Today we complete Stephen’s message to the Jewish leaders. We’ve learned so much as the Holy Spirit spoke mightily through Stephen.
His message was not well received however and in the end the Jewish religious leaders put Stephen to death. But the scriptures don’t word the story that way. Acts 7 concludes with: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60b)
When Christians die it’s not the end, in reality they simply “fall asleep” to be awakened by the Lord later. But this is not “soul sleep”. The body sleeps and the spirit goes to be with the Lord in heaven.
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8
For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Philippians 1:23
When Jesus returns, He will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died. Their bodies will be raised and glorified, and body and spirit will be united in glory to be “forever with the Lord.”
Even though we Christians weep at the death of a loved one, we do not sorrow hopelessly, for we know we shall meet again when we die or when the Lord returns.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18