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Departures and Arrivals
by Wayne Blank
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." (Philippians 1:22-24 KJV)
The big problem with "to depart, and to be with Christ," if he meant immediately, is that Paul would have contradicted himself, and many other Scriptures, including words spoken by the Christ himself (people who don't read all of their Bibles, but simply latch onto a few favorite verses upon which they base their "Christianity" do not realize that - or refuse to realize that). But Paul did not contradict himself, or anyone else. Paul, in describing when he would "be with Christ" also said:
"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" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 KJV)
And note that Paul speaks of "at that day" of "his appearing" - a still future time:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV)
Which Do You Prefer - Worthless Fables or The Biblical Truth?
When people are in a deep sleep, there is no sense of the passage of time. Two people who awaken at the same time may have been asleep for very different lengths of time (e.g. one for 2 hours, the other for 12 hours) but neither senses any lesser or greater passage of time from when they fell asleep to when they awaken together. Their "departure" times are different, but their "arrival" time is the same.
In the same way, people who die will seem, from their conscious perspective, to have gone instantly from the moment of their deaths to their awakening - and that is what Paul was talking about in Philippians 1:22-24 as quoted above. But Paul knew that the dead are dead until the time of their resurrection, some at the time of the return of Jesus Christ, the rest a little over 1,000 years later (their times of judgment are also different - see the Fact Finder question below) as he also explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 as quoted above.
Death Is Like A Peaceful Sleep With No Sense Of The Passage Of Time
All Of The Dead Are Awaiting A Later Resurrection
Fact Finder: Everyone will be subject to God's Judgment, but how and why are there two times of Judgment?