text from Scripture is biblical or not. Too often, the first thing an unbeliever will criticize about the church, is how often the minister talks about how much God wants to bless you if you give your money to this or that particular ministry, or church.

When a person gives their money to the work of ministry for the LORD Jesus Christ, their hearts need to be right, in the manner in which their giving is directed.

If our finances are given solely for expecting any multiplied amount returned to us, our motive for giving is all wrong and becomes more like a lottery ticket, “you gotta give in order to get blessed!”, and that is just the wrong motive to give to the work of ministry for the LORD Jesus Christ.

But if our motive is to see the work of the ministry blessed by our giving, to further the work of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, then our motives for our giving is right and if God blesses us with some financial return on that, well then PRAISE GOD!!! However, if nothing is ever returned financially that is even better.

I would not want to see someone have a greater expectation on a financial return from God because of their giving over one soul that has been won to Christ, or to support missionaries with the financial ability to go into the world and preach the Gospel. What is more important, seeing God multiply my money back to me or supporting people who desire to see souls won to Christ and added daily to the church? I think it is obvious, well, to me it is.

Before I begin, I would like to introduce a few words that are mentioned in the opening verse of this post and present a clearer understanding of them related to Scripture.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV

First, in this verse, the word wrought that is used here, in Greek, is the word katergazomai, which means to work fully, that is, accomplish; by implication to finish, or fashion.

Next is the word earnest and the Greek word for this is arrhabōn and it has a Hebrew word too, which is similar in Greek, which is ‛ărâbôn.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries indicate that the Greek definition is a pledge, that is, part of the purchase money or property given in advance as security for the rest.

The Hebrew definition for the word ‛ărâbôn states (in the sense of exchange); a pawn (given as security): - pledge.

The New Living Translation offers a pretty good interpretation of this verse, “God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.”

The NIV does a good job also of interpreting this verse correctly, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

Now let’s read again 2 Corinthians 5:5 from the King James Version, for a better understanding of this verse and the words that are used.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV.

Reading this verse alone, questions arise asking, what is it that God accomplished, by implication to finish and what is this earnest, pledge or purchase money that was used to give us His Spirit? Did God write some sort of check as a deposit for one’s redemption and salvation? What is to come because of the earnest deposit God made?

In order to gain a more complete understanding of this verse, one must read the entire passage of verses from 1-8 and what these eight verses are talking about is the assurance of the eternal life in heaven, for the born again believer in Jesus Christ. Each verse will be presented through this exegesis of text.

Exegesis and Hermeneutics

In verse 1, we first take notice that Paul is speaking to Christians in Corinth and his letter reminds them that they have an expectation of eternal life in heaven to look forward to as Christians, after their mortal life has ended. Yet in heaven, the body will have a new home that is not the result of any manufacture, because God has created this new body for every believer and is eternal in heaven.

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

Next, in verses 2 and 3 we read there is a deep desire to be clothed with the garments that await us in heaven and such clothing will prove the repentance, forgiveness and salvation of every man and woman who has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 2 Corinthians 5:2-3.

Isaiah 61:10 (NKJV) says, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
On the Day of Judgment, a person will either stand naked before God with nothing to prove their salvation or faith in Jesus Christ or they will stand before God wearing the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness that is found only in Jesus Christ.

Verse 4 describes the inner desire to be clothed in the robe of righteousness, to be in heaven now, yet burdened to have to patiently wait for the life of this mortal body to end and for an eternal life in heaven to begin.

For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:4.

Now, verse 5. This is what God has done, what He has accomplished and finished for us. He has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee, to be a witness regarding the eternal inheritance for the Christian believer.

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:5.

God has given the Holy Spirit as the guarantee, the pledge of the new body we will have in the glories of heaven. This verse does not refer to a financial principle that God requires a down payment to release His best to those who give to Him.

In John MacArthur’s sermon referencing arrhabōn, he says in his sermon, “For example, Jeremiah was a faithful prophet who did what God asked. One of the things God asked him to do was buy a piece of property (Jeremiah 32:7). After Jeremiah bought the field, he sealed the transaction (v. 14). Similarly, when a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ God gives to them the Holy Spirit and that finishes the transaction.

“When God gave us the Holy Spirit, we were enabled to speak from God's Word with authority (John 16:23).

“When God gave you the Holy Spirit, He gave you the only guarantee you will ever need.

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14, NKJV, emphasis mine).

John MacArthur said, “How do we know that Christ is our inheritance? What is the guarantee that once we jump into Christianity with both feet that we won't discover that it's a dead end? The Holy Spirit. God has provided a guarantee because He knows we need to have confidence in our salvation.

“We have not yet been totally redeemed. We have been redeemed spiritually, but we await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). We haven't received our full inheritance because we're not in heaven yet. But we know it will happen because we "were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Spirit is the guarantee that "the redemption of the purchased possession" will indeed happen.”

