The Bible Says, When We Die, We Sleep
The subject of being “asleep in Jesus”, is dealt with in 1 Thess chapter 4. We find these words in Verses 13 & 14;
“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.”
We as Christians, have the “hope”, that after our physical bodies die, that there will be an eternal, spiritual life waiting for us. Our “hope” isn’t just something that we hope is true. It’s something that we KNOW is true. And we know it, by FAITH.
Heb 11:1 tells us; “Now faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
So then our hope, isn’t just a wish, it’s a guarantee from God!
“For if we believe, that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God WILL bring with Him (with Christ) those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
God tells us, in 1 Thess 4, verses 16, 17, & 18, “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.”
Comfort and Encouragement
That is comforting, isn’t it? If we are the Lord’s at His coming, it won’t matter if we’ve died physically, or if we remain. He will gather us ALL together, and we will meet Him in the air, and thus we will ALWAYS be with the Lord.
God said in chapter 5, verses 9 & 10; “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us. That whether we are awake or asleep, we may live with Him.”
And again, He says, in V-11; Therefore, encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you are doing.” So then, comfort one another, encourage one another, and build each other up, with these words.
God affirms what he’s just said here, in 1 Cor 15, verse 51, when he says; “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
Death is Likened to Sleep
Job said in Job 3:11; “Why did I not die at birth? Come forth from the womb and expire? why did the knees receive me, and the breasts, that I should suck? For now, I would have lain down and been quiet. I would have slept then. I would have been at rest.”
King David wrote, in Psalm 139:8; “If I make my bed in sheol, behold, thou art there!” In other words, even if I DIE, the Lord is with me. “If I make my BED, in sheol”. Now there’s a comforting thought; If I am asleep in sheol (if I make my bed there in sheol) or in other words, in hades, God is still there with me. Comfort one another with THOSE words!
The word “asleep” is used 18 times in the new testament, to describe the condition of those who have died. In 1 Thess 4, verse 16, when it says, “..and the dead in Christ shall rise first”, it means that those who have been separated from their physical bodies, shall rise first. That’s what death is.. The separation of the body and the spirit.
A second death is spoken of in Rev 2:11, where it says, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death”. This second death, is the eternal separation of our spirit from God. It’s referred to again in Rev 21:8, which says; “..their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death”. Rev 20:14 tells us; “And death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
Here’s some “good news”. We’re told, in Rev 20, verse 6; “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; Over these, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with Him for a thousand years.”
So there’s a “first resurrection” that will enable us to escape, the second death. The bible is talking about two deaths, and two resurrections. Everyone will experience death, at least once. Hebrews 9:27 says; “It is appointed for men once to die, and after this, the judgment.” But it is NOT appointed for men to die twice. That’s up to us, whether or not we’ll have a part in the second death.
So, what do you think the “first resurrection” is? The resurrection that will cause us to NOT be affected by the second death? There’s only one thing that it could be.
The first resurrection is described in Romans 6, verse 4; “Therefore we have been buried with Him in baptism, into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Our Spirit is IN Christ
When we arise out of baptism, we are resurrected to life again. We had been dead in sin, but now we are born again. When I say that WE were dead in sin, I mean that our spirits were dead in sin. Our spirit is who we are. Our bodies are simply a temporary housing for our spirit. And when we’re resurrected, and “born again”, it’s our spirits that are born again. Our bodies aren’t dead in sin, and our bodies aren’t “born again”. But our spirits ARE born again. We are “born” into Christ. We’re baptized into Christ. That’s what Gal 3:27 tells us. “For all of you who were baptized INTO Christ, have put on Christ.”
When we’re baptized, is it our body that puts on Christ, or is it our spirit that puts on Christ? Your body puts on physical clothing, but your spirit puts on spiritual clothing. Your body can’t be IN Christ, can it? Didn’t Jesus say; “My kingdom is NOT of this world”? John 18:36. How could a physical body, be added to a spiritual kingdom? It can’t be, it’s just that simple. So then it’s our spirits that are IN Christ. It’s our spirit that will be separated from our body in the first death, and it’s our spirit that will be separated from God eternally, IF we experience the second death. But, if we have a part in the “first resurrection”, then the second death will have NO power over us. And while some people WILL suffer a “second death”, and be eternally separated from God, those of us who are among the body of the saved, will enjoy the eternal presence of God.
There’s nothing in this world, that’s worth risking of being separated from God eternally.
The Reign of Christ
“Blessed is the one who has a part in the first resurrection. Over these (over these souls), the second death has NO power. But they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and they shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev 20:6) Of course the “thousand years” spoken of in this verse is a figurative expression. Christ won’t reign for only a thousand years. He will reign eternally! So then that thousand years actually refers to the “fullness” of the reign of Christ. It refers to the entire period of His reign. It’s eternal.
When did Jesus begin His reign? Here’s the vision that the prophet Daniel saw, concerning the reign of Christ. Daniel 7, verses 13 & 14; “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming. And He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented to Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom. That all peoples, nations, and language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away. And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
What this scripture just described, is the view from heaven, of the ascension of Jesus into heaven, and His kingdom being presented to Him. That same scene is described from the viewpoint of His apostles on the earth, when His ascension is described in Acts chapter 1, verses 9-11; “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, And they also said; Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
He’s Coming Again
So then Christ’s reign began when He ascended into heaven, and was given the kingdom. And we’re told there in Acts 1, verse 11, that Jesus will return in the same way in which He left. And that’s what is described in the scripture that we began this study with.. 1 Thess 4: 16-18;
“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.”
Once again, verse 14 had said; “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him, those who have fallen asleep IN Jesus.” Our bodies have never been, and could never be, IN Jesus. It’s our spirits that are IN Jesus, IF we have obeyed the commands of Jesus.
When we experience physical death, our spirits will be asleep, and will be either IN Christ, or NOT in Christ. And verse 13 implies clearly, that those who are NOT in Christ, will have NO hope.
And once again, we’ll look at the words of Paul, in 1 Thess chapter 5, verses 9-11. He’s speaking to the congregation of souls who are IN Christ; “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us. That whether we are awake, or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another , just as you are also doing.”
I hope these words DO comfort you, and encourage you, to make sure that when Christ does some again, that you will have made sure that you are IN Christ.
The bible clearly states that way that we get IN Christ, is to be baptized into Christ.
Galatians 3:27 says; “For all of you who were baptized INTO Christ, have put on Christ.”
Romans 6:3-4 says; “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized INTO Christ, have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been BURIED with Him in baptism, into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Thanks for joining in this study, and I pray for you to be found IN Christ, at the day of judgment. May we all sleep peacefully.
Please be encouraged to leave your comments and questions in the space below.