Lord’s Day 22: Raised by the Power of Christ

Catechism and Psalter

It was all the way back in Lord’s Day 7 that the Heidelberg Catechism asked the essential question, “What then must a Christian believe?”  In answer the Catechism proceeded to provide the Apostles’ Creed and expound upon each of its articles.  Fifteen weeks later in this URC Psalmody series, here we are at Lord’s Day 22, which concerns the final two phrases of the Creed: belief in “the resurrection of the body” and “the life everlasting.”

57 Q.  How does ‘the resurrection of the body’ comfort you?

A.  Not only my soul
will be taken immediately after this life
to Christ its head,
but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ,
will be reunited with my soul
and made like Christ’s glorious body.

58 Q.  How does the article concerning ‘life everlasting’ comfort you?

A.  Even as I already now
experience in my heart
the beginning of eternal joy,
so after this life I will have
perfect blessedness such as
no eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no man has ever imagined:
a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.

Suggested Songs

138, “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee” (Psalm 73)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI and on YouTube)

“My soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head.”  The believer rejoices to know that the moment he dies, he will be with his Savior.  With this knowledge it’s hard, as the gospel chorus puts it, to “feel at home in this world anymore.”  The author of Psalm 73 similarly declares his hope in the life to come in this Psalter Hymnal versification:

In sweet communion, Lord, with Thee
I constantly abide;
My hand Thou holdest in Thine own
To keep me near Thy side.

Thy counsel through my earthly way
Shall guide me and control,
And then to glory afterward
Thou wilt receive my soul.

Whom have I, Lord, in heaven but Thee,
To whom my thoughts aspire?
And, having Thee, on earth is nought
That I can yet desire.

Though flesh and heart should faint and fail,
The Lord will ever be
The strength and portion of my heart,
My God eternally.

To live apart from God is death,
‘Tis good His face to seek;
My refuge is the living God,
His praise I long to speak.

62, “Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord” (Psalm 36)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

“Even my very flesh…will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.”  With its rather grim opening (“Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart…”), Psalm 36 might tend to escape our notice as a song of the resurrection.  But David’s confession of faith in the second half of this psalm is matchless; he knows in whom he lives, and moves, and has his being.

The fountain of eternal life
Is found alone with Thee,
And in the brightness of Thy light
We clearly light shall see.

232, “O Praise the Lord, for He is Good” (Psalm 118)

(Sung on YouTube)

“I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy.”  As we Christians traverse life’s journey, our deliverance from death may not always be in the forefront of our minds.  But along with saving faith comes this “beginning of eternal joy,” the knowledge that our future is secure with God.  Psalm 118 gives beautiful voice to this hope.

O praise the Lord, for He is good;
Let all in heaven above
And all His saints on earth proclaim
His everlasting love.
In my distress I called on God;
In grace He answered me,
Removed my bonds, enlarged my place,
From trouble set me free.

Salvation’s joyful song is heard
Where’er the righteous dwell;
For them God’s hand is strong to save
And doeth all things well.
I shall not die, but live and tell
The wonders of the Lord;
He has not given my soul to death,
But chastened and restored.

198, “Thou, O Lord, Art God Alone” (Psalm 102)

(Sung on YouTube)

“After this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no man has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.”  Psalm 102 begins as a desolate lament, its very ascription identifying it as “a prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”  The psalmist cries out in v. 3 that his “days pass away like smoke,” and again in v. 11 that they are “like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.”  Then comes a turning point: “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.”  Looking to his eternal Father, the psalmist rests assured that his life not just temporarily but eternally remains with God.

This all ages shall record
For the glory of the Lord;
Thou dost hear the humble prayer,
For the helpless Thou dost care.
Thou eternal art, and great,
Heaven and earth Thou didst create,
Heaven and earth shall pass away,
Changeless Thou shalt live for aye.

As one lays a garment by,
Thou wilt change the starry sky
Like a vesture worn and old;
But Thy years shall ne’er be told.
Thou wilt make Thy servants’ race
Ever live before Thy face,
And forever at Thy side
Children’s children shall abide.

As I collected these powerful psalm settings, I was also reminded of a glorious old German chorale written by Philipp Nicolai back in 1599: “Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying,” number 371 in the Psalter Hymnal.  Elaborating on the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, it formed the basis for J. S. Bach’s famous cantata “Wachet auf,” an excerpt of which we know as the familiar piece “Sleepers, Awake.”  You can enjoy the full cantata here.  For now, though, I’ll leave you with the triumphant doxology of the third stanza.  What comfort is ours through the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting!

Lamb of God, the heavens adore Thee,
And men and angels sing before Thee
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone.
By the pearly gates in wonder
We stand, and swell the voice of thunder
In bursts of choral melody.
To mortal eyes and ears
What glory now appears!
We raise the song,
We swell the throng,
To praise Thee ages all along.


1 Response to “Lord’s Day 22: Raised by the Power of Christ”

  1. 1 Lord’s Day 23: Right with God | URC Psalmody Trackback on June 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

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