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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


XXXVII. Ques What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
Ans.
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. How manifold are the benefits of believers at their death?
A. The benefits of believers at their death are twofold — 1. In regard of their souls. 2. In regard of their bodies.

Q. 2. What is the benefit of believers at their death, in regard of their souls?
A. The souls of believers at their death— 1. Are made perfect in holiness. "And to the spirits of just men made perfect."— Heb. 12:23. 2. They do immediately pass into glory. "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ."— Phil. 1:23.

Q. 3. Wherein doth consist the perfect holiness which the souls of believers shall have at their death?
A. The perfect holiness of believers' souls at their death doth consist— 1. In their perfect freedom from the stain and pollution, from the being, or any inclination unto sin. "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth."— Rev. 21:27. 2. In their perfect rectitude of soul, and full conformity unto the image of Christ. "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."— Eph. 4:13.

Q. 4. What is that glory which the souls of believers, at death, do immediately pass into?
A. The souls of believers at death do immediately pass into— 1. A glorious place. 2. A glorious company. 3. A glorious state.

Q. 5. What is that glorious place which the souls of believers, at death, do immediately pass into?
A. The glorious place which believers' souls do immediately pass into, is their Father's house in heaven, where there are mansions prepared for them by Christ. "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." — John 14:2.

Q. 6. What is the glorious company which the souls of believers do immediately pass into?
A. The glorious company which the souls of believers do immediately pass into, is the company of God, and Christ in his glory, as also the company of angels, and the souls of other saints in their glory." Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight). We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." — 2 Cor. 5:6-8. "Ye are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant." — Heb. 12:23-24.

Q. 7. What is that glorious state which the souls of believers at death do immediately pass into?
A. The glorious state of the souls of believers immediately after their death, is a state of blessed rest. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." — Heb. 4:9. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.." — Rev. 14:13.

Q. 8. What is the benefit of believers at their death, in regard of their bodies?
A. 1. The bodies of believers at their death are still united unto Christ; for though death doth for a while separate their souls from their bodies, yet death cannot separate Christ from either. But as, when Christ died, his hypostatical or personal union still remained, his divine nature being united both to his soul in heaven and to his body in the tomb on earth, so, when believers die, their mystical union unto Christ still remaineth, and Christ is united both unto their souls with him in glory, and to their bodies, which are his members, even when they are rotting in the grave. "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ ?
" — 1 Cor. 6:15. "Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."— 1 Thess. 4:14. 2. The bodies of believers do rest in their graves as in beds, until the resurrection. "He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." — Isa. 57:2.

Q. 9. What is that resurrection here spoken of?
A. The resurrection here spoken of is the last and general resurrection of all the dead that have lived in all ages, from the beginning of the creation—which will be, first of the righteous, and then of the wicked—at the last day. "The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." — John 5:28, 29. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." — l Thess. 6:16.

Q. 10. How do you prove that there shall be such a general resurrection?
A. It may be undeniably proved from the power of God, and the revelation of the Word. If God be of infinite power, and therefore can raise all the dead, and infinitely true, and in his Word hath revealed that he will raise all the dead, then there shall be a general resurrection. But God is infinitely powerful, and can raise all the dead, and infinitely true, and in his Word hath revealed that he will raise all the dead; therefore there shall be a general resurrection. The ground of the Sadducees' error, who denied the resurrection, was their ignorance of these two great foundations of this doctrine, namely, the power of God, and the Scriptures. "Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?" — Mark 12:24.

Q. 11. Shall the dead be raised with the same bodies which they had when alive before?
A. The dead shall be raised with the same bodies. "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Job 19:26.

Q. 12. How do you prove that the dead shall be raised with the same body! A. 1. Because if the dead were not raised with the same body, it could in no proper sense be called a resurrection, but a new creation. 2. Because the first body was an instrument of righteousness or sin, and therefore shall share in the reward or punishment.

Q. 13. Will not the bodies, when they are raised, differ from what they are now! A. The bodies which shall be raised will not differ from what they are now, in regard of their substance and essence; but they will exceedingly differ in regard of their qualities.

Q. 14. Wherein do unbelievers differ from believers at their death?
A. The bodies of unbelievers are at their death shut up in the prison of the grave; and the souls of unbelievers are shut down in the prison of hell, where they are filled with horror and anguish in the company of devils, and other damned spirits, and there reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which some-time were disobedient." — 1 Pet. 3:19, 20. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." — 2 Pet. 2:4.

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