1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
HE'S COMING, ARE YOU GOING?
Intro: Once in a machine shop there was a fellow named George. His job
was to sweep and clean out the shavings underneath the huge lathes and
machines we were running. George was born again, and he loved the
teaching of Scripture on prophecy. He loved to sing hymns as he worked.
Many of them had to do with the coming of Christ, such as "In the Sweet
By and By" and "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder."
Late one Friday afternoon about ten minutes to quitting time when
everyone was weary, someone looked at George and said, "George, are
you ready?" He said, "Uh-huh." But he was all dirty. He was just obviously
not ready. In fact, he looked like he was ready to keep on working. The
others said, "Aren't you ready to go home?" He said, "Yeah, I'm ready." the
others said, "Look at you! Man, you're not ready. You've gotta go clean up."
"No," he said, "let me show you something." So he unzipped his coveralls
and underneath were the neatest, cleanest clothes you can imagine. He had
them all ready. All he did when the whistle blew was just unzip and step out
of that coverall, walk up, and punch his clock and he was gone. He said,
"You see, I stay ready to keep from gettin' ready--just like I'm ready for
Friend, are you ready for the return of Jesus? He's coming again! That
is the thrust of the verses we have read today. Let's look into these verses.
As we do, examine your heart to see if you are ready for His coming. You
see, He is coming for a certain class of people: those who are ready to go!
So, let's examine these verses together today. As we do, I want you to think
about this question: He's Coming, Are You Going?
I. THE PARTICIPANTS INVOLVED IN THIS EVENT
A. The Savior Will Be Involved - While He was here on the earth, the
Lord Jesus said that the angels would gather the elect at the Second
Coming, Matt. 13:26-27. However, in the Rapture, Jesus will send
no angels or other heavenly representatives. He will come take His
bride Himself! The One Who died to redeem the bride on the cross
is the One Who returns to rapture the bride off the world! (Note: This
fits in with Jewish tradition! The bridegroom, after completing a
place for himself and his bride in the father's house, would go with
his friends to get his bride and bring her home for the wedding.)
His coming will be accompanied by:
1. A Shout - This refers to a military command. Jesus is calling the
hosts of Heaven to assemble for military action against the
domain of the enemy: the air - Eph. 6:12. Of course, this shout
has another emphasis. Jesus promised that there would come
a day when the dead would hear His voice - John 5:25. It was
this shout that was heard by Lazarus, even in death, that brought
him back to life.
2. The Trumpet of God - Throughout Jewish history, the trumpet
was used for many different, but important reasons.
a. To announce the feasts - Num. 10:10
b. To announce various celebrations - 2 Sam. 6:15
c. To announce a sacred assembly - Lev. 23:24
d. To sound an alarm during a time of war - Num. 10:9
e. To assemble a crowd - Num. 10:2; Jud. 6:34
f. To make an announcement - 1 Sam .13:3; 2 Sam. 15:10; 1
Kings 1:34; 39; 41
There seems to be a two-fold purpose here:
1. To assemble the people of God - Ex. 19:16-19
2. To signal His deliverance of them - Zech. 1:16; 9:14-16
B. The Saints Will Be Involved - When the rapture takes place, it will
involve all those who are saved by the grace of God, both past and
present. It will not be an event for a select few super-saints. It will
be a time when everyone who has trusted Jesus as their personal
Savior will leave this world together! (Note: There are two
statements that need to be made right here! 1.) The rapture will
include ALL the saints! There is no such thing as a partial rapture.
There will be many who we may not think should be allowed go. If
they are saved, they will make the trip! Just for the record, none of
us deserves to go! The only way anyone goes is through faith in the
Lord Jesus and in His finished work at Calvary - Eph. 2:8-9; Rom.
10:9-10. 2.) The rapture will include ONLY the saints! There will
be many fine, moral and religious people who will not be taken when
Jesus comes. They may be church members. They may be king
and good people morally, but if they have never been saved, they
will not leave this world in the rapture! One of the tragedies of that
day will be that many will be left behind who thought they were
ready. Don't think you are ready, be sure you are, Matt. 24:44! (Ill.
II. THE POWER INVOLVED IN THIS EVENT
A. There Will Be The Power Of Resurrection - The Thessalonian
believers believed in the immediate return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, they were afraid that their fellow believers who had
already died had missed out on the rapture, and on heaven as well.
They seems to believe that death was the end and that only those
alive when Jesus returned would go to Heaven. Paul writes this
passage, v. 13-18, to let them know that there is coming a day when
even the dead will rise again!
