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Most Recent Update
Jan. 17, 2012
Jesus Is Coming Again!
Let us turn to the book of John, the gospel of John, as we talk about the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus is coming again. John was the closest friend that Jesus had here on earth. And God selected him to write one of the Gospels. In the fourteenth chapter we have the first of three passages that I want to expound. Many people do not believe that Jesus is really coming again. I think that many Christians do not believe that He is coming. At least they don't think He's coming soon. They don't get excited about it. I think they should if they really believe that He's coming soon. That's enough to get excited about. Anyway, I would like to call to the witness stand, first of all, Jesus Himself and see what He has to say. Then we will call the angels and let them give their testimony. Then we'll take the greatest writer of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul himself, and we'll call him to witness. And between those witnesses: Jesus, and the angels, and Paul, we will establish, beyond any shadow of doubt, that Jesus is coming again.
The Background to John Chapter 14
The background for chapter fourteen from the Gospel of John is this. They were on the way from the upper room out to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would pray and be led to His death. He has told the disciples again and again, but it hasn't soaked in, as we say. They didn't realize the significance of what He was talking about. He had told them that He was going to leave them. And suddenly a sadness fell over the group. Peter, who was always quick to talk, like a lot of us, talk first and think afterwards. He would end up putting his foot in his mouth so to speak. Peter talked up, and I'm sure Jesus appreciated what he said because Jesus knew Peter. Jesus knew that Peter loved Him. But Peter was weak and that's like some of us. We love the Lord, but fail Him so often. And we have to come and acknowledge our failures and our sins and ask Him to forgive. Well, Peter said, "Lord I want to go with You." Now that's wonderful. It's a fine sentiment. He said, "I want to be with You; I want to go with You." Jesus said, "Well you can't go with Me now. You'll follow later." Peter said, "I want to go; I want to go now; I'm willing to do anything, even die just to be with You." Remember that Jesus had called the disciples, eleven of them, on the shores of Galilee. And there He had trained them for 3½ years. They had lived together and He taught them a lot of things. He loved them, and they loved Him. Now Peter says he's willing to die just to be with the Lord. Jesus knows what we're going to do tomorrow, knows us better than we know ourselves. He looked at Peter, right in the eyes, and He said, "Peter, before the rooster crows tomorrow morning announcing the dawn of a new day, you are going to deny that you even know Me. Not once, but three times." Now, if that had come from anyone but Jesus, I think Peter would have argued, but he couldn't argue with Jesus. Peter was so stunned. He didn't say a word. It was like something had hit him with a hammer on the head. He was absolutely speechless. He could not say a word. And the disciples were listening and could not believe what they had heard. "Peter is going to deny that he knows the Lord before morning." That's what Jesus said. This sad hush came over the group. They waited for Jesus to say something and Jesus did, some of the greatest words you'll find in any language.
"Let not your heart be troubled: [if you] believe in God, believe also in Me."
Survey Done on Seminary Students
There are 773,746 words in the Bible. Four of the most wonderful, precious, and simple words in the whole book are these four words from the lips of Jesus, "...I will come again...". Anybody can understand it. Sad it is that 99%, according to a survey that was made sometime ago of the seminary students in the seminaries of our land, do not believe it because the professors told them not to take it literally and I cannot see it any other way to take it.
The Second Coming is Not Being Taught in Some Churches
A lady once said to me, "Well, in our church we believe that Jesus comes into your heart." I had asked her how long it had been since her pastor had preached about the Second Coming of Christ. That's the answer she gave me. She said, "Well!" That's all she would have had to say. And then I knew he didn't preach about it. "In our church we believe Jesus comes into our heart." And I said, "So do I, and the Bible teaches that, but that's not what I'm talking about. When Jesus came into your heart, did you hear a shout of command?" "No!" "Did you hear a trumpet sound?" She said, "I don't know what you're talking about." Well I said, "There's a Scripture that says, when Jesus comes in the sky for those that love Him, He'll be accompanied by a sound of a trumpet and by a shout of command." She had never heard of anything about that. She was with me on the tour of the Holy Land, I'm delighted to tell you that before we got back to New York she believed it.
