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What does it mean to "sleep in Jesus?"
I am confused by Luke 16:19-31. I Thessalonians 4:13-17 is but one of a few scriptures which seems to say that when you die, you sleep. Prophetically, Luke 16:19-31, foretells the separation of the Jewish nation from God and the Gentiles being brought into the bosom of Abraham. I guess that my question is whether Luke 16:19-31 should be taken literally as in 'this is what happens when you die,' or prophetically.
Luke 16:19-31 says, There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.You will notice that this passage is not called a parable. Jesus is telling a literal account of what happened to two men who died. He even tells us what the name of the poor man was, Lazarus. The rich man immediately woke up in the torment of hell, and Lazarus was immediately carried by the angels to heaven. Luke 23:39-43 says, And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, TO DAY SHALT THOU BE WITH ME IN PARADISE. The repentant thief was not going to be sleeping in the grave, but was going to be with the Lord in Paradise. Paradise is heaven. II Corinthians 12:1-4 says, It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third HEAVEN. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into PARADISE, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. The reference to the Christian being asleep is only in reference to our body, not our spirit. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, EVEN SO THEM ALSO WHICH SLEEP IN JESUS WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. Christians who have died are with Jesus right now in spirit. That is the only way that He can bring them with Him. When He brings them back with Him, He is going to resurrect their bodies first, and then us, and we will all meet together in the air. The Christians body rests or sleeps in the grave until the Rapture takes place; but when the Christian dies, his spirit immediately goes to be with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:6-8 says, Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be ABSENT FROM THE BODY, AND TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD.
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