We Shall Not All Sleep

Monday, September 19, 2011

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52 KJV).

Save Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), every believer has died physically. Today’s Scripture speaks of a secret (“mystery”) that the Lord did not reveal until He showed it to our Apostle Paul. There is a group of believers who will not experience physical death (“we shall not all sleep”). It will be some members of the Church the Body of Christ.

The Old Testament only spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ as coming to earth to meet believers and set up His kingdom (Job 19:25,26; Zechariah 14:1-4)—this is called the “prophetic program.” But, when we come to Paul’s epistles, God has interrupted that program, split it into two segments of time, and has inserted our “mystery (secret) program” into that gap. Before Jesus Christ can come earth (as prophesied in the prophetic program), He must first conclude our mystery program.

Our mystery program, the Dispensation of Grace, will terminate at an event we call the rapture (derived from the Medieval Latin “raptura,” meaning “caught up”). According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, all believers of this dispensation will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.” Contrariwise, believers in the prophetic program will meet the Lord on the earth (His Second Coming).

While we do not set dates, the Bible teaches a pre-Tribulation (pre-seven years) rapture. The rapture may or may not occur in our lifetimes. However, we have the prospect that if the Lord Jesus Christ would come now, we Christians would not experience physical death! Our bodies would just be instantly changed, without dying, into glorified bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s body (Philippians 3:20,21).

If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, keep looking up! We may be that group of believers who will not see physical death…. 🙂

This Present Evil World

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“[Jesus Christ] Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:4,5 KJV).

The world is overwhelmed with violence, corruption, and injustice. How did earth become “this present evil world?”

When God created Adam, He gave him dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam disobeyed God and lost that dominion. Satan then assumed the dominion that Adam had. Now, Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).

In our Lord’s temptations, Satan shows Christ all the world’s kingdoms and their glory. Satan entices Jesus, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). Satan would give the world’s governments to Christ if Christ would worship him—Satan bragged that he had dominion over the earth instead of God!

God’s Word says, “…the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Christ told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

Today’s Scripture gives us good news. Christ Jesus “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.” He died to “deliver us from the power of darkness,” Satan’s evil world system; as Christians, we are now spiritually in “the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). At the rapture, Christ will physically deliver us Christians from this evil world.

Furthermore, at His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will return to earth to demolish Satan’s evil world system: its governments, religious organizations, and educational systems. In that day, “the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).

Our planet will not always be “this present evil world.” Stay tuned…. 🙂

The Grand Bible Conference

Thursday, August 18, 2011

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

The breathing of the departing saint shallows, the eyes close, the soul exits the physical body, and the Holy Ghost Himself escorts the saint to the third heaven. Millions of saints have already experienced this, and short of the Lord’s coming, physical death shall be our lot too.

Today’s Scripture and its context (verses 13 through 18) address the question: Will we ever see those dearly departed brethren again? Verse 14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep [die] in Jesus will God bring with him.” Our hope is that we will see those Christians again. A saint’s death is bittersweet: we loathe their short-term absence, but we rejoice in a long-term reunion, a glorious re-gathering that will literally last forever!

There shall come a day, the rapture, when all the saints are united for the first time. We shall see those saints who have gone before us, those we have never met. Meeting the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face and hearing His voice, enjoying His glory, and fellowshipping with all the saints around God’s Word. No grief, no heresy, no denominational or religious bickering. Wow, that is heaven! 🙂

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” While we grieve for the departed saints, we rejoice because they have been eternally rescued from this present evil world. They are in the Lord’s presence now, at peace. Psalm 116:15 says: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” A hearty amen!

Rest assured, we shall see those saints again. If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a secure reservation for “the grand Bible conference.” Just wait for your flight….

-IN MEMORIAM-
THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN CHRIST

The Inward Man

Sunday, August 7, 2011

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 KJV).

As the saint progresses in earthly years, he or she gets discouraged. Hair becomes white as snow. The skin loses its elasticity, wrinkling and sagging. Vision dims, memory fails, and hearing diminishes. That once lively body grows progressively weaker and unable to perform the tasks it once did with ease. But, be not discouraged!

God gives this interesting description of dying Moses: “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (Deuteronomy 34:7). Moses, age 120, had excellent vision. His body was as agile as a young man’s. Wow!

