Text: 1 Thess. 4:13-18
Title:  "Caught Away By Christ"
Subj:  The "catching away"

  Intro:  The Bible says, "...We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."

     We are fast approaching the year 2000.  This may have significance for many reasons.  First the number 7, in the Bible, seems to speak of maturity or completion. Second, God created the heavens and the earth in 7 days, then rested. Third, we believe the earth to be about 6,000 years old, with a 1,000 year millennial kingdom still to come, which equals 7,000 years. Fourth, a 1,000 years is as a day to the Lord.  So somewhere around the year 2,000 we will have seen the passage of some 6,000 years of God's work of salvation on this earth.  In other words, it appears that God's purpose for His earthly churches and children is drawing to a close. 

     The Biblical event that will close this 6,000 years of time is called by the Bible "the catching away," but more popularly, "the Rapture," which is from the Latin, "to seize," "to snatch."  The "catching away" is important to Christians for many reasons.   First, it removes us from the outpouring of God's wrath during the seven years of Tribulation when over 1/2 of the world's humanity will be killed.   Second, it completes the blessed hope of our original salvation.  Third, it brings to pass the Bema (reward) Seat of Christ.  Fourth, it brings to pass the marriage of Christ to His New Testament churches.   Fifth, it is our entrance into eternity.

     The question is not whether this event will occur, but whether you are ready!  I realize that the possibility that you, as a Christian, may only live on this earth for less than 5-20 more years is a mind-boggling thought, but God has never promised us more than one day at a time anyway!!  Many have died much younger than you.  So as we consider  "Being Caught Away By Christ," let's use the time wisely, checking our own hearts to see if we are ready for the inevitable, but blessed event.  

 Text: 1 Thess. 4:13-18 -- "Caught Away By Christ" -- prayer

     I. OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION (v13)
     
A. The brethren have wisdom in contrast to the world's ignorance
            1. "Ignorant" = uninformed, misinformed
                a. The world is spiritually blind & at odds with God!
                 b. About those "asleep" = Bible word for a believer's bodily state after death

 Note:  God does not want you to be spiritually ignorant, especially about those that are dead!  Why?  Because death represents the line we cross into the next life, and fixes our destiny eternally!  If you are ignorant about the dead, then you are ignorant about every other spiritual truth to one degree or another. That is why all forms of religion point to death! 

        B. The brethren are joyful in contrast to the world's sorrow
           
1. "Sorrow" = to grieve
               
a. We can grieve over a lose, but not over their state! 
               
b. We know where the "asleep" are!

        C. The brethren are hopeful in contrast to the world's hopelessness
           
1. Without "hope" = a well-grounded expectation and firmly held prospect of a future good
               
a. We know where we will be when "asleep"

    II. OUR FOUNDATION OF FAITH (v14)
        A. Jesus' death, burial, resurrection

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures:  And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve."
1 Cor. 15:3-5
          
  1. "If" = since

 Note: If you believe?  Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and was resurrected for your justification?  Are you saved?   If you believe, it is since you believe, and since you believe that Jesus died and rose again, you should have no trouble believing the rest of this passage!

         B. Our trust in Christ's work on our behalf

 Note: We know it is on our behalf because we have the brethren in v13, believers in v14,  them which sleep in Jesus (v14), those awaiting His coming (v15), the dead in Christ (v16), and those that meet the Lord (v17).

             1. Them which sleep in Jesus (rest & peace)
            
2. God will bring them with Jesus

Note: Here we see the importance of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Everything is based on the finished work of Christ, our trust in that work, and the benefits gained from that work.

   III. OUR SOURCE OF HOPE (v15)
       
A. Word of the Lord (Always back to the Bible!)
           
1. Direct revelation from God
           
2. Testimony of Paul (writer)
           
3. Testimony of Holy Spirit (inspired)

       B. Coming of the Lord
            
1. Some are alive & remain
               
a. "Prevent" = precede, go before
            
2. Some sleep

         C. Completeness of the Lord (all)

   IV. OUR DESCENDING SAVIOUR (v16a)
        
A. The Lord Himself
             
1. Descending
                 
a. With a "shout" = word of command
                 
b. With the voice of the archangel (ruler of angels)
                     
1) Seraphs, cherubs, archangels, angels (principalities, powers, thrones, dominions)
                 
c. With the trumpet of God
                     
1) Used both for a call to worship and a call to battle

 V. OUR MEETING THE LORD (v16b-17)
        
A. Dead ("asleep" but dead!) first
             
1. "In Christ" = united to Him by trust in His work

             
2. From wherever they were "buried"
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."
 Rev. 20:13

          B. Alive second
             
1. The dead shall rise, but we all shall be "caught" up!

          C. Christ preeminent
             
1. To meet the Lord
             
2. To be ever with the Lord

 Note:  The Picture:  The resurrected Christ in His glorified body, followed by the innumerable souls of every dead believer since His resurrection, leaves the confines of heaven and descends into the firmament above the earth (the clouds).  As Christ leaves the boundary of heaven, He shouts a command.  This "command" announces His coming, calls Satan and his demons (both elect angels and fallen demons) to stand at attention in military rank as we pass through, and commands the sleeping bodies of the saints to arise ("Lazarus, come forth") to meet Him in the air.  Immediately the archangel's voice calls the angelic host to attention and in rank.  Then the trumpet of God sounds, calling the saints and heavenly host to worship, and Satan and his demons to battle.  Now the dead rise out of their graves, whether earth or sea.  And as they ascend to ground level, those which are alive and remain are snatched together with them, passing through rank after rank of demons and angels, into the clouds.  There we gather to praise and worship Christ before our journey ends in heaven.

     VI. OUR COMFORT IN CHRIST'S COMING (v18)
        
A. "Comfort" = every kind of speaking to which is meant to produce a particular effect; exhortation, encouragement, comfort, etc.

 Conc:  Christ is coming!   Are you 100% ready, 75% ready, 50% ready, 25% ready, 10% ready, or 0% ready.  What is your spiritual condition?  Ignorant, sorrowful, hopeless like the world, or wise, joyful, and hopeful in the promises of Christ?  Jesus Christ is coming again, and at that moment your eternal "spiritual meter" will be set in time.  Now is the time to "get right," "get ready," and "get going."

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