The Living In Christ Will Be Raised

When Christ Shall Come

Pastor Jerry Gillis - October 27, 2019

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s message.
  2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18. In light of the context of this verse, how can we best encourage one another? How can we be sure to not miss the point of this passage?
  3. List the 4 kinds of “rapturous joy” that were mentioned. Which of these brings you the greatest amount of encouragement? Explain your answer.
  4. Read 2 Peter 3:14 and 1 John 2:28. In light of the events we’ve been talking about, how should that change the way we live? Why does this matter?
  5. What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?


Sermon Transcript

Well, good morning to everyone on all of our campuses. And here's what I need. I need everybody who is 30 years and younger to pay attention for just a minute, here's why. Because back in the dark ages, like the 1980s, 1990s, when kind of before you were born, there was this mode of communication, it was kind of an ancient mode of communication called a newspaper. And in this kind of thing called a newspaper, it was basically made out of lumber and ink, where they carved this lumber up, and they made it kind of like a big, long, flat book where there was actually ink words on paper that you turn, like big pages, right, that you turned.

And inside of there, even though this was the main form of information that people got their news from, that they got their information from, there was also some places in there for comics, or cartoons, or what they used to call in the South, the funny papers. And inside of there, there would just be these little drawings, right, they were still, they were just still shot drawings, and they would have little bubbles above them, and they would say somethings on there.

There was this one drawings, and it was about a duck that was trying out for a basketball team. Just that all by itself is funny to me. That a duck was trying out for a basketball team. If nothing was said in that particular cartoon, I'm still laughing, because it's a duck trying out for a basketball team. Now, here's how that went. Here's what it looked like. The coach says, "Bad news, Leonard, you've been cut from the team. And now we're going to pluck, clean, and roast you in a tangy orange sauce." Here's the duck's response, "What? I've been cut from the team?" The duck missed the point. The duck did not get the point.

Now, that's what a cartoon or a funny looks like in a newspaper for those of you who are younger than 30. Now, those of you who are 50 and older, I need you to give me your attention now. Because there's also a thing that's called a graphics interchange format, or short, a GIF. Some of you pronounce that a GIF, but you're wrong, because the guy who actually invented it says that it's GIF like the peanut butter. All right. It's called a GIF.

Now, what this is, this is like one of those cartoons, except it moves. All right. It's kind of like a moving picture one of these things. So, if I wanted to express missing the point, like we did in this cartoon with the duck trying out for the basketball team, you can do that in a modern format, and not just in this particular cartoon format. It would look something like this. This is Jerry. Jerry is missing something. Don't be like Jerry. Did you catch it? This is a GIF.

Now, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter that I continue to miss the point on the internet for the rest of my life, if that continues to show up. And it doesn't really matter if I pronounce it GIF or GIF, because that's not really the point. The point is, is we're trying to illustrate what missing the point is actually like. The truth is, is that when you miss the point, you miss the purpose. And missing the point is never a good thing because we miss the purpose of what the text is actually for when we're reading the scripture. If we read the scripture, particularly today, when we're going to be looking in First Thessalonians, Chapter 4, in by the way the same verses that we were in last week.

If we miss the point, then we miss the purpose, and I don't want us to miss the point at all today when we begin to look at First Thessalonians, Chapter 4. You see, what Paul was trying to do in this passage of scripture is that his concern was a pastoral concern. He was concerned for the people and the concerns that they had. He was concerned about their nervousness, and he had a pastoral concern. In fact, you can see that when you get to the end of the passage in First Thessalonians 4, verse number 18. It says, "Therefore, encourage one another with these words."

You see, you see there that Paul's concern is a pastoral concern. He wants people to be able to take the teaching that he's giving about the day of the Lord, about the Second Coming of Jesus, and he wants the people in Thessalonica to be able to encourage one another with these words. So listen carefully, the teaching about the Second Coming of Jesus should never divide us, it should encourage us. The teaching about the Second Coming of Jesus should not turn into a theological war, it should actually make us be involved in true worship.

You see, Paul's point in teaching here was not that he was endeavoring to speculate, his point here is that he wanted to comfort. He wanted to encourage. What we need to make sure that we do when we walk through this text, like we did last week, and we're doing this week, is that we don't miss the point. Because at the end of the day, what Paul is doing here is he's addressing the fears of the Thessalonican believers, as I told those of you who were here last week, or maybe who watched the message, he's addressing the fears of those who are believers in Jesus and who were expecting the return of Christ.

