(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


    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

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
    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
    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.
    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
    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.

    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.

(continued in part 24...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc1-23.txt