First in Line!
by Pr. Dave Mann
What happens to believers who die before the return of Jesus, before the resurrection of the dead, and the reuniting of our spirits with our new, incorruptible bodies? In Philippians 1, Paul writes about “remaining in the flesh” or “departing to be with Christ.” In 2 Corinthians 5, he writes about being separated from his “earthly tent,” the body.
But in 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul is talking about the resurrection of the physical bodies of those who have slept (died) in faith. This is the resurrection of the dead, believers being given new, incorruptible bodies. See also 1 Corinthians 15.
Who gets to be in the presence of Christ first in this state of having a new body imbued with our spirit, fully sanctified from sin? It is those who have died in faith; it is they who will ascend and meet Jesus in the air first. Then, those who are still alive on earth will ascend and join the party.
The plan for our eternal life in the presence of God is NOT to have “unclothed” spirits (2 Cor 5:4), but rather to have our spirits clothed in new bodies. What will these new bodies be like? We don’t have all of our questions, such as this one, answered completely, but it will be great. Read Philippians 1, 2 Corinthians 5, and 1 Corinthians 15 to whet your appetite. We know for sure that the Lord has good things in store for us.
Billy Graham was once asked about the nature of our new bodies and of our activities in heaven. Graham immediately admitted that he would like to have more information about such questions than what the Bible supplies. But then, he confessed that his imagination sometimes gets turned loose -- that he has imagined that our new bodies might have the capacity of traveling at the speed of thought – that we might think about a place and arrive there instantly! Graham imagined that we might be dispatched by the Lord to new worlds to bring the good news of God’s love to new galaxies and species of God’s creation.
At any rate, I am very much looking forward to being part of that great party in the sky, when the dead in Christ get to be first in line and we, should the Lord Jesus return during our lifetime, will come in the second wave. What a day!
Lord Jesus, thank you for the promise of new, incorruptible bodies. We look forward to the day of your return and our resurrection. Amen! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.