But now, they've seen some of their brothers and sisters in Christ start to die, and they're nervous that because they died, they're going to miss this great event of the Second Coming of Jesus and Paul is telling them, "No, don't worry about that. That's not going to be the case. They are going to be risen first at this great day." It's really a remarkable thing, but Paul doesn't just, in this passage of scripture, he doesn't just talk about the dead in Christ and what happens to them like I taught on last week. But he also talks about what happens to those who are alive when Christ comes.

That's what I want us to be able to see today. So let's look back at the whole context of this passage that we began studying last week, and we'll continue to study this week in First Thessalonians, Chapter 4, beginning in verse 13. "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed or ignorant about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve, like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first."

"After that, we who are still alive, and are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." This is the passage of scripture that we are endeavoring to look at. And so what I want to do today, because last week we talked about what happened to the dead in Christ, now we want to talk about what happens to those who are alive in Christ when Christ comes.

And I can sum it up for you really and tell you right from the very beginning what the big idea of the message is, and I'm going to give it to you in a statement so that you have it. And here it is. When Christ comes, those who are alive in him will experience two things, radical transformation, and rapturous joy. Two things are going to happen when Christ comes, those who are alive in him will experience radical transformation, and rapturous joy. There's the message. This is what I'm here to tell you, that very thing. That this is what's going to happen to those who are alive in Christ. I'm reporting to you the words of the apostle Paul. [

So, what I want us to do is to maybe take those two phrases about what is going to happen to those who are alive in Christ that they'll be radically transformed, and they'll experience rapturous joy. I want us to take those two phrases and begin to unpack them from the text so that you can see where that's actually coming from. So, let's begin with the first thing.

Radical transformation, this is the first truth that we're going to see, this is the first kind of understanding of our experience for those who are alive when Christ comes. Could you imagine that, by the way? When Christ comes, you're alive. Wow. I think about it sometimes, just number one, I just pause to think about that phrase, when Christ comes. And I long for his appearing. I'm encouraged by what happens that the dead in Christ won't miss this event. But I also think about what it would look like if I'm alive when Christ comes.

What will be true about what will happen to me or to you if we are alive when Christ comes, here' what will be true. There'll be a need for a radical transformation. Here's what I mean. Verse number 17, which we're going to be spending most all of our time in today, says this, "After that," after what? "After the dead in Christ have risen, we who are still alive and are," what? "Left will be caught up." Now, let's pause there for just a second, because that word caught up, or that phrase caught up, is a phrase that people have used a different word to describe what that phrase means. Let me explain.

You see, in about 400 AD, there was a Latin translation of the translation of the bible, which is of course in Hebrew and in Greek, so they made a Latin translations called the Vulgate, it's attributed to Jerome. This was in 400 AD. When Jerome translated into Latin this phrase caught up, he used a term there, the term rapio, which is from a Latin term raptus. It's where we get our word rapture. See, this is where it came from. The word rapture is not used in the text of scripture specifically as an English word. It's actually what is translated here in the Latin Vulgate as caught up.

Now, the word rapture, or the word caught up, or this particular Greek term, means to catch away. To be caught up, to snatch, to seize, that's what the actual word is referring to. But notice this, when does this catching up of we who are alive and remain happen? It happens after those who have died in Christ have been resurrected. And then it says, "We will be caught up together with him. Now, that's an interesting phrase, and here's why, because the idea that's implicit in this text is that there's going to be a need for those of us who are alive and remain to be fundamentally transformed, if this is going to be true. Because, think about it this way, the dead in Christ will rise. And after that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them.

What do we know needs to happen to the dead in Christ for them to be able to get up? Something is going to have to fundamentally change. There's going to have to be a fundamental transformation for dead people in graves to get up from the dead and be caught up in the air. But guess what? There also needs to be a fundamental change for those of us who are alive and remain, because if we are going to be caught up into the presence of the king of kings, and the lord of lords, who is returning, something is going to have to fundamentally change about even us who are alive.

Now, this is the implication of what Paul is saying here in First Thessalonians 4, but listen to this. It's actually explicitly what he says when he writes to the church in Corinth. Same author, Paul, and he implies it here, but he explicitly states it when he writes to the church in Corinth. Listen to his words in First Corinthians 15, beginning in verse 50.

He says, "I declare to you brothers and sisters." Listen to this. "That flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed." Notice this, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we, who are alive and remain, will be changed. "For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality."

