The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
What happens when you die?
That question has stirred the hope, passions, beliefs, doubts and fears of mankind in every culture and generation since creation. Only God’s people know, with certainty, the answer, which Brother Gearl taught us Sunday from today’s Scripture in Thessalonians. If we will only believe God’s word, Brother Gearl shared with us, we can maintain confidence in our destiny throughout our lives and share that confidence with others.
Brother Gearl shared with us that in this passage God is making provision for us in eternity. The dead in Christ rise first, then we who remain will be gathered up as well with Christ and be with Him forever. Is that a wonderful retirement plan or what? Does that give you confidence? It should. God is spelling out His provision for us with such clarity and simplicity. If you will only believe.
Jesus Himself affirmed God’s plan for believers that Paul is teaching the Thessalonians. In John Jesus teaches, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-4. Just imagine that really happening to us. Do you believe that? Can you put yourself in that picture. The praise team sang that promise Sunday. “When Jesus steps out on a cloud to call his children, the dead in Christ will rise to meet him in the air. And then those that remain will be quickly changed at the Midnight Cry when Jesus comes again.”
Brother Gearl also taught us how important it was for us to stay informed about the day of the Lord. Paul warned in 2 Thessalonians that, “you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has (already) come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy (falling away of the faith) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction (the Antichrist). Stay in God’s Word, pray, and continually seek God’s Truth to avoid the impostors who will definitely come claiming to be the Lord.
A third thing Brother Gearl said we need to do is to stay sober, or self-controlled. Brother Gearl warned us that the world is intoxicated with things that will never truly satisfy or bring us peace or hope. “But since we are of the day (living in the light), let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” 5:8
The helmet is a biblical symbol that often represents our thought life and our minds. Peter says we are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3. If we wear our hope of salvation as a helmet, we continually remember who we are and whose we are in Christ. Our hope in eternity remains alive and in our thoughts and meditations. Our living hope will prevent us from becoming spiritually apathetic, build us up to remain informed and shore up our confidence to make us bold and equipped to take the message of Christ to all those in our sphere of influence whether that be across the back fence or across the world.
And we will always know what will happen to us when we die, and all those in Christ, if we only believe.