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The Daily Word of Righteousness
We Shall Not Precede . . ., #5
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. (I Thessalonians 4:17—NIV)
I read somewhere that it was a custom in the towns of the Roman Empire that when an important figure was approaching the town, a committee of elders went out to meet the party that was coming, welcomed the visitors, and escorted them into the town.
The Bible says we are going to be caught up together with the newly resurrected saints to meet the Lord in the air. It says nothing whatever about His then turning around and bringing us all to Heaven. This is an unscriptural teaching, and violates what the Lord said in Matthew, Twenty-four, that His return would not be a secret but an open manifestation to the world.
Let's go strictly by the Bible and we shall be safe.
So now we have a problem. If the saints who are alive on the earth at the time of Christ's return are to be caught up together with the millions of resurrected saints into the air, we first must experience a change in our body.
First Thessalonians, Chapter Four does not mention the change in us because it is not emphasizing our resurrection and ascension but the resurrection and ascension of the believers of history. To understand our resurrection we have to go to the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Since the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the "Resurrection Chapter," is not speaking of the dead whom Christ brings with Him, it does not mention their resurrection and ascension, only the resurrection of the living. It does not speak even of our ascension.
The reason the Resurrection Chapter does not speak of our ascension is that the ascension is not a work of redemption. It is an act of Kingdom power that follows the ultimate work of redemption, which is the resurrection of the body from its place of interment.
We have it backwards today. We are overemphasizing the catching up and neglecting the resurrection. The truth is, the resurrection is the all-important ultimate act of redemption, the destruction of the last enemy, and is mentioned in both Testaments. The catching-up is of minor significance, being only our change of location so we can descend with the Lord in the Battle of Armageddon. The catching-up is a demonstration of Kingdom power, not at all a part of redemption.
Buying a new car might be a significant act on your part, especially if you were quite poor. But where you drive it is not part of that significant act. Can you see this? Attaining to the resurrection was the goal of the Apostle Paul. Paul said nothing whatever about the catching-up being his goal. That idea is ridiculous!
Neither the Old Testament nor the New emphasizes the ascension but both speak of the resurrection. The reason we of today emphasize the ascension rather than the resurrection is that we are carnal. We are not interested in being with Jesus, only with escaping trouble. Right or wrong?
To be continued.