QUESTION 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
ANSWER: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.
Q. 1. Will not all others of mankind be raised as well as believers?
A. Yes; "There shall be a resurrection of the dead both of the just and unjust," Acts 24:15.
Q. 2. How do you prove, that there will be a general resurrection of the dead?
A. From the power of God, which CAN raise them, and from the scriptures, which affirm that he WILL do it; by which two arguments, our Lord proves the doctrine of the resurrection, against the Sadducees, Matt. 22:29 -- "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err; not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."
Q. 3. How does it appear that God CAN raise the dead?
A. Since his power was able to speak the world into being out of nothing, surely the same power can as easily raise up the bodies of men out of their former dust, and put them into order after their dissolution, Rom. 4:17.
Q. 4. What scripture instances has God given of his power in raising the dead?
A. In the Old Testament; the son of the widow of Sarepta was raised, when he was but newly dead, 1 Kings 17:22; the Shunamite's son, when he had lain dead a considerable time, 2 Kings 4:35; and the man cast into the sepulchre of Elisha, when they were burying him, chap. 13:21. In the New Testament; the daughter of Jairus, Mark 5:41, and Dorcas, Acts 9:40, were both raised to life, when lately dead; the widow's son in Nain, when they were carrying him out to bury him, Luke 7:12, 15; and Lazarus, when dead four days, John 11:39, 44.
Q. 5. How can the dust of men's bodies be distinguished and separated, when the ashes of many generations are mingled together?
A. With men it is impossible, but not with God; for, whoever believes an infinite understanding, Psalm 147:5, must own, that no mass of dust can be so intermixed, but that God perfectly comprehends and infallibly knows how the most minute particle, and every one of them is to be matched; and therefore knows where the particles of each body are, and how to separate them one from another.
Q. 6. How is it evident from the scriptures, that God WILL raise the dead?
A. From several passages therein, which expressly affirm that he will do so, such as, Dan. 12:2 -- "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." John 5:28, 29 -- "All that are in their 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." See also Job 19:26, 27; Acts 24:15.
Q. 7. How did our Lord prove the resurrection against the Sadducees, who held only the five books of Moses as most authentic?
A. From Ex. 3:6 -- "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." From whence he argues, Luke 20:37, 38 -- "Now, that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
Q. 8. What is the force of this argument for proving the resurrection?
A. It amounts to this: he is the God of their persons, and not the God of their souls only; and therefore, though their souls, in a separate state, love, worship, and praise him; yet their bodies must also be raised out of the dust, and be restored to life by the sours resuming its possession, that they may, as living persons, or men, having soul and body united, love, serve, and adore him; and have the full enjoyment of all the blessings contained in his being their God, Heb. 11:16.
Q. 9. Will the self-same body that dies be raised again?
A. Yes; it will be, for substance, the same body that will be raised, though endued with other qualities. The very notion of a resurrection implies as much; since nothing can be said to rise again, but that which falls.
Q. 10. How do you prove from scripture, that the self-same body that dies, shall be raised again?
A. Death, in scripture-language, is a sleep, and the resurrection, an awakening out of that sleep, Job 14:12; which shows the body rising up, to be the self-same that died; and the apostle tells us, that it is this mortal, which must put on immortality, 1 Cor. 15:53; and that Christ shall "change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body," Phil. 3:21.
Q. 11. How do you prove this from the equity of the divine procedure?
A. Though the glorifying of the bodies of the saints cannot, in a strict sense, be said to be the reward of their services or sufferings on earth; yet it is not agreeable to the manner of the divine dispensation, that one body serve him, and another be glorified; that one fight, and another receive the crown.
Q. 12. Will the same bodies of the wicked, which are laid in the dust, be also raised again?
A. Yes; that the same body which sinned may suffer: it being unsuitable, that one body be the instrument of sin here, and another suffer in hell for that sin.
