Blog In Audio:
I hope you had a great weekend. Yesterday we had our ‘church at home’ gathering. This is what we do at ALife on the last Sunday of each month. I hope you were able to connect with some believers and I hope you were able to focus on God’s presence. This is a great week to see what God is doing new in your life. Expect God and look for Him as you face your week!
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The letter written by Paul to the believers in Thessalonica was one of the first letters written to the believers of the first century church. It was written to the church, the habitation of Christ, as they had now existed for a little over twenty years and they were facing increased opposition by the anti-Christ spirit of that day. Like all words from God, there are increasing layers of truth and life in what God decrees. The traditional view of the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians has often been that it is a letter regarding a one day coming of the Lord in the future and a rapture of Christian believers into the presence of the Lord. Since God’s words increase from glory to glory, there is clearly a culmination of this truth for us all in some way. There are various interpretations as to what that looks like, but there is for sure a guarantee of a full glory of being one with God in Christ for eternity. Paul wrote this letter to a firstfruit church concerning things that were literally occurring in their day. His purpose in writing this letter was to comfort the first century believers who were facing persecution and the tribulation of being a church that was birthing the New Covenant reality of the growing Body of Christ for the generations to come. Christ was being opposed by anti-Christ, but Christ would overcome and in the future there would be more realities of the constant and increasing coming of the Lord to cause the kingdoms of the world to become kingdoms of Jesus as Lord and Christ. The words of Paul were not merely a promise for something thousands of years in the future. They were words of promise for the moment at hand. Some had already died in the faith and Paul was charging the church to know the truth of present and future promises of glory. In these Scripture verses, Paul was encouraging the church in regard to the coming of the Lord. The word for until is a Greek word that can also be translated as to or into. It is not a word necessarily indicating a moment of time but can also be a process of time. The word for ‘coming’ in this Scripture is the Greek word parousia. It is a present tense word and not a futurist tense word. It is a happening and a continued happening. The promised place of destiny for the dead in Christ and for the living was, and is, a transition to a dimension of increased life. It is a place of being caught up in the breath. This is not a place of going up into the sky, but a place of entering into the further dimension of life in Christ. The dead in Christ rise first and those in Christ who continue into the constant and increasing realities of the coming of the Lord will be participants with them in the breath. The breath is the connection of the Spirit. It is not a natural air, but the breath of the Spirit that keeps us and unites us in life in this world and in the world to come. The living believers in Christ and the cloud of witness in Christ are partners in the coming of the Lord. Clouds speak of the manifest presence of the Lord in Scripture. There have been numerous aspects to the manifest experiences of the church and the Lord in the ages of men that have brought increasing testimonies of God’s glory in the earth. If you will, there have been many comings of Christ “in the clouds”, comings of the Lord in many aspects of God’s grace that have brought forth increasing glory and change in the church. The comfort of the first century church was, and our comfort is, that each and every one in Christ is promised greater glory of eternal life in Christ in every aspect of their lives. The last trumpet is resurrection life for those in Christ. Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. This is our greatest hope! In the history of the culture of the shadow of the law, the last trumpet is the trumpet that sounds the completion of the harvest. It is a sound of tabernacles where a new season of rest leads to a new season of increasing life. Everyone has a last trumpet to the completed harvest of their lives. Though there may be a full culmination of this in a future day to come, I believe that there is a last trumpet for each of us in life. For us in Christ it is a sound of greater glory. It is therefore a reason to live this life to the fullest as the glory of God subdues the things that can be subdued in this world. This is the testimony of the increasing harvest of God in our lives. The unshakeable kingdom of God continually removes the shakable things in our lives and in our world. Our comfort is that life and purpose doesn’t end when the last trumpet is blown for us in this life, but Christ receives us to join those who are alive in Christ in heaven, those who have already fallen asleep to this life.
1 Thessalonians 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Like those going through the great tribulation of the birth of the Body of Christ in the first century, we need not be shaken or troubled in the times and seasons of the world. We have already embraced a Day that never ends. We have embraced the Day of the Lord in Christ. Our last day was the day we lost our old life and we found resurrection life in Christ. Our personal kingdoms are increasingly becoming a kingdom of our Lord and Christ. The life we live we live by faith in Him! There is no death that has any power over us for the second death has been destroyed by the resurrection life of Christ within us. The day of the Lord comes for everyone, but that day does not come as a thief to those who are already alive in Christ. For those who are not alive in Christ, the last trumpet of their life is a surprise, and their life is taken from them. They live their lives as though they have peace and safety, but the last trumpet of their life reveals to them that the peace they held on to was not peace at all. The safety they clung to, was not safety at all. The constant coming of the Lord into the generations of humanity proves to destroy those things that are not true peace or safety and what people trust in apart from Christ is destroyed. What is life for those in Christ proves to destroy anything that is not true life. It destroys anything that is not life or life-giving. Our comfort is that we are sons and daughters of God. We are sons and daughters of the true light. We are of the Day and not the night, so the constant and increasing coming of the Lord into the generations of men proves to be the light of Day to us. We must remain awake, aware of God and His presence. We must remain alive to the fellowship and purpose of God’s Spirit in Christ. What keeps our hearts in all seasons of our lives and of the earth is faith and love in our hearts. Our minds are secure because we know that Jesus is salvation in any and every situation of our lives. While we live in this world, or after we rise in Christ, we are together in the life and purpose of Christ for eternity. This is comfort to us in all seasons of life.
Ted J. Hanson
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