Q: Dear Pastor,
Do some people lie in their graves and wait for the rapture?
A: Thank you for asking a question I wondered about for years until I found my answer in scripture (below.) Many people have a hard time connecting the dots regarding the timing of our natural deaths versus Jesus’ return to rescue (rapture) all of his believers on earth: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17, KJV).
That famous scripture written by the Apostle Paul is interpreted in numerous ways. Yet the general understanding speaks of a day known only to God, when Jesus returns to gather up all the people throughout human history who have chosen Christ as their savior. (Even the folks who died before Christ was ever born had this opportunity to receive him as their savior, on the day of his crucifixion, according to Ephesians chapter four.) Christ’s return, also called the “Second Coming,” is promised and prophesied in at least nine books of the New Testament. It has a certain protocol to it: the dead believers rise first; then those who are still living rise second; then everyone meets altogether with Jesus in the air and follows him to their eternal resting place in heaven.
However, what doesn’t seem to be addressed is the idea of where all those millions of believers are, as they lie in death’s repose, waiting for that wonderful day. Are they trapped in crypts and mausoleums or in boxes of ash upon mantles? Are they stuck in fossilized carbon deep in the earth somewhere? My own dad didn’t want to be cremated because he insisted on resting comfortably in a padded, satin-lined box until the great day arrives. (I think my mother and I may have finally convinced him that he won’t care where he is, he’ll be dead.) Thankfully scripture has an answer for us: “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, NLV). We surmise from this beautiful line of verse that as soon as our spirit leaves our body, we instantaneously go home to Jesus.
We are not to assume, however, that we forfeit our day of judgement. All people must still appear before God at a certain moment at the end of the world to receive our just rewards in accordance with the lives we have lived here on earth (Revelation 20:12). So when we hear people refer to the idea of storing up treasure in heaven, it must give us pause. Every time our words, our thoughts, our actions honor the savior Jesus, we’re sending up the materials needed to build our eternal home with Christ in heaven. When our lives become a testimony to the saving grace of Jesus the King, he prepares a place for us with him.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information on Pastor Adrienne, or to purchase her book, “Ask Pastor Adrienne: 100 Best-loved Columns,” please visit www.adriennewgreene.com.
Ask Pastor Adrienne: Are we stuck in the grave waiting for Christ?
Q: Dear Pastor,