Paul wrote to the Thessalonians who were concerned about their loved ones who had died in Christ before His return. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15-17 KJV). Paul places dead and living saints with Christ after His coming. A host of preachers place saints with Jesus immediately after their death, skipping the second coming of our Lord and the resurrection of the dead. Paul informed Timothy that his departure from this earth was near. Paul said he had kept the faith and was about to finish his course (2 Tim. 4:6-7). Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8 KJV). Paul taught that the crown of rejoicing for all believers will be at the appearing (coming) of Christ, not at our death. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8 KJV). This text, along with Phil. 1:23, is often quoted to prove that one goes to heaven as soon as we leave this earth life. Listen to Paul just two verses later. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10 KJV). Paul did not teach that folks go to heaven at the point of their death. He taught that we will inherit heaven at the coming of Christ, after the resurrection, and after final judgment (1 Corinthians 15). For those men who boldly proclaim otherwise, please consider something else Paul stated. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:9 KJV).

Peter had to deal with false teachers who had mocked the second coming of our Lord (2 Pet. Chapter 3). Peter mentioned the destruction of the heavens and earth that we presently know that will take place at the Lord’s coming (2 Pet. 3:10-12). Nevertheless we, according to his promlse, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (2 Pet. 3:13-14). The apostle John mentions our enjoyment of the new heaven and new earth as being after the coming of our Lord and the final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15; Rev. 21:1-7).

Over the years I have had conversations with New Testament Christians who longed to leave this earth to escape the suffering in their physical bodies. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them (Rev 14:13). The Christian rests from all earthly labors, physical suffering, and persecution upon death. They are extremely blessed, happy in the Hadean world. Lazarus, the beggar, died and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom after his death (Luke 16:22). Here, in the Hadean world Lazarus was comforted (Luke 16:25). Jesus told the thief on the cross, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The soul of Jesus and the thief went to Hades upon their deaths (Acts 2:27) but Jesus’ soul did not stay there. He was resurrected from the dead on the third day (Acts 2:31-32). Jesus overcame death and now has the keys of hell (Hades) and of death (Rev 1:18). But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)

From “The Brownsville Messenger”, Issue 44, March 2022

TIM FLEEMAN (4/3/2022)

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