Q. 13. By what means will the dead be raised?
A. "The Lord Jesus himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God," 1 Thess. 4:16; and at his alarming voice, which shall be heard all the world over, the scattered dust of all the dead shall be gathered together, dust to its dust; and likewise every soul shall come again to its own body, never more to be separated.
Q. 14. In what order will they be raised?
A. "The dead in Christ shall rise FIRST ," 1 Thess. 4:16.
Q. 15. What will become of those who shall be found alive at the second coming of Christ?
A. They shall not die, and soon after be raised again; but they shall be changed, in some such manner as Christ's body was on the mount, when transfigured; and they shall become like those bodies of the saints which are raised out of their graves, 1 Cor. 15:51.
Q. 16. In what time will the dead be raised, and the living changed?
A. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump," 1 Cor. 15:52.
Q. 17. What will be the difference between the resurrection of the godly, and that of the wicked?
A. The godly shall be raised by virtue of the SPIRIT of Christ, the blessed bond of their union with him, Rom. 8:11; and they shall come forth out of their graves with unspeakable joy, Isa. 26:19 -- "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust:" but the wicked shall be raised by the POWER of Christ, as a just Judge; and they shall come forth with unspeakable horror and consternation, as so many malefactors, "to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power," 2 Thess. 1:9.
Q. 18. In what state and condition will the bodies of believers be raised?
A. They shall be raised up in glory, 1 Cor. 15:43.
Q. 19. What is meant by the glory in which they shall be raised?
A. That they shall be incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and spiritual bodies, 1 Cor. 15:42-44 -- "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."
Q. 20. What do you understand by the bodies of believers being raised incorruptible?
A. That they shall leave all the seeds of corruption behind them, in the grave; and be for ever incapable of any pain, sickness, or death: that they shall have an everlasting youth and vigour, no more subject to the decays which age produces in this life, Isa. 33:24.
Q. 21. Why are their bodies said to be glorious?
A. Because they shall "be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body," Phil. 3:21; not only beautiful, comely, and well proportioned, but full of splendour and brightness; for they shall "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," Matt. 13:43.
Q. 22. Why are they said to be powerful or strong bodies?
A. Because they shall be able to bear up, under an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory," 2 Cor. 4:17; and rest not day and night, but be, without intermission, for ever employed, in the heavenly temple, to sing and proclaim the praises of God, Rev. 4:8; weariness being a weakness incompetent to an immortal body.
Q. 23. In what respect will they be spiritual bodies?
A. Not in respect of their being changed into spirits, (for they shall still retain the essential properties of bodies,) but in respect of their spirit-like qualities and endowments: they shall be nimble and active, and of a most refined constitution; for "they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;" and they shall never sleep, "but serve him day and night in his temple," Rev. 7:15, 16.
Q. 24. What will follow immediately upon the resurrection of the dead?
A. The day of judgment, Rev. 20:13.
Q. 25. What kind of a day will the day of judgment be?
A. It will be a day of wrath and vengeance to the wicked, 2 Thess. 1:8, 9, but a day of complete redemption to the godly, Luke 21:28.
Q. 26. What will be the privilege of believers in the day of judgment?
A. They shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted, Matt. 25:23.
Q. 27. What is it to be acknowledged by Christ in that day?
A. It is to be owned by him, as the blessed of his Father, for whom the kingdom of heaven is prepared, Matt. 25:34 -- "Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Q. 28. What is it for believers to be acquitted in the day of judgment?
A. It is not only to be vindicated from all calumny and false aspersions cast upon them here, 1 Cor. 4:5, but to have all their sins declaratively pardoned, Acts 3:19.
Q. 29. What is the difference between the acquitting of believers, when they are justified in this life, and the doing of it in the day of judgment?
A. In this life, believers are acquitted secretly, out of the sight of the world, and frequently without any intimation of it to themselves; but, then, the acquittal shall be pronounced in the most solemn and public manner.
