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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Day of Christ, #10
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15)
In the last days the majority of the believers will grow cold in their love for God and His Christ. But there will be a remnant of saints alive on the earth at the coming of the Lord.
"Shall not prevent (precede; have an advantage over) them which are asleep." The remnant who are alive on the earth at the coming of the Lord will not enter the Kingdom of God ahead of those saints who previously have fallen asleep in Jesus.
The saints in Thessalonica were expecting the imminent return of Christ to set up His Kingdom on the earth. While they were waiting for Christ's return, some of the members died. This caused concern on the part of the remainder of the church. The believers were worried and sorrowful, thinking that the deceased brothers and sisters would not be present to witness the glorious return of the Lord; that they were gone and would not be seen again.
Notice the absence of the current tradition of "dying and going to Heaven." The emphasis of apostolic teaching was not on "dying and going to Heaven." It was on the coming of the Messianic Kingdom to the earth. Because of this emphasis there was concern about the entrance of the deceased believers into the Kingdom of God.
There would be no such concern today because we have changed the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth into a gospel of dying and going to live forever in Heaven. The converting of the subject of this passage, which is the comforting of the hearts of the believers concerning the entrance of the deceased saints into the Kingdom, into a special revelation concerning the removal of the Church from the threat of Antichrist, reflects ignorance of the nature of the Kingdom of God as well as a misconception of the passage.
It is true that the deceased saints cannot be made perfect apart from us (Hebrews 11:40). It is true also that we who are alive and remain unto Jesus' return to earth will not enter the Kingdom of God ahead of the saints of past generations.
All God's elect will enter the Kingdom at the same time. We understand from this that we do not enter the Kingdom of God when we as an individual die physically.
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: (I Thessalonians 4:16)
"The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven." This is the coming of the Lord spoken of in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We can see from Paul's teaching that Christ will descend from Heaven into the air above us, into the area from which the earth has been ruled by fallen angels who, though bound in chains of spiritual darkness, are expressing their nature in mankind. Paul refers to Satan as "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2).
Apparently Christ will remain for a season at the level of the clouds before continuing to the earth. This interval of time is necessary so the members of His army can descend in the Spirit and take up their bodies from the ground or from wherever they are "sleeping." Then His army will ascend in their redeemed bodies to be gathered about Him.
To be continued.