Q. The Bible says at the Rapture, upon Jesus’ return the dead will arise first and then those of us that are saved and still living at that time will be raised next. Does this mean that our ancestors spirits are presently at rest in the grave?
A. No. If they’re believers who died since the cross, their bodies were buried and soon returned to the dust from which they came (Genesis 3:19). But their spirits have gone to be with the Lord in Heaven and have been in His presence ever since.
In 2 Cor 5:6 Paul said as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, and in 2 Cor. 5:8 he said we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore it’s one or the other, in the body and away from the Lord, or away from the body and with the Lord.
In 1 Thes. 4:14 Paul said at the time of the rapture, God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ. That means their spirits will accompany Him when He comes for the Church in 1 Thes. 4:16-17.
He said the dead will rise first, meaning their spirits will be joined with new resurrection bodies. Immediately thereafter we who are still alive and are left will be changed from mortal to immortal without passing through death. All this will happen in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51-53) and after that we’ll all be with the Lord forever.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).