Words of Faith 3-29-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Thessalonians 4
 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.
In speaking about our hope as Christian believers, Paul had made it clear that those who die with a relationship to God in Jesus will, in fact, come back with Him and their bodies will be resurrected. "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
But what about those who may be physically alive on this earth at the time of Jesus' coming for us? Should we still remain in this earthly life, we will be part of one of the most dramatic and magnificent events in all of history. After the bodies of dead Christians have been raised, those who are still alive and have been left behind momentarily will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Apparently, Paul expected to be a part of this group because he used the word 'we'-- "we who are still alive and are left." Paul thought that Christ would probably return in his lifetime, or at least he allowed for that possibility. Only a moment will separate the resurrection of the dead and the translation of the living.
This is called the Rapture of the church. In Latin. the word for "caught up" is rapturo, from which we get the term "Rapture." This Rapture of the church is when Christians are caught up to meet Christ in the clouds as Jesus predicted in Acts 1:9. These events actually differ considerably from those that will accompany Christ's ultimate return to the earth to set up His earthly kingdom (Rev. 19:11-21). There is actually a difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming.
In this great and wonderful event, the resurrected or translated bodies of all Christians will be united with Christ and with each other at the Rapture. From that time on and forever after that they will be with the Lord. The Lord will take living believers to the place He is presently preparing for them (John 14:2-3).
For Paul, these were the most encouraging thoughts he could possibly share with believers. "Therefore encourage each other with these words." What could be more encouraging? Christians who have died will be resurrected to join the living saints with the Lord Jesus when He comes, and they will actually precede those who are alive in that day. Those who are alive will be united with them, and they will all be with the Lord forever. This gives us abundant reason for rejoicing!
Not only do Christians not grieve like unbelievers, but followers of Christ can actually look forward eagerly to that great day. This is the great hope of the church, to see the Lord and be united with Him forever. This is the event which every believer in this time should anticipate. It is a blessed hope (Titus 2:13) concerning the dead in Christ as well as for the living!
Thanksgiving is upon us in the United States. We rightly pause to reflect on the many blessings God has provided, and give Him thanks for those blessings. We can also give thanks for something that yet to come, but which is as real as any historical event-- the Rapture of the church.
Lord God, I look forward with great anticipation to Your coming. With great hope and rejoicing, I ponder the wondrous thought of being ultimately united with You at the time of the resurrection of believers and the Rapture of the church. I place my hope in You and give thanks for this awesome provision in Your plan. In Jesus' name.