And I heard a voice out of heaven say: ‘Write: Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.’” So, now, from when on is “from this time onward”?
8. Why would “from that time onward” mean during the presence of the Lord in spirit, and does their dying then terminate their deeds?
8 In the light of what the apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, it must be during the “presence,” or parousia, of Jesus Christ, not before it begins, but after. Even during his being invisibly present in spirit there will be spirit-begotten Christians on earth who will “die in union with the Lord.” These especially are to be “happy” in dying during his “presence.” Their death in the flesh does not terminate their ‘deeds,’ for any length of time. Why not? Because “the things they did go right with them,” or, literally, according to the Greek text, ‘follow with them.’
9. Why, then, are the “holy ones” who die at that time “happy,” according to Revelation 14:13?
9 This requires a transfer of operations, from works in the flesh on earth, to works in the spirit in the heavenly realm. As regards those “who die in union with the Lord,” the apostle Paul says: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44) So these “happy” resurrected ones follow up their earthly “labors” with works in spirit bodies in the spirit realm. They do not have to sleep in death waiting for Christ’s presence.