Just attended the funeral of a dear Christian friend… and wondered “What happens to Christians after they die anyway?”

It’s uncanny how very often my Bible reading for the day during “Coffee with the Lord” relates directly to events and circumstances in my life and in the lives of others I know! That happened again today…
I just returned from attending the funeral of a dear friend, Dr. James Barnes, former dean of students and academic dean at Southwester Assemblies of God University where I served for 30 years. Dr. Barnes was a godly icon and anchor at the University for many years. I had the privilege of following him as dean of students at the University. Today I heard the wonderful tributes to this great man from his family, friends and colleagues… Later today, Dr. Barnes will be buried.
Whenever I attend a funeral of a wonderful Christian like this, although I know and believe what the Bible says about death and what happens to those who die, I find myself wondering, “What is death really like? What will the future be like for those who have died? What can I know about it? What can I depend upon?”
Well the passage I read today answers some of those questions with resounding authority! In the passage Apostle Paul claims to inform us about what will happen to those who have died. He claims that his message will keep us from grieving like those who don’t know and trust the Lord and have no hope beyond the grave! He asserts that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus has significance for those who have died. He declares there is a resurrection and “rapture” [a great “catching away] beyond the grave! In fact, he claims he received this encouraging message by a direct revelation from God – “a word from the Lord.” And he urges that we use his words “to comfort one another!” Here’s what he said in His own words…
“We do not want you to be uninformed about those who are asleep [have died], that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep [have died]. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God! And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words!” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 ESV)
I’m sure questions like the ones Apostle Paul have run through your mind, as they have mine, after a Christian friend or family member you love and cherish has died. Death is not the final word! One day the trumpet will sound, we’ll hear the life-giving proclamation of our Lord and the archangel, and it will happen! – Resurrection and “Rapture!” Sure am glad I read my Bible today – ya know what I mean!

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