You see, ladies and gentlemen, something fundamentally has to transform in us when we are going to meet Jesus and to specifically be in his presence. There will be a radical transformation even of those of us who will be alive and remaining at that moment. Now, of this catching up of everyone, listen to this, this catching up is not just those who are alive, this catching up is about the dead in Christ and the alive in Christ all being caught up with the Lord.

The interesting thing is what Paul says here, he doesn't imply in any way that this is some kind of secret. That this is going to happen secretly and quietly. Paul doesn't say that, here he doesn't say it in First Corinthians 15, in fact, he doesn't say it in any part anywhere. He doesn't give us any indication that this will be some kind of secret. In fact, why would he be talking about trumpets, and commands? That doesn't sound like the language of secrecy, does it?

Not only here, but in First Corinthians 15 and in everything that Paul writes in the whole of the New Testament. He does not give any indication that this will be some kind of secret event. He also doesn't give any indication that there's going to be some kind of interim period between the catching up of the saints and the Second Coming of the Lord. Paul speaks of them as one event, both here and in First Corinthians 15, and as we'll see a little bit later on in Second Thessalonians, he also talks about this as one event as well.

It's very interesting, when we begin to look at this, as to the fact that Paul doesn't talk about this as secrecy, and he doesn't talk about there being an interim period between the time of the catching up of the saints, and the return of the Lord. He talks about them as one event, by the way, Paul is not alone. Jesus doesn't talk about those things either. Jesus doesn't talk about this happening secretly. Jesus doesn't teach that there's going to be some interim period of time. He doesn't say those things specifically. Sometimes we come to a text, and we begin to import things into it that aren't actually said in it. And we have to be careful with that.

Some of you are saying, "No, no, no, no. Jesus talked about the rapture. I know it. He talked about it, remember in Matthew, Chapter 24? He talked about it." Oh, I think I do remember of passage you're referring to, that you have completely misread. Notice what he said, Matthew 24. "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will at the coming of the Son of Man." What's the context here? He's talking about the coming of the Son of Man. The Second Coming of Jesus. The coming of the Son of Man. "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating, and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and," what? "Took them all away."

Notice what he goes on to say, "This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man, two men will be in the field, one will be," what? "Taken. And the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill. One will be," what? "Taken, and the other left." Let me ask you a question. The ones who were taken, where do they take them to? Judgment, according to this passage. Judgment. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People are carrying on with their lives, until they were what? Taken in judgment.

The ones who were, listen please, the ones who were left behind were actually the believers. You're welcome. Trying to help us today. Listen. What Paul is doing here, what Jesus is doing there, even what John does in the Book of Revelation when he teaches us about believers being witnesses, even martyred witnesses going through tribulation, I've taught on this in the Book of Revelation as well, this is no surprise to our church. What we see here is Paul in First Thessalonians 4 is not teaching some exoteric doctrine, Paul is trying to help us see that to see the Lord there has to be a radical transformation of who we are, because flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God, the perishable, even if we are alive when Christ comes, the perishable must become imperishable. We will be changed, even those of use who are alive and remain.

Just like the dead in Christ will be changed, so too the alive in Christ will be changed. So there has to be a radical transformation. When Christ comes, all of those who are alive in Christ will experience radical transformation. But let me give you a second thing, we'll also experience rapturous joy. A rapturous joy, obviously I played with the words a little bit there. Because I'm funny. Rapturous joy. What I'm going to do is I'm going to look in verse number 17 and I'm going to show you this by pulling out phrase by phrase why this is going to bring us so much joy. Why, for those of us, listen to this, for those of us that are in Christ, what we have to look forward to if we, who are alive and remain, when Jesus comes, not only we'll be radically transformed, but we are going to experience an absolutely, unbridled rapturous type of joy.

Let me show you the joy I'm talking about. The first kind of joy is the joy of reunion. The joy of reunion. I want to show it to you in verse number 17, it says this. "After that, after the dead in Christ are raised, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up," here's the word, "Together with them." Together with who? The dead in Christ. Think about this. How extraordinary is it that we will all experience the great day of the Lord together? You see, what Paul is saying to the Thessalonians who are a little bit nervous that maybe those brothers and sisters in Christ, who have died, are going to miss out on this incredibly great day of the return of Christ, he's saying, "No no no no no. In fact, the Lord of life is going to see to it that the dead in Christ actually rise first and then we, who are alive and remain, will be caught up," listen to this, "Together with them."

