In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Last time, we saw that Christians share glory with Christ in this life and after they die, in what is known as the intermediate state (before the new heavens and the new earth are created). But what does the glory of Christians in the intermediate state look like?
The Bible teaches us that when Christians leave this world they are made perfect in holiness.
In Hebrews, we learn that Christians are part of a kingdom that includes spirits of righteous men made perfect: ‘22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel’ (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Who are these righteous men made perfect? They are believers who have died and now live in the intermediate state. And what does it mean that they are perfect in holiness? These believers are now sin free. They no longer break God’s law. What a glorious state to be in!
Also, the glory Christians receive at death includes living in heavenly with Jesus.
Paul says that when Christ left this world he went into the highest heaven: ‘He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe’ (Ephesians 4:10).
Paul also says that when Christians leave this world believers go to be with Christ, which means they go to live with him in the highest heaven: ‘I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body’ (Philippians 1:23-24).
Thus, Paul looks forward to seeing Christ face to face: ‘9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
Christians have such limited knowledge of God in this world. But in the next world they will no longer see dimly. They will behold God in his light and glory.
The fact that Christians will dwell with Christ in the heavenly intermediate state should thrill all believers. And in one sense, all Christians should long for their death, to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
So, have you repented of your sin and trusted in Christ so that you will be glorified when you die? Do you long to depart and be perfected? Do you long to dwell with Christ in the highest heaven?