Soul Sleep and the Rapture
I am visiting my 88 and 89 year old parents in Seattle. They are amazing Christians! However, even a lifetime of study does not give you all the understanding we need. We are specifically stuck on one verse:
1 Thes. 4:16, “When the Lord returns, the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
We are told at every funeral that when a Christian dies, he is immediately in Heaven. This verse in Thesalonians, however, seems to contradict that. It seems to indicate that after the Christian dies, the soul waits for the Rapture to return to Heaven.
Can you please clarify this verse, and what happens to a Christian at death?
This question is fairly common and understandable. It seems on the surface that the verse you quoted supports what is called “soul sleep” and there are many that believe just that. That the soul remains with the body until the rapture.
But we should be careful not to base our doctrine on a single verse of scripture. We need the whole counsel of God.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Believe it or not, the bible does not spend many words on the life to come. The emphasis is always on the life we live here. That is what we should concern ourselves, a life well lived unto the Lord.
Pastor Paul Holt