August 8, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Be with the Lord Today
“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17
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Jesus wants you to know about the future, including specific events and very precise details. Our hope for the future rests upon revelation from Jesus about our eternal destiny. Jesus wants us to know that we, as believers, will always be with Him. We will not drift about the air, or linger around grave yards, or be reincarnated. No, the New Testament presents a very clear picture that we will be with Jesus, and live in glorified bodies. Jesus will gather His children around Himself, and keep them there forever.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Jesus lays down the order of resurrection for believers. In the previous verse, we learned that every believer who died before the Rapture will have their bodies raised first. Then, in verse 17, we see that every believer alive when Jesus returns in the clouds will have their bodies resurrected. Jesus described resurrection in John 11:36 as “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” So after physical death, our bodies go into a grave. As believers, we go immediately to be with the Lord Jesus in heaven. Later, at the Rapture, Jesus brings us with Him to the clouds of earth and resurrects our bodies. In the next instant, He raises the believers who are alive, and resurrects their bodies to be with Him too.
Notice that we rise to meet Jesus in the clouds. Many pictures in the Bible present Jesus returning to earth. In particular, Zechariah 14:4 tells us that Jesus will set foot upon the Mount of Olives. The Second Coming of Jesus refers then to the time Jesus returns to earth to reign and establish His earthly kingdom rule. He will then set up His millennial kingdom, after destroying all of His enemies (Revelation 19:11-19). The details matter here. The Rapture of the church, described in 1 Thessalonians 3:13-18, precedes the Second Coming of Jesus by seven years (Daniel 9:27). His return to stand on the Mount of Olives ends the period of the great tribulation upon the earth, lasting a total of seven years. So, the Rapture pictures Christ coming in the clouds (but not touching the earth) to gather believers to Himself just before the seven year tribulation period begins. During those seven years, God pours His judgments of wrath and destruction upon an evil earth. At the end of the seven years of Tribulation, Jesus comes back to earth and sets foot on the Mount of Olives.
The point that Jesus makes about the future is that we should be fully aware of what happens to believers when they depart at death from their physical bodies. Immediately at death, the moment a believer dies, the believer goes home to be with the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8). We gain hope and comfort regarding our loved ones who have died. We know that one day, at the Rapture, Jesus will come to the clouds of earth, and bring with Him all believers who have died before the Rapture. He will resurrect their bodies as the first thing He does at the Rapture. In the next instant, all the believers who are alive at the Rapture will be caught up to meet Him, and their bodies resurrected. We will travel with Jesus to heaven for the next seven years, and then return to earth with Jesus to reign with Him on earth (2 Timothy 2:12). Because we know about our final and complete relationship with Jesus, we rest in Him for an eternity, because we will always be with Him.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we expect to be at home with Christ for an eternity, and have our physical bodies transformed and resurrected into glorified bodies.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we remind each other of being with Jesus forever, and the promise of glorified bodies. In this life our bodies decay and cause us pain, but one day we will be leaving them behind, and living forever with Jesus.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we do not hope to see Jesus and live with the certainty that one day we will be at home with Him, living in glorified bodies.
Application for Today
Today, I will be meditating upon resurrection. Will I be alive when Jesus calls me to the clouds or will I be with Him returning to the clouds from heaven? Have you pondered your future today?