Christ Can Guarantee His Coming
Jesus said, "I will come again." And you couldn't put it in any simpler language. There it is, you've either got to accept it, or explain it away, and deny it. "...I will come again...". The testimony of Jesus, is He coming again? Well, He said He is. When MacArthur left the Philippines he said, "I will return." Well, MacArthur wasn't God, he meant to say, I expect to return. Fortunately he did return, but he couldn't guarantee it, but Christ can. He is the One who said, "...All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth." (Matt. 28: 18)
He possesses omnipotent power. He made the universe. He made you and me. He made everything there is. And He has the power and He says, I will do it. So there's no question about it, He will.
And He said to His disciples,
Christ Will Receive us Unto Himself in the Rapture
And then He said,
This is the difference between Christ coming into your heart at salvation and Christ coming in the sky for those who love Him. "...will come again, and receive you unto Myself;..." (John 14: 3)
You Receive Christ at the Time of Salvation
When you said, "Lord Jesus come into my heart and save me;" He came into your heart. He had to or you're not saved. And if you asked Him to, He did, because it says,
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in..." (Rev. 3: 20)
And please don't insult Him by begging Him over and over again and over and over again to come in. That only makes a fool of Him.
A Lady on a Train
On one occasion I was scheduled to travel from Pennsylvania to Indiana, I was planning to go by plane. Something happened, I don't know what it was. When I came to the airport, they didn't have a seat for me and I had a feeling the Lord wanted me to go by train because there was somebody I should meet on the train. So I went to the railroad station and got a ticket on the train and I prayed as I entered the car that day. Lord, I'm going to sit down on an empty seat and the person that you want me to talk to, you direct that person so that person will sit beside me. I was seated for a little while and a lady sat next to me and somewhere between there and Indiana one of us started a conversation and before very long I found myself asking her if she had asked Jesus to come into her heart. She said, "Oh, yes, many times." I said, "What are you trying to do, insult Him?" She said, "What do you mean?" Well I said, "If I come to your door and rap on it I am asking to come in. Right?" Right. And if you say, "Come in." What am I going to do? Why, I will come in. Now I am standing inside and you keep on saying, "Come in, come in, will you please come in?" And I'm standing there, I'll begin to wonder what's wrong up here.
Now Jesus said,
You don't need to beg and cry and ask Him. He wants to come in more than you want Him. And if you would just say, "Lord, open my heart, come in." In that moment He's in. And don't insult Him by going on begging Him, then start thanking Him. He doesn't lie. He keeps His word. And don't expect to get hit on the head by a 2' x 4' or get knocked over on the road as Paul did on the way to Damascus. Not every ones busy persecuting the Christians and they don't need such rough treatment as Paul got. Don't expect to get knocked down or have some great dramatic experience. Maybe He'll give you that, but maybe He won't. Maybe it's just a simple taking Him by faith.
So He says that He will do it. And when you say, "Lord, come in," He comes in. Then you take it by faith and start thanking Him for coming in. The devil will creep up behind and will say, "You know you aren't saved because you didn't do anything." You get back to the Book and find out what it is you have to do. Tell the devil to beat it because he's all wet. He doesn't know what he's talking about.
You Can't Add Anything in the Way of Works to be Saved
There isn't anything you can do to add to your salvation. Some people think you have to get baptized, that will make sure you get saved. All the water in the whole world can't wash away one guilty stain. Even Lady MacBeth knew that. It takes the blood of Jesus Christ to wash away sin. Yes, you ought to be baptized to please the Lord because you are saved. Baptism is for believers, but it is not to be saved. There's only one way to be saved.
"...whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Rom. 10: 13)
"That if thou [will] confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and...believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10: 9)
That's in such simple language. It's so plain. We are saved by faith, if you accept by faith the redemptive work of Christ on the cross and receive Him into your heart, He comes in and He performs the miracle of the new birth and causes you to be born in the Spirit, to be born again, to be washed in the blood of the Lamb and have your name written in heaven. Now if you're really genuinely born again then you'll want to serve the Lord and love Him because you know what He did for you. If there is no fruit, and we have no right to judge your salvation, but we do have a right to be a fruit inspector. If there is no fruit we have a right to be doubtful. We do not have a right to judge, but we do have a right to be doubtful. This is between an individual and the Lord. Nobody else can say exactly what has happened. So we have to be very careful in that realm.
Well, Jesus said,
Jesus Receives us Unto Himself When the Rapture Occurs
I was saying that when you were saved you received Christ. When He comes for us literally in the sky, then He is going to take us to Him. And that's two different things altogether.