Can you imagine that day? Can you imagine what it'll be like to be caught up together with them? What Paul was doing is he was comforting and encouraging the Thessalonians saying, "By the way, listen, I promise you, your brothers and sisters in Christ, who believed in Jesus, they're not going to miss out. And in fact, if you're still alive when Jesus comes, and your brother or sister in Christ has died, you're going to experience this day together." Together. It was an interesting concern that the Thessalonians had about the dead in Christ missing out.

But the interesting thing about our day and age is that we have the exact opposite concern. Our great concern as believers is that those who believe in Jesus, those who love Jesus, who have already passed away are enjoying all the good stuff before we get there. Listen, not all of it. Not all of it. And you know why I know that? Because Christ hasn't come yet. When Christ comes, the dead in Christ will be raised, and those who are alive will be transformed and caught up together with them and we will experience the great day of the Lord together.

So those who have died in Christ are experiencing the conscious presence and safety and security of their soul being in Jesus. But listen carefully, many people have such a wrong idea of what they term heaven. As if when we die, and our soul goes to be with Jesus, that's it. We're done. This is all we ever hope for. We're walking around streets of gold, we're kicking up gold dust. No, you're not. Not yet. You know why? Because your destiny is to be embodied, embodied. The very way in which God has made us is he has made us as embodied people. And when Jesus returns, although we, in our souls, will experience the conscious presence of Jesus.

Call it what you like, call it paradise, call it a beatific vision, call it an extraordinarily awesome and amazing experience that we are getting Christ and our souls are secure in Jesus, but there's more coming ladies and gentlemen. When somebody says, "Is there life after death?" The answer to that is absolutely. And it gets better. There's not only life after death, there's life after life after death. Because Christ will come and we will be caught up together. Isn't it' a beautiful thing that when Jesus returns to inaugurate new creation, whether he is creating a whole of the new heavens in Earth, where we are going to dwell forever with him, do you realize how incredible it is to think about that every one who is in Christ, living or dead, will all experience that together?

No matter when it is that they died, no matter what place on Earth that they came from. Every single one of us who are part of the believing body, the bride of Christ will experience that great day together. That means that my [memama 00:27:07], who loved Jesus with all of her heart, who died a number of years ago, that she and I, regardless of whether I die or whether I'm alive when Jesus comes, she and I are going to enjoy that day together.

It means, it means that we and the apostle Paul himself, and Peter, and Stephen, and Esther, and Lydia, and Ruth, and James, and Daniel, we'll experience this day together. Because this isn't about the haves and the have nots, this is about the king of kings. And all of his people are going to experience this day together. Can you imagine the joy of that reunion? But, there's other things to be joyful about. Let me give you a second one.

The joy of vindication. Not only will we experience this rapturous joy of reunion, but there'll be a joy of vindication. So, Jerry, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Let me show you in the text. "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them," where? "In the clouds." Paul has a tendency to use a lot of different phraseology to describe what he's talking about, we'll see that as First Thessalonians, and even Second Thessalonians progresses. Sometimes he uses metaphors, like he'll use a lot of them in one sentence, and you'll be like, "What did you just say?"

And he uses this phrase, in the clouds, as if, ladies and gentlemen, heaven and our eternity with Jesus is up there, when in fact, it's another reality altogether. This isn't about cardinal directions, if we can just go far enough that way, we'll run into him. That's actually not what's being proposed here. If that were the case, sign me up to be a member of NASA, I want to figure this bad boy out. What we're talking about is an entirely different dimension of being. An invisible one to us right now. We live in a visible reality, but there is an invisible reality that one day, those two realities, are going to go like this.

Where there is a new heaven and new Earth. Now, what's Paul referring to when refers to being caught up together with them in the clouds? What's the language of indication? What Paul is using is, he's using language that is borrowed from Daniel. You see, this great vision in Daniel about Jesus, we see in Daniel, Chapter 7. Daniel says, "In my vision at night, I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power, all nations and people of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

See, here's the picture of Daniel. The picture of Daniel is one like a Son of Man, Jesus, who was called the Son of Man, who actually, coming on the clouds of heaven, it says, to the Ancient of Days. So think about it this way, this isn't about Jesus coming from heaven to Earth. This is about a picture of Jesus ascending to the Father. He's approaching the Ancient of Days, and the Ancient of Days, listen to this, vindicates who he is as the Son of Man by giving him glory, and power, and dominion, and a kingdom that will never, ever end.

He is saying that even though this one was treated ill, this one was persecuted, this one was mocked and spit upon, this one was crucified, that he rose from the dead, he ascended to the Father, and now he is vindicated as not only the Son of Man, but the Son of God. Who is the king of every king, who will have dominion and authority, and a kingdom that will never end. This is about vindication, in the clouds is the language of vindication.