Q. 30. Is not this what is meant by their being openly acknowledged and acquitted?
A. Yes; for it shall be done before God, angels, and men, Rev. 3:5; Matt. 25:34-41.
Q. 31. Why will it be done so openly?
A. For the greater honour and comfort of the saints and the greater shame and confusion of their enemies, Isa. 66:5 -- "Your brethren that hated you, and cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed."
Q. 32. On what account shall they be acquitted in that day?
A. On the very same account they are justified here; namely, for Christ's righteousness sake, imputed to them, and received by faith alone, Rom. 3:24.
Q. 33. What benefits shall believers receive after the day of judgment in heaven?
A. They shall be made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity, 1 Thess. 4:17 -- "So shall we be ever with the Lord."
Q. 34. What is it to be perfectly blessed?
A. It is to be entirely free from all misery, and fully possessed of all happiness, Rev. 21:4, 7.
Q. 35. In what does the highest pitch of happiness consist?
A. In the full enjoying of God, the chief good, Psalm 73:25.
Q. 36. In what way and manner will God be fully enjoyed in heaven?
A. By such a perfect knowledge of him as shall have no measure set to it except what arises from the finite capacity of the creature, 1 Cor. 13:12; for otherwise a creature's comprehensive knowledge of an infinite being is impossible, Job 11:7.
Q. 37. How many ways will God be perfectly and satisfactorily known?
A. Two ways; the one is by sight, which will satisfy the understanding; and the other is by experience, which will satisfy the will.
Q. 38. What is it that will give the greatest satisfaction to the bodily eyes in heaven?
A. A beholding that glorious and blessed body, which is united to the person of the Son of God, Job 19:27.
Q. 39. Will not the glory of the man Christ Jesus be unspeakably superior to the glory of all the saints?
A. Yes, surely; for, though the saints shall shine forth as the sun, yet not they, but the Lamb, shall be the light of the heavenly city, Rev. 21:23.
Q. 40. What is it that will make the glory of the human nature of Christ, shine with a peculiar lustre, in the eyes of the saints?
A. It is the indissoluble subsistence of that nature in the person of the Son, as the everlasting bond of union between God and them, John 17:23 -- "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."
Q. 41. Is not the blissful sight of God in heaven, something else than the sight of that glory, which we will see with our bodily eyes, in the man Christ, or in the saints, or any other splendour and refulgence from the Godhead whatsoever?
A. Yes; for no created thing can be our chief good and happiness, nor fully satisfy our souls; and as these things are somewhat different from God himself, so the scriptures assure us, that we shall see God, Matt. 5:8, and see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.
Q. 42. How will the saints see God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in heaven?
A. Not with their bodily eyes, in respect of which, God is invisible 1 Tim. 1:17; but with the eye of the understanding, being blessed with the most perfect, full, and clear knowledge of God and divine things, of which the creature is capable, 1 Cor. 13:12.
Q. 43. What is the difference between believers seeing God here, and their seeing him there?
A. Here they have only a sight, as it were, of his back parts: but there they shall see his face, Rev. 22:4; it is but a passing view they can have of him here, but there they shall eternally, without interruption, feed the eyes of their souls upon him, Psalm 17:15 -- "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."
Q. 44. What will the eyes of the saints be eternally fed upon?
A. They will be for ever contemplating his infinite love, his unchangeable truths, and wonderful works, with the utmost complacency and delight, Psalm 16:11 -- "In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
Q. 45. How will the saints in heaven contemplate the infinite love of God towards them?
A. They shall be admitted to look into his heart, and there have a clear, distinct, and assured view of the love he bore to them from eternity, and will bear to them for evermore; for he has said, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love," Jer. 31:3. "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," Matt. 25:23.
Q. 46. How will they contemplate God's unchangeable truths?
A. The light of glory will be a complete commentary on the Bible, and will disclose the whole treasure hid in that field, Psalm 36:9 -- "In thy light shall we see light."
