Absent From the Body, Present With the Lord

“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

Two questions sometimes trouble believers:

What happens to believers when they die?

Why does God keep us here after we believe?

The Bible provides the answer to the first question in the two verses above. When Christians depart this life, they go to be with Christ, something the Apostle Paul calls “far better.” Death has lost its sting, and the “king of terrors” has been reduced to a blessed translation: When we die, we go to be with Christ. Knowing this brings us great comfort and peace. We also draw comfort about the fate of believers who have passed on before us. The Bible describes saints in heaven as the church of the firstborn (Hebrews 12:23). Some have called these saints the witnesses of Hebrews 12:1 who have departed from this world. They cheer us on and look forward to a grand reunion with us.

The second question addresses our role between our salvation and death. What should we do while we wait for our translation to heaven? Again, the Bible explains:

“But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Philippians 1:24).

God leaves us here to “occupy” until He comes or until He takes us home. To occupy does not mean to simply take up space. God calls us to active service and to use our spiritual gifts for His glory and to help others. We should serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13) and serve the Lord (Romans 12:11).

Application

1. Comfort one another with the promise and hope of life forevermore with Christ.
Too often we cling to worldly hope or false delusions. Instead we should place our hope fully in Christ and His reward when He returns (1 Peter 1:13). Such hope lifts our sagging hearts and moves us to fervent service for the Lord.

2. Make use of your life now.
If God lacked a reason to keep you here, He would remove you in a moment. But He left us here to serve Him. When Jesus was on earth, He could only serve those in His physical locale. But now His bride, the church, serves Him around the world and in every era. When we use our time, treasure and talents for God, we demonstrate what it means to wait for His return.

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