by Anthony Barbera
"The entire creation groans with anticipation, awaiting the fullness of that precise moment in time—God's next majestic event: The return of Christ Jesus for his church. He is coming!"__AJB
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: (1Thes 4:16)
It is a disheartening sting to our souls when we lose one of our beloved brothers or sisters in Christ. Sadly, yet undeniably, all of the earth must face the consequences of sin. Death. Joy fully, having “fallen asleep,” the next living event that we will experience is that Christ has returned to gather us unto himself. We who are alive will hear the clarion shout of triumph, and the trumpet of salvation will sound the clear melody of victory: He is back, and we are departing this earth to be with him. We are not to sorrow as those who have no hope, for we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even more, those also which sleep (died) in Jesus will God bring with him. Be comforted.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, [die] but we shall all be changed, (1Cor 15:51)
God’s promises are Yes and Amen. Reliable and true. As much as you may wish, there are no men or women present in heaven today, save Jesus Christ. He was the first to be changed. Every other human being who has ever lived and died is presently “asleep,” in a state called gravedom, where there is no sense of time. That is what the Bible declares. It may make you feel better to think they are watching over us with great encouragement. Decidedly, if the dead are in heaven, why would Christ need to return to gather the living and the dead? Why would there be a resurrection of the just and the unjust? Every person who has ever lived is going to rise from the dead. That includes my beloved grandparents and our very missed friends and family. But they are not up there now, looking down upon you with great cheer. There is comfort in the truth of the scriptures.
THE ORDER IS CLEAR
The order is clear: The dead in Christ shall rise first. (Those who were born again after the day of Pentecost.) Then we, if we are alive at that time, shall follow them. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead ones will be raised incorruptible, and we mortals [which are alive at his return] shall put on immortality. All shall have a new body, like unto his resurrected body. Now that’s an uplifting truth. Be comforted. At that determined time in history, which only God knows, we will meet our savior face to face—and rejoice greatly together, for we have missed one another so dearly. The blessed hope of our salvation is coming to pass at that very moment in time. The exact moment which God has ordained before the foundations of the world.
We are to be reminded that this is not the resurrection. This first part of the “Gathering Together” (sometimes referred to as the rapture or departure) is never technically called a resurrection. Why? Because some believers will be alive at the time of this portion of his coming, and naturally, will not then need to be raised from the dead. Those who are alive will be caught up in the clouds, along with those believers who have just previously been raised from the dead, to meet the Lord in the air. With this first part, Christ coming for his Church, he will not descend onto the earth; He is coming to gather the dead and living of the Church of the Body first. See 1 Corinthians Chapter 15.
And to wait for his Son from Heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thes 1:10)
We are encouraged and reminded that through God’s manifold mercy and grace, that the Church of the Body of Christ, and all its members, will be departed and with Christ before the wrath spoken of in the Lord’s Day takes place.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)
At that time, the church will already have been judged. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. This judgment seat is the bema [βῆμα], the place, from which rewards and awards are given. None of God’s born again children will ever be judged as to how perfectly they walked in this life. Their glowing imperfections shall not be brought to light for all to see, and judgment passed upon them. The reason: We have been already judged in the person of our substitute and our mediator, Christ Jesus. He is our living savior and has delivered us from all wrath to come! It is a different and unique time we live in: The Age of Grace, The Church of the Body of Christ. We are of all men most blessed. The truth of our specific time in history, the grace administration awakens thankfulness! We don't work on his behalf to be saved or approved before Him, but because we already are.
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1Cr 11:32 )
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (Jhn 3:17 )
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1Th 5:9 )
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? [It is] God that justifieth. Who [is] he that condemeth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Rom 8:33-34)
By God’s mercy and God’s grace, we will, however, be rewarded for what we have done on his behalf. To have praise of Him.
THE FIVE KNOWN CROWNS AVAILABLE AT THE BEMA:
Crown of Life - James 1:12: For those who endure temptation and love God.
Crown of Rejoicing – I Thessalonians 2:19, 20: For those who win others to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Crown Incorruptible - I Corinthians 9:24-25: For those who exercise self-control in all disciplined training.
Crown of Glory - I Peter 5:1-4: For those leaders or elders in the Body of Christ who become examples.
Crown of Righteousness - II Timothy 4:7,8: For those who love Christ's appearing.
The Events of the End
(1) Christ’s Coming For His Saints
(2) Church of the Body Stands at The “Judgment Seat” (Place of rewards, bema)
(3) The Events of the Book of Revelation with Christ’s Coming With His Saints
(4) The First and Second Resurrections
(4) The End (telos) When Death is Destroyed, and all Things Are Subdued to God.
(5) A New Heaven and a New Earth
THE LORDS DAY
In the Lord’s Day, the first “resurrection” will be for the just, then a period of time intervenes, next the “resurrection” of the unjust occurs. After all men and women who have ever lived have been “resurrected" (excluding the previously gathered members of the Church of the Body), then they, those of the first and second “resurrection,” will all appear before the judgment seat of God. The first and second resurrections will make “all alive, ” and all will be judged. Some will be allowed to suffer the second death. Finally, death will be destroyed. For he must reign until He has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? (1Cr 15:55)
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev 21:4 KJV)
Look at the beauty and simplicity of how God reveals this in I Corinthians 15.
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:12-28)
Hope anticipates and keeps us enthusiastically moving forward with Him. You cannot believe for The Hope to take place. In God's time—Christ is coming back as Lord of Lord and King of Kings! There will be a new heaven, and a new earth wherein dwells only righteousness. Christ is coming back. The new heaven and new earth will be inhabited only by those who love God. I'd much rather meet my Lord and Savior and my Heavenly Father as a born again son of God—among those who are thankful to be together.
"The entire creation groans with anticipation, awaiting the fullness of that precise moment in time—God's next majestic event: The return of Christ Jesus for his church. He is coming!" __Anthony Barbera
With much love For The Brethren,