THE HOPE OF THE RETURN
I Thessalonians 1: 9, 10 -- For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait [anticipate] for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
These two verses say a lot. The believers had turned from idols to serve the true God, and now waited, as we do, for the return of Jesus Christ from heaven. While we live and go about our daily lives, we are waiting for the return. And the last verse also states that Christ delivered us, or freed us, from the wrath that is to come. We will not experience the wrath as described in the book of Revelation.
I Thessalonians Chapter 4, verses 13 to 18 gives us more information about the return of Jesus Christ.
V. 13 -- But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
God wants us to know what will happen to those that have died as Christians. We are not to be sorrowful about it, like the unbeliever who does not have the hope of the return.
V. 14 -- For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
If Jesus died and rose, we can believe that Christians who have 'fallen asleep' will rise also. God will make it happen when Christ returns.
Verses 15, 16, 17 -- For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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.
These verses give the order of events:
a) The Lord will descend from heaven (with much fanfare).
b) The dead in Christ shall rise first.
c) Then the living believers shall be caught up with the risen, and we will meet the Lord in the air. And, we will always be with him, never to be separated.
V. 18 -- Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
It is I Corinthians Chapter 15 that explains in more detail what will happen to us. It also describes how we will be changed. Our current physical bodies are too limited to suffice for all eternity.
Go to I Corinthians and read Chapter 15: 12 to 19.
Some people were saying and believed that there was not going to be a resurrection of the dead. Paul states that, if this were true, that our faith [pistis - believing] is in vain if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. If Jesus was not risen, then we are still in our sins, and we have no hope, and are to be pitied.
V. 20 -- But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
But, Paul states Christ is risen. He is the first one to be permanently risen from the dead. Others, as you read in the gospels, have been risen as the result of a miracle, but it is only temporary. Eventually, years later, they did die again.
Verses 21, 22 -- For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
The sin of Adam brought death upon mankind, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought the resurrection of the dead, and permanent life to believers.
V. 23 -- But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at [with] his coming.
Christ was the first to be risen. When he comes back, the Christian believers will be next to rise from the dead.
Read Verses 24, 25 and 26. These three verses cover a lot of ground concerning what will take place in the Book of Revelation. Notice that verse 26 states that 'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.' Then death is an enemy. The true God DOES NOT kill people. God is all light and in Him is no darkness at all. Do you want to argue about it?! Argue with God. I witness the Word -- I am not a defense attorney. TRUTH NEEDS NO DEFENSE.
V. 35 -- But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
Even back then, some people were questioning how the dead are going to rise, and what will their body be like.
Verses 36, 37 – Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare [naked] grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
If you plant a seed, a replica of the seed does not grow. A plant grows that looks nothing like the seed itself. So it shall be with the resurrection. Our mortal body may be 'planted', but a different spiritual body will be raised at the resurrection.
V. 38 -- But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his [its] own body.
Verses 39, 40, and 41 describe the various types of bodies that exist even today: flesh of man vs. flesh of fish, or other animals, celestial vs. terrestrial, sun vs. moon, even star vs. star. They are all different from each other in some way or another.
Verses 42, 43, 44 -- So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
The resurrection of the dead doesn't mean we will rise with this same body, the same visage that we have now. Our body will corrupt, or decay, when we die. The one that is raised is incorruptible. It will never die or decay. We will be raised in glory and in power. Instead of a 'natural' earthly body, we will have a spiritual body.
Verses 45, 46, 47 -- And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a [life] quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from [out of] heaven.
Again, Adam is compared to Christ. Adam was a living soul, but made of the dust of the earth. Christ now has a spiritual body from heaven. It is not made from dust.
V. 49 -- And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
We have the body made of dust. In the future, we will have a heavenly body like Christ.
Verses 50 - 55 -- Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 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. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
A flesh and blood body cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The next few verses repeat what was covered in Thessalonians. Not all of the believers will be dead or asleep, but we will all be changed. In a moment, a mere instant in time, when the trumpet sounds that announces Christ is coming back for us, the dead will rise with a new spiritual body, and the living believers will be 'changed' into a new spiritual body. We will no longer be subject to physical death and will be triumphant over the grave. In conclusion, we are waiting for Christ to return, because we know it will mean the end of death, and the final destruction of the devil and his works.
II Peter 3: 10 -- But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
This verse explains a little bit of what will happen at the end of the world, after we have met Christ in the air. No ones knows when it will happen, but the current earth will be destroyed.
II Peter 3: 13 -- Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
God has promised that, in the future, we will live with Him in the new heaven and new earth. When the devil and his works are completely destroyed, we will dwell in peace and righteousness in paradise. Words can never describe the greatness of that day and we get closer to it each moment.