1 Corinthians 15:51 - 52
ESV - 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
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The Bible is plain. Take your exhaustive concordance. Look up the word "sleep." God likens death to sleep. Unconscious sleep. The apostle Paul said in I Cor. 15 that if there be NO resurrection, that it is impossible to retrieve those who have "died in Christ." They are gone. He even uses the word "perished." How does God get them back? When Christ returns, He promises to resurrect the "dead in Christ" -- true Christians who are -- as Paul tells us in I Thess. 4 "asleep." Your question in I Cor. 15 we shall not ALL sleep -- means SOME of us will still remain and be alive unto the coming of the Lord. Then WE won't die. We will simply be changed and "raptured" or caught up to meet Christ at His coming! But if Christ does NOT come in our lifetime, we will fall asleep. Die. Keith Slough, minister
The answer supplied by Mr Keith Slough is appreciated. But I feel there is need for an expansion! Paul was speaking about the heavenly or the better, or the earlier, or the first resurrection. See Phillipian 3:11. This applies to the " saints of God". These are those referred to in Revelation : "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 NKJV) Apostle Paul is evidently among those to enjoy the first or the earlier or heavenly resurrection. However, when Paul, as well as an unknown number of other Annointed Christians died, they were left to be in the death condition, in the grave, for a long time. They slept in death, until the time came in God's time table for them to be resurrected to heavenly life to take their reward. We may not be bothered now about when that time was. But after that time arrived, and Paul and others were resurrected (or "raptured") to heaven, any of the remaining members of spiritual Israelites, anointed Christians, who dies is not left to sleep in death" as the group that Paul belonged; rather, they are immediately " raptured" to heaven. The words of Revelation hereby quoted applies to them:: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them (Revelation 14:12 - 14:13 NKJV). These ones are those who are not to sleep in death, as they immediately resurrect to heavenly life as soon as their earthly course ends. Of course, the second resurrection, that is resurrection to earthly life is still in the future. Bible characters awaiting such a resurrection include Noah, Abraham, David, Job, Moses, and an untold number of faithful followers of Jesus Christ up to our day.
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