Verse 6 then states that while we remain in our physical bodies we are not in the presence of the LORD, though that is what and where we desire to be.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6.

Verse 7 is a verse that many Christians quote often saying, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” However, what does this really mean in light of this passage of Scripture? Our walk in this world is one of faith, complete dependence and trust upon God, in His will and not ours.

Finally, verse 8 for the Christian believer is that they can have the confidence that one day they will no longer be absent from God, but will be in His presence forever.

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8.

Therefore, the true indication of what is to come, the promise of eternal life, is the Holy Spirit. It is He that lives and dwells within the Christian as they anticipate the day they will live with the LORD Jesus Christ for all of eternity.

God redeems the sinner from His wrath and judgment of their sin by their repentance and faith in His Son Jesus Christ. God then gave the man or woman who has become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), His Spirit to dwell within them for the remainder of their earthly lives until the time of death where in heaven, they will live spiritually until their bodies are resurrected from the grave at the end of the world.

What Was the Cost?

It certainly was not cheap by any means and the closer one grows to Christ and understands the great price that God paid for their redemption, causes them to fall more deeply in love with Jesus Christ and thankful for what God did to save a wretched sinner as they were, as I was.

I think Hebrews 9:11-15 (NKJV) really sums this up quite well, what the cost was to purchase us, to redeem us to God for the salvation of our souls and the forgiveness of our sins.

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (emphasis mine).

Conclusion

God has accomplished for the repentant sinner who through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, he or she has received the blessed gift of God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within them, as the assurance of the eternal inheritance that belongs to them as born again believers.

The passage 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NKJV) is exclusively about the assurance of the resurrection, expectation of eternal life and the promise of God’s Holy Spirit that has been given to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 5:5 has a metaphorical tone with reference to value using a term like deposit with the understanding that it means a pledge in advance or security for the rest as was introduced in this post.

In terms of contextualization of this verse and passage, would be similar to homeowners who have a mortgage on their home. The homeowners agree with a lender, to number of monthly mortgage payments (pledge), because part of the purchase money (deposit) has been given in advance as security for the rest,” the full ownership of the property at the conclusion of the established number of mortgage payments.

Therefore, if we use these Hebrew and Greek words in a correct exegetical and hermeneutical manner for contextual understanding and application of the text, God has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us as a pledge, or an advance of what we will receive in heaven one day, living eternally in the presence and the fullness of God. The presence of God’s Holy Spirit is a promise, to the born again believer, of the assurance of the eternal life that awaits them upon the moment of death.

To interpret this text, 2 Corinthians 5:5, to mean that one can give God any pledged amount of money in anticipation of what will come from Him is a gross misinterpretation of this text. God cannot be bought and there is no way anyone could get God to perform anything for them because they have committed to a monthly pledge of money, to a ministry, a church or a building fundraiser campaign and expect God to do something great in their lives.

For example, when a minister, such Faith Church senior pastor Frank Santora in New Milford, CT, teaches that God will do something great because of one's financial pledge to a building fundraiser campaign named Arrabon, he has misrepresented the text from the Bible and grossly misinterpreted what the text actually means.

This is why I introduced this post with 2 Timothy 2:15, to say that every Christian must perform their own due diligence of study and research of the biblical text and not just take for granted what any preacher is saying from the pulpit.

The text Pastor Frank Santora has used as a basis for his fundraiser campaign has been misinterpreted greatly, in an attempt to persuade people into giving their money to the church, with the expectation of those who give that God will somehow do something great in their lives because of their pledge to this campaign.

Read the entire passage and see for yourself if this is referring to anything at all, regarding finances or financial blessing bestowed upon the giver. You will find that it does not.

The apostle Paul's charge to Timothy in his second letter said, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV) and that is exactly what I have strived for regarding the interpretation of this passage of Scripture.

God has prepared an eternal body and home for the born again believer. He understands our desire to be with Him for all of eternity and He wants to see His children clothed in the righteous robe of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. He has given His Holy Spirit to live within us, until we can live fully with Him in heaven for eternity. For a time, we will live in this physical body patiently waiting to live in the presence of God for eternity. Our view of that time will be one of faith that will be indescribable with words today, yet when that day comes, there will be a pleasantness and joyful experience that will be no longer be held back by our natural bodies. One day, our eternal lives will be full, complete and eternal in the presence of the King of kings and LORD of lords, the LORD God Almighty.

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:5.

If the reader were to now take some time to read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 slowly, the reader should be able to clearly see that the focus of this passage is not about giving money to God for the release of His best blessing upon those who give to Him, but the promise of the Holy Spirit as an assurance of their salvation.


Reference

MacArthur, J. (n.d.). The Believer’s Life in Christ, Divine promises guaranteed. Retrieved from http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/sg1905.htm on November 28, 2008.

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Artie Martin said...

Brother Kurt,
Thank you for your well wishes and dedication to the Word of God.