Why Do We Long for Heaven?
Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Introduction:
A. Visions of Heaven
1. Dr. Robert G Lee was pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church for 33 years before Adrian Rogers, then Adrian Rogers was pastor for 33 years!
a) When Dr. Lee was sick and on his death bed, Adrian Rogers was asked by Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows if he would take them to see him.
b) He was unconscious when they went in and the doctor said he was almost gone.
c) They decided to sing to him and it woke Dr. Lee up.
d) He opened his eyes and his daughter, Hildred said, “Papa, Billy Graham is here to see you.”
e) Dr. Lee smiled and reached up and pulled Billy Graham down and kissed him.
2. Dr. Lee lingered after that and Adrian Rogers came back to see him, and Hildred said, “Guess what? Dr. Lee said that he’s been to heaven. He’s had a vision of heaven.”
a) Adrian Rogers said, “Well, tell me about it. What did he say?”
b) “He said that he couldn’t explain it. He said to me, ‘Hildred, I saw my mother, and I saw Jesus, and I saw heaven.’ ”
c) She said, “Well, tell me about it.” He said, “I cannot tell you. I don’t have the vocabulary, and I never did it justice in my preaching.”
3. Do you think Dr. R. G. Lee really had a vision of heaven? Well, I do!
a) Stephen had one before he went to heaven – Acts 7:55 says that he saw heaven open “and Jesus standing on the right hand of the God.”
b) Many others have had a glimpse of the glory of heaven before going there.
c) The Apostle Paul was caught up into heaven—into the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2)
d) God wants to get us ready for heaven and He does it in so many ways before we go!

B. Getting Ready for Heaven
1. We all need to get ready for heaven.
a) The Bible says that we’re to set our affection on things above, (Colossians 3:2) and to believe in heaven is not to run away from life.
b) To believe in heaven is to run toward Life – eternal life.
2. Paul was in prison when he wrote Philippians.
a) He did not know whether he would be executed or whether he might be set free, so he is thinking about the alternatives: he might live, or he might die.
b) In Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
3. You were made for heaven, and heaven was made for you.
a) There are many things that God has chosen not to tell us about heaven.
b) Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:4 “he was caught up into paradise”—into heaven—in a vision.
c) Whether he was in his body or out of his body, Paul didn’t really know.
d) But he said he that there he heard words that were unlawful for a human being to utter.
e) God revealed to Paul some sacred secrets.
4. There are certain things about heaven that God has kept to Himself.
a) The Apostle John said in 1 John 3:2 “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
b) So there are some things we can’t be dogmatic about, but there are some things we know for certain!
c) We’re going to be like the Lord Jesus.
d) That is why the psalmist said, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness”! (Psalm 17:15)
e) Paul said 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”

C. So why do we all long for heaven?
1. First of all, it’s the way God made us!
a) Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)
(1) 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
b) Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)
(1) 15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
2. This is one reason that we long for heaven – God made us this way.
a) Every person on this earth longs to be made right with God, for God to occupy that place inside us that only He can fill.
b) We all long to be with God in heaven because that is the place where He is.
c) We all long to be with God in heaven because of what we know about what it will be like there!

I. The Struggle We All Have (Philippians 1:21-24)
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
A. To live is Christ, to die is gain (v. 21)
1. Paul was not afraid of life or death and no believer should be!
a) Either way, his desire was to magnify Christ in his body.
b) No wonder he had joy!
2. It is pretty ominous how these words follow each other in the verse — “live,” “die.”
a) There is just a comma between them.
b) Just as surely as it is in the words, so is it in reality.
c) How brief the distance between life and death!
d) In fact there is none.
e) Life is nothing but the path that leads to death.
f) Our pilgrimage on earth is just a journey to the grave.
3. Today we see our friends in health, tomorrow we hear that they passed on.
a) See how closely connected are death and life!
b) When we see life we should see that death is a part of it.
4. But praise be to God, there is one place where death does not follow life!
a) It is a place where life reigns alone!
b) There is a place where death never occurs.
c) That place is called heaven!
5. But to reach it you must die.
a) And if after death we obtain a glorious immortality.
b) So what Paul says is true: “To die is gain!”
6. If you are here today and you are a professing Christian, can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ?
a) Too many Christians join churches and think makes them good Christians if they come to church every other week.
b) And when they do come, they are accepted as true and real Christians.
c) But I do not believe that for very many of these folks “to live is Christ”.
d) There are too many people in the church whose thoughts are filled with the things of earth.
e) They do not live with their eyes on Christ!