"...I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14: 3)
We are going to Him. He's not coming to us. Oh, Yes, He's coming as far as the air, but then we're going to takeoff and go up to meet Him. That's the Second Coming of Christ. The first phase of which I'm speaking about now called the Rapture, when the Church is transformed and translated in a moment and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
So Jesus said,
Jesus is Going to Leave His Disciples
"And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."
And that's in the fourth verse of the 14th chapter. And Jesus said, "You know where I'm going, and you know how to get there." And that really puzzled the disciples. And Peter wasn't going to talk. He kept his mouth shut, he was listening and Thomas spoke up and said, "But Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Now that's a very reasonable question. If you don't know where somebody is going, how can you possibly know the way there?
Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven According to the Bible
But this is different. Jesus answered with this tremendous statement profound enough to keep any professor busy for a long time contemplating the theology that is involved, yet simple enough for any school child to comprehend. Jesus said in answer to Thomas when he said, "We don't know where you are going. How do we know the way?" Jesus said, "...I am the way...". All you need is to know Jesus. Then you don't need to worry about going to heaven because He's going to take care of it all.
"...I am the way,..." (John 14: 6)
He didn't say, My Word is the way. He didn't say, My teachings are the way. He didn't say, My Church is the way. He said, "...I am the way...". Jesus in His own person is the way. And when you receive Him by faith into your heart and have Him as your Savior and Lord, you don't need to worry about how to get to heaven because when you close your eyes in death or when you're translated in that moment when He comes in the sky, you'll instantly be taken away in glory, in a glorified body, speeding through space with the speed of thought forever to be with Him and forever to be like Him. You don't need to worry about a thing. All you need is to know Jesus. That's why He said, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man..." (John 14: 6).
Now this is so exclusive, and it's so precious, so clear, so plain and so simple. How can anyone miss it? "...no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." Then somebody says to me, "But what about those people that have never heard? What about these people? They're doing the best they can." I am sorry. I can only tell you what Jesus said.
It is not enough to do the best you can. Oh, yes, you must be sincere, but you must also be right. See, you can go down the road and be sincerely wrong and kill someone by running through a stop sign. You can say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I was so sincere," but that isn't going to help much at that point. You've also got to be right.
And when the Bible says,
That means Jesus is the only Savior. There is no other way to heaven. What about these poor people who haven't heard? Well, we ought to do all we can to get the gospel to them. That's all I can tell you, because they cannot go to heaven apart from Christ. Now that is a sermon all in itself; but I believe that's true with all my heart. We have a tremendous missionary responsibility to do all that we can to tell the world because they cannot be saved apart from the Word that gives them the information that Jesus died in their place.
Paul Preached the Gospel in Five Words
Paul said, "Now I'm going to tell you the gospel. I'd rather speak five words in [his own language] than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." I don't know why so many people are so eager to speak in foreign unknown tongues because Paul said, "It would be much better to speak 5 words in [his own language] than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." They tell me that if I speak real fast for one hour, and I often do that, I use ten thousand words. But I don't speak in tongues. I speak in one language and I like to think it's the one language that everybody's listening in. But Paul said, "Now I'm going to tell you the gospel." After that he made that statement about the 5 words in the 14th chapter of I Corinthians, then he went into the 15th chapter. Now I'll tell you what the gospel is. Then he used 5 words to tell it, Christ Died For Our Sins. That's the gospel. And apart from that gospel, nobody can be saved.
"...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10: 17) (Read also Romans 10: 9 - 11, 13 - 15.).
You can't look at a tree and say, "My, that represents the God who made it," and be saved. You cannot do it. You must have the message. It's got to be presented one way or another.
Well, Jesus said,
"...I am the way, and the truth, and the life:..." (John 14: 6)
Therefore I can tell you absolutely, unconditionally, positively, He is the only Savior. There is no way to heaven apart from Christ. So the testimony of Jesus is, "...I will come again...". It's so simple, it's so plain, may everybody believe it.
Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit
Now, come to the book of Acts, chapter one. Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, after having appeared to over five hundred individuals, who could testify in court that they saw Him when it only took two, you know, to establish the case. He went up to the top of the Mount of Olives and there with His disciples He gave them their last instructions. And among those instructions He said, "Now don't tell anybody just yet. Go back to the city and pray and wait. I am going away, but I am going to send the Holy Spirit. I'll send another Comforter and He will lead you and guide you into all truth. He'll bring to remembrance those things that I told you that you ought to remember and He will convict the world of sin." (See John 14: 16, 26, 15: 26, 16: 7 - 8, 13.). And then He said, "Take the message to Jerusalem and up into Samaria, and all over the world to the ends of the earth and I'll be with you all the way," that's what He said (Acts 1: 8). And He made this tremendous statement in Matthew 28: 18, "...All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.".
