(Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism, Vol.1. part 23) The Eternal Bliss of the Church of God Lord's Day 22 Psalter No.422 St. 5 Read I Cor. 15:35-58 Psalter No.166 St. 2,3 Psalter No. 29 St. 3 Psalter No.424 St. 3,4 Beloved, Already in this life God's elect partake of eternal salvation and are therefore called blessed, as we have sung, "How blessed, Lord, are they who know the joyful sound." The poet of Psalm 89 praises these people as blessed, not only because one day they shall obtain eternal bliss in heaven, but because already in this life they become a partaker of that bliss by faith in Christ. They know the sound of the gospel trumpet. Many hear the sound, but do not know the meaning of it. As an example of the difference between hearing and knowing, think of the trumpet as used in the army. We, outsiders, hear the sounds the trumpeter makes, but we do not know what the one, or two, or three notes mean. So also we hear the sound of the Word of God, but by nature we do not know what it means. The Lord, however, teaches His people, to whom He has revealed the state of their misery, to know the sound. And those people are blessed. Of them Moses cried out as he was blessing them when he was ready to depart from the earthly to the heavenly Canaan, "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the Shield of thy help, and Who is the Sword of thy excellency." Not Moses, out of whose hand Israel had received the law, but Joshua, a type of Christ in another respect than Moses, would lead the people into the promised land. Salvation is not by the law, but by grace, namely in Him Who by His active and passive obedience has satisfied the law and disarmed it of its curse. In this life already He redeems them who were given Him by the Father; He makes them partake of salvation. However deep their way may be, however severely the enemy may assault them, who shall hinder them in their spiritual race to attain the crown of glory? In this life they taste God's love and favour, which strengthens them more than the choicest foods; here already God's favorites receive the first-fruits of that salvation which was prepared for them before the foundation of the world. Therefore Paul writes to the believers at Ephesus, "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." They were dead, as all Adam's posterity are by nature; spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. But the Lord has quickened them. After the Apostle had shown in the first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians that salvation is in Christ, in Whom the elect are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, he speaks of the benefits applied to God's people in the time of God's good pleasure, even out of the depth of their state of death, and grants that they have salvation saying, "Ye are saved." All that the devil and the world offers and gives to them who live in sin is nothing compared to the salvation that God's people obtain by faith in the fellowship of Christ, in Whom they have the remission of their sins, the cleansing of their souls, being saved from the claws of Satan, and from all their enemies, and through Whom they enter into the communion with God Who is the God of their salvation. Their soul may be sad because of the sins that dwell in and around them because they are in "this present evil world," and are distressed by many enemies who do not cease to attack them, still they shall be abundantly satisfied with the fulness of God's house and He makes them drink of the river of His pleasures. For them even death is swallowed up into victory, and is robbed of its terrifying power, so that they may glory with Paul, "Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." Yet, in this life God's children have only the first beginnings of salvation which is laid aside for them in heaven. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that fear Him. When they shall have fulfilled God's counsel their soul shall obtain salvation perfectly, and one day their body shall also be resurrected and, reunited with the soul, enjoy eternal life without any interruption. Although Paul when he was caught up to the third heaven saw and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter, and all those who are no stranger to thus being caught up, cannot express in words what these foretastes are, and therefore certainly cannot describe the full salvation, nevertheless, we wish to speak of the eternal bliss of God's people, according to the revelation given us in Scripture, as the instructor teaches us concerning it in the twenty-second Lord's Day of the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 22 Q. 57: What comfort does the "resurrection of the body" afford thee? A. That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; 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. Q. 58: What comfort takes thou from the article of "life everlasting"? A. That since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man" to conceive, and that, to praise God therein for ever. This Lord's Day calls our attention to the eternal bliss of God's people, as this is obtained I. immediately after death, II. at the resurrection of the body, and III. in life everlasting. The benefits God gives His church, are twofold: benefits in this life, and benefits after this life. Among the benefits in this life is the forgiveness of sins of which was spoken in the previous Lord's Day. Now the instructor has come to the discussion of the benefits after this life, as they