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Catechism Insight – Doctrinal Standard WSC #37

Doctrinal Standard #37

  • Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ when they die?
  • A. When believers die, their souls are made perfectly holy and immediately pass into glory. Their bodies, which are still united to Christ, rest in the grace until the resurrection.

Memory Verses

  • For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain… I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better (Philippians 1:21, 23b, ESV).

Scripture

  • Study Passage: II Corinthians 5:1-10
  • Support Passages: Philippians 1:21-23, Luke 23:43, Romans 15:2-4, I Corinthians 15:23, I John 3:2, Job 19:26-27
  • Bible Story: II Kings 2:1-14

Thoughts

  • Grudem describes the believer’s transformation at the moment they pass from this life (pg. 816-817). “Death is a temporary cessation of bodily life and a separation of the soul from the body. Once a believer has died, though his or her physical body remains on the earth and is buried, at the moment of death the soul (or spirit) of that believer goes immediately into the presence of God with rejoicing. When Paul thinks about death he says, ‘we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5:8). To be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord. He also says that his desire is ‘to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Phil. 1:23). And Jesus said to the thief who was dying on the cross next to him, ‘today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43). The author of Hebrews says that when Christians come together to worship they come not only into the presence of God in heaven, but also into the presence of the ‘spirits of just men made perfect’ (Heb. 12:23). However, God will not leave our dead bodies in the earth forever, for when Christ returns the souls of believers will be reunited with their bodies, their bodies will be raised from the dead, and they will live with Christ eternally.” [1]
  • Erickson in his book, Christian Theology (pg. 1011) provides a brief description of the glorified state of a believer in eternity. “In glorification the individual will also be perfected, morally and spiritually. Several biblical references point to a future completion of the process begun in regeneration and continued in sanctification. One of the most direct of these statements is Colossians 1:22: ‘ But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.’ The concept of future flawlessness or blamelessness is also found in Ephesians 1:4 and Jude 24. Guiltlessness is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:8. Paul prays that the Philippians’ ‘love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God’ (Phil 1:9-11). Our moral and spiritual perfection will be attained in part through the removal of temptation, for the source of sin and evil and temptation will have been conclusively overcome (Rev. 20:7-10).” [2]

Discussion Questions

  • When a believer dies where does his soul/spirit go?
  • What transformation takes place in a believer’s soul after they die?
  • How is this made possible?
  • Where does a believer’s body go once they die?
  • Does their body remain in the ground for eternity? Explain
  • What changes take place to a believers resurrected body?


[1] Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Zondervan Publishing House.

[2] Erickson, Millard J. (1998). Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Baker Books.

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