LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 250

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.


Chapter 31. Of the State of Man after Death and of the Resurrection of the Dead. Paragraph 1b: “The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.”

Again as I wrote last time, there is no such thing as a “soul sleep.” It is a foreign idea to Christ and to all the biblical authors. Some- at best- fringy Christian groups alone advocate for it. Similarly, as also mentioned before, there is no biblical warrant for purgatory.
A “glorification” is the end of all men and constitutes perhaps the final demarcation in God’s calendar between what now is and what’s next in the linear nature of creation. In my reading, the most definitive place in God’s word about it is in 1 Corinthians 15. There Paul sets forth the idea of a massive change to come. Of a resurrection of all. Of a remaking of the human body. It’s elsewhere to be sure, but this address is succinct.

There will be a last generation. They will be alive when the Second Advent (or coming) of Christ occurs. It could be before I post this, or it might be in AD 24300. It’s the triune God’s timing and no one else has an inside track on it. My condolences, Millerites, but you should’ve read better. I for one would love the moniker “first man to bring the Gospel to Mars.” Paul was the first (recorded) to do so in Europe, a new continent. If mankind goes to Mars, someone will have the honor of being the first on another planet to preach. Even there, of course, there will be still only one God and still also only one Savior. But I digress. We who are alive today and always since ~AD 30 live with the immanence of what only our grandkids 2000 generations hence may see—Jesus on the clouds. Oh, the wisdom of God in this! “Watch because it may be before lunch” he says and “you’ll see me face to face, the very Master and Builder of the House.” In any case, whether we’re of that last generation and are translated, or we die tomorrow, there will be the Bible says a glorification for us all. Into heaven or hell. While “glorification” is most framed as positive in light passages like Romans 8:30, for those into eternal hell it is not so.

More to come on this next time but if let’s say I die on my trip to FL next week, my body will be buried. If it’s done for me as I’ve outlined to my family it’ll be in the cheapest coffin available, my Bible on my chest, and my right index finger permanently fixed in Romans 4. The mortician has my permission to do whatever’s necessary to fit my finger in. My boast is Christ! He won’t ask me, “Why should I let you in?” because from before the foundation of the world he alone answered that question for me on the Cross.” My body may then in fact turn to ash beneath his word in a grave, but it will be raised up again whenever he feels like it. Romans 8:30 lists “glorification” as the final installment of sanctification into mercy. I die, but “I” go on. The “I” that remains will catch up later. That’s the summation of it.

Insertion- my entire life’s been aided by the statement of the late-great RC Sproul who said something almost exactly to the effect that, “I’ll consider myself a very wealthy man indeed if five people can get through my funeral without looking at their watch.” I believe his headstone now reads, “He was a kind man redeemed by a kinder Savior.” Words to live and die by, my friend. To live and die by.

Moses and Elijah alone prove the error of soul sleep and show the reality instead that upon death the saints move instantaneously into the presence of God. Their persons (Moses and Elijah), their souls, were in heaven awaiting the coming of Christ. They’re on the mountain with him by special privilege, just like Peter, James, and John. Luke tells us that they, “…spoke of His [Jesus’] decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:31. The rich man in hell (hades) in the Bible also shows that a person’s being or soul is not blanked out at physical death. Luke 16:19-31. The ignorant and tormented rich man was awake and aware, not in cryostasis.

There is “A Day” coming for God’s judgment. A day where his appointed hate for sinners from before the world was will be perfectly displayed. Whatever judgments God has leveled from the beginning they are not that day. Paul says openly, “God…commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness…” Acts 17:30b-31a. That “Day” is still not yet. It’s coming. With it comes a glorification of all the dead. Those who died at sea, on land, were murdered, who suicided, or were warm in their beds both young and old. All will be raised. Those slain in abortion. All. What a day it will be of the perfect judgment of the perfect God. Even those condemned will attest as well that he has done all things well as they’re glorified.

Joseph Pittano

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