are mentioned in the Twelve Articles, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. The relation of these two articles to each other led the instructor to speak at the same time of the felicity of the soul, enjoyed immediately after death before the day of the resurrection has arrived. It could not be otherwise. Not only that for the comfort of God's people they must be shown that death is conquered, so that it has become a passage to life everlasting, but also that the resurrection of Christ out of the grave on the third day after His death is the ground of the blessed resurrection of God's people. In Christ's passage through death lies the break-through of God's children. Their death is no death anymore, but a passage to eternal life, first, according to the soul, and later also according to the body. A blessed resurrection cannot be separated from a blessed death, hence, what would be more natural than that the instructor begins the explanation of the article concerning the resurrection of the body by speaking of the felicity of the soul after death. God created man with soul and body. All that worldly wise men with the old Sadducees bring forth to contradict this is foolishness, even though all the world would praise such "wise men." By sin, however, soul and body are separated; the body is carried to the grave. The body returns to dust, thus fulfilling God's righteous judgment, "Dust thou art, (since the body was formed of the dust of the ground) and unto dust shalt thou return." Decomposition sets in immediately after death, so that Abraham said to the sons of Heth, "Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight." But not all of man dies at death, even though many would wish that "dead is dead" and that there was no such thing as eternal existence. The Lord Jesus said so emphatically, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." The wages of sin is death, and this death is spiritual, temporal and eternal. Man is created for eternity. Hence at death body and soul are separated. And then the question arises, "Where does the soul go at death?" Many answers have been given because men will not bow before the Word of God. Among the heathens there were sorcerers, which were forbidden in Israel; however, their evil influence crept into Jacob's inheritance, as we know was the case with the witch at Endor, who, since Satan showed himself in the form of Samuel, caused the old judge to appear unto Saul, just as today the Spiritualists show the form of the dead. They are appearances of the devil. Others speak of the sleep of the soul, or transmigration of the soul, as if the same soul wanders over the earth either in another man or in an animal. These theories are foolish in themselves, and they leave the entire problem of the spiritual existence after death wrapped in obscurity. Viewed in the light of God's Word, they are abominable and we should flee from them. With perfect certainty the testimony of the Lord teaches, for the comfort of all God's children, that their soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head. That therefore is the comfort for God's children; their soul shall be taken up to Christ, they shall immediately when they leave the body be with Him in Paradise. The consciousness and the blessed foretaste thereof caused Paul to desire "to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better." In this life God's people too are subject according to soul and body, to all trouble and sorrow and conflict and distress; but soon when the course of life shall have been run, all the bitter fruits of sin shall be laid aside forever, yea, rather sin itself shall be no more, and the soul with perfect joy shall praise her King eternally. She is going to Christ, her Head. Here He has revealed Himself to her, here by faith she might behold Him, although in different degrees; here she worshipped Him, crying out, "He is altogether lovely." But what is this knowledge by faith compared to the perfect knowledge and beholding of the eternal Emmanuel in heaven above! There no darkness covers the heart anymore, the child of God shall no more feel forsaken, sorrow and weeping shall no more be found there. Oh, that is the comfort of God's people, that their soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ their Head. He shall guide them with His counsel, and afterward receive them to glory. And that immediately. Hence God's church does not need a purgatory. That does not exist except in the foolish brain of the papists. After death God's people do not need a process of purification. In death they shed all sin and imperfection. To that end Christ went into death for them. That is the main thing in the death of God's people, that the soul, entirely purified by the disintegrating process of death, passes through by the grace that is in Christ, and enters eternal glory without sin. The papists are poor with their purgatory and their masses for the dead. Did not He Who was nailed on the cursed tree say to the converted thief "This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise?" Of Lazarus we read that he was carried into Abraham's bosom, that is, in heaven. Stephen saw heaven opened and Jesus, standing on the right hand of God, and said, while his face shone with heavenly joy, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." John heard a voice out of heaven which said to him, "Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Let the poor papists keep their purgatory; they deny the perfect satisfaction of Christ for all the