The same God Who moved in power to create with world and all
that is within it, is the same One Who will raise the bodies of the
dead. When you consider the millions who have died in faith over
the last 2,000 years and when you think about the fact that many
bodies have long since turned to dust, it boggles the mind!
However, I do not have to understand the mechanics of the event to
be blessed by it! All you and I need to know is that we serve a God
Who is able to exert this kind of power, Eph. 3:20! (Note: This
should comfort our hearts as it did the hearts fo those believers
2,000 years ago, v. 18. All those saints we have known and love
who have preceded us into death will one day have their bodies
raided from the dead! By the way, not a single one of them is in the
grave today, 2 Cor. 5:8! When He comes for their bodies, He will
bring their spirits with them. They will receive a new, glorified body
and will be taken up from the earth to be transported to glory!)
B. There Will Be The Power Of Rapture - Paul tells us that those who
are alive when the rapture comes will be "caught up". This phrase
comes from a word that refers to "a strong, irresistible and violent
act". It literally means, "To seize by force, to carry off by force,
to claim for oneself eagerly." In the rapture, the Lord Jesus will
claim His bride by force! It is interesting to note that this word
conveys the idea of force. Certainly, there is within the heart of the
redeemed a desire to depart and to go to Heaven. However, there
are forces that would hinder our departure if they could. Among
them are the strong pulls of sin, the influence of the flesh, the world
and the devil. All these would conspire to keep us here. However,
when He comes, there will be no staying! He will catch away that
which He has redeemed by His blood and He will take it home to
glory! Praise God, no force will be able to prevent His coming for us!
No force will be able to hold us here when He does come. The
bottom line is this: when He comes we go! (Note: It is at this
moment in time when the saints will forever lose these fleshly
bodies! We will be changed, 1 Cor. 15:51-52 and we will be made
like Jesus, 1 John 3:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:42-57! To me, just getting a
glorified body will be as good as going to Heaven! Imagine what that
body will be like!)
III. THE PROMISE INVOLVED IN THIS EVENT
A. There Is The Promise Of Rescue - When Jesus makes His glorious
appearance, the Bible says that He will come in the "air". This is
significant! According the New Testament, the "air" is the abode of
the devil and his demonic hordes, Eph. 2:2; 6:12. In fact, this world
is under the dominion of the devil, 2 Cor. 4:4. When Jesus comes,
He will comes directly through enemy territory. He will call up His
Bride into the realm of the enemy and He will lead her safely and
triumphantly through the devil's territory as a display of His power
and victory over all the powers of evil! We could never get out of
here on our own! He will take us safely through all the way to glory!
(Note: It is also worthy to note that He will take His church out of the
world before He judges the world in the Tribulation, Rom. 5:9, Rev.
4:1, etc. We will be rescued from this earth before the wrath of God
is unleashed against it!)
B. There Is The Promise Of Reunion - The phrase "together with
them" implies the fact that you and I will enjoy a blessed reunion
with those we have seen taken in death! We all have loved ones on
the other side we long to see! We will see them then!
C. There Is The Promise Of Revelation - But wait, the Bible also says
this: "and so shall we ever be with the Lord." As glorious as a
reunion with our departed loved ones may be, it pales in comparison
to seeing Jesus Christ, the One Who gave His life on the cross for
our redemption! Imagine seeing Him for the first time! Imagine
seeing the marks in His body where He bore our sins on the cross, Rev. 5:9, 1 Pet. 2:24. Imagine seeing His face, hearing His voice
and being welcomed into His Heaven. What a day, glorious day,
that will be!
D. There Is The Promise Of Rejoicing - verse 17 concludes with the
statement, "so shall we ever be with the Lord." This implies that
you and I are going to be wherever He is forever! Whether it be in
Heaven around the Father's throne or whether it be on the earth
ruling with Him for 1000 years, it will be a time of endless worship
and praise. It will be a time free from sin and filled with His glory. It
will be a time when all the tears are finally wiped away from our
faces, Rev. 21:4. It will be Heaven! For to be with Jesus is to reside
in THE place of glory!
Conc: The whole thing I am trying to say today is this: He's coming, and
He's coming for His people. Now, the question you have to answer is this:
when He comes are you going? You can, but only if you are saved! He will
come again and He will remove His people. When that day comes, will you
go, or will you stay? It will all depend on what you do with Jesus Christ. In
the end, what He does with you hinges upon what you do with Him!