Confessing Our Faith in the Culture – Chapter 33

Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That both in soul and body whether I live or die, I am not mine own, but belong wholly unto my faithful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: who by his most precious blood, fully satisfying for all my sins, hath delivered me from all the power of the devil, and so preserveth me, that without the will of my heavenly Father, not so much as an hair may fall from my head; yea all things must serve for my safety: Wherefore by his Spirit also he assureth me of everlasting life, and maketh me ready and prepared, that henceforth I may live to him.

Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou enjoying this comfort mayest live and die happily?

Answer: Three. The first, what is the greatness of my sin and misery. The second, how I am delivered from all sin and misery. The third, what thanks I owe unto God for this delivery.

Question 57. What comfort hast thou by the resurrection of the flesh?

Answer: That not only my soul, after it shall depart out of my body, shall presently be taken up to Christ, but that this my flesh also, being raised up by the power of Christ, shall be again united to my soul, and shall be made like to the glorious body of Christ.
(from Hercules Collins’ Orthodox Catechism)

A. What is death?

  1. separation of soul from body Gen. Ecclesiastes 12:7; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

    1. implies soul/body dualism

    2. distinction between immaterial/spiritual and material/physical Genesis 2:7; Matthew 10:28; James 2:26

      The Scriptures teach, in the account of the creation of man, that his soul did not originate from the dust; but was a direct spiritual creation of God. Gen. 2:7. They make further statements about the difference between soul, and body, confirmatory of the distinction made in their creation. Gen. 25:8; 35:29; Ecc. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; Acts 7:59. James Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology

  2. the penalty for sin for the unrighteous Genesis 2:17 & 3:19; Romans 5:12-21

    The death of the wicked is easily accounted for. It constitutes a part of the penalty of sin, to which, the Scriptures teach, all men are liable (Rom. 5:12, 14; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 53-56), but from which, as such, the people of God are exempted because Christ has redeemed then from the curse of the law. James Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology

  3. a blessing from God for the righteous Philippians 1:19-24

    It is not so easy to account for the death of the righteous. As he is no longer liable to the penalty of sin, there is no legal ground upon which he must endure death, and, because of which, he cannot be released. This is confirmed by the fact that some righteous have not died, and others will only be changed. But, while death may not thus be legally necessary, it may subserve many purposes in the gracious providence of God, and is, ordinarily, the best way for the Christian to attain the “change” for which he is destined. This should be believed even if it could in no respect be explained. …

Whether able or not definitely to state on what grounds the Christian is subjected to death, we know that it is a blessing to him. … the Scriptures speak of death as among the “all things” which belong to the Christian. 1 Cor. 3:22. This does not deny its possibly painful character, but asserts that, however painful, it is made his possession, and therefore is used for his benefit.

(1.) Death is a blessing to the Christian because, through its contemplation, his sanctification and purification in this life is carried forward. This contemplation of it includes all aspects in which it presents itself, whether painful or otherwise.

(2.) It is a blessing because in it he looks forward to the attainment of final freedom from sin and to perfect sanctification.

(3.) It is a blessing because he recognizes it as the portal to the possession of eternal life.

(4.) Death is a blessing because it gives him an opportunity of giving strong testimony in favor of Christ and his religion.

(5.) It is felt to be a blessing because it opens the doors to immediate conscious personal presence with his Saviour.

These points are obvious and need not be elaborated. James Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology

B. What follows death?

  1. the intermediate state

    1. soulish existence separate from a body Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

  2. clear differences for righteous and unrighteous Luke 16:19-31

    1. heaven for the righteous

      1. immediate entrance into heaven Ecclesiastes 12:7

      2. perfect holiness in heaven Hebrews 12:23

      3. delightful circumstances in heaven Luke 23:43

      4. blessed companion in heaven Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23

      5. glorious privilege in heaven 1 Corinthians 13:12

      6. incomplete blessedness until the resurrection 2 Corinthians 5:3-4; Revelation 6:9-11

    2. hell for the unrighteous

      1. conscious torment Luke 16:23-25

      2. particularly prepared Acts 1:25

      3. inescapable Luke 16:26

  3. eventual re-union of soul and body 1 Corinthians 15:42-54

    1. the same body but with different qualities

    2. imperishable, not immaterial

    3. at the “general” resurrection Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15

      1. to life and honor for the just

      2. to shame, contempt, and condemnation for the unjust

C. What’s the big deal?

  1. Why does a right view of the afterlife matter?

    1. If it doesn’t exist, then it can have no impact on this life

      1. only the here and now counts

      2. John Lennon, Imagine

    2. If it does exist, it will have an impact on this life

      1. if circumstances after are contingent on something in this life John 5:28-29

      2. if there is no way to change circumstances of the afterlife during the afterlife Luke 16:26; Heb. 9:27

  2. How does a right view of it change this life?

    1. for the believer

      1. gives meaning to what we do now Matthew 6:19-21

      2. gives hope for a better life 1 Corinthians 15:16-19

      3. gives additional significance to “life issues” – e.g. abortion, euthanasia

    2. for the unbeliever

      1. gives reason for fear/anger

      2. provides a cause for denial Luke 12:16-21; 1 Corinthians 15:32

  3. How do we properly help others deal with death?

    1. offering genuine comfort where possible 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

    2. pointing people to the source of genuine comfort 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

    3. warning that the reality of God’s wrath outweighs the companionship of friends Luke 16:27-28

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