Jesus Ascends Into Heaven
And right about then, He demonstrated some of that power and they were absolutely astounded. They were watching and weren't expecting what they saw. All of a sudden they discovered that between His feet and the top of the Mount of Olives there was space. He wasn't standing on the ground anymore. And that space was increasing. He was going up. I think their eyes got bigger all the time. Their mouths dropped open. They had never heard of anything like this. They were not prepared for it. There they stood absolutely amazed and they watched Him in utter astonishment as He went up and up and up. There was a cloud up there and He slipped away into the cloud and they couldn't see Him anymore. But they were still looking and then the angel broke the silence.
"...[You] men of Galilee, why stand ye [here] gazing...into the [heavens]? this same Jesus,..." (Acts 1: 11)
Now what Jesus was that? Well that Jesus was the Jesus with the nail prints in His hands. That was the Jesus with the scar in His side. That was the Jesus who had been raised from the dead. This same Jesus, whom ye have seen go into heaven. Was it literal? It surely was. They saw Him with their eyes. It was very literal. "...this same Jesus,... (whom ye have seen go) ...into heaven, shall so come in like manner...". (Read Acts 1: 11.).
An Air Tight Case
Now any English teachers here? You study that language and see whether you can make it any more airtight as far as a case is concerned. Who is it that's coming back? Is it a spiritual Jesus or is it a real physical, visible Jesus? "...this same Jesus,..." That ought to be enough but just to make it stronger. He said, "(whom ye have seen go), ...shall so come in like manner...". Phrase upon phrase piled up until, how can you miss it. The very same Jesus, in a physical body, though resurrection body remember, the One that went right through the wall, the One that disappeared before their eyes, or appeared at will, but also the One that ate fish on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In His resurrection body He had the nail prints in His hands. And it was that Jesus that they watched going up. And the angel said, "He's coming just as you saw Him go." The very same Jesus. Now that is so crystal clear. That ought to stand up in any court of law, nobody could possibly get around it. That's what I think. But you and I who believe it are in the minority among people who call themselves Christians.
We're in the Days of Apostasy
Now that's very sad, but it's true and it's prophetic because the prophets foretold that in the last days apostasy would set in and religious leaders would lead people astray. That's exactly where we are. When 99% of the seminary students do not believe in the Second Coming of Christ you know somebody has strayed far from the Word. When Jesus said, "...I will come again, and receive you unto Myself;..." And the angel said, "...this same Jesus, (whom ye have seen go) ...into heaven, shall...come in like manner as ye have seen Him go...". That's what the angel said. I didn't make it up. It's right there in the Book, I quoted it.
But now let me read it to you exactly like it is written. The first chapter of Acts.
Let's begin with verse 8,
"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, (they were watching, they were eyewitnesses), He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight."
And, if we would read on, you would discover some fantastic things happened. That man Peter who denied, cursed, swore, and said, "I don't know this man" has changed.
A Pennsylvania Dutchman can understand what happened there because Peter came from Galilee and he was down in Jerusalem and a maid watched him by the fire and heard him talk and said, "Ah, I can hear your accent. You're a Pennsylvania Dutchman." Well, no, that's not what she said. She said, "You came from Galilee."
Professors and teachers in many schools, colleges, and universities have tried to get me to get rid of the Pennsylvania Dutch accent, but I have it anyway and wherever I go somebody hears it sooner or later, but mostly sooner. You know if a Pennsylvania Dutchman goes into New York or down to Virginia where I live now, when I'm home, our language is all together different than theirs and I have to listen real hard to understand those Virginians. There is a difference of accents. You know how that works.
Peter Denies the Lord
Well, in Jesus' day there was one accent up in Galilee and another one in Jerusalem and Peter is not home, he's in Jerusalem, and when he starts getting real loud and starts to curse and swear and say, "I told you I don't know this man," he's really getting fired up. He just lets that accent roll. And the maid heard it right away and Peter knew he was caught. And he looked and he saw Jesus watching him and it struck him like a knife and he headed right outside and he let the tears roll. Dear old Peter loved the Lord, there was no question about it. He was saved and he was not lost at that moment either. He repented of his sin in bitter tears and the Lord knew what he was going to do. The Lord had already told him, but not precisely, so that he understood what it was, that he was going to make him his first preacher when He said, "I am going to give to you the keys of the kingdom." (See Matthew 16: 19.). The message of salvation, "Peter, you're going to be the first one to unlock heaven."
