In these articles, we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Recently, we’ve been looking at the mediation Christ makes for his church and what that mediation entails. We saw that part of Christ’s mediation is the justification and adoption of God’s people. Last time, we saw that Christ’s mediation also brings sanctification, which is an act of God’s grace, by the Holy Spirit, to make us holy, through the application of Christ’s death.
But is there anything else that the Spirit does to make us holy? Another act of the Holy Spirit is to apply the resurrection of Christ to God’s people.
If you are a Christian, you have died with Christ. When Christ suffered on the cross, your sin was there upon his shoulders. Which means the penalty for your sin has been paid. But if you are sanctified, then the Spirit has also applied the resurrection of Christ to you. Christ didn’t remain dead and nor do you. The apostle Paul says: ‘3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 6:3-11).
If you’ve died with Christ, you also have come alive with Christ. You share in his resurrection as well as his death. The wrath you deserve for your sin has been removed and you are now alive in Christ, forever.
Thus, in one sense, the Christian has eternal life, even in this world. Jesus says in the gospel of John: ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live’ (John 5:24-25).
Yes, Christians still die. But it is not an eternal death. Rather it is a passing from this world to the next. That’s why the Christian can face death with joy – it is merely leaving the body behind. Paul makes this claim when he says”: ‘We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8).
So how can you make sure you are sanctified? Trust that you have died with Christ and have been raised with him. If you do that, it demonstrates that you have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit.