Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:31 pm
The Messenger, April 26, 2012
The Hope of Glorification
and Life Everlasting!
By RICHARD SMITH
Special to The Messenger
The words “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen” are the last two articles of belief addressed in The Apostles’ Creed. As we continue our discussion of the Heidelberg Catechism, these articles are addressed in question 57 and 58.
Question 57 asks: How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you? Answer: Not only my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head, but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.
Christ is the FIRST resurrected from the dead in a glorified body. Christians worldwide recently celebrated this magnificent event on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. Scripture calls our Lord the first fruits of creation. (I Corinthians 15:20) Because He is the first fruits, we will follow. His resurrection is the promise and guarantee of our future resurrection in a glorified body.
Christianity teaches that there are many things we are to hope for and find comfort in. One of these is glorification, the final work of God upon Christians when we receive the resurrected eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever. (I Corinthians 15:42-58)
Our future glorification involves many of the good things in store for us, including the return of Christ, the resurrection of our bodies, reunion with all of the saints past and present, and the introduction into our eternal home where righteousness dwells. Every aspect of our hope is focused on Christ. He promises us these good things because they glorify Him and bring us into a greater enjoyment of Himself.
At death, God completes our sanctification by removing all of our sins from our hearts and making us perfectly holy. But our salvation is not complete until we receive our glorified resurrected bodies. These we will receive in the final stage of the application of our salvation. This resurrection of our body will occur when Christ returns.
This marvelous event of glorification is explained by Paul in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. Only then will our salvation be fully applied to us, and we will live forever in the new heavens and new earth as glorified saints, enjoying all of the benefits of salvation that Christ won for us.
Question 58 asks: How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you? Answer: Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
The Christian cannot escape the longing for eternal life because God implanted eternity in all of our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We are built to think about life everlasting, so it is impossible for us not to think about it. Jesus taught Nicodemus about eternal life in John 3, a passage which contains what is probably the most quoted Bible verse ever on the subject. (John 3:16) Eternal life for the Christian is now and forever through our saving relationship with the risen Christ.
We need to understand that the promise of life everlasting is a most blessed state of the “whole” Christian, both in spirit and in body. Because of this reality, the Christian can rejoice in the immediate presence of God, while at the same time contemplating the glorious enjoyment of God in heaven without interruption of joy and happiness through all eternity. We will worship, work, think, communicate and enjoy God, activity, beauty and people forever through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As we look back to the celebration of Holy Week and Easter earlier this month, let us also look forward. Let us rejoice and find comfort by “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13 ESV) To God be the Glory.
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Editor’s note: Richard Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.