Peter Became a Bold Preacher
Well, it was ten days later that the Holy Spirit came. Peter was there at Pentecost with the rest of the Jews and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit came down upon them and Peter got so filled up he couldn't keep still. And he began to talk and all those thousands of Jews that had come from all over the world heard in their own language wherein they were born. Now that's real tongue speaking. He was talking in his own language, possibly Aramaic, but they all heard in the language in which they were born. And he couldn't have imagine what had happened. Peter was no longer a lying, cursing, individual. Now he was a bold, fearless preacher. He said to that mighty crowd, "You crucified Jesus, the Son of God!" He preached with such power that he didn't care about himself. He just preached as the Holy Spirit gave him the Word until he had those people begging him to tell them what to do. He told them to repent, and come to Christ, and be baptized. You know what? When he gave the invitation 3,000 walked down the aisle so to speak.
In Later Years More Than 3,000 Were Saved
They didn't have a meeting like that for nearly 2,000 years until Billy Graham preached in the Philippines. And for the first time that record was broken in one meeting. However, at Pentecost, everyone that made a decision was saved. In the meeting that Billy Graham held by his own testimony he said, "If 12% of those that made a decision are really genuine I am satisfied," or something to that effect. So possibly the record of Peter with 3,000 really being saved wasn't broken until some years later.
Ford Philpot was in the same conference where I was in Pittsburgh. He told us a story of when he preached in the Congo he had 75,000 people, as I remember, in the audience and he gave an invitation and he said he thought the whole audience was coming. 15,000 started walking down the aisle. He stopped them. He said, "Wait a minute, you didn't hear what I said. I am asking you to surrender everything and you may pay a terrible price." He went on to tell them how hard it would be in an African culture to change their old ways and throw their fetishes out and go the new way, the Jesus way. He made it as hard as he possibly could. Then he said, "Now if you understand what I'm saying, now will you come. And thereby you are saying I want to go the Jesus way. I am accepting Jesus as my Savior." Ford Philpot said, fifteen thousand came.
The Beginning of the Church
Well, I'm saying back there at Pentecost Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and he just started off with a bang and the Church was started in one day when three thousand were saved and became the Church. After that they had people saved everyday. What a thrill, what a joy! It made the difference being filled with the Holy Spirit. Well, that happened after Peter had been up on the Mount, after he had been in the upper room. It's altogether different now. It's a new Peter.
The Second Coming of Christ
We've had the testimony of Jesus. We had the testimony of the angels. Will you come with me now to First Thessalonians, chapter 4? The greatest passage in the whole Bible on the Second Coming of Christ, I do believe we have that in this chapter. I Thessalonians four, the greatest verse, I think, in the whole Bible on the subject is verse 16, but I want to begin with verse 13. I want to make sure we do not have any ignorant brethren.
Paul saw in verse 13,
Of course, I'm reading that the way it is written, with a small b and a comma in between so none of you would be insulted. He didn't talk about ignorant brethren. But he said, "I don't want you brethren to be ignorant," that's what he said. And what was the subject?
This is the sleep of death as the Bible calls it.
"...that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." (I Thes. 4: 13)
Those who had no hope in Paul's day would moan and mourn and carry on for a whole month. Going through that period of mourning they would get all their neighbors, friends, and professional mourners in because they had no hope. What sad words, "No hope," that they would ever see their loved ones again. But Paul said, "You Christians, I don't want you to sorrow like those people who have no hope because, you do have hope. You're a Christian. This is only a temporary separation."
Look what he says,
And there's the basis of our salvation. Faith in Christ, believing that He died and rose again. If we are saved, he's saying, by believing that Jesus died and rose again.
