Do we go to heaven when we die, or do we have to wait until Jesus returns to enter heaven? My husband died a few months ago, and it would bring me great comfort to know he's with Jesus. But a friend of mine says she thinks this can't happen until Jesus returns. — P.McC.
I don't doubt your friend's sincerity, but my own study of the Bible has convinced me that when we die, we enter immediately into God's presence if we know Christ.
This certainly seemed to be the Apostle Paul's conviction. On one occasion, he was in jail awaiting trial for his faith, and he knew that his life might soon come to an end. But he didn't face this possibility with fear. In fact, he welcomed it, because he was convinced that at death he would go immediately to be with the Lord. He wrote, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23).
It's true that at the end of this present age our souls and our bodies will be reunited, and we will be given new bodies -- bodies like that of Christ after His resurrection which will never age or perish. The Bible says, "The body that is sown (in the grave) is perishable, it is raised imperishable.... a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:42,44).
Thank God for the hope we have of heaven -- a hope that is secure because of what Jesus Christ did for us. Thank Him, too, that your husband is now safely in His presence forever, and that some day you will see him again. Until that day, make it your goal to live for Christ and point others to the hope we have of heaven because of Him.