Going and Coming
"Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11, NIV)
Some time ago, one of the Native brothers asked me if I could clarify his confusion about life after death and the end of time. He admitted he’d been hearing a variety of things but couldn’t quite fit them all together. So, we dug into God’s Word and here is what we found.
When a believer dies, Scripture says that they go to be with Christ. Jesus said to the dying thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paul the apostle used the very same language when he admitted to the Philippians, “I want to depart (i.e., die) and be with Christ, which is far better” (v. 1:23). When we die, we too will go to “be with Christ.” We will hear His voice, see His face, feel His embrace and never be separated from Him again!
The Scriptures also teach that, not only are we going to be with Christ, but He is also coming back to earth and to all who remain alive at His return. Shortly before His death, Jesus told His disciples, “all the nations of the earth … will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather the elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:30f).
Paul relayed this good news in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till 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. Then we who are still alive will … meet the Lord in the air” (vv. 4:15-17).
At that time, not only will those who have died in Christ receive their new, glorified bodies, but in a flash, all believers who are still living will be changed and have bodies like the risen Jesus! (1 Corinthians 15:50f, Philippians 3:20f.)
Lord, thank You that we are going to be with You when we die. Thanks also that You are coming back to earth to make all things new! Amen.
- Rev. Mark Peske, Bemidji, Minnesota
Read stories from our associate ministry in Minnesota and the Leech Lake Reservation.