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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of Perfection at Death.

Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.


Q. 1. What is the state of perfect holiness?
A. It consists in a perfect freedom from sin, or the least inclinations to sin; Ephesians 5:27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Q. 2. Wherein else doth perfection consist?
A. It consists in the attainment of the highest measures and degrees of holiness the creature is capable of; Ephesians 4:12-13. For the perfecting of the saints, Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Q. 3. Cannot this be attained whilst in the body?
A. No, for here all our graces are imperfect; 2 Corinthians 13:12. For mow we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. And we live at a distance from God; 2 Corinthians 5:6. Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.

Q. 4. How is this attained at death?
A. At death the roots of sin are pulled up out of the believerís nature; Hebrews 12:23. And to the spirits of just men made perfect.

Q. 5. Why must the soul be made perfect at death?
A. Because the purity of the heavenly state admits no sin or imperfection; Revelation 21:27. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lambís book of life.

Q. 6. What is the first inference from hence?
A. That death should be lovely and desirable in the eyes of believers; Philippians 1:23. Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

Q. 7. What is the second inference?
A. That God bath provided singular relief for his people that now groan under their sins, and many imperfections: 1 Corinthians 13:12. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.

Q. 8. What is the third inference?
A. That the heavenly state is infinitely above and beyond whatever we enjoy here; 1 Corinthians 2:9. But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Q. 9. What is the fourth inference?
A. That believers are but at a small distance from the satisfaction of all their desires; Romans 13:11. For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Q. 10. What is the fifth inference?
A. That the saints should earnestly pursue that perfection, even in this imperfect state; Philippians 3:13-14. Brethren, I count not my self to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Q. 11. What is the sixth inference?
A. That death to the saints is better than life; Philippians 1:21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Q. 12. What is the last inference?
A. That faith is absolutely necessary to entitle us to this perfect state.

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