In Paul’s first epistle to the Christians at Corinth, he gives this description of what will happen to Christians when the Lord returns to carry His own to heaven when time and physical matter will be no more. It would be well for the reader to study the entire chapter 15, however, due to the fact that it is quite lengthy, this short quote is given to try and explain what happens to the mortal at that time.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-57 KJV)
Now do not rush through that reading, but consider it closely. Notice the portion where he says, “We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed.” There is a lot more involved in that phrase than first meets the eye. Of course he has reference to the fact that some will still be alive while others are dead. But notice now, that he explains the “changed” thusly; In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…”
Think about this and let us attempt to understand just what will transpire here, in the twinkling of an eye. This does not mean that we will stand there and watch the dead arise…how do I know that? For several reasons, Paul has just said in verse 42, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:” Another way of expressing that is the human body is mortal flesh (corruptible) and would be raised as a spirit (incorruptible). And at the same time, in the twinkling of an eye, those live will be changed into a spirit. Now how is one changed into a spirit? By the separation of the body and the spirit…death. Keep this in mind.
Most who study this subject tend to concentrate upon these things said by Paul in his several epistles…which is fine, but we cannot ignore other references to this time. Many simply think God will whisper something and all will be simply switched over to the spiritual realm. But, not so fast here. We have other scriptures which have to be included in this occasion. And when all are considered, it becomes very clear what will transpire.
First let us look at what John says that parallels this that Paul has said. Read John’s take on it here: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
The apostles were not given a detailed vision of the coming of the Lord and could only give these slight explanations. But now let us read and consider what Peter has to say concerning this end time.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:9-13 KJV)
Now, taking all these scriptures together we can see things in a clearer light. As near as my feeble efforts can analyze these are as follows. At the point of the end of time, the entire universe will explode in some manner which will dissolve all matter, each molecule, every particle of even the elements, oxygen, nitrogen, etc., and when this occurs, every human body will be totally eradicated and all who have ever lived on the earth will then be in the spirit. No manner of explosion or other destructive device can have any effect, good or bad, upon the spirit because there is no corruptible matter left.
This will also fulfill the scripture found in Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” All humans must die that their spirit be released.
Then, and only then will the trump and the shout be heard as Jesus and those who are with him shall appear and the judgment will begin. If things occur in this manner, all questions will be resolved, such as:
“How can all people see Jesus at one time, since some are on the opposite side of the earth from others?” That is resolved since the earth and all other matter is no longer in existence.
Every eye shall see Him and every knee shall bow. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11 KJV)
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen" (Revelation 1:7 KJV)
There are still some unanswered questions, but only because mortal man cannot perceive life in the spirit. It is totally beyond our ability to imagine living without a physical body, physical surroundings, or physical pain and desires. These are in the only life we have lived, however, we can know that no such thing can be in heaven. All matter is corruptible and the spirit is incorruptible.
In an effort to comprehend what life would be like, one may be troubled by realizing that there will be no intake of food, drink, or any of the pleasurable features of the flesh. But we need not be troubled. All of these things have been for out pleasure due to needs and desires of the flesh. There will be no such there. So what will there be for us to love and appreciate? First, the lack of fleshly lusts, pains, cravings, sickness, and no more death, forever. What our pleasures will consist of is without the realms of our imagination, yet we may know that we will totally happy and content, for our Father is Omniscient and Omnipotent, He loves us and wants us to be happy, so do we even dare question His ability to make us totally elated and overjoyed? We will have no despair, with the realization that we are alive and fully comfortable forever more.