Now, the reason I tell you that is because there's great joy in that for us. Because Jesus is the vindicated one. The one who people said, "Aw." The one that [inaudible] people sometimes just go, "Aw." He will be vindicated in all of the cosmos. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father. There will be a great vindication of who Jesus, and it means that those of us who are caught up together with him in the clouds will also be vindicated by our faith in him.

So every time that we, as the people of God, have been called backwards, have been called narrow, have been called stupid, have been called shallow, we will be vindicated. For every persecution, every judgment, every false accusation that has come our way as the people of God either as individuals or as a collective body of people, we will be vindicated because we will be caught up in the clouds with the one who has been vindicated, who has glory and dominion and power and whose kingdom will never end. This is the language of vindication. Think about the incredible joy.

But there's also a third thing I would point out, and it's the joy of reception. Let me explain that. This is where we begin to be helped in our understanding of what is transpiring at the Second Coming of Jesus. Notice what it says in verse 17, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord." To meet the Lord. Now, this phrase, to meet the Lord, is actually tied to a phrase that's in verse 15.

Verse 15, it says this, "According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord." I told you last week that the phrase there in the Greek language is parousia, a parousia, if you wanted to emphasize the back end of it. Parousia. And that talks about the appearing or the coming of the Lord. Now, here's what we understand, virtually any scholar that you would read that would talk to you about the idea of what parousia means in the Greek language, they would tell you this, that it gave an indication of a king, or dignitary, usually a king or an emperor, visiting a city.

And when that king or that emperor would come to visit a city, which by the way the Caesar would do this in the Roman empire, Rome was the center piece, that was the mothership so to speak, but maybe he would go to Philippi, which was a Roman outpost. And when the Caesar would be not far away from the city, the citizens would go out, there would be a delegation that would be chosen to go out to meet the emperor to escort him back to the city.

You see, this is the idea of the coming of the king. That we will go to meet him. But what are we going to meet him to do? I would venture to tell you that the very way that this term meet is used in the scripture, three different times, by the way, it's all telling us the same thing. Three other times, other than just this passage of scripture, it tells us the same thing every time. I'll show you one of those, do you remember Palm Sunday? Do you remember when Jesus was in Bethany and then he was coming over the hill there. The mount of olives, and he was going to make his way into Jerusalem.

Notice what it says in John, Chapter 12, "The next day, the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, and they took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.'" So listen to this, Jesus is outside of Jerusalem heading into Jerusalem. What do the people do? They go outside of Jerusalem to meet him out there, waving palm branches to do what? To escort him in to the city as a great king.

We see the same thing actually talked about when we look in other places in scripture that I won't go to necessarily right now. But if you read the parable of the 10 virgins, in Matthew Chapter 25, and you saw the virgins who were prepared with their lamps, it says that they went out to meet the bridegroom, so that they could walk with him back to the wedding. Or you could look in the Book of Acts in the later chapters of the Book of Acts when Paul goes to Rome. Paul is headed to Rome and the believers know that he's coming, and they went well outside of Rome to meet him, so that they could walk back with him into Rome.

You see, what Paul is helping us understand here is this, is that King Jesus is coming and what we will do, those who are dead in Christ and those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with him in the clouds, being vindicated for everything that has ever been said about us, because he is the one who has been vindicated and we will join him there, we will meet the Lord to do what? To be a part of his escort back.

You see, Jesus prayed this way. He taught us to pray this way. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. You see, the whole point, ladies and gentlemen, is that we're headed back here to a new heaven and new Earth. I hear people say this sometimes, well meaning, and I understand what they're saying, "This Earth is not my home." Yeah, it is. Yes, it is. It's going to be a new one, it's going to be a new heaven and Earth, but oh yes, it is. We're going out to meet him to escort him back, because this is where he's coming.

He's coming here to establish and bring together this union of heaven and Earth, where we will dwell with him forever. What joy. What joy to be, listen, to be a part of the chosen group of people that are a delegation to go and meet the king, and escort him back in as he makes everything new. There's a last one that I want you to see, it's the joy of victory.

The joy of victory. Again, in verse number 17 it says this, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the lord," where? "In the air." Now, some of us have read into that passage instead of letting it speak for itself, and particularly in letting Paul speak for himself. Where does it say that we will meet the Lord? Say it out loud. In the?


In the?


