Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When Christians Die

Chuckle: A cop to a speeder: "Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."
Quote: "The awful importance of this life is that it determines eternity." --William Barclay

    "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those (Christians) who fall asleep (die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13 NIV).
As Christians, we have the assurance of spending eternity with God in a place the Bible calls Heaven. But before we get to heaven, we must die physically -- that is, unless we remain alive until Jesus returns. Today, we can be comforted by considering death from the Christian perspective.
From the movie, "Forrest Gump," you may remember Forrest standing by the grave of his wife, Jenny. He said, "Mama always told me that dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn't." The prospect of dying isn't an easy concept to deal with, but it is normal and certain for all of us, and we can be comforted by letting God's Word speak to us about it. Most people believe in some kind of life after death, but to many it is a great mystery. The most complete statement on life after death for Christians is found in I Thessalonians 4:13-17. Paul tells us what will happen and how.
The Greek word for death simply means "separation." The word does not express finality. It is the separation of soul from body when our physical life on earth is ended. What happens between physical death and the resurrection? We can call this the "disembodied state." Our mortal bodies are in the grave, but our eternal spirit is at home with the Lord. Paul writes about this in 2 Corinthians 5:1-9. We know from Scripture that:
          1. We will be alive and awake. Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:26). The clearest teaching on this is in Luke 16:22-23, where, after his death, we see Lazarus alive and conscious in Abraham's bosom, while the rich man was tormented.
          2. We will be at home at last. In I Thessalonians 4:14, we are told that when the Lord returns, He will bring with Him those believers who have (died) fallen asleep. In Philippians 1:21-22, Paul tells us that to die is "to be present with Christ." "To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
          3. We will be in paradise. Jesus told the dying thief on the cross, "Today, you will be with me in paradise." This is sometimes referred to as the "Third Heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:4). The Jews believed in three heavens: (a) where the birds fly; (b) where the sun and moon are; and (c) where God is. We see the first by day, the second by day and night, and the third by faith. We will be in God's presence. That is paradise.
          4. We will be at rest (Revelation 14:13. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor." "Blessed" means "happy," or "fortunate." "Rest" does not mean inactivity, but a time of refreshment. Our spirits will be active and refreshed in the Lord's presence.
So, you see, Christians should not necessarily relish death, but we should have no fear of it. If we allow our faith in God's promises to remove our fear of death, an extra dimension of joy will be added to our lives here on earth.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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