“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV)
People constantly search for answers about their purpose in life and what happens after death. Unfortunately, most of them look for those answers in the wrong places. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, the apostle Paul writes about life and death. He shows that he is confident that his life has a purpose given by God and death is not the end.
#1 Christians Should Not Fear Death
Fear comes from uncertainty. Fear comes from the unknown. Why should anyone be afraid when they know what will happen and that it is a good thing? That’s why Paul is so bold about the idea of dying. He knows what comes after he dies: he will be with the Lord.
Jesus Christ died and was raised from the dead. Death could not hold Him. With His resurrection, He “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10 NKJV). Jesus has the “keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18 KJV). He is in control, even of death. Why should we be afraid?
#2 Our Purpose in Life and Death
Paul was so sure of what would happen after he died that he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 KJV). He also wrote that he desired to “depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23 KJV). He had high expectations of that glorious moment when he would go to meet with the Lord.
But he also knew that God had a purpose for him in this life. God wanted to use him in building up and strengthening those early churches (Philippians 1:24-25 NKJV). Paul was confident in the plans the Lord had for him, so he knew he wasn’t going to die until those plans were fulfilled.
To accomplish his mission, Paul faced all sorts of sufferings and hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). He kept going, knowing that he would receive a priceless reward at the end of his earthly life: “a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8 KJV).
That reward isn’t only for Paul. It is available for each and every one of us that believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God and as our Lord and Savior, and who are eager to meet Him face to face. So, as did Paul, we must be willing to face any hardship in this life to follow God’s will and be confident of what to expect after this life is over.
#3 Christians Must Live by Faith
How can we know that all of this is real? Only through faith in the Word of God. The Bible tells us that faith is what allows us to believe in what we don’t see yet (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is what makes every promise and every hope real before they are accomplished.
Paul’s faith is what kept him going, through the good and the hard times. It should be the same with us. Our faith is what makes us trust in the Word of God and believe that we have a future with Him beyond this life.
The prophet Habakkuk said that “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4 KJV). Paul echoed that powerful statement in Romans 1:17. It is impossible to believe without faith. It is impossible to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord without faith (Hebrews 11:6). On the other hand, for those who believe, anything is possible (Mark 9:23).
#4 The Promise of Eternal Life
Our life here on earth is only temporary. Even so, we have a purpose. Our life is not in vain. Everything we do, we should do it for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17). We must live in faith, obeying God’s Word, focusing on our mission here. But we must also keep our eyes on the future, knowing what expects us after we die.
And even more glory will be revealed when we meet Jesus face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). Then, what’s mortal will be gone. We will receive an immortal body and death will be “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54 KJV).
God promised that He Himself will wipe away our tears. He also promised that, from that glorious moment on, there will be no more suffering and no more reasons to be sad (Revelation 21:4). There will be only joy in His presence. Paul believed those promises. His boldness and faithfulness leave no doubt about it. So should we.
Paul’s life is an inspiration for any Christian. He lived in the expectation of the moment when he would be “absent from the body,” knowing that when that happened, he would be “present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV). Everything he did was permeated by this conviction and by his love for the Lord and His Church.
We must also “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV). We must serve the Lord with our lives, knowing that we will be with Him after our death. Through faith, we can trust that the Lord is in control of everything. He is with us in this life, He will be with us in our death, and He will be with us forevermore.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.