Since the beginning of the New Year, we have been thinking about eternity and what it will be like for believers in Christ. We discussed Christ's rewards for godly character, faithfulness, and service. Over the next few days, we will look at the resurrection body that believers receive at the coming of Christ. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19), and at the coming of Christ, He will send forth His angels and gather those who have received His pardon for sin and the gift of salvation:
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:31).
At the coming of Christ, believers are raptured or caught up together with Him in the clouds. Here's what the apostle Paul wrote about that grand event:
13Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After 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 (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, emphasis added).
The words above are from the classic passage about the rapture of the Church. In our series on the End Times and our study called The Rapture of the Saints, we learned that the word rapture is not found in the Bible. We get the English word “rapture” from the Latin word rapere, which translates the original Greek word Harpazo, which means snatched up. In some English translations of the Bible, the Greek word is translated as "caught up" (v.17). A loud shout from the Lord Jesus will precede this event, along with a trumpet call. Those who have died/slept in Christ are brought with Jesus at His coming (v.14) and instantly changed and reunited with their bodies. Although they have been in heaven with Christ, He will bring them with Him.
Those believers who are still alive on Earth at that time will see this happening before they are caught up together with all believers all over the world. It will be a time of homecoming when the Lord Jesus will reward all who belong to Christ. What an incredible day that will be. When that Day comes, all who have repented and walked with Christ yet have passed on from this life will receive a new body. Those on Earth will also be changed instantly (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Paul says that our new body will be like Christ's glorious body (Philippians 3:20). The radiance of Christ emanating from us will be authoritative and beautiful and show forth God's transformative power. The Lord said that “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father" (Matthew 13:43. Emphasis added).
We will think about the new body we receive over the next few days. I hope to see you in the clouds when that Day comes (v. 17). Keith Thomas.
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