Heidelberg Catechism Lesson 22

Q. 57. What comfort doth the “resurrection of the body” afford thee?
 
That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head;[1] but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.[2]
[1] Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23;  [2] 1 Corinthians 15:53; Job 19:25–26.
 
 
Q. 58. What comfort takest thou from the article of “life everlasting”?
 
That since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,[1] after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man” to conceive, and that, to praise God therein for ever.[2]
[1] 2 Corinthians 5:2–3, 6; Romans 14:17;  [2] 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Commentary

The Scripture teaches us that at the point of death our souls will immediately enter the presence of Christ our Lord in heaven (Lk 23:43; Phil 1:23). Our bodies, however, being laid in the grave, will remain in the grave, where they will in all probably disintegrate and return to dust. But the Scripture assures us that our bodies will not remain in the dust, for one day, when the Lord returns again to judge the world, our bodies will be reconstituted again, and raised from the ground like unto the glorious resurrected body of Christ and reunited with our souls. This hope of the resurrection is shared by all Christians throughout the ages, including the Patriarch Job who, when he was undergoing intense suffering, was able to exclaim in faith: “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:26).

But it may be asked: Why do we need a resurrection? If we can enjoy God in the spirit, why do we need a body? Well, the simple answer is that the body is part of our existence. We are incomplete without our body. Think about it. You cannot feel as you do now without a body. You cannot smell nor taste without a body. You cannot hear in the same way as you hear now without a body. Think about the physics involved in noise production and you know that without a body you cannot enjoy music as you do now. You cannot see as you see without a physical body. Think about the physics relating to the eyes and you will immediately realise that without the body, we will not have the same perception as we have today. The physical world of colours, smells, taste, noise and textures are adapted by the wisdom of our Creator for our creaturely enjoyments. God has made us with a soul as well as a body, we must not entertain a false notion that whatever is physical is of no value. I suspect that in eternity we shall enjoy God and His presence both spiritually and physically.

Hand in hand with our hope of the resurrection is our hope of eternal or everlasting life. Of course, while the resurrection is future, our eternal life has already begun both in terms of duration and of quality. It is sad that many para-church groups, in seeking to win converts to Christianity, have emphasised the duration of everlasting life but neglected the more important aspect of enjoying and glorifying God. So it is emphasised that since your life will never end, you are already enjoying eternal life. This is true as far as it goes, but they neglect to mention everlasting life is meaningless except that it is enjoyed in the presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is defining the quality of eternal life when, in His high priestly prayer, He speaks of eternal life as knowing God as the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (Jn 17:3). Thank God that a true believer will also enjoy a foretaste of eternal life today as we commune with God through the Lord Jesus Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit. But our full enjoyment of life eternal remains yet future.