Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Catechism #20

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ when they die?
A. When believers die their souls are made perfectly holy and immediately pass into glory. Their bodies, which are still united to Christ, rest in the grave until the rapture.

What happens to Christians when they die?

This is a question that most people will ponder at some point in life. When we think about a deceased loved one, or even our own mortality, we find ourselves wondering what happens when life ends.

Paul did not want us to be ignorant on this issue. To use his words to the Christians at Thessalonica, who were wrestling with this same topic:

“I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you do not sorrow, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even those also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with them. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-15)

For those who have died in the Lord (sleep), their souls are immediately ushered into the presence of Christ (Hebrews 9:27), but their bodies remain on earth. On that day known as the rapture, their bodies will reunited with their souls in heaven. At this time their bodies will be glorified, free from sickness, fatigue, or death. Paul described those bodies this way:

“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
(1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Paul concluded that passage in 1 Thessalonians by telling believers to comfort each other with those words. Whenever we are brokenhearted or find ourselves missing a loved one, we need to remember that this is not our home, and that heaven awaits us. 

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