Published: 1 December 1999

By Neil Phelan

"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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words"—1 Thes. 4:16-18 As the new millenium approaches, the minds and hearts of many have turned to the second advent of Christ. Books are published, videos are made, seminars are held and sermons are prepared to warn and instruct people of this great event that every Christian knows must come to pass. But we must remember, in the midst of all of the instruction that we may encounter, God's word must be the foundation of all that we believe. What does the Bible have to say concerning that great moment "WHEN JESUS RETURNS". WORDS OF COMFORT When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica concerning the second advent of Christ, we find his words to be words of comfort, "Comfort one another with these words." He did not write of a remorseful event, an event that God's people should anticipate with dread and fear. His words resemble that of a homecoming, a gathering together of loved ones that have gone on before us, the beginning of something better than this world has to offer. JESUS IS NOT COMING ALONE When Jesus returns, He is not coming alone. Paul said, "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him"-v14. Those Saints that have died, that now dwell with Christ on high, are coming with Jesus at His second advent. Moses, Abraham, Paul, Peter, and even those of our own family that we long to see again will return at that day. Surely, this must be a comfort to those who have lost loved ones in Christ, to know that they are presently with Jesus, and when He returns, they shall be with Him. And they are coming back for a purpose. They are coming for their bodies. They shall hover above the circle of the earth as Jesus speaks with the voice that wakes the dead and calls forth their bodies from the dust. THE DEAD RISE FIRST Those that sleep in Christ will rise first, "and the dead in Christ shall rise first." Those bodies that sleep in Christ shall rise first from the grave as they are called, glorified, changed and reunited with those hovering souls and spirits that once occupied the tabernacle of clay. Those who are alive when Jesus returns will not go up before those which sleep in Jesus. They will be eyewitness of the dead coming forth from the graves. According to Paul, this will be an event that all will behold. THE LIVING SAINTS SHALL THEN RISE The Saints that live at the time of Jesus' second advent, will then follow. That is the order of events, "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air". They will not disappear as some have suggested. As Jesus rose from the earth in the presence of the apostles into the clouds, so shall the Saints rise to be with Jesus in the air. All will behold the scene. A HAPPY ENDING: "FOREVER WITH THE LORD" According to Paul, that is the end, "so shall we ever be with the Lord." When Jesus returns, He will not set His foot upon this earth again. He has no reason to do so. When He came the first time He was victorious; He justified His people; He paid for their sins; He saved them from the wrath to come; He redeemed them from all iniquity; He established His kingdom; He ascended into the portals of glory a conquering King. There is only one thing left for Him to do and that is the purpose of His second advent: He is returning to get what He paid for on the first trip, what rightfully belongs to Him, His redeemed family. And from here, Paul is silent. Should we not be as well? WHEN? According to Paul, "the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night"-5:2. As the new year approaches, the eyes of many will be turned toward the heavens. This will be one of the most "watched" days in history. If the Lord is coming as a thief in the night, could this be THE day? The scene Paul has before us is a simple one. It is not clouded with types and shadows; with symbolism that we must try to unscramble. It is a straight forward account of that great and glorious day. And whatever we may believe concerning His second advent, it MUST agree with this simple account. Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor