Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Do Our Loved Ones Go to Heaven Immediately?

One of the questions I am often asked has to do with the death of loved ones. Here is a recent example from an email we received:

Q. "I was wondering how I could find out the meaning of when the Rapture happens the dead in Christ shall rise. It is my understanding that when my son died as a Christian he immediately was in the presence of the Lord. But when I hear the other I am confused. Can you explain that to me? Thank you so much." -N.E.

Excerpts from my response: The Bible teaches that the believer who dies today goes immediately into the presence of God. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and [what?] to be present [where?] with the Lord.” A believer who dies goes into the very presence of the Lord.

In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul said, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart [Where??? Into the ground until the resurrection? No. He says “having a desire to depart…] and be with Christ, which is far better." Paul realized that death would mean he would go to “be with Christ.”

Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross in Luke 23:43, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me [where?] in Paradise." Where is Paradise? Revelation 2:7 tells us that Paradise in the presence of God.

When the Bible speaks of the dead in Christ rising (1 Thess. 4:16) it is speaking of their bodies being resurrected and reunited with their perfected spirits who have been with the Lord since the time of their death. So yes, you can rest assured your son is with the Lord right now. At the Rapture of the church, we who are alive shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and at the same time, the graves are going to be opened and the "dead in Christ" (a reference to believers who have died before this event) will be resurrected and there is going to be one happy reunion...a reunion that will never end. We look forward to this glorious time! Lord come quickly. Hope this helps you sister. God bless you.