2 Corinthians 5:8 – Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Many years after the death of my Grandpa George, history repeated itself when my wife Grace got a call shortly after Christmas that her dad was dying. We were out of state on vacation at the time and hurried to the hospital to say our goodbyes.
Our five children had a lot of questions about the death of their grandpa Gib, most of them the same ones I had with my Grandpa George. In the days surrounding his death, we had some amazing and hopeful conversations.
Grandpa Gib was a pastor who loved Jesus and spent most of his life ministering to hurting people. So, we gave them the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
First, we told them that, after dying, Grandpa Gib had everything not only get better but become perfect because “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).
Second, we told them that Grandpa Gib was hanging out with Jesus Christ, his favorite Person because to be “away from the body” is to be “at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Third, we told them that my Grandpa George and their Grandpa Gib were probably hanging out as friends having fun.
Fourth, we told them that one day there would be a huge family reunion when Jesus returns to give us perfect health in a resurrected body to live forever in a world filled with peace, joy, and sunshine together since “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
The Bible says that believers should grieve, but not like unbelievers who have no hope because our hope is in the risen Christ Jesus! (1 Thessalonians 4:13) So, we grieved as a family, thanked God for the memories with our grandpas, and had fun imagining what eternity will be like at the family reunion.
One of the kids asked if they could play whiffle ball with the grandpas. Another asked if the grandpas could take them swimming and buy them ice cream. Since none was a sin, I told them that sounded like a good thing to look forward to. We explained that, after resurrection, we would all be happy living in a Kingdom made up by brothers and sisters from across the nations enjoying sunshine every day.
Hilariously, one of the kids said, “So heaven is basically like California!” We chuckled, thought about it for a moment, and said yes but only it’s better because it has similar weather but none of the taxes or politics.
The new Christians Paul writes 1-2 Thessalonians to had a lot of questions about Heaven and Hell. We will answer a few of these questions over the next few days. For those who have the same kind of questions, the book Doctrine: It’s All About Jesus! I co-wrote with Dr. Gerry Breshears has a special 10-year greatly revised version that is a comprehensive, yet readable, series of answers to big Bible questions (1).
Have any of your friends or family died who loved Jesus? Take heart and be encouraged that, though you miss them, they’re having the best day ever spending time with Jesus.
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