What Happens to Loved Ones Who Die Before Jesus Returns?

1 Thessalonians 4:14 – For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

The new Christians in Thessalonica were struggling with the same things we are. They had a corrupt government, bankrupt culture, enemies and critics, and as new Christians, a lot of questions. 

One question they had was what happened to believing family and friends who had died before the Second Coming of Jesus? We’ve all lost people we care about, and their passing opens up a lot of questions. 

Paul says that believers who die before Jesus returns are not “dead” but rather “asleep”. His analogy is that their body is laying in the ground like our body sleeps at night, and that their soul has gone to be with the Lord until the soul and body are rejoined at the resurrection. 

Paul explains that Jesus will descend from His Heavenly throne, along with His angelic army, and believers will rise from the dead as Jesus rose from death. Paul says that knowing about Jesus’ Second Coming and how history will end allows believers to “encourage one another with these words” (4:18). 

To encourage someone is to pour courage into them. When we know that there is eternal life, we know that, if our life here was not that great, when we die, life really begins. If we suffer in this life, we know that we will be rewarded forever in Jesus’ Kingdom. If we were sick or unhealthy in this life, we know that we will be completely healed forever one day. If we miss loved ones who have gone Home, we have a forever reunion to look forward to. 

All of this should encourage us and pour courage into us to live this life fully and freely for Jesus! 

Who do you know who loves Jesus and has died? Be encouraged that they’re having the best days of their lives and that you’ll see them again! Who can you pray for to know Jesus so you can be reunited in Heaven one day?

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