After we physically die, that is not the end for us. Death is merely the next step in a journey towards eternity. Eternity will either be spent with the Lord or cast away from Him in outer darkness. For some, death will be a blessing but for others, death will be a punishment. This is part 3 of a 4-part series of studies that we are doing on life after death. Be sure to read the first 2 parts of this series if you have not done so already.
In part 1, we studied about heaven and hell both being real. We also learned about where the souls of both the righteous and unrighteous went during Old Testament days. In part 2, we studied about the purpose of Christ and what His death and resurrection changed for the righteous soul. We know now that the righteous soul goes to rest in heaven with Christ.
We are going to continue the journey in our study today. Before we start, let us remember that God created mankind for the purpose of dwelling with mankind. Sadly mankind sinned in the garden and because of that sin, God would have to put off dwelling with mankind. You see, we became an imperfect creation and the Creator, who is perfect, would not dwell with sin. God still wants to dwell with His creation but we must become perfect again to be able to dwell with Him.
The Promises Made
God made a promise to mankind and He is not one to break His promises. I referenced this scripture in the first part of this series to show that heaven is a real place. I want to reference this scripture again to show you what the Lord has promised those who believe in Him.
2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.John 14:2-3 NKJV
Not only does the Lord tell us that heaven is a real place, but He promises to come again to receive (get) us and take us to that place to be with Him. Many people confuse this coming with the second coming of Christ, but this is not the second coming of Christ. Scholars and believers refer to this event as the rapture of the church (the genuine believers). There will be a second coming of Christ, but this is not that event – we will look at that event in the next part.
I want you to also notice that Jesus promises, “that where I am, there you may be also”. This sounds like a romance novel in a way when you think about it. I like to think of this promise as a promise of heavenly marriage. Jesus essentially says that when He comes to get us, we will never be apart from one another. This, again, points out that the Lord still wants to dwell with us and He wants to do so eternally – not temporarily.
Someone may ask, how do you know that this wedding is going to take place? How do you know that God is going to marry the church? We will use scripture to answer this question. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast.
The parable of the wedding feast
Let’s take a quick look at this parable.
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,Matthew 22:1-2 NKJV
The certain king represents God the Father, and the king’s son is representative of Jesus Christ.
3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the weddingMatthew 22:3 NKJV
; andthey were not willing to come.
The servants that were sent out were the prophets who spoke on behalf of the Lord in the Old Testament days. We should also note that the invited ones mentioned in this scripture were the children of Israel. The Israelites often spurred the Lord and His Law.
4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.Matthew 22:4-6 NKJV
The Lord would repeatedly send prophets to the children of Israel who would often choose to continue serving idol gods or even murder the prophets.
7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.Matthew 22:7 NKJV
The Babylonians laid waste to Jerusalem due to the sins of the people.
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.Matthew 22:8-10 NKJV
The wedding was made ready when Christ was born into the world, died for our sins, and then rose from the grave with all power in His hands. A great invitation was then sent out into the highways (to the Gentiles) for everybody to come to this great wedding. The apostles began to share the gospel with everybody – Jews and Gentiles.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’Matthew 22:11-14 NKJV
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
The wedding hall was filled with all types of people, good and bad, and we also see that some of the people were not dressed in the right attire. Notice what happened to those who were not dressed in the right. The king has his servants bind them and thrown out of the wedding.
As this wedding is representative of something that will really take place, we must heed the warning that is presented with this parable. DO NOT BE KICKED OUT
You may ask the question, how do we know that this wedding is going to happen? In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we are told of the marriage of the Lamb (of God) to His bride. Notice how the bride is dressed.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And toRevelation 19:7-8 NKJV
herit was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
So how does one go about being dressed in the right attire for this wedding? What exactly is the proper attire for this wedding?
The robe of righteousness
Revelation explains to us that the proper attire for this wedding is the fine linen of the righteous acts of the saints. This linen is given only to the saints – that is the genuine believer. In order for one to receive this linen, they must have faith in the only begotten Son of God. Remember that Jesus said (John 3:16), “whosoever believes in Him (Christ) will not perish but have everlasting life.”
If you have faith in Christ, you will receive this fine linen of righteousness. You will often see this linen referred to as a robe of righteousness. We become righteous through our faith in the Righteous One and not anything that we have done (Eph 2:8). There is at least one more item to add to this attire that I am going to talk about in this study in a moment.
