Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Christian and Death

Q. 37:
What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
Answer: The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection. (WSC)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord - not even death (Rom. 8:38-39). Not only do we receive abundant blessings during this life in Christ, but we are also blessed in him at death. At death, an unnatural separation is made between body and soul. Humanity was not designed to suffer such a separation. It is because of sin that this curse was laid upon mankind. Yet for Christians, the sting of death has been taken away. While it remains unnatural and a painful and sorrowful separation (not only of body and soul, but a separation from loved ones), yet for Christians it is not a curse for sin, but an entrance into the next stage of blessings in Christ. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “Our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, but only an abolishing of sin, and a passage into eternal life.” 

The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness (Heb. 12:23). The pass into glory immediately, not through a purgatorial process. Paul makes clear that when we are away from the body, we will be at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8). As he said in Philippians, “to die is gain,” for to die is “to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:21, 23). As Revelation 14:13 says, 
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” 
While the souls of the wicked are cast into torment (Luke 16:23-24), the souls of the righteous enjoy peace, holiness, joy in the immediate presence of Christ, free from sin and pain. “...in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

The bodies of believers are not neglected by God. They are not cast away like useless husks. Christ is united to us, body and soul, so that your bodies are members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15). Your bodies have been freed by Christ from the mastery of sin and have been made instruments for righteousness (Rom. 6:12-19). Therefore, when you die, your body will still be united to Christ. It will rest in its grave as its bed. While it will see corruption, yet it will be restored, glorified, and reunited with your soul when Christ returns (Rom. 8:11, 23, John 5:28-29, Job 19:26-27). Therefore, as a Christian, you can with hope and confidence commit yourself, body and soul, to the Lord and his keeping.

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