Q. I am wondering, if once we die we go immediately to Heaven, then what does it mean when the bible states in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, ‘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.’ I understand that this is regarding the Rapture, but if deceased believers have already gone directly to Heaven then why would the ‘dead in Christ’ need to be raised up at the time of the Rapture?
A. According to 2 Cor. 5:6-8, when believers die their spirits leave their bodies and go immediately to be with Jesus. Their bodies go into the ground and quickly decay. At the rapture, the spirits of these believers will be reunited with new physical bodies that will be immortal. In other words, they will have gone from physical to spiritual and back to physical. This is what is meant by the dead in Christ rising first. As this is happening the bodies of living believers will be instantaneously changed from mortal to immortal (1 Cor. 15:51-53). In this way all believers from the Church age will arrive in Heaven in new immortal bodies to begin our eternal life with the Lord.