Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 22 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism and I will be talking to you today about questions 57 and 58.
This week, we are going to finish up the section of this catechism that has us looking into the Apostle’s Creed. Today, I will be discussing the very last line that reads, “I believe in…the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” So our topics will be our own personal resurrection and the eternal life that follows; what do we know about these things?
Lord’s Day Focus...
Question 57: What comfort does the resurrection of the body afford you?
Answer: That not only my soul, after this life, shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head; but also, that this my body, raised by the power of Christ, shall again be united with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.
Once again, Heidelberg is asking about how the doctrines of the Christian faith give comfort to our hearts and minds. This might seem like a small thing but it shifts the focus from our minds only and puts a little emphasis on our hearts. I think this is a good thing.
We should always be keen to ensure that what we believe (head) is sound and biblical and true. We need to know the truth of God’s Word. But we are also to feel that truth in our hearts. We are to know the truth and that truth will set us free. Part of that freedom is the unshakeable comfort that the truth brings.
In this case, the question relates to how the Bible’s teaching on the resurrection brings us comfort. This is a great question for us to consider because the thing that necessarily precedes any discussion of resurrection is death, and death is something that has brought fear and discomfort to humanity since, forever.
Death is the great equalizer. We will all face it and it has a near flawless record. Only a few men in the history of the world have ever cheated death; Enoch (Gen 5:24) and Elijah the prophet, who was carried into Heaven on a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11). Then there was Jesus, but He didn’t cheat death, He conquered it.
But death is coming for all of us and the gospel that we believe give us comfort because it promises that just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so will we be.
1 Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know this is a long passage, but it makes very clear that for those who trust in Christ, death is not the end. In fact, death will one day be no more. The curse of sin is death, but the day is coming when that curse will no longer have any claim on us. Christ’s victory will be our victory. His resurrection will become our resurrection.
This is a comfort to us because it means that we can face death with the confident knowledge that, “my body, raised by the power of Christ, shall again be united with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.”
Question 58: What comfort have you from the article of the Life Everlasting?
Answer: That, inasmuch as I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, I shall after this life possess complete bliss, such as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man; therein to praise God for ever.
Not only will our bodies be raised and forever united to our souls after death, but the resurrection will mark the beginning of eternal joy. What does that even mean? Eternal joy!
It’s hard for us to grasp what this means, and the Bible is quick to point that out.
“No eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”
Death is not the end it marks the beginning of life in a way that we can’t fully grasp, because we can’t rightly imagine what God has in store for us. Time will be no more. Pain will be no more. Fear will be no more. Sorrow will be no more. Every experience, every relationship, every longing, every hope, every satisfaction will be perfect, and they will never end.
Kevin DeYoung tries to help us grasp what this might mean when he writes,
The blessedness of eternal life is like savoring your favorite food, drinking your favorite drink, laughing with your favorite friends; its like seeing your wife on your wedding day sparkling in her overpriced dress and grinning from ear to ear; its like holding a newborn baby or watching your grandkids play…It’s like all these moments (and all the others that I left out) – except these moments never stop and never wane.
But even more amazing than the reality of full satisfaction in everything forever; is the reality of being in the presence of God and worshipping Him in the fullness of His glory.
Imagine with me for a moment that there is someone you consider to be your favorite person in the world; perhaps an artist or an author, or an actor, or musician…a hero or heroine that you are a fan of. Let’s imagine that when it comes to this person you have a choice between one of two options:
Option A: You are allowed to go into a room that is filled with that person’s work. Books or art or movies or music. You have been given access to all that your favorite person has done and you are able to go in and to enjoy it, to share it with others and to keep it for the rest of your life.
Option B: You get to go into another room and spend the rest of eternity with that person face to face.
Eternal life with Christ is like Option B. To be face to face with Christ forever will be like having the best day of our lives every new day. It will be like the most precious, most delightful, most amazing, most satisfying, most encouraging, most awesome day and everyday will be better than the last. Food will have never tasted so good. Laughter will have never been so sweet. Every joy, every pleasure, ever moment will be more satisfying than we could ever imagine.
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
A day will come when Christ will return and the veil of this world will be drawn back. King Jesus will have come to finish his work and establish His kingdom for all eternity. At that time he will initiate a resurrection from the dead, when all who have undergone physical death will be raised to stand trial in the courtroom of God.
Those who remain in unbelief and rebellion, who rejected Christ in life, will be called to account for their sin and according to Jesus they will be told, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” This is the second death.
But those made alive by the Holy Spirit, who were born again to trust in Christ by faith. The scriptures say that our robes, our garments will have been washed white by the blood of the lamb. When we stand to give an account for our sin before God, it will be clear that our sins have been paid for by the death of Jesus, “this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Death will be no more than a memory and even the bitterness of that will be wiped away.
Thanks for joining me today as I discuss the Heidelberg Catechism. I hope you’ll join me again next week as we look at Lord’s Day 23 together and discuss questions 59 thru 61.
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Thanks for listening.