I. THE SORROW OF THE THESSALONIANS
A. The reason for the sorrow.
1. Some of those in the fellowship had died before the Jesus returned so they thought that they were going to miss out on the glory of living with Him in the Kingdom.
2. They were sorrowing because of their ignorance of the plan of God.
B. They were sorrowing as those who have no hope.
1. If a person dies without receiving Jesus Christ there is no hope.
a. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man can come to the Father but by Me."
b. Jesus declared that all who did not believe in Him were condemned already.
c. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.
2. This is a radical statement that immediately divides all men into one of two categories.
a. Those who believe,
b. Those who do not believe.
c. Those who have a hope of eternal life.
d. Those who have no hope for eternal life.
3. When a loved one dies, who is a believer we sorrow.
a. We sorrow because we are going to miss them, their love and input into our lives.
b. Our sorrow is not as those who have no hope.
c. We rejoice for them that they are with the Lord.
II. THE BELIEF THAT CHANGES OUR SORROW.
A. That Jesus died and rose again.
1. Before He died, He told His disciples that He would die and rise again, and He said, because I live, you too shall live.
2. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope.
a. Peter said, Thanks be to God for we have been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
b. Paul cried, "Oh death, where is your sting, Oh grave where is your victory." He then declared that the sting of death was sin which was removed by Jesus. Thanks be unto God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
B. We believe that our loved ones that have died will come back with Jesus when He comes for us. "Will God bring with Him."
1. If they will be coming with Him it must be assumed that they are with Him now.
a. Paul said, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
b. He said, I have mixed emotions, I have a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better, yet I am still needed by you.
c. Paul said that he had a glorious experience of being caught up into heaven, and he did not know if he were dead or alive.
d. Paul said, that we know that when our earthly tent is dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2. He declares that we who are alive till the coming of the Lord will not precede those who are asleep.
a. The word in the King James is translated prevent.
b. We will not precede them into the presence of Jesus, they have preceded us.
c. We correctly speak of our loved ones who have died in Christ as just having gone before us into glory.
III. THE EVENTS OF THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.
A. Our Lord Himself will descend from heaven.
1. With a shout.
2. With the voice of the archangel.
3. With the trump of God.
4. His voice will be as the voice of the archangel.
5. His voice will be as a trumpet.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:
After this I looked, and, behold, a door [was] opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
6. The shout will be like a trumpet blast saying, "Come on up."
B. The dead in Christ shall rise first.
1. Herein is a difficulty for they have already are risen and will be coming with Him.
2. What does it mean they will rise first?
3. Could it mean that they have risen first in that they have preceded us into glory?
C. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.
1. Note that this is not the second coming of Jesus. He does not come to the earth at this time, we meet Him in the air. He will come again the second time in His glory and every eye shall see Him. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. Col.3:4
2. This event will involve only the church and will take place in a moment in a twinkling of an eye.
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.
3. The world will not even be aware of it until it is all over and it will be too late for them.
4. In Hebrews we read,
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
D. The word translated "caught up" in Greek is harpazo. It literally means to be taken away by force.
1. When Paul appeared before the council in Jerusalem and things weren't going well, he knew that half were Pharisee's who believed in the resurrection and half were Sadducee's who did not believe in the resurrection, and there was a constant debate between them over the issue of the resurrection, so Paul declared, "I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and this is the reason for my being tried here this day." Immediately they began to fight among themselves over the issue of the resurrection and the captain of the guard thought they were going to pull Paul apart, so he ordered the soldiers to take Paul by force from them. The word by force is the Greek harpazo.
2. Some deny the rapture of the church because they ignorantly declare that the word rapture is not in the Bible. It all depends which Bible you are reading.
3. All of our Bibles are translated from the Greek, and the Greek word is harpazo, but if you were reading this passage in the Latin, you would find that the Greek word harpazo is in Latin, raptus.
a. Our English word rapture is a transliteration of the Latin word raptus.
b. It is like those who deny the millennium because they say the word is not found in the Bible. The Bible does say that Jesus shall live and reign for a thousand years. In Latin one thousand years is mille annum, thus our English word is a transliteration of the Latin.
E. We will meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1. Note it does not declare that we will be in heaven forever.
a. We will be coming back to this earth to live and reign with Christ during the millennium.
b. Here is where we must turn to the book of Revelation to discover the events that will happen in heaven as we will by with our Lord.
1. Chapters 4 and 5 will tell us of the heavenly events.
2. From chapter 6 through 18 it details the events that take place on the earth once the church has been removed.
2. So shall we ever be with the Lord. The kingdom of God is righteousness peace and joy. In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. And in the endless ages to come He shall be revealing to us the exceeding richness of His grace and love toward us.