Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

One of the things I’ve always struggled with as a Christian is what becomes of non-Christians when they die.

Sure, there are yer standard answers about hell etc., but in my experience those answers tend to be at odds with Christianity’s bigger beliefs of God’s forgiveness and ability to do anything he wants to.

Not to mention a fairly deep conviction I have that for God to give up on us, would be a form of our defeating God.

I mention this here because in 1 Thessalonians, Paul almost answers this.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 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 4:13-17 (NIV)

It’s the ambiguity of the words “dead in Christ” that disappoints me. Who is "dead in Christ"? Who is not "dead in Christ"?

If someone dies having faith in God, but not in Jesus, then given that Jesus is God, are they "dead in Christ" without realising it?

Does the phrase "dead in Christ" include those people who died before Jesus did – who could not have been Christians, but could be “dead in Christ” if he died for them too?

If Jesus died for everyone in history, then could everyone in history be "dead in Christ" and be saved?


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