The Rapture Event
I hope you now can see that the rapture is all about Jesus coming for His bride. We must understand that Jesus promised that He was going to do this very thing! Jesus is looking to get married but He is not going to marry us as we are in the world today. We must have our soul cleansed of sin and we know that we are washed by the blood of Jesus through our genuine faith. Something else is still required for us as genuine believers to be married to Christ and to dwell with him.
Let’s remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.1 Corinthians 15:50 NKJV
This is the same lesson that Nicodemus had to be taught by Jesus (John 3:1-5). Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God. Our flesh and blood is corruption, therefore it cannot enter into the kingdom of God which will be incorruptible. Let us consider what happened to Jesus after His physical death.
Jesus resurrected in a glorified body. Sure, Thomas could touch and feel where the nails were driven through Jesus (John 20:27). Jesus even asked about food (Luke 24:40-43) and even cooked breakfast for the disciples (John 21:7-10). Yet, there was something different about this body. Scripture indicates that Jesus could just appear and disappear before people after His resurrection (Luke 24:30-31). Jesus would even appear and vanish before the disciples on a few occasions (Luke 24:36-37). His body certainly appeared to be the same but it was definitely different.
Our glorified body
Jesus, in His glorified body, is not going to settle for less and marry a bride that is corruptible. So, we the genuine believers – the Church – must also be transformed into that incorruptible body. Again, we know this to be true because our flesh and blood cannot even see the spiritual as it is today. The spiritual realm is able to interact with us but we struggle to simply perceive that it is there. Many people even question whether or not any of it is real. The day of the rapture will be very enlightening.
Paul writes the following about the rapture:
16 For the1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV
LordHimself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Notice that Jesus does not set foot on the earth in this return; this is what separates the rapture from the second coming of Christ. We see the righteous believers who passed away prior to the rapture are resurrected! Paul wrote this to the Corinthians:
20 But now Christ is risen from the1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV
dead,and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Those who are dead in Christ are resurrected in the same manner that Christ was resurrected. Genuine believers will be resurrected in glorified bodies! Those who are alive, Paul says this:
501 Corinthians 15:50-52 NKJV
Nowthis I say, brethren, that flesh andblood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The living will undergo a physical death, but put on their glorified bodies in an instant! This will be such a wonderful moment for the believer! Paul says that from the rapture, we will go to be with Christ forever.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
After the Rapture, there are two things that will happen (judgment and the wedding). Scripture does not clearly tell us the order in which these two things will occur though we can theorize and speculate. I speculate judgment will be the first followed by the wedding. Let me explain why I believe that to be the case.
My thoughts initially go back to the parable of the wedding feast and the wedding attire. We have already discussed the robe of righteousness, but we have not yet talked about the incorruptible (imperishable) crown. The incorruptible
In his writing of Romans 14:10-12, Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23 by saying, “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” Each of us as genuine believers will individually give an account to the Lord of our doings in the world. (You can also read about this judgment in the parable of the unjust steward – Luke 16:1-13).
However, we should not be afraid of facing this judgment. Many fear judgment from the Lord because they believe that God is going to punish them for their deeds. I can certainly understand that thought, but I must tell you that Christ has already suffered our punishment for us when He died on the cross. God turned away from His only begotten Son on the cross because His Son had become our sin (Matt. 27:46).
The judgment seat of Christ is more like a rewards ceremony. Paul likened the judgment seat to the bema seat. The bema was an elevated platform where athletes received awards for winning competitions (for example – running a race). Paul even talks about this judgment seat from that very perspective in scripture.
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Believers will receive their incorruptible crown to complete (I believe) the wedding attire. We, the genuine believers, will begin to shout that we are ready to marry the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-8)!
Alright, let’s stop right here in the third part of this powerful Bible study series! We have now drawn to the end of the age of the Church, which we will discuss in the final part of this series. You will notice that we have talked about the righteous ones, but still left in the world (after the rapture) are the unrighteous ones. We must talk about the period that awaits them, and we must also talk about what awaits all of the unrighteous souls that are still in Hades.
I hope that you enjoyed this study and that you will share this study with somebody somewhere. Until next time, may God continue to keep and to bless all of you.