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1 Thes. 4:13-18


Intro: 1 Thessalonians was written to a group of young believers. These people had only been saved for a few months and they were suffering intense persecution for their faith. Because they were so young in the Lord, they were confused about a number of matters, so Paul wrote to them to help them grow in their faith.

        In this great book, Paul confronts their doubts; challenges them to a closer and cleaner walk with the Lord and He answers the questions they have about several areas of the faith. Among the topics Paul discusses is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. The Thessalonians possessed some fears regarding the Lord’s coming and Paul addresses those concerns in these verses.

        Paul lets them know that the coming of Jesus is not an event that should bring fear to the hearts of believers. He wants them to know that the return of Jesus Christ for His church is an event that should comfort the hearts of those who know Jesus.

        The fact of our Lord’s Second Coming should comfort our hearts as well. I know there are a lot of foolish teachings out there today regarding the Lord’s coming. I do not claim to have all the answers. But, I am willing to take the Bible at face value and believe just what it says. I want to take these verses and point out a few concepts that are revealed here. I want to preach on The Comfort Of His Coming. Let me show you why believers can have hope even in the face of our Lord’s return.


  I.  v. 13-15  RESURRECTION

·         Among the fears of the Thessalonians was that their departed loved ones had missed the second coming. They were afraid that heir dead had missed the rapture and would not be raised again until after the Tribulation, or that their dead loved ones might be second-class citizens in Heaven. Paul gives them some much needed information about this matter. (Ill. “Ignorant” means “uninformed”.)

·         Death is not what we think it is. Paul calls it “sleep”. This does not mean that the soul sleeps. That is a false doctrine. The word “sleep” is a euphemism for death. When we fall asleep at night, we lose consciousness, but we do not cease to exist. Those who die in Jesus lose their conscious presence in this world, but they do not cease to exist. The phrase in verse 14, “…will God bring with Him” makes it clear that they continue to exist with God in Heaven, 2 Cor. 5:1-8. (Ill. The metaphor of sleep is precious. The phrase “them also which sleep in Jesus”, can be translated, “them which Jesus puts to sleep”. It is the image of a loving parent rocking a child to sleep. That is just what the Lord does. He comes for His Own, and gently rocks them to sleep, John 14:1-3.) (Ill. Death is merely the “departure” of the soul from this life into Heaven above, 2 Tim. 4:8.)

·         Where does our hope in the face of death come from? Two sources: the death of Christ on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Ψ  When the Bible speaks of the death of Jesus, it does not use the word “sleep”. Jesus was not gently rocked to sleep; He endured to full force of death for His elect, 1 Pet. 2:24. When Jesus died, He endured the full wrath of God for our sins and He, by His death, took away forever the sting of death for His saints, 1 Cor. 15:55-57.

Ψ  Not only does His death give us hope, so does His resurrection. Because Jesus rose from the dead, all those who have their faith in Him will rise again also, 1 Cor. 15:12-23. Because Jesus died and rose again, we need not fear death or the judgment of God. God has accepted Jesus as our ransom and in Him we are delivered from sin, wrath, death and judgment, Rom. 3:26; 4:25.

·         So, when we come in here for a funeral and follow a body to the grave, we are not saying goodbye to those we love. We are merely saying, “I’ll meet you in the morning!” They have gone to be with Jesus, and we will see them again some golden daybreak. That is a comforting word! Well, there’s “a great getting up morning” one day real soon!

·         Ill. He knows where all the bodies are! (Ill. Mass graves, total destruction of bodies, those lost at sea, etc.) He knows where every molecule and atom in every single body is located and they will get up again!

·         In verses 15, Paul tells us that those who are still alive when Jesus comes will not “prevent them which are asleep”. The word “prevent” means “to precede”. In other words, when the Lord comes for His people, the living saints will not receive preferential treatment. Those who are alive will not stand in the way of the Lord’s ministry to the dead! Those who have died in faith will not miss out on the Rapture of the church.

        To die in Jesus is not to miss out on anything. To die in Jesus means that you get to enter His presence before the rest of us, Phil. 1:23. It means that you will wait with Him until He returns for the rest of His people. That is a comforting word!


 II.  v. 16-17a    RAPTURE

·         These verses talk about the Rapture of the church. This is a doctrine that many reject, but it seems to me that Paul believed in it, v. 15, 17. It seems that Paul was looking for the imminent return of the Lord Jesus in His day.

        Those who reject the doctrine of the Rapture say, “Well, the word Rapture isn’t in the Bible.” They are right, but the word “grandfather” isn’t in there, yet we believe in them, don’t we? The word “trinity” is not in there either, but if you reject that one, you will go to Hell. The word “rapture” translates the Latin word “rapto or raptus”. It is a word that means “to seize for oneself.” The word “rapture” is the Latin translation of the Greek word “harpazo”, which is translated in verse 17 as “caught up”.

·         Paul tells us that those who are alive when the rapture comes will be “caught up”. This phrase comes from a word that refers to “a strong, irresistible and violent act”. It literally means, “To seize by force, to carry off by force, to claim for oneself eagerly.” In the rapture, the Lord Jesus will claim His bride by force!  It is interesting to note that this word conveys the idea of force. Certainly, there is within the heart of the redeemed a desire to depart and to go to Heaven.

