“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. 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. Therefore, comfort on another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
You ever wonder why true Christ followers seem to always be talking about accepting Jesus as Savior? It is because they love you. It is not because they are trying to get you to believe in a religion or a set of rules you must follow. It is because of this reason here!
This is where Paul gives us the doctrine of the rapture of Christ followers. Although “rapture” is not a word used here, rapto is a Latin word and it means “to seize, to carry off” and gives us our word, rapture.
At this time, the church was worried about their family and friends who had accepted Jesus but Jesus had not returned yet. They were questioning what was going to happen to those loved ones. The Bible teaches us that although our bodies quit on us, our Spirit is alive and we who have accepted Christ are immediately with Jesus in heaven. Once Jesus gives this shout and the trumpet sounds, those who have been dead in Christ will rise first and their bodies will be new glorified bodies. Then we who are alive and accepted Jesus will be caught up and taken from earth with Jesus in heaven. Those left behind may experience suffering unlike the world has ever seen before (Revelation 6-8)
Paul says to comfort on another with these words. These words will only bring comfort to the Christ follower. If you read these words and do not find comfort in them, maybe it is time to take inventory of your life. Why? Because nobody knows when this will happen. It will happen suddenly and quickly “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52).
Paul and the church in Thessalonica were waiting in anticipation. They were waiting in anticipation for Jesus to return so that they would be with Him in heaven. Paul thought rapture would happen in his day and so did many of the Christ followers. It has not happened yet, but it will. I believe it will happen any day now. It will happen when we least expect it.
Today, if you are a Christ follower, do you anticipate the Lord’s return? Are you waiting in expectation for the rapture of the church? If not, take inventory of where your treasure is. Is it here on earth or in heaven? You know the verse, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
What about those who do not know Jesus as personal Lord and Savior? You do not want to be left behind. Accept Christ into your life today and be prepared and ready, waiting in anticipation for eternal rest in heaven.