“We tell you this directly from the Lord.” 1Th 4:15 NLT
What Paul wrote about death, he got directly from the Lord: “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.” The Lord reserves this high privilege exclusively for those who die in Him; they will be the first to experience the resurrection. Try to imagine that moment. Arising from their rest like we do after a good night’s sleep, now dressed in Christ-like bodies, they awake to the sight of their Lord returning in glory with His angels. They meet Him—the first believers to witness His return, the initial wing of His airborne vanguard to escort Him back to earth. This is no pipe dream or mere fantasy; Paul got it “directly from the Lord.” Our source is unimpeachable! He writes: (1) “Together with them, we who are still alive…will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (v. 17 NLT). Living believers will rise to join with resurrected brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, family of God never-met-before, in a spectacular mid-air reunion with Christ. We’ll be together, inseparable, eternal, one international, multicultural, love-based, Christ-centered family! (2) “Then we will be with the Lord forever” (v. 17 NLT). No speculating or imagining what He’s really like. “For we will see him as he really is” (1Jn 3:2 NLT). We will see, touch and talk with Jesus as we do each other. And He will respond to us in real time! (3) “Encourage each other with these words” (1Th 4:18 NLT).
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