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Asleep in Christ – Friday Q&A

In Flight
In Flight

Welcome to Friday Q&A

Today, I am thrilled to share a question from our good friend Debbie. Here it is in her own words.

Hi Mr. Ben! I’ve been reading in 1 Thessalonians and wondered if you could talk about vs 4:13-18. It’s where Paul talks about the dead in Christ rising first. I was just a little confused. Is he talking about their physical bodies, since wouldn’t they already be with Jesus? Thanks for your help! God bless you!

Here’s the text:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

So – I thought Friday Q&A was going to be easy – LOL

First, I have to thank you Deb for bringing me to this scripture today (Monday). A dear young woman we have been praying for over the last couple years as she fought a wicked cancer went home to be with the Lord today, leaving behind her husband and four beautiful young children, as well as her extended family, and her family of faith. It has been a sad day.

Sad because she will be so terribly missed. Sad because her kids face a tough adolescence and their teens without her daily tender care, and for so many more reasons.

But today was also a joyous day. In the words that her 13-year-old son wrote on her medical chart “Today there will be rejoicing in heaven” (as I heard it.)

So I am glad you brought us here Deb.

To the question let’s break it down:

In Paul’s writings this idea of being asleep in Jesus is not about sleeping through the sermon on Sunday morning. It is referring to those who have passed from this life, through the door of death, into the presence of the Lord.

We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

That said, he (Paul) does use this idea of asleep in the Lord a lot.

Let me give one more disclaimer there. There are lots of strong opinions about end times. I used to be really dogmatic about a “Pre-Trib” rapture, but since, have seen a good many other wonderful interpretations of these somewhat enigmatic scriptures.

So if what I say here does not line up with your understanding – that’s ok – you can share yours as long as you follow the rules below.

Here goes. (buckle on your thinking helmet so we can bounce some ideas around)

God – heaven – the throne room – all that great stuff is outside of time, or at the very least works on a different schedule

That is why we get things like – Jesus, the lamb slain before the foundations of the earth

That’s why on Isaiah’s day in the throne room in Isaiah 6, he overhears God asking for volunteers in the Godhead to redeem mankind.

That’s why John at age 90ish witnesses the scene of Jesus making His grand entrance into heaven and offering His blood to the Father in Revelation 5 at which time John sees you and I among the 10,000 times 10,000s around the throne.

When a believer dies – he/she is with the Lord. I don’t know for sure if that is instantaneous, or millennium forward, or perhaps millennium backwards. I don’t know if we will be conscious of a time (well - is it time?) before our body is resurrected, or if we get plucked out of time for a period and hang out in heaven as spirit beings. (I pick this one)

There will come a day and a time, when everyone (every Christian) who has not seen an earthly death will be taken up. This is commonly called the rapture. Call it what you want, those who have not tasted death will be called out of what we know now, into what lies ahead. At this time God will add bodies to those who got a head start. I don't know if that is the first trumpet call, the last call, or if they are both the same trumpet call, but when the trumpet blows - I am out'a here.

I believe this all take place shortly before the ultimate worship service John sees. Where the elders throw down their crowns, and we all worship God, and He presents His dearest and most precious son to all creation. I believe we will all be eye witnesses to Jesus presenting His blood to the Father. One translation of the event in heaven in Revelation 5 say "and I saw a lamb having the fresh marks of slaughter." This is the pivotal moment in all of history, and you and I will be there in person!

Much of what is confusing about God, heaven, eternity, and all of that get’s easier to hold loosely if you consider that God is not bound by time as we know it. Time is a creation, like matter, and so it does not have the same kind of impact on God as it does on us.

In our world God works with time, but in His – I don’t know – maybe not.

What do you all think? Is that just a little too Sci-Fi for you? Forgive me.

This one thing I know – Jesus is not just the key figure in human history, He is the central figure of eternity. [Tweet This]

Thanks again for the question Deb. Did that help, or did your head explode?

Join in the conversation – just remember the rules:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon


15 thoughts on “Asleep in Christ – Friday Q&A

  1. Larry Carroll

    Hey Ben,

    This is really profound:
    Jesus is not just the key figure in human history, He is the central figure of eternity.
    Thanks. I'd call that Tweet-worthy. (No, I don't have a Twitter account.)


  2. Heidi Viars

    Thanks, Ben, for your inspiring thoughts!
    I believe that when we die a physical death here on earth, our spirit will be with the Lord immediately (2 Cor. 5:8 as you pointed out) ... our bodies however, will be in a holding place (asleep) ... I believe that at one point (probably when Jesus comes back) we will receive new bodies (1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.)
    thanks so much for motivating me to think this morning about heaven and the hope we have ... I think we all will be so very surprised by our Father's goodness to us 🙂
    Blessings to you, brother

    1. Ben Nelson

      Heidi - How did you manage to do that in one paragraph - good job! I am really pleased that you added 1 John 3:2 - one of my all time fav. verses! I am convinced that as you say it has future implications, but it also speaks to be that as we see Jesus today, in His word, in the acts of a brother or sister, His hand, we grow more like Him.

      I often approach scripture reading and study just that way - Lord - help me to behold wondrous things out of your word (ps 119:18) Jesus is Wonderful - so - help me see Jesus in your word today - and that will bring me to more Christlikeness.

      Ah - there i go rambling again.
      anyway Heidi, thanks for joining the conversation,


  3. Larry Who

    This is a subject where people have lots of strong opinions, but it's one where I have a thimbleful of knowledge. I'll follow along from a distance.

  4. livinginobscurity

    pondering... and intrigued where some of my thoughts are going on this. I have never seen the need to ponder this before, but I am kind of excited about it. It is way to long to post where my pondering is taking me, but something is coming together in my head that coincides and confirms things God is showing me. I need to marinate in this one awhile. Thanks for setting my heart and mind to ponder! 🙂

    1. Ben Nelson

      hey - if you at some point post on it, put a link in here (if you remember.) my hope is that this becomes a resource for folks with questions.

  5. bennetta faire

    Next to your Song of Songs posts, I love these Q and A Fridays best--it's fun to hear the questions, and answers. Honestly, I don't care a whole lot about all the theories-theological and opinions--what I'm hanging onto is that, wherever and whenever, the moment I die I'm gonna be with Jesus. And if I'm raptured, all the better. But He's gonna be holding my hand--just in case it gets a little sci-fi scary for me. God bless you BIG--Cj

    1. Ben Nelson

      Amen - that is pretty much what i have come down too. i used to have great theories, but found out that they were becoming excuses for my own misbehavior in some area or another - either not caring for people, or not planning for the future, or some other stupid stuff.

      i have found that Loving on God and those he puts in my path is a much better pass time.

      See you kiddo - glad you like the Q&A - i was not sure how it would work out.

  6. Debbie

    Thank you, Mr. Ben! I thought you did a great job with this question and really liked the sci-fi time talk! 🙂 I'm am okay too, with whatever happens, trusting and knowing that He's got me, no matter what. God bless you, Mr. Ben, and praying too, for His comfort and peace during this time of loss of a friend, mother, wife, sister, and daughter.


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