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Catechism Class: LD22D Q58, Everlasting Life


Lord’s Day 22D Q58 The Life Everlasting

What comfort do you receive from the article about the life everlasting? And our answer is, Since I now already feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, I shall after this life possess perfect blessedness, such as no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived a blessedness in which to praise God forever.

So, our subject for this lesson is – HEAVEN!

I know people have very different perceptions of what heaven is like. Cartoonish images of angels with wings floating around on clouds, playing harps… or an endless service of worship, – like a church service that never ends. Neither of those perceptions is anywhere near the truth. The Bible describes hell in extremely graphic terms, but heaven – less so. We know that it is better than a garden, that there is a wonderful city, whose streets are paved with gold, that the river of life is there, that there will be a wedding feast, – but these are vague terms, and I believe deliberately so, because in our tiny human minds, we could never hope to grasp the reality of the wonder and beauty of dwelling eternally in the presence of God.  1 Corinthians 2:9  


Think of the very best experience of this life. The birth of a baby, the wonder of a majestic view, whatever, – something that made your heart leap within you with pleasure and happiness and praise, – and heaven will be much much better.  And then think about this, that those earthly moments of bliss, or happiness are fleeting moments. They only last such a short time. Heaven is forever!  Psalm 90:2-7,  

Ere ever thou hadst formed the earth,
and all the world abroad;
Ev'n thou from everlasting art
to everlasting God.

3 Thou dost unto destruction
man that is mortal turn;
And unto them thou say'st, 
Again,ye sons of men, return.

4 Because a thousand years appear
no more before thy sight
Than yesterday, when it is past,
or than a watch by night.

5 As with an overflowing flood
thou carry'st them away:
They like a sleep are, like the grass
that grows at morn are they.

6 At morn it flourishes and grows,
cut down at ev'n doth fade.
7 For by thine anger we're consumed,
thy wrath makes us afraid.

Let’s look a little closer at our instructor’s words…

  1. When does everlasting life begin? I now already feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy The term ‘everlasting life” can be misleading. Only God is truly everlasting, as the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 90:2, There never was a time when God was not. We are created beings, before our conception in the womb we do not have any form of existence. There is no reincarnation, there is no validity in the so called therapists who regress people back to a supposed former life. In that sense, we do not have everlasting life, not in the sense God has, we are not from everlasting to everlasting. So what did Jesus promise us, in John 3:16 … should not perish but have everlasting life, and on many other occasions?  Zacharius Ursinus, the main author of the Heidelberg Catechism, writing in his commentary on the catechism, explains, “The everlasting life of man… is the eternal being of man regenerated and glorified, consisting in having the image of God perfectly restored in him, as when man was first created, having perfect wisdom, righteousness and happiness, being endowed with true knowledge and love of God with eternal joy. For us, as the catechist teaches, everlasting life BEGINS, and it never ends. The catechist teaches us that eternal life begins, not when we leave this world at death, but at a point, in this life. Matthew 13:12  It begins at the very moment when we are regenerated, by the Holy Spirit, John 3:3  Philippians 1:6 Romans 5:1 Then, Ursinus speaks of two separate future consummations of the eternal life that has begun at regeneration, firstly at death, when our souls are carried away to heaven, , and then later at the resurrection of the body, on the last day. 
  2. How we we get this eternal life, and who gives it to us.  I shall after this life possess perfect blessedness. It’s obvious that having eternal blessedness is a good thing. Many, if not most people aspire to it – eventually. I’ve lost count of the number of funerals I’ve attended, where a relative of the deceased has said something like, “He’s at peace now…” or “She’s out of pain thank goodness…” Sadly, on most of these occasions, these things are totally untrue, just wishful thinking.   So, how do we get this eternal blessedness?
    1. Eternal life is God’s gift.  Romans 6:23  And it is his gift ALONE, – Open your Bible now, and READ: John 5:21-26  It literally is a GIFT, that cannot be earned, or merited or worked for.
    2. Eternal life is granted to us BECAUSE OF JESUS. It is available to us, only because Jesus has satisfied God’s perfect demand for justice, paying the price for our sins at the cross, when he died for sinners. Ephesians 2:8-10 
    3. Eternal Life is accepted by faith. Faith itself is God’s gift, – we don’t have it within us, and we cannot engender it or work it up, it comes to us through the preaching of God’s word, the gospel, and by the internal work of the Holy Spirit. Here’s some verses… John 6:68  1 Corinthians 4:15 Romans 1:16   Romans 10:17  
    4. Eternal Life is evidenced in this life. Knowing that we have received this gift of eternal life will give us assurance, and that assurance will calm our soul and comfort us throughout life, and on approaching the hour of our departure from it. 2 Timothy 1:12   Our final proposition from this question is, 
  3. What is the purpose of eternal life?  to praise God forever. Eternal life is the complete fulfilment of the first question in the Westminister Shorter Catechism, What is man’s primary purpose? Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. In heaven we are finally being and doing what we are created for, and that total conformity with the will and purpose of God is absolute blessedness, peace, contentment and happiness. It is heaven!

In heaven we are perfected and glorified and made conformable to God’s will, and in this restored state we are what we were created to be, and enjoy blessedness forever.

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