1 Thess. Lesson 7, Jesus Is Coming Back; Let’s Get to Work :: By Sean Gooding


Chapter 4: 13-18

13 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

All of us face the trials of life in different ways. Some are overthinkers or worriers; others tend to go numb; some sleep, some can’t; others get busy, and on and on we can go. The last 20 months for a lot of us have been eye-opening. We have seen the very systems that the Bible talks about come to life right before our eyes. For some that are saved, this has been eye-opening; it has reassured us that the Bible is real, the words are true, and the promises are secure.

It has also answered a lot of questions for us. We can see, maybe for the first time, how the world system will get the vast majority of the world left after the Rapture to take a mark that allows them to buy and sell goods. We can see how the powers that be will know who has and does not have the mark. We see the apps coming to life that gives us permission to live, to go out to eat, and to buy and sell in some cases right now. We can see how they will be able to track purchases as they move us to more and more online purchases with digital monies and/or currencies. We can see how a global event like the Rapture can unite the governments of the world. People from all walks of life, all religious backgrounds, all political spheres and financial circles can come together around a common ‘enemy.’

Paul lived in a time when death was rampant. The sanctity of human life outside of Christianity simply did not exist. The Roman government used death and death by torture to quell uprisings and to enslave millions. They made death into a sport. The Roman coliseum was built to entertain the masses with death. All around them, these Christians in Thessalonica could see their friends, their brothers and sisters in the Lord, dying, and they wondered if the promises were true.

How could the world get any worse? Surely, Jesus is coming soon.

  • The Hope we have in Jesus, verses 13-14

According to Guzik’s commentary, there were prevailing ideas that death was the end for all people. Ancient writers like Aeschylus, Catullus and Theocritus all taught that death was the end. But Paul talks about those that have fallen ‘asleep’; they are just sleeping. Remember that Jesus, as he went to heal Jarius’ daughter, told the mourners that she was just asleep. The word ‘cemetery’ was actually coined by early Christians; the word means ‘dormitory’ or ‘sleeping place.’

We need to be careful how far we take these analogies; the Bible does not teach ‘soul sleep.’ Our bodies go into the ground and decay, and they will be resurrected one day. But ALL people live forever. When we were created, we were created as living souls. We will live eternally somewhere; heaven or hell are the two options offered by God. The choice of where we live is up to us. Those of us that die in Jesus are immediately in His presence, and we are there forever. The idea of ‘falling asleep’ is a reference to the body only.

While we mourn the loss of loved ones – mothers, fathers, children, grandparents and friends – we who know Jesus do not mourn as though we will never see them again. As well, we also know that those who died with an illness are ill no longer. They are whole and happy in Jesus. My mom has Alzheimer’s; she will be 88 next week if the Lord spares her life, but one day she will remember us all. No PSWs or nurses will be needed to care for her; she will be whole. I have a father, a brother, countless friends, and acquaintances that have died in Jesus; they and I will all be reunited one day, maybe sooner than we all think. But this is the hope we have. This is what carries us through the grief and the loss. Hope is one of the remaining supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13).

We are confident in the empty tomb of Jesus, the proof that there is life, a good life after death for the saved. We can even see the events like Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17 and see Moses and Elijah, men who had been dead for millennia physically, but yet they walked and talked with Jesus. The witch at Endor knew she was talking to Samuel that night; for the very first time, she was actually speaking to the dead, and it shook her. Paul tells of his ‘life after death’ experience, and he does so in the third person: “I know a man.” Well, he was the man. This man died and saw things that he simply could not put into words. Yet here he was, that man, talking about the resurrection and about life after death.

Jesus will bring the saved dead back with him, and we will see them again. Paul uses the term ‘we’ in these verses (see verse 15, “we who are alive”). He expected the Lord to return in his lifetime. He lived each day longing and expecting the Lord’s return. Later as we read, Paul starts to use “you.” He understood that Jesus would not return in his lifetime, and it changed his writings.

But I can say that we have a very good chance of seeing Jesus return in our generation. I will not set dates nor times; that is forbidden. But we can surely see more and more that framework for the power and rise of the Man of Sin. We can see the mechanisms that will help him dominate the world. We can see the forming of the One-World Religion as the Muslims, Catholics and Jews begin the building of a worship facility in Berlin, Germany. China is fast becoming the military superpower; Russia continues to encroach unabated into Europe, and the US military is being depleted both of arms and people.

  • The Job we have in Jesus, 2 Peter 3:9

While we are excited about the return of Jesus, we need to be aware that His return, though good news for us in Jesus, is a damning event in the lives of those that don’t know Him. Shortly after His coming for us in the Rapture, the world will be plunged into chaos, disease, food shortages, natural disasters, and the breakdown of law and order. Death will be rampant, and the Gospel will be scarce. Most of the people that don’t know Jesus before the Rapture will never get to know Him after. They will die in their sins and spend an eternity in Hell. What are we to do about that? Tell others about Jesus. We need to be about the business of the Kingdom.

We can see that the people in charge already understand that a vast majority of the people will do what they are told. When the Mark of the Man of Sin comes into play midway through the Tribulation, the vast majority of people will simply line up to get it; they will not question nor challenge the order. ALL of these will go to Hell; none can be saved. Once you take the Mark, you are sealed for eternity. There will be those that understand what is happening; either they are saved, or many of the Jews will realize that this Mark is evil as it requires you to worship a man and not God. These rebels will be hunted down and executed.

Take the time to read Revelation 11-13. I am sure you will not be able to put it down once you begin. The point is that all of our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who don’t know Jesus as Savior will not have a great life after the Rapture. Theirs will be hell on earth and then hell for real without Jesus. We need to be about the work of sharing the Gospel. Jesus is the only way.

Like Paul here in this letter, ‘we’ should expect to meet the Lord in the air. ‘We’ should expect to hear the Trumpet. ‘We’ should expect to see the dead in Christ raised. ‘We’ should expect to see the dormitories open and the sleeping bodies of our loved ones in Jesus awake. ‘We’ should expect to fly in the air to meet Jesus. Sadly, not many of us, myself included at times, live this way. Maybe some of us have become the end-time scoffers, not by our words, but by the way we live. We do not take hell seriously, and just maybe we don’t truly believe that actual people that we know are there and others are on their way simply because they don’t know Jesus as Saviour.

If you and I truly believed that Hell was real and that the people we sit and work with every day, the people we eat lunch with and joke with and host football pools with every day, are going to die without Jesus and spend eternity in Hell, how would that change the way we share the Gospel? Jesus is coming to get us; this is a fact. How many of us will there be to go, and how many will we help be in that group? God wants ALL to be saved, and He is giving mankind as much time as He can.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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