1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
What happens when we die physically? Do our bodies remain in the ground? What about our souls?
Prophetic truth has a utilitarian reason. It is to condemn the hearts of sinners. It is to empower Christians to holiness, and to provide hope and solace to Christians in the hour of death. This letter was composed to urge Christians to live purified lives while they await the return of Christ.
Why had such a large number of believers died and what might befall them when Christ returned was the question that the Thessalonians asked Paul. Paul needed to clarify that passing was not the end. He writes to explain that they should not feel hopeless. All people grieve and feel sorrow with the passing of a loved one, but we do not have to feel as unbelievers feel. At the point when Christ returns, all Christians will be brought together, alive or dead, and will never have to endure suffering or die a physical death ever again.
Do we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead? As Christians, we should believe Christ arose. And as He is risen, so will we rise from the dead. We must remember that there are three deaths, the physical, the spiritual, and the eternal.
The physical death is to be absent from the body. The body ceases to function. Many believers have and will see a physical death. Spiritual death is of a carnal mind, being separated from God. This is a non-believer's position. The eternal death is to be eternally separated from God.
Paul wrote to invite Christians to comfort and energize each other when a friend or family member passes on. The love that should unite Christians in this life is the love that will join believers at Christ's return.
Each Christian who has died since the hour of Christ until the exact instant He seeks His congregation will be revived. It does not make a difference what condition that body is in; it will be raised and be as He is. Those of us who remain living will be raptured after the dead in Christ have been restored.
We will all meet Christ in the air. What a meeting it will be! As Paul had given comfort to the Thessalonians with the resurrection promise, so should we give each other that same comfort of the great hope.
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