LIFE AFTER DEATH
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? TO BE WITH CHRIST, WHEN?
Many people today believe that the moment Christians die they go immediately into heaven and are “with Christ”, but a careful study both of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the doctrines of the Apostle Paul and the early Church does not lend much support to this idea, as we shall see as we proceed through this Bible study.
The prize of the Christian, to be found worthy to partake in the First Resurrection . . . . REVELATION 20:6, which reads: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
Overcoming Christian will enter into this reward . . . . REVELATION 2:11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
The prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus . . . PHILIPPIANS 3:14: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
DO SAINTS COME HEAVEN WITH JESUS?
It is a mistaken idea to think that the saints come from heaven with Jesus Christ.
These are not human saints, but a glorious body-guard of the heavenly hosts which will accompany Him as far as the clouds of this earth, similar to the Angelic Hosts which heralded his birth at Bethlehem. (LUKE 2:13)
Paul states in 1 THESSALONIANS 4:15 “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an Archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Paul says here that the earthly saints who have died are to be resurrected when He (Jesus Christ) comes and those living or alive at that time are to be changed, (1 CORINTHIANS 15:51-52).
This complete company do not then come with Christ, but on the contrary are “All caught up” to meet the Lord in the air. “So shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 THESSALONIANS 4:17).
Note: To “Meet” THE Lord in the air, not to come with Him.
We, Paul and all members of the early church who have now “fallen asleep in Christ” will at that time meet the Lord in the air at his advent or coming.
Furthermore, read Paul’s message of hope and joy and crown of rejoicing for those in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming in 1 THESSALONIANS 2:19.
Paul then refers to the time when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all that believe. (2 THESSALONIANS 1:10)
Paul and all members of the early Church died and are still lying in “the dust of the earth” (ECCLESIASTES 3:20), compelled to wait for his (God’s) Son from Heaven. (1 THESSALONIANS 1:10)
Read also in JOHN 3:13 in which Jesus Himself answered questions put to him by Nicodemus the Pharisee or the ruler of the Jews. “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
The words of the Lord clearly show that since the creation of man no one has ever gone to heaven. All men – believers and un-believers in the Old Testament and the New Testament ages are still in the grave, waiting for the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There will be two resurrections – one for the believers and the other general resurrection for everybody.
The first resurrection is an absolute essential for every Christian. (1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-22)
If there be no resurrection, then Christians are not only dead but are perished forever. (1 CORINTHIANS 15:18)
And we must fully realize, as Paul did, the honour and magnificence of our high calling, and the absolute necessity of faithful service, even unto the end if we are to stand any chance whatever of being counted worthy at “that day” of being claimed by our wonderful Lord, as a co-heir in the Kingdom.
This is the truth. We have to be born twice and we will die once to live for ever. JOHN 3:3-6; ACTS
Finally Read the following scriptures: MATTHEW 24:30, MARK 13:26, LUKE 17:24, LUKE 21:27, ACTS 1:11, REVELATION 1:7.