The Question Column

The Question Column

QUESTION: We know that the Bible teaches that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord.” What kind of bodies do our absent loved ones have now? And what are they doing?

ANSWER: When the child of God dies, his spirit leaves his body. We are told nothing of having a body after death, until that day when we shall receive our resurrection bodies, when Christ comes for His own.

This body-less condition is not defined for us in the Bible, but there are certain things about it that we are told. In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul relates a most remarkable experience which was his: he was caught up into the third Heaven.

And he says: “Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth” (v. 2). Evidently, then, to “the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:23), it is not of very great consequence whether they are within or out of the body, as long as they are with Christ. That our loved ones who have gone into the house of many mansions can commune with each other is evident from the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), where we find Lazarus and Abraham in fellowship with each other. The chief activity of these departed ones is surely the worship and adoration of the Lord. Beyond this Scripture indicates nothing.

—E. Shuyler English
in Our Hope

In view of the late Dr. E. Schuyler English’s response to the foregoing question, the Editor was reminded of the words of the 18th century Bible commentator Matthew Henry who wrote the following as to what it would mean to him to enter into the glorious presence of Christ: “Would you like to know where I am? I am at home in my Father’s house, in the mansions prepared for me here. I am where I want to be — no longer on the stormy sea, but in God’s safe, quiet harbor. My sowing time is done and I am reaping; my joy is as the joy of harvest. Would you like to know how it is with me? I am made perfect in holiness. Grace is swallowed up in glory. Would you like to know what I am doing? I see God, not as through a glass darkly, but face to face. I am engaged in the sweet enjoyment of my precious Redeemer. I am singing hallelujahs to Him who sits upon the throne, and I am constantly praising Him. Would you know what blessed company I keep? It is better than the best on earth. Here are the holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect… I am with many of my old acquaintances with whom I worked and prayed, and who have come here before me. Lastly, would you know how long this will continue? It is a dawn that never fades! After millions and millions of ages, it will be as fresh as it is now. Therefore, weep not for me!”