30 April 2007

We Shall Behold Him--1st Thessalonians 4:13-18

GOD has an awesome sense of timing. When I was going through the book of 1st Thessalonians at the little church I preach at, I got to this passage about a week and a half after we had witnessed the passing of two wonderful saints of GOD. One gentleman died, and the mopther of another congregant passed within days of each other. Many would say, with good intentions, that we "lost" two saints. But the thing is, we didn't "lose" them. Because as my pastor likes to quote what one lady told him one time, “They’re not lost, we know where they are.” And it’s a lot better place than here. You see, their bodies may have fallen asleep, but their spirit is with the Lord. And one day, He will come, and reunite the two, and as Jesus said in John 14:3, we will be with Him, and He shall be with us.

Some people say that certain events “changed history.” While WWII, the atomic bomb, the Vietnam War, they all had their impact—they are only PARTS of history. Only 3 events have affected people all around the world. The first happened about 6000 years ago, when Adam couldn’t keep his grubby paws off of that fruit, and brought death to ALL people. The second took place on a hill outside Jerusalem, when an innocent man died for sins He did not commit. The third happened a couple days later, as that man’s friends ran to a hole in the side of a hill, and an angel told them “He is not here, for HE IS RISEN!!” The next event that will affect people all around the world—and we don’t know when it will happen, but we know it will happen—is called "the rapture."

Some say there won't be a rapture because—and I can just hear Garner Ted Armstrong right now—“The word ‘RAP-ture’ isn't innnn the Bible.” Well, I got news for ya:
* The word “beatitudes” isn't in the Bible. But the beatitudes are recorded in the Bible.
* The phrase “sermon on the mount” isn't in the Bible. But the Sermon on the Mount is recorded in the Bible.
* The phrase “Millennial Kingdom” isn't in the Bible. But the events that will take place during the millenial kingdom are recorded in the Bible.
* And did you know that even the phrase "Virgin Birth" isn't in the Bible. But...well, you know.

And no, the word “rapture” isn't in the Bible. But...trust me; the rapture IS in the Bible. What will it be like? Jesus tells us in Luke 21:25-28—“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Now, as it says in the song, "We Shall Behold Him", first, The sky shall unfold, preparing His entrance.
Verses 13-14.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

When those we love fall asleep, we mourn, and we grieve as well we should. But we do not mourn like those who have no hope. Because guess what? WE’RE GOING TO SEE THEM AGAIN SOMEDAY!! Look at that phrase in verse 13—those who have no hope. and listen to what Paul says in Ephesians 2:12at one time you were without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world. That word “hope” means something different that what we usualy mean. We say, “Oh I hope it doesn’t rain today” or “Oh I hope we beat Bama.” The way many people use it, simply means it’s a wish they hope will come true. But if we know the Lord, it means a whole lot more.
Colossians 1:27—Christ in you, the hope of glory
Titus 2:11-13—…the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that…we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
, blessed hope—that’s something that’s going to happen!!
Romans 5:2—through [Jesus] we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Psalm 119:81—My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word.
And we have this hope—this promise we have from GOD who cannot lie, that what He has promised we know will come true—that if we fall asleep before He returns, He’s gonna come and get us. Verse 14—if we believe, GOD will come and get us, Amen? Next, Paul tells us how this is going to happen.

The angel shall sound the shout of His coming…
Verses 15-16.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples a little bit about this. He says that first, there will be darkness on Earth, and a great commotion in heaven.
Matthew 24:29“...the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
Then, our Lord Jesus Christ will step out onto a cloud.
Acts 1:11—“This Jesus, the One being taken from you into the heaven, will come in the way you saw Him going…”
Matthew 24:30
—“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Jesus went up to heaven on a cloud, He’s going to come back on a cloud. Then, He will descend along with the voice of an archangel. If I stand on the roof of this building, and shout at the top of my lungs, some people might be able to hear me in their apartment. If I use a microphone, my voice could travel a little further. But when the archangel shouts, it will go out over the whole earth. This shout won't only go into the ears of those of us who are alive and remain. It will be so loud it will literally wake the dead. This shout will go through the ground, into caskets, and tombs, and burial vaults, and mausoleums. Then, we will hear the trumpet of GOD.

When I was growing up in Central New York, much of which is farm country, the firehouses would blow their whistle at noon to let the farmers know it was time for lunch. And you could hear these things for miles around. Well, WHEN the moment of rapture comes, the trumpet of GOD will sound, and it will be heard all around the world. Matthew 24:31—“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Darkness, heaven will shake, Jesus will step onto a cloud and descend, the archangel will shout, the trumpet of GOD will sound, and...

...the sleeping shall rise from their slumbering place!
You’ll hear some people say, “What about all those dead bodies? The ones that have decomposed? What about people who were cremated?” We’re talking about GOD here, folks! He created a universe in SIX DAYS! And quite frankly, I’m not sure why He took so long. And if He gave us one body, He can give us a new one. When this day happens, it will be a day like any other. We’ll be going about our business. People will go about their daily routines. Then we will hear a shout. In Knoxville, in Nashville, NYC, Dallas, LA, Tokyo, Paris, Alaska, Moscow. Even the penguins in Antarctica are gonna hear it. Then they’ll hear a trumpet. People will be visiting graves, and all of a sudden, they’ll be empty.

And those who remain shall be changed in a moment!!
Verses 17-18.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

We who know the Lord Jesus Christ will hear the shout, and the trumpet, and we’ll know it’s time to go home. How fast is this going to happen? 1st Corinthians 15:52—In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Faster than you can blink. One minute, we’re gonna be in this wretched world of filth and corruption. Then, at the last trumpet, we will be with the LORD our GOD!! Before we can take another breath here, we are going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll never be sick again, we’ll never feel sadness or grief, we will never again be subject to the power of Satan and sin.

A gentleman who used to come sing at our church used to sing this song:

As I entered the gates of that city,
My loved ones all knew me so well.
They took me down the streets of heaven.
Oh, the scenes, too many to tell.
I saw Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I saw Mark, and Timothy.
But, I said, "Timothy...I WANT TO SEE JESUS!!

We’re going to see those people we loved so dearly. We’re going to embrace them, laugh with them, walk around and talk with them. We’re going to see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We’re gonna see Mark and Timothy. Then, we’re going to see Jesus, the one who died for you and me!!
And we shall behold Him then face to face in all of His glory!!

The apostle Peter says that it will be like the days of Noah. Think about that. When he was done building the ark, he left the door open for 7 days if anybody wanted to join them. Nobody did. When the rains came, Noah and his sons and all their wives were spared form GOD’s wrath.
When our Lord Jesus Christ gathers us into His own ark, we too will be spared from GOD’s wrath.


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