Caught Up Together

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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  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. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] 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 them which are asleep. [16] 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: [17] 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. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 This morning let’s consider the end of this pursuing process!  Let’s notice what Scripture says about what will happen when we no longer will be pursuing after Christ.

 

I. Two Groups of People

  1. Those who are asleep.
  2. Those who are alive and remain.

II. The Purpose

To be with the Lord. …so shall we ever be with the Lord…

Another translation words it – …and so we will always be with the Lord…

The purpose of this event is for Christ to take his bride to be with Him.  Christ is spoken of as the bridegroom, waiting for his bride.  Christ promised he would come and get believers.

John 14:1-3  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. [2] 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. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

To give these believers a new glorified body.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54.  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] 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. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] 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.

In the twinkling of an eye- literally in the milliseconds that light reflects off the pupil of the eye, this transformation will occur.  The bodies of those saints in the grave will rise up, be glorified and meet Christ in the air.  Those who are alive will suddenly be transformed and meet Christ in the air.

 

III. The Action

Verb- harpazo means take away, seize, snatch away. 

Future Tense– Verb tense where the writer portrays an action or state of being that will occur in the future.  Paul is describing something that is still yet to happen.  But notice Paul expected that he would be part of those who alive and remain.  Paul eagerly anticipated Christ returning and he expected it to be in his lifetime.

Passive Voice– grammatical tense that signifies the subject is being acted upon.  Those who are alive and remain are the ones receiving the action of the verb.  God himself is the agent performing the action, which is why sometimes this is referred to as ‘divine passive’.  Notice this is not man doing anything.  Believers will have no part in performing this action of the Rapture, it will be purely God.

Indicative Mood- meaning the mood of this verb indicates that the action presented is real.   Believers this is not poetic language, it is not figurative language, this is just as literal as God breathing the world into existence!

IV. The Place

Verse 17 says that in the clouds those who were alive will catch up to those who were in the grave. The Greek word translated ‘together’ means at the same time.  Those in the grave will rise first but will be joined in the clouds at the same time with those were alive to go meet the Lord.

Paul says to meet the Lord in the air. The air is a term for that region beyond where the birds fly all the way to the farthest star.  All believers will unite there in the clouds and at the same time be brought to the presence of Christ.

 

Application:

Comfort: that we will be with the Lord!

This is the main purpose as Paul pens this section, to give comfort to all believers that yes one day those who have already died believing in Christ, will be resurrected out of the grave, and receive a new glorified body, just as those who are alive receive a glorified body. Believers we can have absolute comfort we will be with the Lord

Comfort: that our pursuit is finished!

* our commission is complete.

Mark 16:15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

This is the task of every believer, it is a commission given by Christ.  It applied to Paul, you, and every believer.  There is no days off and no change in the command.  I like what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:

At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand against Hitler.  Yet he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny.  A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, ‘Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return one day and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.’ Bonhoeffer replied, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. Believers today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished.” 

 * we will have glorified bodies.

No more will we deal with sin, temptation, death, decay, sickness, disease, pain, etc… All of those things of these earthly bodies will be no more, we will have a heavenly body.

* we will be eternally in the presence of God.

In these bodies we Pursue after Christ, striving to live for him as he instructs us.  But when the Rapture occurs our pursuit will be over.  No more will we long for what is coming, because we will be with Him.  In his presence…

Illustration

Story is told of a little girl who was quizzing her mother one day, following the church service.

Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?

Yes

Today?

Yes

In a few minutes?

Yes, dear

Mommy, would you comb my hair?

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