July 24: WSC Q. 37

This Day in Presbyterian History: 

Benefits claimed at death

The Christian, having received a diagnosis of a disease in the hospital, replied to her pastor that she was not afraid of death, but was afraid of dying. I believe that all of us Christians could echo her words.

Finding no Presbyterian event on this day of July 24, we turn to the benefits of our effectual calling, in question and answer 37 of the Shorter Catechism, which deals with the benefits we believers receive from Christ at death. It states, “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, til the resurrection.” You see the immediate division between the soul and the body in this catechetical answer.

With respect to the Christian’s soul, there is no intermediate state between earth and heaven. Paul clearly taught this when he spoke of his desire in his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, where he said in verse 8 “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (ESV)  Earlier, in verse 6, he spoke of being at home in the body and away from the Lord.  There are two certain states for believers. Either they are alive on this earth or they are alive in  heaven.  There is no soul-sleep as some of the cults believe.  It is here, or it is hereafter.  Immediately after death, we are made perfect in  holiness and immediately pass into the glories of heaven.

What about our bodies then? Since Christ redeemed our whole being, body and soul, then those bodies are still united to Christ.  They might be lost to man, but they are never lost to Christ.  Death cannot separate Christ from those bodies.  They rest in their graves until the resurrection.  Jesus put it plainly in John 5:28, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life . . .” (ESV)  “The dead in Christ will rise first,” Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 4. (ESV)

No Christian should be afraid of death, either for ourselves or our loved ones in Christ.  We may be afraid for the process, but even there the Psalmist promised us His presence when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (See Psalm 23).

Words to Live By:  
The saints of God should not fear death.  It is coming sooner or later for all believers.  “So then,  as we have divine opportunities, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  (ESV – Galatians 6:10)  Let its certainty be a impetus to serve Christ faithfully now, in our families, at our work, and out into the world.

Through the Scriptures:  Isaiah 52 – 54

Through the Standards: Sins of superiors

WLC 130 — “What are the sins of superiors?
A.  The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, and inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.”

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