        However, there are forces that would hinder our departure if they could.  Among them are the strong pulls of sin, the influence of the flesh, the world and the devil. All these would conspire to keep us here. When He comes, there will be no staying! He will catch away that which He has redeemed by His blood and He will take it home to glory! Praise God, no force will be able to prevent His coming for us! No force will be able to hold us here when He does come. The bottom line is this: when He comes we go! 

·         How will this event take place? We are told that Jesus Himself will come in the clouds above this earth. He will shout, the archangel will lift his voice and there will be a blast from a trumpet. Let’s look at these events for a moment.

Ψ  There Will Be A Shout - This refers to a military command. Jesus is calling the hosts of Heaven to assemble for military action against the domain of the enemy: the air - Eph. 6:12. (Ill. Look at verse 17, Jesus will stop in the “air”. The air is the domain of the devil. Jesus will invade the devil’s very territory, stop there and call His Bride to come up and meet Him. This is a clear demonstration of our Lord’s power over Satan!)

        Of course, this shout has another emphasis. Jesus promised that there would come a day when the dead would hear His voice - John 5:25. It was this shout that was heard by Lazarus, even in death that brought him back to life, John 11:43. I am not sure of the reason, but an archangel will add his voice to the voice of the Lord.

Ψ  There Will Be A Trumpet - Throughout Jewish history, the trumpet was used for many different reasons.

§  To announce the feasts - Num. 10:10

§  To announce various celebrations - 2 Sam. 6:15

§  To announce a sacred assembly - Lev. 23:24

§  To sound an alarm during a time of war - Num. 10:9

§  To assemble a crowd - Num. 10:2; Jud. 6:34

§  To make an announcement - 1 Sam .13:3; 2 Sam. 15:10; 1 Kings 1:34; 39; 41

§  To notify the people that it was time to break camp and move – Num. 10:2

        There seems to be a two-fold purpose here:

§  To assemble the people of God.

§  To signal their deliverance.

§  To call them to move out! (Ill. A receiver set to a specific frequency!)

§  The Lord is calling His people to fall in and prepare to move out!

·         When Paul talks about the Rapture of the church, he uses the word “we”. Who is he talking about? Who will get to go in the Rapture? He mentions two groups: “The dead in Christ” and “We which are alive and remain”. In both cases, he is referring to believers, or those who are saved by the grace of God.

        The Rapture is not for everybody. The Rapture is for those who are in a personal, faith relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ill. A Magnet – It only attracts things with a similar nature. Jesus is only coming for those who possess His nature, 2 Pet. 1:4. This nature is given at the “new birth”, 2 Cor. 5:17; Ill. John 3:3, 7.) Praise God that is a comforting word!


III.  v. 17b-18    REUNION

Paul tells us that we will be “caught up together with them in the clouds, the meet the Lord in the air.” This verse reminds us that the day of our Rapture will also be the day of our reunion. Our reunions will be two-fold on that day.

·         We will meet those who have gone before us in death – Spouses, children, parents and loved ones will meet again in the clouds above this earth. That meeting will be far different than our partings. Our partings here are marked by sadness and fear of an unknown future. These verses that the fear out of the future. The Lord tells us that we can be confident that we will meet our loved ones again. And, when we do, they, and we, will be far different than the last time we met, Ill. 1 Cor. 15:49-58. (Ill. The changes – No sin, sickness, weakness, disease, pain, death, etc. – Rev. 21:4.) Can it get any better than that? Yes!

·         We will meet the Lord also – Do you comprehend what Paul is saying? One day, you and I will either be raised from the dead or raptured. Either way, we will be changed in a “moment, in a twinkling of an eye.” On that glorious day, we will look on the Lord who died for us on the cross. The One Who loved us so much that He left Heaven above and endured countless sufferings to redeem us. We will meet the One Who conquered death, Hell and the grave. We will meet the One Who loved us in spite of our sins.

        I don’t know about you, but that cranks my engine! It stirs my heart to know that one day, whether I leave here by the clouds or by the clods, I will stand completed in His image in His presence! And, according to this verse, that is a condition that will never change hallelujah!

        Paul says, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Jesus is what will make Heaven Heaven. Wherever He is is Heaven already. Imagine what it will be like when we see Him face! Imagine what it will be like to hear His voice. Imagine what it will be like to feel His touch. Imagine what it will be like to be able to bow at His feet and thank Him for the cross, the blood, the empty tomb the Bible, the Holy Ghost, the church, the blessings of life, His presence, and all of the countless other great things He does for us.

Conc: Verse 18 tells us to “comfort one another with these words.” Does the thought of the Lord’s coming comfort your heart? It sure does mine. Paul is telling to remind one another that this life with all its pains, sorrows and problems is merely a temporary existence. He tells us to find our hope, our comfort and our encouragement in the coming of Jesus.

        Some of you are walking through tight places today. Let me just remind you that the Lord is coming! Jesus is coming folks and not a single thing that plagues you here will follow you there!

        That comforts my heart today. How about you?

·         Are there needs? Jesus is the solution. Are you lost? He is the Savior.

·         Are you weary? He will be your strength.

·         Are you excited about His coming? Come tell Him about it.

·         Are you fearful when you think of His coming? Come tell Him about it.


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