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Catechism Class: The Resurrection of the Dead, Part 1.


Catechism Class. 

Lord’s Day 22A Q57 The Resurrection of the Dead – A

What comfort does the resurrection of the body offer you?” The answer we are expected to give is, “Not only shall my soul after this life immediately be taken up to Christ, my Head, but also this my flesh, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.” 

Now there are two important propositions in Q22, and they are inextricably linked. There is the first part, dealing with human soul, and what happens to the soul when the body dies, – and there is the resurrection of the body, which will happen when the Lord returns. The catechist answers his own question with a ‘not only but also’ kind of answer. Not only will we have the comfort of being with the Lord when we die, but also, we shall one day be reunited with our physical body. But both are two sides of the one coin!  

Let’s break down how the catechist deals with this. 

Proposition One: The Human Soul. We all have a soul, when the body dies it rots away in the ground, but the soul lives on, and where does it live? – With the Lord, and how does that happen? – Because Christ is our head.

Proposition Two: The Human Body. The body that we have is laid to rest, ‘in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead.’ How so? The power of the risen Christ will also raise the dead, who have died in the Lord, the body will be reunited with the soul, and the body will never again suffer from decay, or sickness or sin, but will be LIKE CHRIST’s risen body. That restored body, made to be as originally intended, is described as ‘GLORIOUS!’

Problem: What happens in between the two? We call that gap between our death and resurrection, “The intermediate state.”

Let’s deal with some issues around the death of the believer and the destiny of the soul at death. First we’ll read from Philippians 1:21-23 Read Hebrews 11:9-11 Abraham wasn’t just looking for an earthly home, he was looking forward to heaven.   Let’s look at some more common misunderstandings about the soul’s destiny…

  1. That when we die we go to heaven, and that is our forever state.  Many Christians, especially those who are new believers, simply want to focus on ‘going to heaven when we die.’ Why not  after all we have been rescued by Jesus, from a lost eternity. We do, but there’s much more to come, later on, in God’s plan.
  2. That when we die our souls SLEEP until the Last Day. That after death, the soul remains in an unconscious state, awaiting the Last Day. Now this is much more common in NI – for it was one of the key distinctive doctrines of the oneness ‘Church of God’ And of course the bible often speaks of dead saints being ‘asleep’.  1st Thessalonians 4:14 But it is the BODY that sleeps until resurrection day, not the SOUL. Luke 23:41,  Revelation 6:10,  John describes the condition of the martyred souls who are ‘under the altar’ – they are awaiting judgment day, and they are crying out for their vindication. It must be difficult for a soul who is ‘sleeping deeply’ to be crying out, seeking justice.
  3. That when we die we go to purgatory. We’ve dealt with this issue before, in one of our TableTalk episodes, but it’s good to refresh our memories. Of course Purgatory is a Roman Catholic doctrine, the belief that after death the soul will go into purgatory, to be purged of any remaining sin. There, in purgatory, souls suffer anguish, and by that suffering they are supposedly purified of any remaining sin, and made fit to enter heaven.  Now, this final ‘purification from sin’ that Catholics will go endure is not at all pleasant! I’m glad it’s a false doctrine, and that Purgatory doesn’t exist! Catholics are quick to point out that Purgatory is A CLEANSING FIRE. But there’s no cleansing of sin through fire, sin is cleansed by BLOOD, by Christ’s blood – shed on the cross for sinners. Again, remember that Paul was looking forward with joyful anticipation to what would become his soul after its departure from this life, – not fearing a painful process of purging. READ:  Hebrews 1:13 Our sins were all purged away by Jesus, by himself, – him alone, with works of ours needed or wanted.

So, when we die, our soul goes immediately to be with the Lord, according to the scripture. Let’s read some Bible passages, Luke 16:22  Luke 23:43  Revelation 14:13  

Zacharias Ursinus, the main author of the catechism, in his commentary on this question, wrote, “These and similar passages of Scripture,  teach and prove most certainly that the soul, not only in the body, but also during the whole space that occurs between death and resurrection exists, lives, feels and understands without the body, although the manner of its operation is unknown to us.”

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