B. To Continue Life on Earth Yields More Fruit (vv. 22-23a)
22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
1. Paul confesses that he is facing a difficult decision.
a) To remain alive was necessary for the believers’ benefit in Philippi, but to depart and be with Christ was far better for Paul personally.
b) Paul decided that Christ would have him remain, not only to “advance the Gospel” (Philippians 1:12) but also “for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25).
c) He wanted to help them grow into new areas of spiritual growth.
2. Paul is what a real Christian, one who is like Christ, is!
a) He is willing to postpone going to heaven in order to help other Christians grow.
b) Paul was even willing to go to hell in order to win the lost to Christ!
c) Romans 9:1-3 (ESV)
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
3. What are you willing to do for lost people?

C. To depart and be with Christ is far better (vv. 23b-24)
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
1. Paul had no fear of death.
2. For Paul and for us it simply means “to depart and be with Christ”.
a) This word was used by the soldiers; it meant “to take down your tent and move on.”
(1) What a picture of Christian death! The “tent” we live in is taken down at death, and the spirit goes home to be with Christ in heaven.
(2) 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (ESV)
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
b) For sailors depart meant “to loosen a ship and set sail.”
c) But depart was also a political term; it described the setting free of a prisoner.
(1) God’s people are in bondage because of the limitations of the body and the temptations of the flesh, but death will free them.
(2) Or they will be freed at the return of Christ (Romans 8:18-23) if that should come first.
d) Finally, depart was a word used by the farmers; it meant “to unyoke the oxen.”
(1) Paul had taken Christ’s yoke, which is an easy yoke to bear (Matthew 11:28-30), but how many burdens he carried in his ministry!
(2) To depart to be with Christ would mean laying aside the burdens, his earthly work completed.
3. No matter how you look at it, nothing can steal your joy if you possesses the single mind! “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”.
a) When Betty and I go shopping, there are some places I enjoy going more than others, but I go because Betty enjoys going to those places.
b) But, if on the way I see a book store, I suddenly come alive!
c) You see, the thing that really excite you and “turns you on” is the thing that really is “life” to you.
(1) In Paul’s case, Christ was his life.
(2) Christ excited him and made his life worth living.
4. Philippians 1:21 becomes a valuable test of our lives.
a) “For to me to live is__________and to die is______________.”
(1) Fill in the blanks yourself.
b) “For to me to live is money and to die is to leave it all behind.”
c) “For to me to live is fame and to die is to be forgotten.”
d) “For to me to live is power and to die is to lose it all.”
5. If we are going to have joy in spite of circumstances, and if we are going to share in advancing the Gospel – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!”
6. How can that be?
a) If it is far better for you to be with Christ, then how can we desire to stay behind?
b) The secret is to know that it is more needful for others!
c) It all gets back to dying to self so that you can live your life on this earth for others!

II. The Hope of a Heavenly Dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
A. The Dwelling (v. 1)
2 Corinthians 5:1 (ESV) 1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
1. This “building of God” is not the believer’s heavenly mansion, promised in John 14:1-6.
a) It is his glorified body.
b) Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3) and here he used a tent as a picture of our present earthly bodies.
c) A tent is a weak, temporary structure, without much beauty; but the glorified body we shall receive will be eternal, beautiful, and never show signs of weakness or decay (see Philippians 3:20-21).
d) Paul saw the human body as an earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7) and a temporary tent; but he knew that believers would one day receive a wonderful glorified body, suited to the glorious environment of heaven.
e) It is interesting to trace Paul’s testimony in this paragraph.

