Posted by: missionventureministries | January 25, 2018

JESUS WILL RETURN FOR HIS TRUE BELIEVERS – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54

We will be looking at two very important Bible passages today, that deal with what happens after we die and when the Lord comes for those that have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, to comprehend this better we need be familiarized with these Scripture passages and understand what they say. 

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) 

1 Corinthians 15:50-54 also describe believers being resurrected and given glorified bodies – “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised  imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 

For believers in Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that after death their souls/spirits are taken to heaven, because their sins have been forgiven. Paul tells us that when a believer dies he is “absent from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). This is possible only for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and made Him Lord of their life. Paul explains that as the physical body remains in the grave “sleeping,” (v.15-16) their souls/spirits will go to be with Christ immediately after death. 

At the resurrection of believers those that have fallen asleep, their physical body is resurrected, glorified, and then reunited with their soul/spirit which has already been at home with the Lord. This reunited and glorified body-soul-spirit will be the possession of believers for eternity in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22). And those who are alive at that time and are caught up without having witness death will be instantly changed from perishable to imperishable and shall always be with the Lord. 

As Jesus died and rose again, so also will those who die believing in Him rise again so that they can be taken to heaven to be with the Lord. Those who have died before that time (are called “those who sleep”) will be gathered and taken back to heaven with the Lord. Those who are alive and remain refers to Christians alive at the time Jesus comes for His Church, they are the Christians who live on this earth and will experience the coming of the Lord for His own. 

Now, what happens to those who do not receive and or reject Jesus Christ as Savior?  Similar to the destiny of believers, the souls/spirits of unbelievers also are to be sent immediately to a temporary holding place, to await their final resurrection, judgment, and sentencing to their eternal destiny. In Luke 16:22-23, Jesus describes a rich man being tormented immediately after death. And Revelation 20:11-15 describes that the unbelieving that are dead are going to be resurrected, judged at the Great White Throne, and then will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. Unbelievers, then, are not sent to the lake of fire, immediately after death, but rather are in a temporary realm of judgment and condemnation. However, even though unbelievers are not instantly sent to the lake of fire, their immediate fate after death is not a pleasant one. The rich man cried out, “I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 16:24).

As we see, after death, a person resides in a “temporary” heaven or hell, until our Lord Jesus Christ makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). After being in this temporary realm, at the final resurrection, a person’s eternal destiny will not change. The precise “location” of that eternal destiny is what changes. Believers will ultimately be granted entrance into the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21:1); while unbelievers will in the end be sent to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). These are the final, eternal destinations of all people—based entirely on whether or not they had trusted Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36). 

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life… for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:24, 28-29). 

Our Lord warned us throughout His ministry to: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). 

The reason we are addressing these statements from Christ is that there is a popular view in many cults and their followers that there is hope for those who did not accept Christ in this life. They teach on a ‘second chance’ after death—such as paying for their sins in purgatory and being cleansed before attaining heaven; which is a lie from Satan himself, or perhaps through reincarnation, another lie from the father of lies. 

Many false prophets also teach that there are many roads to heaven, while Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Another answer is found in Hebrews 9:27 which declares that “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment”.  So as we learn, there is no biblical support whatsoever for the notion of a ‘second chance’ after you die. The only opportunity you will ever have to get right with God is the opportunity God affords you right now while you are still breathing; because once you are dead your fate has been settled for eternity. 

Let’s remember the comforting words Jesus assured His disciples before going to the cross that: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). 

If you know Jesus, you have nothing to fear when death knocks at your door. Death comes to all of us—it will come for you and me one of these days. Do you know Jesus? If so, then you need not live in fear. 

Death is not the end of the road, it is only the beginning. For the believer, death is the doorway to heaven. For the unbeliever, it is a passageway into a horrific suffering forever. 

Remember, that what happens when you die depends on what happens before you die. Therefore, make sure you’re ready, so that when the time comes, you won’t be surprised by what happens next. It is up to you. God offers you the choice. God invites you to come to Him. It is your decision. 

We are praying that you will accept the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers, before it is too late.

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