The Westminster Shorter Catechism.

XI. The Benefits Of Salvation After This Life: Q & A 37-38.

Q. 37 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

A. 37 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.

The Q & A assumes what has come before-human beings are body and soul. Here we learn that at death the soul and the body are temporarily separated. Obviously this is not our normal condition, but at death there are things which take place with respect to both. Firstly, our souls are perfected in holiness. The progressive sanctification of the previous Q & A finally meets the definitive. The writer to the Hebrews wrote about those who had already died as being part of the church in heaven, “the spirits of just men made perfect” (12:23). Secondly, at death our souls “do immediately pass into glory.” Jesus said to the thief on the cross that that day he would be with Him in paradise (Lk. 23:43). It was also Paul’s desire to depart and be with Christ (Phil. 1:23).

Finally, our bodies are not discarded. Even in the grave our bodies remain united with Christ, awaiting the resurrection. Paul indicated that those whose bodies rested in their graves were asleep in Jesus-sleep here being a synonym for death (I Th. 4:14). Secondly, as Paul also indicated above, our bodies are at rest until the resurrection (Cf. Is. 57:2). Finally, our bodies will one day be resurrected anew, along with the unregenerate (Jn. 5:28-29). This Paul also alludes to above. It was also something which the saints of the Old Testament also hoped for (Job 19:26). Paul did not ultimately hope for this intermediate state, even if being absent from the body meant being present with the Lord (I Cor. 5:1-8). The resurrection of the body is something which flows from our adoption (Rom. 8:23).

Q. 38 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A. 38 At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

The catechism highlights three benefits which we receive in the resurrection. Firstly, our bodies will be raised in glory (I Cor. 15:43). There is no room in the Christian faith for a depreciation of the body. We, along with the Lord, will forever exist with body and soul. Secondly, He will openly acknowledge and acquit us on the day of judgment. This will be part of our inheritance (Mt. 25:34 Cf. Mt. 10:32). Finally, we will be “made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.” This brings the first part of the catechism back full circle to the beginning. It is our chief end to both glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever (Cf. Ps. 16:11; I Th. 4:17). “We shall be like Him,” and in this way we shall be made perfectly blessed” (I Jn. 3:2).

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