In today’s Scripture Paul alludes to the “outward man” (physical body) and its decay and ultimate death (“perishing”). Because of sin, these physical bodies have nowhere to go but to the grave. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Even though death may kill the physical body, Christians are confident that (the second) death cannot harm the spiritual body (the “inward man”).

Furthermore, Paul explains that we need to focus on renewing the “inward man” with sound Bible study, not focusing on the perishing state of the “outward man.” We will get new physical bodies, but the souls we have are ours forever.

Short of the Lord’s coming in our lifetimes, our physical bodies will go into the ground. While it is morbid, that is reality. But, this too is reality: “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” (2 Corinthians 4:14).

These physical bodies will be redeemed at the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:53; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 3:20,21). Romans 8:23 says: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies.” Praise the Lord that we are not eternally confined to these weak, limited physical bodies!

* My outward man turns 23 today, saints.

On the Sufferings of This Present Time

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 KJV).

Everyone suffers, Christians and lost people alike. Our suffering originates from three sources:

  1. We all live under the curse of sin. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, matter is becoming less and less usable. Every living creature grows sick and eventually dies. Romans 8:21,22 and Genesis 3:16-19 explain the curse (the bondage of corruption) was instituted on creation because of sin. Romans 5:12 says, “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
  2. We make mistakes, hurting ourselves and others. Others make bad decisions, and they negatively affect us. Of course, this too is closely related to #1 (sin). Christ said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).
  3. We Christians suffer for righteousness’ sake. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

Until we leave this present evil world of Satan, we will continue to suffer from all of the above. The good news is what Paul writes in today’s Scripture: this temporary suffering is nothing when compared to the eternal glorification that is awaiting us as members of the Body of Christ.

When we Christians receive our glorified bodies in heaven, we will be free from these bodies of sinful flesh, never to suffer again. What a hope we have in heaven, all because of Christ Jesus and His finished cross work on Calvary!

Saints, Ye Shall Be Caught Up!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 KJV).

The words of today’s Scripture are of great hope and comfort for us as members of the Church the Body of Christ. At any moment, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself shall come and take us, His Body, home to be with Him forever in heaven’s glory. “In a moment, in the twinkling [blink] of an eye,” we will be “caught up” (raptured) into the air (1 Corinthians 15:52).

One day, at the rapture, those who have died in Christ will be resurrected bodily, and given glorified physical bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body (Philippians 3:20,21). Immediately after, we Christians who are living will be instantly transformed bodily. Together, with the now resurrected saints, we will take the grandest of all excursions. In that brief instant, we are yanked from this wicked, filthy world and ushered into heaven’s everlasting bliss and joy!

The rapture is not to be confused with the Second Coming, which will occur seven years after the rapture. At the Second Coming, God sends angels to gather His elect (Matthew 24:31). But, at the rapture, God Himself comes for the believers, us. Wow! The rapture ensures that we will avoid the wrath of the seven-year Tribulation, which is God’s program for Israel (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Paul makes some 10 references to the rapture. This one is noteworthy (Titus 2:13): “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” We should be continually vigilant, waiting for the rapture to happen at any moment. Would you be raptured out? Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? If you have, ye shall be caught up!

Our Hope, Joy, and Crown of Rejoicing

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19,20 KJV).

The Thessalonians, Paul’s most spiritually matured saints, were notable for their “work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). Their turning away from worshiping worthless idols to serve the living and true God, their good works, and their godly living influenced neighboring saints to also be trophies of God’s grace (1:6-9).

As members of the Church the Body of Christ, one day we will stand before “the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10-12). At this special event, the Lord Jesus Christ will reward us according to the sound doctrine we built up in our inner man and what good works that sound doctrine accomplished in and through us (1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10).

In that day, the Thessalonians will be Paul’s “hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing.” Paul also referred to the Philippians as “my joy and crown” (4:1). He even wrote concerning the carnal, immature Corinthians: “As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:14).

We too will be Paul’s hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing because we are the fruit of his ministry. Likewise, the people we minister to will be our hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing. Everyone we teach and everyone we lead to the Lord, they are our hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing!

When we see those saints, our spiritual fruit, stand before Jesus Christ, we too will be exceedingly joyful. What a day it will be to see them all in those glorious moments after the rapture! To the praise and glory of God, we as members of the Church the Body will all rejoice.

Saints, anticipate that day when we will see “our hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing!”