It is true that if the Lord tarries long enough, every one of us will die. But for those of us who are in Christ, death is not the end. Rather, death ushers us into an eternal life with Christ. Accordingly, a number of places in the Bible refers to the death of believers in Christ as “sleep.” At His coming, Christ will awaken us to meet Him in the air!
In Paul the apostle’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he writes, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep….” (1 Thess. 4: 13a). Why? “That you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (v. 13b). Clearly, those whom he refers to as having no hope are those who are not in Christ.
The truth is that this life is not the end for anyone. According to the Bible, all of us will spend eternity somewhere after this life. It will be either in hell or with the Lord. But let’s remove the discussion on hell for the sake of this post. Hope, as used in the verse above, denotes a positive expectation. The point is that Christ is the only means of a positive expectation beyond this life.
Paul goes on to write about the return of our Lord Jesus. On that day, in the twinkling of an eye, every bona fide believer will be gathered to the Lord. We refer to this as the rapture of the church. The Bible says that the dead in Christ will rise first (verse 16). Then those who are alive in Christ at His coming will ascend to meet them in the air.
This hope that we have in Christ should radically change our perspective on life. For instance, when I think about death, I don’t think about it as some dark ending. Before I knew Christ I did. But now I think of death in terms of the eternity that I will spend with the Lord. I have no idea what eternity is going to be like. But just from what has been revealed in the Scriptures, this current life will pale in comparison to what awaits us!
I believe preachers should preach more about the rapture. Doing so will result in a less terminal view about death. Sure we will all depart this life if the Lord tarries. But death is not the end but the means to a new beginning. We should find it comforting to know that we have such great hope beyond this current life. So I close with these words of Paul the apostle, “Comfort one another with these words” (verse 18).
Copyright © 2015 by Frank King. All rights reserved.