Monday, August 24, 2009

The Intermediate State

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 3 of 4 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ

Chapter 25 - The Final Resurrection
5-9 - Objections answered

5. Pagan denials of resurrection, reflected in Eccl 9:4; 3:21; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8, are refuted by their own burial practices, for what is burial but an expression of hope in resurrection?

6. It is wrong to say the soul must die or sleep when the body does. Scripture says otherwise - 2 Pet 1:14; 2 Cor 5:1, 6, 8; Heb 12:23; Luke 23:43. But don't "inquire too curiously concerning our souls' intermediate state." They are in Abraham's bosom - Luke 16:22. Beyond this, we only know they rest from their labors: "all things are held in suspense until Christ the Redeemer appear." The reprobate are in the same condition as the devils, in Jude 6.

7. The sin in our bodies won't hinder the resurrection of those same bodies - 2 Cor 7:1; 5:10; 4:11; 1 Thess 5:23; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:15; 1 Tim 2:8; Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 6:20. Our bodies are changed, not replaced - 1 Cor 15:53; Rom 14:11; Isa 45:24; Dan 12:2; John 2:19. Since Christ's own body arose, ours will, too - 1 Cor 15:12.

8. "Sheer unbelief is the mother of this notion," that we will need new bodies. Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:13-15, 20; Phil 3:20-21. The body which suffers for Christ won't be denied its reward. God trained the patriarchs in this doctrine by emphasizing burial rites (Gen 23:4, 19; 47:30), which Jesus also endorsed - Matt 26:10. Burial is "a rare and precious aid to faith." Would it not have been absurd for [Joseph] to give a command concerning dust about to be reduced to nothing?" John 6:39 also shows we will receive the same body resurrected. Scripture describing death as sleep also proves it. The very word "cemetery" means sleeping place.

We will have the same body, but "the quality will be different" - 1 Cor 15:51.

9. It shouldn't trouble us that the ungodly will be resurrected in body, too. This appears as a reward in Scripture - John 11:25 - but it will also be a judgment - John 5:29; Matt 25:32; Acts 24:15. "They will be unwillingly haled before the judgment seat of Christ."

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