Does it say we will meet him in heaven? It does not. And some people have transposed the idea of heaven for what Paul says when he says, "We will meet the Lord in the air." There's another place where Paul uses this phrase, the air, and I want you to hear the description of it, so that you understand what Paul says when he says this. It's in Ephesians, Chapter 2, and he begins that passage by saying, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. The spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient."

Do you know how Paul is using that term in Ephesians, Chapter 2? He's using it to describe the devil's territory. The territory of the enemy. Why is this so joyous for us when we say that we are going to meet the lord in the air? Because when Jesus returns, he is going to do it in a place the devil thought was his turf. Jesus is going to show back up to demonstrate his complete mastery over the devil and over death itself by showing up on what he thought was his own turf, and recreating all of it to make all things new. That is glorious. That is glorious. That is when we see Jesus Christ holding true to every promise that he has made.

In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world, that's what Jesus says. John writes this, "The Son of God, the reason the Son of God came was to destroy the works of the devil." And he's going to show up on what Satan thought was his turf and demonstrate this to all the world.

In The Great Commission, Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, and he says, "And I will be with you always even to the end of the age." And here we are, at the Second Coming, gathered with him as a delegation to meet him both dead in Christ and those who are alive, we've been transformed, we are caught up together, to meet him on the devil's turf and he transforms everything, said he'd be with us, and he always has been. Always has been. Jesus fulfills every promise he's ever made. What joy we are going to experience, ladies and gentlemen.

See, this is how Paul concludes. Listen to how he concludes in verse 17 and 18. "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with him in them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." Ladies and gentlemen, if you are in Christ, whether you die or whether you're alive when Jesus returns, you have this to look forward to. You will be radically transformed where the perishable will put on the imperishable, the mortal will change into immortality. And together with every believer from every age, from every place, from every nation, from every tongue, from every tribe, from every ethnicity, for all time, will all together experience this day at the same time.

And we will be this chosen delegation to meet the Lord, the king of kings, who is coming to this place to make heaven and Earth all brand new, where we will dwell with him forever. He will be our God, and we will be his people. This is the glorious picture where we will be stunned in joy. Because what Paul is not doing in this passage, Paul is not writing about a justified evacuation. Paul is, in fact, writing about a joyous transformation of our lives and of the very cosmos that we live in. It's even better than we could have imagined.

So be encouraged, if you're in Christ, because encouraged whether we die or whether we remain, be encouraged, because what's headed our way is radical transformation and rapturous joy. I can't help it, but I'm full of joy. I almost said I'm full of it, and I didn't want to say that, that would not have been the right phrase to use. And I want us to express joy. I want us to sing joy. I want us to praise in joy. So on every campus our worship teams are coming out, and in a moment we're going to stand and we're going to unapologetically and energetically sing about joy.

And then I will come back up at this campus, and our campus pastors at every other campus, to close us out in just a moment. So why don't we stand to our feet everywhere on every campus and take a moment to worship together. That is worth celebrating. Our thoughts about the return of Jesus should bring great encouragement to our hearts if we are in Christ. Because I assure you, for anyone that is in Christ who has turned away from trusting in themselves for their salvation, who have turned away from their sin and put their faith and trust in the one who died on a cross, who rose from the grave, who ascended to the Father, and who is coming back in power for all of us, whether we die or whether we remain when Jesus come back, we will all enjoy and be incredibly overjoyed at this moment.

But for those who have never experienced the transformation that Jesus brings in your heart, I don't want you to miss out on this joy, this is a glorious promise for those that are in Christ. Jesus longs to know you. God loves you. God, in fact, so loved you that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him would not perish eternally. But instead would have eternal or everlasting life. If you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, turned from your sin, and put your faith in him as the only savior of your life and the only savior and king of the world, then when we dismiss in just a moment, I hope you come across the atrium into our fireside room, we'd love to have a pastor, or a prayer partner talk with you for a moment about what that means and what your need is.

Father, we thank you that the reminder to us is that at the great coming of the Lord, we will all be changed. The dead in Christ will rise, and we, who are alive, will be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, and the perishable will put on the imperishable, the mortal will put on immortality. We will be fundamentally transformed, and we will experience a joy that we have never even imagined. A joy in reunion with all of the bride of Christ from all time.

A joy of knowing that we will be vindicated because you, Jesus, have been vindicated. The joy of having the knowledge that we will be with you forever. I pray in the name of Jesus, by the power of your spirit, you would encourage your people with these words. That your coming would not be a point of theological war. But instead, would be a place for true worship as we are overjoyed at the truth of your coming. Help us to encourage one another with these words. Reminding each other to live in the light of your return, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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