sins of His people, and hold that we ourselves by doing penance must still pay for the sins committed after baptism. At death we have not yet paid in full and fall into purgatory, unless, as heretics that do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church, we fall immediately into hell. In purgatory the soul must be purged, while other people still on earth can help us creep slowly out of the imagined purgatory by paying money demanded by the Roman Catholic Church for which masses for the soul will be said. The dogma of purgatory is inseparably connected to the denial of the complete sacrifice of Christ, while God Himself testifies that by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. If ever a man at death came short of paying for his sins, then certainly the thief that was crucified with Jesus. Yet the Lord did not direct him to purgatory, but said to him, "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." For the wicked there is no device in the grave. Immediately, as the rich man, he shall open his eyes in hell, and, as it is written of Judas, he went to his own place, to the place of the damned, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, where God's common grace shall be withheld, and Gods wrath shall burn upon him throughout all ages. It is either-or: our soul goes to heaven or to hell, and that without purgatory and without the possibility of any change, immediately as it leaves the body. In this lies a great comfort for God's dear people. Their soul shall immediately be taken up to Christ, their Head. The tribulation to which they are subject, in this life is only a tribulation of ten days, at death it shall cease. Their sins, which those purchased by the blood of Christ carry with them all their life, and which cause the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit, shall be cast off at death; the devil, which sought to distress them day and night with wiles and snares, they shall escape forever; and the world which scorns, persecutes and seeks to banish them shall come to an end with its attacks upon them. Moreover they shall be taken up to Christ their Head. He has entered glory and shall take them unto Him, that they may be forever with the Lord. This makes them so heavenly minded that they sometimes cry out with Paul, "To depart and to be with Christ is far better for me." Not all desire to die flows from a true longing to be with the Lord. Elijah because of discouragement, prayed that his soul might die as he sat under a juniper tree, fleeing from Jezebel. He prayed. "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." God's people are no strangers to such sad conditions in which they, like Elijah after they have stood in the power of the Lord, and for His Name and for His sake, learn to know their own inability. However this desire to die is far different from a longing in faith to be with the Lord. The deadness of their soul may also be so great that hell does not terrify nor heaven comfort. But the true communion of faith that they have with their Lord and Savior, arouses in them a holy yearning for Him with subjection to God's will, as the Lord taught them to pray, "Thy will be done," and as Paul acquiesced, saying, "To abide in the flesh is more needful for you." They can abide, because Christ not only gives them grace to die when they need it, but also grace to live. He Himself prayed His Father that He would not take them out of the world, but keep them from evil. He promised, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Thus He is a fountain of comfort for His dear people in life and in death, and He strengthens their hope that immediately after this life they shall be taken up to Him. Oh, that hope, that living consciousness causes them to cry out, "I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." There is still more prepared for God's church. Christ bought not only the soul, but also the body, and therefore the body shall also one day escape from death to be reunited with the soul after so many ages or perhaps only a short time of separation, thus to partake of eternal felicity together. The whole man shall be freed from the power of sin and satin, in order that God shall be perfectly glorified in His own work. II For the comfort of God's sincere people the instructor now draws our attention to this in the second place, as to the question, "What comfort does the resurrection of the body afford thee?" he answers, "That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head; 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." That resurrection which shall take place at the coming of Christ on the last day has been denied since the days of old. Sadducees and Epicureans would not hear of the resurrection. Hymeneus and Philetus spoke as if it had already taken place. Scripture, however, clearly teaches the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in 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.' Then all graves shall be opened, and the earth and the sea shall give up their dead, while, as Paul teaches us in the epistle to the Corinthians, they who are still alive on that majestic day will be changed in a moment so that their mortal body shall become immortal and the corruptible body shall become incorruptible. All bodies shall be reunited to their own souls. But there shall be this great difference, that the bodies of the wicked shall be raised by virtue of the righteous judgment of God. The resurrection of the just however has its roots in the resurrection of