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Chapter 14 - Where Christians go after death

Paul tells the Corinthians that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We can see a further picture of this condition when Paul describes a future event (called the rapture).

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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 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 Thessalonians 4:13-17

What is described is a future event where Jesus will appear in the atmosphere to collect those that are his. He brings with him those Christians which 'sleep' in Jesus (Christians who have physically died). It is at this point that we will receive new bodies.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. - 1 John 3:2

Those who receive Christ have a much better fate than those who reject him.

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: - 2 Timothy 1:10

Those who receive Jesus also receive eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. - Romans 6:23

There is an administrative function for 'saints' (holy ones) during the future millennial kingdom.

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? - 1 Corinthians 6:2

This may apply to those of Israel who took part in the 'first resurrection'.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. - Revelation 20:4

There is also a comment about 'judging angels'.

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? - 1 Corinthians 6:3

It is unclear as to if the 'we' includes all resurrected believers or just the 'saints'. It is also unclear as to if these are good angels for reward, or bad angels for punishment.

We are told that believers will be judged for rewards based on works.

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. - 1 Corinthians 3:13-15

Regardless of the rewards a Christian may receive, he will always be with the Lord. Those who trust in Christ now have the opportunity to become part of the 'body of Christ'. We may not fully understand, or even be capable of understanding, what this means.

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. - Ephesians 5:30

However, Christians have the assurance that we will always be with Jesus.

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 Thessalonians 4:17


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