Prophecy- Part 85 – The Practical Value of Expectancy – The Imminent Return of Jesus Christ; I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Sermon directed to:  Three Groups of People:

  1. those living before the Rapture,
  2. those living after the Rapture, and
  3. those who are not saved before and after the Rapture.

FACT:  Warning: one cannot serve two masters – Matthew 6:24-34.

FACT:  The truth of our Lord’s imminent return for His Church will have a great impact on the lives of all of His people who believe it.

Since this is true, every true Christian should examine the impact of the Lord’s return on their own life.  This examination should bring about a stronger walk [life with Christ].

Good Question, “What should be the impact on obedient Christian lives?”

  • It will comfort them in bereavement (I Thessalonians 4:18).  How does Scripture comfort us who are living in the Age of Grace?

First, the events of the Lord’s return and of the resurrection are clearly spelled out by our God who cannot lie or deceive.  Notice the step by step scripture outlined for us (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

  1. First the LORD HIMSELF shall descend from heaven.  The very first event will be the appearance of the Lord God Himself.  The supreme majesty of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, will rent the skies and miraculously appear in all the spectacular glory, pomp, and power of heaven itself.  When He appears, three spectacular events will occur.

a. The Lord God Himself will appear “with a shout” (en keleusmati).  The word means a military command. The commander-in-chief of the universe will shout louder than any voice has ever shouted—shout even as He did when He was upon earth: “Lazarus come forth” (John 11:43).

b. The voice of the archangel will cry out.  What will He cry?  His shout will probably be the rallying cry for all the armies of heavenly angels to join in the praise of the glorious event.

Christ taught that the heavenly angels would be with Him when He returned to gather His Saints to meet Him in the air.

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:” (Matthew 25:31).

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,”   (2 Thessalonians 1:7). 

c. The trumpet of God shall sound. The trumpet has always been for the purpose of arousing attention and warning.  The whole universe—both earth and heaven, believers and unbelievers, and angels will be aroused; and all unbelievers will be warned. The Lord God Himself is now appearing and the events of the end time are now being launched.

Second, the dead in Christ shall rise first.  Why will dead believers be the first to be caught up to meet the Lord?  Because of the Lord’s great love and care for His people.  The first expression of love and care will be shown to those saints who had passed through the shadow of death.  It is the nature of Christ to show care, tenderness and love to those who suffer the most; therefore, they who have suffered the awful fate of death shall be first to meet the Lord in the air.  Now, note several facts.

a. Only departed believers will arise; no unbeliever will be resurrected at this point.  Only those who are “dead in Christ”—who died believing in Jesus Christ — will be resurrected when the Lord returns in the air.

b. It will be the bodies of the departed believers that will be resurrected.  The believers themselves, that is, their spirits, are already with the Lord.  Their bodies are being raised and transformed to live forever with God.  The shout of the Lord to “come forth” will call together all the atoms of a person’s body, no matter where the various parts of a person’s body may be.  The atoms of a person’s body will be transformed to structure an eternal and perfect body.

c. The bodies of the departed believers will arise first before we who are alive are caught up.

Third, we who are alive will be caught up right after the dead have risen. There will be a glorious transformation of our bodies just as there will be those whose bodies have decayed in the earth.  The change will be as scripture declares, the infusion of a totally new nature.

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:53).

a. The nature of the believer’s present body is corruptible and mortal; the nature of his new body, will be incorruptible and immortal.

The “corruptible and mortal” nature means that men are earthly, that they age, deteriorate, die, decay, and decompose.  Every person, no matter who he is, is earthly and will die unless Jesus returns while the person is living on earth.

The “incorruptible and immortal” nature means that believers will be made heavenly, that they will be transformed and given a PERFECT NATURE that will never age, deteriorate, die, decay or decompose.  They will be completely free from defilement and depravity.  They will be given a body that is perfect, a body that is diametrically opposed to their present body, a body that is perfected forever to live with God in the new heavens and earth.

b. Note the word “must” in I Corinthians 15:53.   It shows the absolute necessity for the change of man’s body.  If man is to live with God, his body must be changed.  It is essential, a must, an absolute necessity, if man is to live forever.

“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (John 8:51). 

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.  Believest thou this?” (John 11:26).                                   

“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:” (Romans 2:7). 

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:53).

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17).

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immorality to light through the gospel:” (2 Timothy 1:10).

Fourth, the great reunion of the living with the dead will take place. Note the emphatic declaration; we “shall be caught up TOGETHER with them in the clouds to meet the Lord.”  We shall be reunited with all our loved ones, and even more wonderful, all believers— our loved ones and those who we have never known—shall be united together with our wonderful Lord.  We shall all be there rejoicing in the presence of Him who has saved us and transformed us into perfect and eternal beings.  What a day or reunion and rejoicing that will be!

