The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 37
Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. 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.
Believers. –Those who trust in Christ, and receive him in all his offices, as their prophet, priest, and king.
Perfect in holiness. –To be altogether free from sin, and all its dreadful consequences.
Pass into glory. –To go from this world of sin, and sorrow, and suffering, into a state of honor, rest, and happiness, in heaven.
United to Christ. –That is, the bodies of believers are as certainly joined to Christ as the members are to the body, or as the branches are joined to the vine.
Rest in their graves. –Sleep in death, as in beds of rest.
Till the Resurrection. –Till the time of the rising of the dead, from their graves, at the last day.
The doctrines contained in this answer are four in number:
- That the souls of believers are, at death, made perfect in holiness. –Heb. xii. 22, 23. Ye are come –to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.
- That they, immediately after death, pass into glory. –Luke xxiii. 43. To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 2 Cor. v. 8. We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
- That the bodies of believers shall rest in their graves till the resurrection. –Isa. lvii. 2. They shall rest in their beds. Job xix. 26. And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
- That even, while in their graves, the bodies of believers are still united to Christ. –1 Thess . iv. 14. Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.