Q. 47. Will there be any occasion for written or printed Bibles in heaven?
A. By no means, for the unchangeable truths of God, recorded in that holy book, will be indelibly stamped upon the minds of the redeemed company, as the subject of their everlasting song, Isa. 59:21 -- "My words -- shall not depart -- out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." 1 Pet. 1:25 -- "The word of the Lord endureth for ever."
Q. 48. What comprehension will they have of the wonderful works of God, particularly of creation?
A. Their knowledge of all the creatures will then be brought to perfection, and they will see, that in wisdom he has made them all, Psalm 104:24.
Q. 49. What views will they have of adorable providence?
A. They will see the checkered web of providence spread out at its full length, and that there was a necessity for all the trials and troubles they met with in time, 1 Pet. 1:6.
Q. 50. How will the saints in heaven contemplate the glorious work of redemption?
A. It will be the matter of their eternal admiration; they shall for ever and alternately wonder and praise, and praise and wonder, at the mysteries of wisdom and love, goodness and holiness, mercy and justice, that shine through the whole of that glorious device, Rev. 1:5, 6.
Q. 51. What is the experimental knowledge the saints shall enjoy of God in heaven?
A. It is the participation of the divine goodness in full measure, accompanied with a most lively sense of it in the innermost part of their souls, Rev. 7:17 -- "The Lamb shall lead them to living fountains of water;" which are no other than God himself, "the fountain of living waters," Who will fully and freely communicate himself to them.
Q. 52. In what respect will the communication of God, to the experience of the saints in heaven, be full?
A. In as much as they shall not be limited to any measure, bat the enjoyment shall go as far as their most enlarged capacities can reach, Psalm 81:10.
Q. 53. Will the capacities of the saints above be of equal size?
A. As there will be different degrees of glory, (the saints in heaven being compared to stars, which are of different magnitudes, Dan. 12:3;) so, some capacities will contain more, and others less, yet all shall be filled, and have what they can hold, Psalm 16:11.
Q. 54. In what will consist the freedom of God's communicating himself to the experience of the saints in heaven?
A. In the unrestrained familiarity which he will there allow them with himself; he shall walk in them, 2 Cor. 6:16; his fulness shall ever stand open to them, there being no veil between him and them, to be drawn aside, for they shall see him face to face, 1 Cor. 13:12.
Q. 55. What will be the result of the free communication, and full participation of the divine goodness in the upper sanctuary?
A. Perfect likeness to God, and unspeakable joy: hence says the Psalmist, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness: -- In thy presence is fulness of joy," Psalm 17:15, and Psalm 16:11.
Q. 56. Why will perfect likeness to God follow upon the beatific vision of him?
A. Because the seeing of God in all his matchless excellencies, no more "through a glass darkly, but face to face," cannot but be attended with a swallowing up of all the imperfections of the saints, into a glorious transformation to his blessed image, 1 John 3:2 -- "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
Q. 57. Why is the communication, and participation of God in heaven, accompanied with unspeakable joy?
A. Because of the undoubted certainty, and full assurance which the saints have of the eternal duration of the same: the enjoyment of God being always fresh and new to them, through the ages of eternity; for they shall drink of living fountains of waters continually springing up in abundance, Rev. 7:17.
Q. 58. Why will the saints in heaven have an undoubted certainty of their full enjoyment of God to all eternity?
A. Because the everlasting GOD himself will be their eternal life and happiness, 1 John 5:20 -- "This is the true God and eternal life." Isa. 60:19 -- "The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." Hence it is said of heaven, that "the glory of God doth lighten it;" and that the Lamb is the light thereof, Rev. 21:23.
Q. 59. What improvement ought we to make of these benefits which believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. We should "be diligent, that we may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless," 2 Pet. 3:14; and occupy the talents he has given us, until he come, Luke 19:13; we should "judge ourselves, that we may not be judged," 1 Cor. 11:31; and because "the end of all things is at hand," we should "therefore be sober, and watch unto prayer," 1 Pet. 4:7; yea, we should "hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. 1:13.
END OF PART ONE