B. How Can We Know?
1. Paul says “We know” “oida” = see and understand (v. 1).
How do we know? Where did Paul get this confidence? How can we be sure?
2. We can be sure because we trust the Word of God.
a) No Christian has to consult a fortune-teller, a Ouija board, or a deck of cards to find out what the future holds or what lies on the other side of death.
b) God has told us all that we need to know in the pages of His Word.
3. We can be sure because the Holy Spirit lives within us.
a) Paul mentioned the sealing and the pledge of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:22.
b) The Holy Spirit dwelling in the believer’s body is the “down payment” that guarantees the future inheritance, including a glorified body.
c) In modern Greek, the word translated “earnest” or “pledge” or “guarantee” means “engagement ring.”
d) The church is engaged to Jesus Christ and is waiting for the Bridegroom to come to take her to the wedding.
4. We can be sure because of the Resurrection of Christ
a) Paul’s “we know” connects with his “knowing” (also “oida”) in 2 Corinthians 4:14, and this relates to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
b) We know that He is alive; therefore, we know that death cannot claim us.
c) “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19).
d) Paul knew that Jesus had said, John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
(1) So Paul had no question whatever in his mind – if the Lord had gone to prepare a place there would be a place for him.
(2) Can you trust Jesus this way?
(3) Do you have any doubts about Him?
e) We know that when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved there will be a new body for us, because our Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.
f) The ultimate answer to our deepest unbelief is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead!
g) There is nothing in history so well documented as the fact that our Lord was crucified, dead and buried, and on the third day He rose again from the dead.
5. Paul also knew that when he died there was a Paradise prepared, because he had been there already!
a) 2 Corinthians 12:2-4
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—
4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
b) He says he was taken up to the third heaven.
(1) You could not tell Paul that there was no home for him after death because he had seen the place!
(2) “Well” you say, “I have not seen it.”
c) No; but if you fully believe the testimony of Paul and the Word of God, then you must believe what Paul says.
d) Paul went into the third heaven or paradise, and saw it, so there is such a place.
e) This is the same place into which the Lord Jesus took the dying thief, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43.
f) This is the place where Jesus is, and where we shall be with him forever – This is heaven!

C. Do Not Fear
1. If our tent is “taken down” (“dissolved”), we need not fear.
2. This body is only the house we live in.
3. When a believer dies, the body goes to the grave, but the spirit goes to be with Christ (Philippians 1:20-25).
4. When Jesus Christ returns for His own, He will raise the dead bodies in glory, and body and spirit shall be joined together for a glorious eternity in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18).

D. Why do you groan? (vv. 2-5)
2 Corinthians 5:2-5 (ESV)
2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
1. Paul was not expressing a desire for death.
a) In fact, his statement is just the opposite:
b) He was eager for Jesus Christ to return so that he would be “clothed upon” with the glorified body.
2. He presented three possibilities, using the image of the body as a tent:
a) alive—residing in the tent;
b) dead—unclothed, out of the tent, “naked”;
c) further clothed—the transformation of the body at the return of Christ.
3. Paul was hoping that he would be alive and on the earth at the return of Christ, so that he might not have to go through the experience of death.
a) Paul used a similar picture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and
b) He used the idea of “groaning” in Romans 8:22-26.
4. The glorified body is called “a building of God, a house not made with hands” in 2 Corinthians 5:1, and “our house which is from heaven” in 2 Corinthians 5:2.
a) This is in contrast to our mortal bodies that came from the dust of the earth.
b) 1 Corinthians 15:49 (ESV)
c) 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
d) It is important that Paul was not groaning because he was in a human body, but because he longed to see Jesus Christ and receive a glorified body.
e) He was groaning for glory!
f) This explains why death holds no terrors for the Christian.

E. How can we be confidant of what will happen? (vv. 6-8)
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
1. The people of God can be found in one of two places: either in heaven or on earth (Eph. 3:15).
a) None of them is in the grave, in hell, or in any “intermediate place” between earth and heaven.
b) Believers on earth are “at home in the body,” while believers who have died are “absent from the body.”
c) Believers on earth are “absent from the Lord,” while believers in heaven are “present with the Lord.”
2. Because he had this kind of confidence, Paul was not afraid of suffering and trials, or even of dangers.
a) This is not to suggest that he tempted the Lord by taking unnecessary risks,
b) But it does mean that he was willing to “lose his life” for the sake of Christ and the ministry of the Gospel.
c) He walked by faith and not by sight.
d) He looked at the eternal unseen, not the temporal seen (2 Corinthians 4:18).
e) Heaven was not simply a destination for Paul: it was a motivation.
f) Like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, he looked for the heavenly city and governed his life by eternal values.