Christ. His return of life is the root of life which shall blossom eternally in the resurrection of the bodies of the just in that perfect life. The dreadful doctrine of the resurrection of the body shall be for "some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." It is this comfort that only can make God's people truly anticipate with gladness that day of days when they shall be resurrected by the power of Christ. When that resurrection shall take place, in what year or in what century is entirely unknown to us. The Father alone knows what hour; but the times in which we are living show the signs of that coming more than before. No, I may not calculate from the sad signs of wars, and famines, and earthquakes, and pestilences, the length of time the earth shall still remain, but let us all use the seriousness of the time to impress upon our heart the certainty of the judgment that shall come in the resurrection, so that we may make haste for our lives. We should do so the more because of the light manner which the world considers such matters, the wanton manner of life by which she seeks her way through troubles, the corruption of morals that is evident everywhere; these are all signs of the approaching end, and they shall lose their power to tempt us only when a strong urge is born in us to walk in a way that is well pleasing to God. Also to God's people the call comes loudly. "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall." That dreadful day therefore shall come, when Christ shall appear visibly on the clouds of heaven, surrounded by His thousands of thousands of holy angels. With His almighty voice He shall call on the earth and the sea, "Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment." Of that resurrection, our Catechism says moreover, that it shall unite the same body to its own soul, "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." That same body then, that was entrusted to mother earth, shall be resurrected, it shall not be another, a strange body. That was Job's happy acknowledgment of faith, when his friends thought him a hypocrite, and he found himself at the gate of death while Satan assaulted him severely and God hid His face, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me." Those who speak with so much disdain about their body, as though its only purpose was to be given over to corruption; those who want to be overly spiritual and do not want to consider "their fleshly rump," and under such highly spiritual things often seek to hide their antinomian life; they should consider that Christ did not think the body too mean to purchase it by bearing our sins in His body on the cross, and to save it in the grave and to raise it on the last day. His faithful care watched over it all the years and ages in which it returned to dust; that same body with the same characteristics. "How can that be?" was the cry in Paul's days already; "Impossible," cries the worldling of today. Think, for example, of those that were eaten by wild animals. Their body was changed by metabolism into that of an animal, and possibly later eaten by another animal. How can that body rise again, and which sensible person can believe such a statement? "Thou fool," says Paul, "that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die, and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it has pleased Him, and to every seed his own body." Have you not seen year after year that the farmer casts the seed into the earth, which seed dies as it sprouts, and soon sends forth a blade, and in that blade an ear, and in that ear the full corn, but still entirely the same body of wheat was sown. He who sows wheat, mows wheat; of barley you will harvest barley; each seed has its own body. Now then, thus a human body is sown, either in the grave, or in the sea, or in the destruction of wild animals or of the burning furnace; but one day a human body shall be resurrected, the same body. "All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. A human body is sown, a human body shall be raised. The same body, but "it is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power." Hence it shall be the same bodies with which the souls or all men shall be reunited on the resurrection day. God's justice demands this; sin shall be punished in the same soul and in the same body of the wicked by which it was committed. Concerning the elect, Christ has purchased their soul and body; hence they shall receive in heaven the same bodies in which they lived on earth. If the same bodies would not be raised in that day of days one could not speak of a resurrection, and the earth and the sea would not give up their dead, which God's Word teaches us so emphatically. But those same bodies shall have other properties. They shall be immortal and incorruptible, otherwise the damned in hell could not bear the eternal punishment, nor could the redeemed in heaven enjoy full communion with God. Even here on earth there are times when their bodies almost faint when the Lord pours out His love in the heart. How then could their bodies dwell in complete salvation eternally, since here they are looking only in a glass. But they receive celestial bodies, as the apostle says in I Cor. 15:40: "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another" and in verse 44: "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." Food and drink shall no longer be necessary to sustain the body, nor shall they be given or taken in marriage, and death shall be no more. Oh, how great is the goodness, which