The experience of living face to face with the Lord begins. We shall be caught up and “so shall be ever be with the Lord. ” As wonderful as the reunion of believers will be, the most wonderful event will be seeing our Lord Jesus face to face for the very first time.   What will our first thought be?  Our first reaction?  Everything will take place in the blinking of an eye.  Suddenly…

  • we will be standing in mid-air and transformed into sinless and perfect men and women,
  • we will be standing in the clouds in the midst of teeming millions, and
  • we will be transformed in the midst of the spectacular glory and majesty, dominion and power of the Lord God Himself.

GOOD QUESTION:  Will there be any question what our first thought and response will be?  The great reunion with family and believers will not be the occupation of our thoughts.  Christ will be!  The Lord God Himself in all His majestic glory and sovereignty will consume all of our attention.

We will be lifting His name in the most perfect hymn of praise and adoration ever arranged.  Jesus Christ Himself will be the total focus of our attention.

The present exhortation: comfort one another with these words. God does not reveal the events of the end time to satisfy curiosity.  He tells us about the glorious events so that we can prepare and comfort one another.

FACTS:                                                                                             

There is no need for discouragement on this earth;

no need for extreme sorrow and grief;

no need for hopelessness; and

and no need for ignorance.

The Lord Himself has given us the most wonderful hope– the hope of living forever face to face with Him—of worshiping and serving Him forever in a new heavens and earth.

“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36).

Man, in this physical world, considers blessings to be material things such as money, houses, cars, great jobs, etc. However, God says that those who have trusted His Son will have true heavenly riches and rewards which are beyond our comprehension. So, the question becomes, “Why would one want rewards that are passing away” (I John 2:15-17) when they can have rewards that God promises for those who have trusted His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, which are eternal blessings?

REWARDS DEALING WITH OUR NATURE OR STATE OF BEING:

  • adopted as a son of God (Galatians 4:4-7; I John 3:1)
  • made blameless and harmless (Philippians 2:15)  
  • given eternal life (John 3:16; I Timothy 6:19)
  • given an enduring substance (Hebrews 10:34)
  • given a glorious body (Philippians 3:21; I John 3:2; I Corinthians 15:42-44)
  • given eternal glory and honor and peace (Romans 2:10)
  • given eternal rest and peace (Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13)
  • given the blessings of the Lord (Proverbs 10:22)
  • given the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:8)
  • given durable riches and righteousness (Proverbs 8:18)
  • made Priests (Revelation 20:6)
  • given a crown of incorruption (I Corinthians 9:25)
  • given a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
  • given a crown of life (James 1:12)
  • given a crown of glory (I Peter 5:4)

REWARDS DEALING WITH WORK OR POSITION OR RULE:

  • being made exalted beings (Revelation 7:9-12)
  • being made ruler over many things (Matthew 25:23)
  • being given the Kingdom of God (James 2:5; Matthew 25:34)
  • being given a position or rule and authority (Luke 12:42-44; I Corinthians 6:2-3)
  • being given eternal responsibility and joy (Matthew 25:21, 23)
  • being given rule and authority over cities (Luke 19:17, 19)
  • being given thrones and the privilege of reigning forever (Revelation20:4; 22:5)
  • being given the privilege of surrounding the throne of God (Revelation 7:9-13; 20:4)
  • being made priests (Revelation 20:6)
  • being made kings (Revelation 1:5; 5:10)

REWARDS DEALING WITH OUR INHERITANCE OR WEALTH:

  • being made an heir of God (Romans 8:16-17; Titus 3:7)
  • being given an incorruptible inheritance (I Peter 1:3-4)
  • being given the blessings of the Lord (Proverbs 10:22)
  • being given durable riches and righteousness (Proverbs 8:18)
  • being given unsearchable riches (Ephesians 3:8)
  • being given treasures in heaven (Matthew 19:21; Luke  12:33)

Money and possessions of this world, given to one in this world, cannot compare with heavenly blessings that God has in store for the true believer.   There is nothing in this world that can compare to the presence and companionship, the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.  They are nothing compared to possessing the Word of God and the promises of God.  They are nothing compared to knowing God personally and being made an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ.

Help for: Those Living Before the Rapture and Those Living After the Rapture.

The Christian cannot serve two masters; he must choose God or riches.  Matthew 6:24,33-34 [verse 33-seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness].

Note some basic truths.

  1. There are two masters in life, either God or the things and riches of this world.
  2. A person serves one of the two masters. He gives himself either to one or the other.
  • He focuses himself upon the things and riches of the world or upon God.
  • He turns himself over to the things and riches of the world or upon God.
  • He gives his time, energy, and effort to the things of the world or to God.

APPLICATION:

  1. Each person must decide who He will serve and receive what each master will award him for his service.
  2. The world can only offer temporary things.
  3. God can and will give eternal things for the person who has accepted His Son and who is truly serving God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. Which are you serving, the world or God? Only you can answer that question for yourself.