January 30

These verses in Philippians 1:22-24 New Century Version are sometimes thought to prove Paul believed he would go directly to be with Jesus in heaven after he died. This account doesn’t say Paul would be going to heaven, only that when he left this life he would be with Jesus. We would have to assume Paul would be going directly to heaven once dead, being there with his next thought.

22 If I continue living in my body, I will be able to work for the Lord. I do not know what to choose—living or dying. 23 It is hard to choose between the two. I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is much better, 24 but you need me here in my body.

The Bereans didn’t make assumptions about their faith. They studied the scriptures to prove the truth. Let’s look to see what Paul knew would happen after death. Here in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 in the New Century Version we find Paul describing the sequence of events that will happen as Christians are resurrected at the return of Jesus. Paul anticipated being included in this event, not bypassing it.

14 We believe that Jesus died and that he rose again. So, because of him, God will raise with Jesus those who have died. 15 What we tell you now is the Lord’s own message. We who are living when the Lord comes again will not go before those who have already died. 16 The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive will be gathered up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever.

The death and resurrection process Jesus went through is the template God will use for us. We will die, wait for a period of time, then we will be raised back to life. Some believers will be in their graves longer than others with the passage of time but not all believers will die. Some will be alive when Christ returns with the trumpet blast. The dead will be resurrected first. Then those who are still alive will transform instantly and follow, all at the second coming of Jesus event. What do you know about the resurrection of the saints? How do these verses blend in with your beliefs? If they don’t, how do you explain their contradictory teaching?