"...even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." (I Thes. 4: 14)
Christians go to Heaven When They Die
Now I must stop and explain that verse because many people are confused. Hardly a week passes that somebody doesn't ask me that question even if I'm not preaching about it. How can it be that individuals who died, talking about Christians now, having their bodies in the cemetery and there waiting for the resurrection, but Paul said, "...those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.". Now how can He bring them with Him when they're in the grave? That's the question. And it's a very simple answer, and I'm so glad to explain it so that you'll have no confusion in this matter. When an individual dies, having accepted Christ, that individual is not put in the grave. That individual leaves the shell, the house of clay called the body, and instantly is ushered into the presence of the God that made him. The Bible says, this side of the resurrection, "...to be absent from the body, [is] to be present with the Lord." (II Cor. 5: 8).
My Parents Are in Heaven
A good many of you knew my father. He was in the ministry all his life. At the time this happened he was 84 years old and my mother, his second wife, was 64. A few years ago I was preaching in Ohio on the subject of Heaven. A male quartet sang about heaven just before I stood up and Heaven suddenly became so real that I couldn't stand it. And I burst into tears as the quartet finished and that picture of heaven didn't leave me and I couldn't talk. I wanted to cry. I wasn't sad, but heaven was just so real that I burst into tears. And it was quite awhile before I could start preaching. I did not know why I was so sensitive at that moment. I did know after the service. My wife didn't tell me till after the service. My mother had entered heaven just a little while before. She had a heart attack and passed away the same day. We came home, I say we, my wife and I and our two children, Paul and Joan. My father was in the rocking chair and Paul and I walked up to him and my father said, "Paul, Grandma is not here. I touched her hand in the casket. She is not here. She went to Heaven." I touched her hand in the casket too, but it wasn't my mother. It was the body that she used to occupy. It was an empty shell. It didn't feel like my mother's hand at all. It felt like cardboard. It was just an empty house, she had moved out. She had gone to be with the Lord. We had a funeral and took her body out and we lowered it in the sod to await the resurrection. My father lost all will to live and a few weeks later we had another funeral. I touched his hand in the casket and my father was not there. There was just the empty house. He had gone on to heaven too. There's no question in my mind, my father and my mother were not buried in the cemetery. They went to be with the Lord in conscious living presence. For a God that cannot lie has put it in writing.
"...to be absent from the body, [is] to be present with the Lord." (II Cor. 5: 8)
Now that settles it. So when the trumpet sounds and the Lord comes in the sky, where will my mother and father be? The Lord's going to bring them back with Him.
We Will Have a New Glorified Resurrected Body
Every saved person during this whole Age of Grace is with the Lord and He is going to bring them with Him. "...(those who) sleep (die) in Jesus will God bring with Him." (I Thes. 4: 14). And at that point, "...the dead shall..." (I Cor. 15: 52) whatever atoms or molecules there are. And it doesn't matter if the body is completely decayed or has been eaten by the fish or if it's completely gone so that nobody can recognize it. God who made the body in the first place will give the order and the elements will come together in a new arrangement and there will be a new glorified body that can never die. He'll give the signal and all the atoms will hop to and there will be a beautiful wonderful heavenly, eternal, glorified body. And in that moment, it will all happen in a twinkling of an eye, my father and my mother are going to pick up their resurrection bodies and occupy those bodies for all of eternity to come. And those of us who are alive at that very same moment are going to have a tremendous transformation too. Every atom in our bodies is going to change position and we're going to have a new arrangement instantly. "In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed. For this mortal shall put on immortality and this corruptible shall put on incorruption, we shall be changed." (Read I Cor. 15: 51 - 54.). This mortal body, that is subject to death, will be no longer subject to death when the arrangement of the atoms and the molecules is different. This corruptible subject to corruption, this mortal subject to death, it's all going to change, the heavenly body cannot die. It cannot decay and it's going to happen faster than you can snap your fingers, in a blinking of an eye, that's the fastest human reaction. That's what Paul said. It's going to happen when the trumpet sounds. So now is it clear? "...(those who) sleep in Jesus, God will bring with Him." (I Thes. 4: 14).
The Bible, God's Word, is True and Reliable
Now we'll go on to verse 15,
If that's what it said I would not preach it. Shakespeare uses interesting, beautiful language, but Shakespeare doesn't speak with authority on the subject of life and death. I'm glad it says, "...by the word of the Lord.".
The Lord has never lied. He knows all things and He is the One from whom we take our instruction.
