Summary: Every one of us is concerned about the future. The Bible gives us pictures of the future. The Rapture and Resurrection of Christians are two such pictures of the future. You can know what is going to happen tomorrow by reading the Bible today.
James O. Davis is the founder and president of Second Billion (TM). You are invited to learn more about Second Billion by visiting www.billion.tv.
Every one of us is concerned about the future. The Bible gives us pictures of the future. The Rapture and Resurrection of Christians are two such pictures of the future. You can know what is going to happen tomorrow by reading the Bible today. We know the end by simply reading and comprehending God’s Holy Word.
After Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross He died, was buried, and then was resurrected on the third day. He lived on earth 50 more days before leaving to go to back to Heaven to be with His Father. Jesus said that He would come back again. On one occasion He said, “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And, if I go to prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3
This truth was continually in the minds of the believers in the Early Church. They had witnessed the magnificence of the life of Christ, the effectiveness of His ministry, the agony of His death, the power of His resurrection and the majesty of His ascension back to heaven. The Early Christians believed that Jesus would come again. This became the subject of every conversation, every prayer. And we pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
The Second Coming of Christ is mentioned 318 times in the New Testament. For every time the first coming of Jesus to earth is mentioned, the Second Coming is mentioned 8 times. Think about that. Nothing could be clearer than the teaching of the return of Jesus. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the Apostle Paul gave a detailed description and chronology of the Second Coming of Jesus. The first fact in the Second Coming is the return of the Savior.
FIRST, THE RETURN OF THE SAVIOR
This truth is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The Bible says that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” The emphasis is upon Him. The term “Himself” proves it is going to be Jesus who will returns, and not a substitute.
Acts 1:11 reads as follows: “This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven shall come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.” The Son of God had been born, grew up, ministered, traveled, taught, been killed, buried, conquered death, hell and the grave, and had gone home to heaven.
While the disciples were watching Jesus leave the earth, two angels appeared and said that He would return. Angels had announced His birth, watched His temptation, strengthened Him in Gethsemane as He prayed, heralded His resurrection, and now escorted Him back to heaven. “This same Jesus shall come again.” It’s going to be Jesus Christ Himself who will come back for us. Not only will there be a return of the Savior, but there will be a resurrection of the saints.
SECOND, THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS
The Bible says, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” We need to comprehend that the dead in Christ shall rise again. Those who have died as believers will one day come out of the grave. This will happen when Jesus Christ returns again. I want to share with you some unique characteristics about these saints who have died in Christ.
A) They are asleep in Jesus -- Paul used the word “asleep” three times in the first three verses of our text. In verse 13 he said, “I would not have you to be ignorant concerning those which are asleep. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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 precede them which are asleep.” Paul continues to say that the people who have died in Christ are asleep. Again and again the Bible depicts believers who have died as being asleep in Jesus.
In Acts 7, while Stephen was being stoned for his commitment to Christ, the Bible says he fell asleep. No where does the Bible picture a lost person as falling asleep when he dies. Why is death pictured as sleep for the Christian? Because death is not feared by the Christian. You don’t fear sleep; you welcome it. When you’re tired and weary you welcome sleep.