Today at service we read questions 64 and 86 from the Westminster Larger Catechism, and I was reminded of some very beautiful and very powerful truths.
Q. 64. What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head. (John 10:16; 11:52; Eph. 1:9, 10, 22).
Q. 86. What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death?
A. The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory; waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls. Whereas the souls of the wicked are at their death cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness; and their bodies kept in their graves, as in their prisons, until the resurrection and judgment of the great day. (Luke 16:23, 24; 23:43: Rom. 8:23; II Cor. 5:6-9; Phil. 1:22-24; I Thess. 4:13-17).
1. What a perfect peace awaits the people of God in death! Truly the grave holds no fear, and death no sting for the child of God.
2. What a perfect communion we have with the saints who came before, the saints with whom we share this current world, and the saints to come hereafter. Oh, blessed fellowship!
3. What darkness, what torment await those who reject the gospel, and who live in darkness and wickedness.
Following Edwards’s phraseology: resolved: to live my life in light of these foundational truths. The precious gifts of eternal life and of comfort in the fellowship of the saints should affect the attitude with which I live each moment, giving me a spirit of peace and of deep-seated restfulness. The last truth should also be borne out in my life through my interactions with others. Just as I find peace in the precious gift Christ has given me in regenerating my heart of stone and justifying me before the presence of God, I must never be at peace concerning the state of the soul of the unbeliever, but should make it a constant motive of prayer and of action.
As we celebrate All Saints Day today (and as some of us celebrated earlier this week), may these truths guide our prayers, our words and our actions in the weeks and years to come.