So he says,
We're Going up Together
These Thessalonians Christians were worried about their loved ones. See, they were all watching for the coming of the Lord. Paul had taught them to do that. Now some of their loved ones were dying and they were putting them in the cemetery. They were worried. Now, if the Lord comes they're going to miss it (the Rapture) because they were in the ground. That was what this whole thing was all about. And Paul said, "Now I want to give you instruction so you won't be ignorant on this subject anymore." These Thessalonican Christians thought that we're going up and they're going to be left behind, we're going ahead of them. Paul says, "That's not the way it is. We are not going ahead of them." And you'll see in a moment how precise he gets in explaining that we are going together exactly, he says. And here is now the greatest verse in the New Testament on the subject.
"For the Lord Himself..." (I Thes. 4: 16)
The Lord is Coming in Person
I used to teach Thessalonians in seminary, and I enjoyed it very much. This is a rich Book. One question I often asked in a final exam was, books closed, sixteenth verse of the fourth chapter of Thessalonians. Give me one word that proves the Second Coming of Christ is in person. Now what word would you pick out of that verse to prove that it's in person, not a spiritual thing? It says, "...the Lord Himself...". Of course, if they were listening in class while I was lecturing they didn't have any problem with it. If they slept through that lecture they might have missed it. The Lord Himself! means it's got to be in person.
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven..." (I Thes. 4: 16)
Why is he descending? Well, He ascended at ascension. The Bible says He's at the Father's right hand till He comes back, so it all fits.
Now, He is coming down,
Jesus Will Give a Shout of Command From the Sky
The shout is the commander and chief giving the order. That's what the Greek suggests. Jesus is the commander and chief. And if you want to know what the order is that He gives, then you'll read Revelation, chapter 4, verse 1, where it says, "...Come...". And I believe that's exactly what the order is. He's going to come in the air and He'll give the shout, Come! And you know what? Bodies that have been dead a thousand years, are suddenly, instantly, immediately, going to hear that command, and all the forces of hell cannot hold them down. The sod will break and they will come out with beautiful, glorified, eternal, heavenly bodies. He'll "...descend from heaven with a shout...". The shout of command coming from the commander and chief.
And it says,
That's Michael, he's going to be there and give a shout. And then it says, "...and with the trump of God:..." (I Thes. 4: 16)
God loves the trumpets. When His Son is crowned King of Kings, He's going to have 7 angels blow trumpets and our backbones are going to go like this. When we hear those trumpets sound. When we see Him being crowned, we'll fall at his feet and acknowledge Him as the newly crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And now at the time when the Bride is snatched away, He is going to have a trumpet blown. That's what it says. The trumpet is going to sound. I don't think the rest of the people will hear it. It's a trumpet only for those who are going up.
It says then,
The Dead in Christ Will Rise First When the Rapture Happens
The Thessalonians thought that the people on top of the ground were going up ahead of the others. They would leave them behind for a little while. Paul said, not so, the dead are going to rise first. Why so?
Well, first I've got to explain the word rise. That word rise really means stand up. It's the same thing you do when you get up in the morning. You say, what time do you rise in the morning. Well, you don't get out of bed and rise through the ceiling. You just stand up when you rise. That's what it says in the Greek. And Paul is so explicit and so plain.
Not the unsaved now, but the saved. They will stand up first. Why are they going to stand up first? Why, because we are going together, and they are 6 feet under. If we're going together they have to stand up first. I told you Paul is very precise in his language. And that's what it says, and it's very simple and it's beautiful.
"...the dead in Christ shall [stand up] first:" (I Thes. 4: 16)
"Then..." (I Thes. 4: 17)
Notice the adverb of time. After they have stood up.
"Then we which are alive and remain..." (I Thes. 4: 17)
A Vast Multitude Will be Alive All Over the Earth
That tells me a lot of people will be alive and remaining when the Lord comes. The Lord said, "When I return to the earth will I find faith on the earth?" There will be so much apostasy. That's a good question, but yes, the answer is He will. There will be some, praise God, there's a vast multitude.