God has prepared for those that fear Him. The resurrection is not put to naught by burning the body instead of burying it. No, our objection to cremation is not that we fear it shall cancel the resurrection. To use the oven instead of the grave however is against all Christian morals; it conflicts with the acknowledgment of Christ's burial, Who was with the rich in His death, and Whose body therefore, according to God's decree was not to be burned, but to be buried, whereby He sanctified the grave of His elect. Cremation is so much the result of fanatic unbelief, that we must very much regret that our government allows this practice. To the dead belongs a grave, not cremation. For God's people the grave is a resting place in which it confesses to cherish the hope that it shall one day be raised with a body that shall be like the glorified body of Christ. Enoch and Elijah entered glory with body and soul; and all the elect of the Father await this glorification, so that soul and body shall dwell in that house of the Father in which Christ has prepared a place. That body shall be delivered from all the corruption of sin; it shall know no more grief, it shall yield no members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin any more, nor shall it hinder the effulgence of the bliss the soul enjoys in God. That body shall shine as the sun, the mouth shall not be poor in words, but shall praise God perfectly and shall glorify His grace; and sing the eternal hallelujah. It shall be like the glorious body of Christ, that arose out of the grave full of majesty and did not belong to the earth anymore. Therefore the Lord spoke to Mary, "Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father." That was at hand, the ascension was now open for Him. His body and soul belonged to heaven. The bodies of the believers shall one day be like unto the now glorified body of Christ, at the right hand of the Father. That shall take place at the return of Christ upon the clouds, when time shall be no more. For the Lord will not come corporally to earth any more before that time. A millennial reign as the Premillenialists hold will not come. The Premillenialists expect a corporal return of Christ with the first resurrection of the believers and conversion of the Jews, so that Jerusalem shall be the center of the reign of the Messiah for about a thousand years. They appeal to Revelations 20, but they are entirely wrong. In that chapter a physical coming of the Lord is not at all spoken of, nor of a resurrection of the dead, nor of Jerusalem as the throne of Christ. Satan shall be bound a thousand years, "that he should deceive the nations no more," that is, during that time he would be deprived of the power of using the world powers to attack the church of God. After the fall of Babylon, about which the whole world shall mourn, but heaven shall sing, the church will have rest and peace. Brakel expects a blessed time for the church; but even if there should be a time of spiritual growth in the church of God and a downfall of the power of Satan, it is against the Bible to expect a physical coming of Christ except the one time of which Scripture makes abundant mention, when He shall come upon the clouds to judge the quick and the dead. There is hope for the seed of Jacob; because of the election they are the beloved for the fathers' sake, and God shall not cast them off forever. How clearly does Paul, to take but one testimony out of many, speak of the conversion of the Jews, then, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, then all Israel shall be saved. The Jews are making themselves ready to be cast away, the blood of the rejected Messiah is coming upon then and their children; but if the Gentiles grafted contrary to nature in Christ shall bring forth fruits of salvation, God shall be gracious to the hardened Jews. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out." A restoration of the Jewish nation, living as of old in Canaan with its typical king at Jerusalem, is against Scripture itself. The Premillenialist strives against the revelation of the counsel of God, and draws the hope of our soul away from the return of Him Who is to come on the day of days to deliver our bodies out of the bands of death and to make them like unto His glorious body. This we shall consider for a few moments, but let us first sing Psalter No. 29, stanza 3: "My soul in death's dark pit Shall not be left by Thee," etc. Application III With the glorification of the body dawns the full entrance into eternal glory which the Catechism treats in the last question of this Lord's Day. The question is: "What comfort takest thou out of the article of "life everlasting"? How comprehensive, and applicable to this life already is the answer of the instructor, "That since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which 'eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man' to conceive, and that to praise God therein forever." Hence in this time already everlasting life gives us to feel the fruit of the beginning of eternal joy; everlasting life begins here below. He who shall enter eternal life, must have become partaker of that life here below. Alas, so often it is evident from the fruit that we can live on in fatal rest just because we separate temporal from eternal life. We do not realize the necessity of a preparation for eternity, and live on in our way. Hence it is not that God's people are not happy until they die. Many a church goer thinks thus; he agrees that God's children are happy, but