Monday, July 11, 2011

*BEST OF DTB #96* "The wages of sin is death"

In a very recent article, I answered some questions regarding the false rapture doctrine. One more question has arisen and I thought it appropo to deal with it as a second post.

My friend wants to know how to reconcile 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16* For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

With Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[Emphasis mine]

An excellent question.

First, let's explore the context.

Regarding the verses in 1 Thessalonians 4, they refer to the second coming and the last day, that is the Great White Throne Judgement. (Revelation 20:11-15). John 6 tells us quite clearly that the dead in Christ will rise from the grave on the last day.

However, it isn't just the dead in Christ. All the dead bodies will rise from the grave.

John 5:28-29

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”

So, at that point, there IS no more death, in the earthly understanding. At this point, there is only eternity. Eternity in Heaven or Eternity in hell. The Bible is clear that the dead cannot rise from the grave before Jesus returns and the alive cannot rise up to meet Him until the dead have risen first.

When this occurs, all of the people who have ever lived will be divided into two groups- the saved and the doomed. Those who did God's will and those who did not.

Matthew 25

31* "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32* Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34* Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35* for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 40* And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 41* Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46* And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Physical death is the normal transition for us from this world to eternity. The Bible records at least two persons (Enoch and Elijah) as having gone straight to heaven (and I would add two others) but that is a article for another day.

For most of us, there will be 2 judgements;
  1. The particular Judgement. This occurs between You and Jesus and will occur at the moment of your death. Your soul will then go to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory (Yes, some will go there temporarily, we can discuss it later)
  2. The General Judgement (spoken above). You will be judged along with all mankind. Your body will be raised and reunited with your soul and both will go to heaven or hell. Earth and Purgatory will pass away.

This will be the case for everyone who dies from now until the second-to-last day.

For those fortunate (or unfortunate) souls who are still alive on the last day, they will pass straight from this life to both Judgements and will, that day, be in Heaven or Hell, Body and Soul.

This is why there is no contradiction between Jesus saying we will be raised on the last day and saying to the Good Thief "This day you will be with me in paradise".

I welcome more questions!

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