A post I wrote last week sparked friendly, spirited debate. One word–“gather“– in our post When DO we get to heaven? triggered thoughtful comments.
A few readers believe all the Saints will gather in the sky and wait awhile before they get to enter heaven. Others believe that we’re united with Jesus at the moment we die–like the thief on the cross (Jesus told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”)
That debate, for me, begs the question, “Who are the dead in Christ?”
A verse in the song, Midnight Cry answers that question for me.
When Jesus steps out
On a cloud and calls God’s children
the dead in Christ shall rise
to meet him in the air
And then those that remain
Will be quickly changed [the rapture–my note]
At the midnight cry (at the midnight cry)
When Jesus comes again.
Songs are not authoritative biblical proof. But the verse comes from Scripture in 1 Thessalonians that seals the deal for me.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For 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 the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. [the rapture–my note] Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We know we can’t justify any of our beliefs by taking scripture out of context. But other passages–Matthew 24 for instance–and Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching on heaven make a pretty strong case for the verse in Midnight Cry and the 1 Thessalonians passages.
What do you think?