he can only conceive of their happiness coming after this life. Thus he would wish to die the death of those people, but does not desire the life of God's children; that life does not arouse him to holy jealousy. So he postpones the time of his conversion till the day of his death. How very differently Scripture, and hence also our Catechism teaches us, that the beginning of eternal bliss is felt in the heart now already, here on earth. They become happy in the hour when God calls them from death unto life, and they obtain a joy that the world does not know. You are entirely wrong when you think the life of God's people is one of grief and sorrow. He who does not taste heavenly joy here shall never have it in eternity. In what do these first fruits of everlasting life consist? Let me direct you to what Lord's Day 33 says of the quickening of the new man: "It is a sincere joy of heart in God." The love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and that love is unutterable and kindles in the heart a spiritual return of love. God's people say with David, "I love the Lord." How much blissful joy the revelation of Christ to a lost sinner yields, what a heavenly felicity lies in the knowledge by faith of the suffering and dying love of the Surety on the cross, and even more in following Him Who was risen from the dead and is glorified on the right hand of the Father. Here on earth reconciliation with the triune God is tasted and the adoption of children is obtained. Add to this that which the Lord gives as a refreshment in oppression, how sometimes heaven is opened and we seem to be drawn up to hear the song of jubilee of the redeemed and the holy angels, with which they praise God day and night. Then you will understand that God's children do not go through this life uncomforted, but that gladness has been put in their heart, more than in the time that the corn and wine of the wicked were increased. This spiritual joy of God's people is the beginning of eternal joy. In this life they taste the first fruits, which makes the soul thirst after God, and cry out with Job, "My reins are consumed within me." What shall then the full salvation be which God has prepared for those that fear Him. That shall be the perfect salvation, says the Catechism. Here that salvation is tasted in part. Although God's children are saved by grace, as long as they are in this life sin cleaves to them, which wars against the spirit, and makes them sigh and weep, as, to mention just one example, Paul complains, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Satan and the world also do not cease attacking God's people, and the word of the Lord is very clear, "In the world ye shall have tribulation," while the days of darkness and of the hiding of God's kindly face are many. All that shall remain on this side of the grave. Soon when God's counsel shall have been served, the soul shall enter into perfection, and one day, when the body by the power of Christ shall be resurrected to eternal life, then they shall enjoy perfect salvation, where all sin and imperfections shall have ceased to be forever, and God's elect shall walk in long white robes to serve God most perfectly day and night. Then Satan shall be cast into the lake of fire, and shall never be able to fire one arrow upon the redeemed anymore. Then the righteous shall reign over all their oppressors forever and ever. And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes, and shall put away all that was in part, so that the blessed communion with God shall be enjoyed without any interruption or darkness. How much reason God's people have to lift up their head and esteem all they must undergo here but little, compared to the glory that shall be revealed to them. Poor worldling, you lack the true hope upon that perfect salvation. Soon you shall stand without; one day Christ shall say to you, "I never knew you, and your portion shall be with all the wicked and the damned in hell." There you shall curse God day and night, when you must suffer His wrath in the burning fire that shall not be quenched, unless in this life you still learn to flee to the blood of the Lamb. Seek the Lord while He may be found. May the salvation laid away for you, people of God, strengthen your heart to run with patience the race that is set before you. At the end hangs the crown. However hard the conflict may be, the victory shall be yours. Here you may weep tears because of your tribulation, here you may experience the results of sin in sickness, and poverty, and troubles, and mourning, but it shall not last forever. One day you will be given a portion among those of whom is written, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them." Would you then not give evidence of this salvation in this world, which, being hollow and empty, remains a stranger to that salvation? Alas, people of God, too much you are silent about this salvation; too much you consider the things that are seen. That oppresses your soul, that makes you fret in your adversities, that weakens your hands in battle. The Lord strengthen the lively hope and make you, also when anxious days come, when God displays His holy indignation at the world, lift up your head as those who are saved in hope, and whose conversation is in heaven from whence also they look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that one day they shall bring honour, and glory and blessing to Him That sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen. 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