I think one of the things that's going to shock us when we go up is that we will look around and see so many others who will be going when we thought we were the only ones. When I got into the work I'm doing now, and traveled all over, I discovered there are far more people then the Grace Brethren that are saved. There are a lot of people everywhere you go. You go over to Moscow to the Baptist Church and those dear people love the Lord. There's no question about it. Why would they weep at the sight of seeing us, and why would we weep saying goodbye to them when perhaps we never saw them before and would never see them again? There is a bond of Christian love that binds us together that you can't explain any other way. Here we discover these people love the Lord. They're singing in Russian, but we understand it. "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel's veins, and sinners plunge beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." That's what they sing and it's thrilling! Then we get outside the church and we want to say goodbye to them. We say it but they don't understand the English. We shake hands over and over again and finally just before we leave we begin to sing. God be with you till we meet again. And they join right in. They're singing in Russian. We're singing in English, but we understand each other and that bond of love is beautiful and it's great and pretty soon it's hard to sing. The tears are flowing and our voices are breaking. There is some strange supernatural bond of Christian love that binds us together. It's a guarantee that it's real. It's genuine. Well, when the trumpet sounds all over the world, in Russia, in China, anywhere you name on earth, there will be those who will be responding.
"...the dead in Christ [will stand up] first:"
Jesus is Coming Again Soon
Isn't that beautiful? That's what it says. And it's going to happen just as sure as you're setting in this church tonight. It is going to happen! Otherwise, Jesus is a liar. The angels are liars. Paul is a liar, and the Bible is not true and there's no such thing as the Christian love and the peace and the joy that I've been talking about. And you know that cannot be. Those things are real and you know it. Jesus is coming again! And I'm persuaded it's soon, in the long history of the world we have come to a climactic point where we have reason to look to the sky and say, maybe today. I don't think it's very long.
Well, Paul said,
We're going to meet Him in the air. He doesn't come to the ground. That He does later on when He comes with His Bride to reign, but at this point He's coming to snatch His Bride away and to take her to the wedding. So the last part of verse 17 says, "...and so shall we ever be with the Lord.".
The Invitation to Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior
And verse 18 says,
Oh, that's not what it says. Well, one lady says, "Don't preach about those things, they frightened me." Do you know why she was frightened? She was afraid it might be true. She didn't have a ticket, she would had missed the trip. She wasn't ready. If it frightens you to think the Lord is coming. It's just because you aren't ready! Now, before we dismiss the service, I'd be very unkind if I didn't tell you exactly how to get ready. If you don't already know, I mentioned it about 50 times already. And I'm going to mention it once more. You can't pack a suitcase to go to heaven. You can't get out a checkbook and buy a ticket. There isn't enough money in the banks of the whole wide world to buy one trip to heaven. But, today it's free, not cheap, but free! Purchased by the blood of Jesus, when He voluntarily gave His life so that you might live. He says, "...whosoever will, let him... ...come." (See Rev. 22: 17.).
Now you must decide I will or I won't. And every person reading this who hasn't already made the decision is going to make it right now. There's no other way, you have got to make a decision. When God's Word is proclaimed, God demands a verdict! He demands an answer! You can say, "Well, I'll think about it." That's the same as saying, "No thank you, I don't what it, at least for now." And there's no guarantee He'll offer it tomorrow. You see when the Holy Spirit softens your heart and says, "You ought to do that," that's the time to do it because if you say no you automatically harden your heart. The next time the Holy Spirit comes rapping at your heart's door your heart is a little harder then it was before. It's a little more difficult for the Holy Spirit to get through. If you say no too often, there may come a day when He can't even soften you up to the point where you even want to be saved. So when the Holy Spirit is inviting you, you better say yes, because God doesn't guarantee tomorrow.
In simple child-like trusting faith, ask the Lord to come into your heart. Put it into your own words. The thief on the cross said, "...Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom." (Luke 23: 42).
And Jesus said, "I accept your prayer, you'll be with Me later today." (Read Luke 23: 42 - 43.). That man was saved. You don't need to pray a big long prayer. Just put it into your own words. But, ask the Lord to save you and acknowledge your sinful condition. Invite Him in and He'll do it. From then on you'll want to study the Bible. You'll want to pray. You'll want fellowship with the believers. You'll want to study. You'll want to witness. You'll want to do all you can to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that we should do that, but you don't start there. You start by being born into the family of God. That birth takes place when you ask Jesus to come in.
"...if thou [will] confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and...believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Rom. 10: 9)
Jesus is coming again. He said so! The angels said so! Paul said so! There are many others who said so, too! But, I think that's enough evidence. Now the question is, are you ready? And even if He doesn't come right away, the death angel may rap at your heart's door. So you had better be ready in any case, then you won't have anything to worry about.
Death could not contain (hold) Him, He broke the shackles of death, hell, and the grave, and came forth in mighty (victorious) resurrection power and because He lives we shall live also.
The Nathan Meyer Bible Prophecy Association (BPA)
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