Summary: There is great benefit in every way to be in Christ at the time of His appearing.
"In Christ at His Coming"
1 Thes. 4:13-18
There is great benefit in every way to be in Christ at the time of His appearing. Notice that Paul uses those words, "in Christ" in this passage. He refers to Christians who have died before the rapture as those who are asleep in Christ... And he refers to all the believers who are alive and remain until His return also as in Christ. There five things that stand out to me in this section of Scripture this morning. Five things which, in this context, are only found in the Person of Christ, and only by those people who are said to be in Christ.
1. The Power (to raise the dead)
God Raised Jesus, and with Him He will bring those who sleep in Him - FIRST!
v:14-16 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
A 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
There is power in Christ! (In the person of Christ, and in being "in Christ." He has the power, and He will empower us to leave the grave.
Cp. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (Jn. 5:25-29)
2. The Person ("...Will be the leading One...")
He’ll Come in Person "the Lord Himself" (v:16) He’s not sending a substitute or a representative. He is coming back Himself to get us. Read it again in Jn. 14:1-4,
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
3. The Promise
It’s a Sure Thing "according to the Lord’s own word" (v:15) Jesus said,
if it were not so, I would have told you. (Jn. 14:2) He wouldn’t lie to us and He never breaks His promises. We have this assurance.
"He’s coming back, He said He would, He’s coming after me!"
4. The Party
The parties involved in this event are ourselves and the Lord. There will be a reunion that day. And the celebration (party). The glad reunion day will be a time of great celebration. It’ll never end, "so shall we be with the Lord forever" (v:17)
Jesus said, I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
This is why, though we mourn the loss of a loved one, we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. (1 Th. 4:13) We know we will join them in the clouds and we will all be together with the Lord for all eternity! Even the temporary sadness of death can’t quell that joy for long. Not if we hope in the truth of His Word. We recognize those who have gone on before us have just arrived at the party a bit earlier than the rest of us.
When I’m going to something special I like to get there early. I like to look around. And scope it out. I like to gawk at all the bobbles and ribbons. It doesn’t mean I’m getting there and starting without everyone else. It’s just the excitement of being there, anticipating all that’s in preparation. I think that’s kind of te way it is with our loved ones in Christ. Hebrews says, they’re not starting without us. (God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Heb. 11:40) They just got there early to soak up the atmosphere before all the other guests arrive. We wouldn’t call them back from the festivities.