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Questions – DOES A BELIEVER’S BODY GO TO HEAVEN?


Thank you for your question: WHEN A BELIEVER (CHRISTIAN) DIES, DOES HIS BODY GO TO HEAVEN OR TO THE GRAVE?

The body goes to the grave.

When the Lord returns, Paul describes what will happen in what may well be the first Epistle he wrote.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)

What he says in 1 Corinthians 15:35-54 supplements the above:

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable [that is, it goes back to the dust from whence it came – see Ecclesiastes 12:7], it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body…. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

As we look at these two (rather lengthy) passages together, I believe we see this sequence.

· A believer (saint) dies, or as Paul put it, falls “asleep in Jesus.”

· He is “planted” as his body is buried to await the coming of the Lord.

· When the Lord returns, He will come with a shout and with the voice of the archangel.

· At that time, the dead will be raised in a new, spiritual body.

· Those who remain alive when the Lord comes will be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

· Together we will meet the Lord in the air and ever be with Him in our glorified bodies.

These passages do not speak of the judgment and separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. Presumably that will occur before the final departure to be with the Lord.

There is nothing to suggest our mortal bodies will ever be with Christ in the everlasting kingdom of God in glory without first having been changed. This change will come when the Lord returns to judge the living and the dead.

I trust that reflection on the above Scripture passages will solve your question.

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