Today is the 451st anniversary of John Calvin’s death. 1 In his biography of the Reformer, T.H.L. Parker quotes the prayer with which he concluded his sixty-fifth lecture on Ezekiel, one of the last times he taught in public. He envisions the Christian as already on the “threshold” of the inheritance; the mansion itself awaits, assured because Christ our head, who “has been received” already, is sure. In this world we taste; in that we enjoy fully.
Grant, almighty God, since we have already entered in hope upon the threshold of our eternal inheritance, and know that there is a certain mansion for us in heaven after Christ has been received there, who is our head and the first fruits of our salvation, grant (I say) that we may proceed more and more in the course of thy holy calling until at length we reach the goal and so enjoy the eternal glory of which thou dost afford us a taste in this world; by the same Christ our Lord. Amen. (p. 186)
Calvin did not die without the hope of resurrection and incorruption. So it is perhaps fitting to close with his comments on 1 Corinthians 15:53 (“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality”). The resurrection awaits even those in unmarked graves–anonymous now, but to be restored to their full identity in Christ at the Last Day, instantaneously delivered from corruption, absolutely and fully: in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Mark, how we shall live in the kingdom of God both in body and in soul, while at the same time flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God — for they shall previously be delivered from corruption. Our nature then, as being now corruptible and mortal, is not admissible into the kingdom of God, but when it shall have put off corruption, and shall have been beautified with in-corruption, it will then make its way into it. This passage, too, distinctly proves, that we shall rise again in that same flesh that we now carry about with us, as the Apostle assigns a new quality to it which will serve as a garment.