June 20, 2004 Q & A

Absent from the Body


I am confused between the teaching in the Bible Study in the link http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030719.htm and what I read in 2 Corinthians 5, that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Could you shed some light on this for me?


The answer to your question is fairly straightforward, but first let me comment on the link you provided. The doctrine of two resurrections with a 1,000-year period between them is contrary, I believe, to Scripture. And, faithful to Scripture, our Reformation fathers taught but one resurrection. I'll mention only two confessions of faith: The Heidelberg Catechism (Q & A 57), The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter 32 of the Westminster Confession of Faith: "At the last day … all the dead shall be raised up, with the self-same bodies…. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor, and be made conformable to His own glorious body."

Now to your question. The Scripture you refer to, and accurately, is 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8: "We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord … we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord…." While alive on earth we are "at home in the body." When we die, our bodies remain in the ground, while our souls "are received into the highest heavens, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies." The thought is that at home in the body is to be away from our real home, the presence of Christ. In that sense we are "absent from the Lord." But in another sense we are not absent from the Lord! For we are God's children now—Christ is in and with us, "visible to the eye of faith. At his coming we will see him as he is" (I John 3:2).

I hope this helps, brief as it is.