Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
Email Preach Him with Dr. Jim

Facts About the Return of Christ for the Church
1 Thes. 4:13-18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. NAS

Introduction
In his book on I Thessalonians, Lloyd Olgelive tells a story about being at breakfast one day and the man next to him was giving a lot of sighs and ooh's and aah's. The waitress heard him and so she went over and said, "sir, is there something that I can help you with , is anything wrong?" And he said, "No, it's just my reaction to reading this newspaper. Reading this news, I don't know what our world is coming to." And the waitress said, "well, sir, you've got to have hope."

And the man answered, "I don't see how anybody can have hope in this world." Dr. Olglive picked up his cup of coffee and just scooted over in the other man's booth and said, "sir, I couldn't help but overhear your comment," and he said, "I think you're exactly right that we cannot have hope in this world. But I'd like to share with you a way that you can have hope." Dr. Olgelive then proceeded to win this man to faith in Jesus Christ.

Where can our hope come from. It is certain from this passage of Scripture that our hope is in Christ and in the hope of His return. In fact, you may know that one of the emphasis of Christianity is the blessed hope and that blessed hope relates to the return of Christ for His people.

In the text I see three areas of facts concerning information related to the Second Coming of Christ and the hope we have. These facts are:

Facts about the . . Sleeping Saints.

Facts about the . . Shouting Saints.

Facts about the . . Serene Saints.
 
 

1. Facts about the . . Sleeping Saints. v 13-15

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.

A.    The . . Concern About the Sleeping Saints. v 13 a
        "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, . . . "

        1.    Who Are These Sleeping Saints?
        2.    Those who die before the Rapture.
        3.    Body is in their grave but Spirit is with the Lord.
        4.    This is the Greek word a guest house.
        5.    What happens to these Sleeping Saints
        6.    Concern about them Missing the Joys of the resurrection.

Acts 7:59-60 NAS 59 And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60 And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep.
 

B.    The . . Contrition About the Sleeping Saints. v 13 b
            ". . . that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope."

        1.    Grief with our hope.

Normal Stages of grief regardless if your a Christian or a pagan. All of us should recognize we will go through these stages of grief.

        2.    Never forget we are human beings and what applies to all humanity applies to the Christians.

Illustration
Jack Stanton is a former vice-president of Southwest Baptist University and renown evangelistic speaker. In the past year, his wife passed away and at our Evangelism Conference in Missouri, he shared that he had great sorrow. And he said someone said, "well, you know where your wife is don't you?" And he related, "Yes, I know where she is. But I also know where she is not." And it is that knowledge of where our loved one is not that causes us the normal human grief. So do not allow anyone to pressure upon you a thought that you are not being Christian because you grieve.

Paul in this passage tells us he does not want us to grieve as pagan's. He does not say, do not have any grief at all.
 

C.    The . . Catalyst About the Sleeping Saints. v 14 a & 15 a

        1.    Catalyst One: Our Belief about Jesus. v 14 a
                "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, . . . "
                a.    Jesus DIED. Not SLEEP, He died so we do not die.
                b.    We pass from death into life because he took death for us.

        2.    Catalyst Two: Our Belief in the revealed Word v 15 a
                    " For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, . . . " .
 

D.    The . . Convictions About Sleeping Saints. v 14 b -15 b
            v 14 b ". . . even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus v 15 b ". . . that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep."

        1.    Conviction about Order
                a.    Note who appears with Jesus. v 14 b
                b.    Note who resurrects first. v 15 b
                c.    Those who sleep in Jesus.
                d.    The quickened body meets the living spirit.  Check verse 16 b
                            ". . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
                e.    Note who is a very close second. v 15 b
                            ". . . We who remain. "
                f.    We do not precede those who have died.
 

Application 1 Cor 15:17-19

17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. NAS
 
 

2.    Facts about the . . Shouting Saints. v 16 - 17


16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Introduction: I want to share some sanctified imagination.
It does not say the saints will shout but I think we will. Can you imagine any Christian not shooting when they see Jesus? Can you imagine Elmer Wells (one of our senior adults) not shouting if he was getting to go in the rapture? I think there will be so much and so loud and so long a shouting it will scare the Devil out of the Devil.

By the way who is the Prince of the Air?

Eph 2:2 ". . . according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. NAS

Eph 2:2 ". . . and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. NIV

Eph 2:2 ". . . obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord. TLB

This gathering of the saints will take place in the air. It may happen so fast Satan wont know what happened before it is over. Some of his demons will say what was that? He's going to be very quite. He is going to be deafened by fear and the shouting saints. Jesus the King will call His children home and gather them on Satan's home court (so to speak).
 

A. The . . Hearing of the Shouting Saints. v 16
        " For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; . . . "

        1.    Hear the Voice of the Lord.
        2.    Hear the Shout of the Archangel.
        3.    Hear the Shout of the Trumpet.

Illustration
If you take a dog whistle, you can blow on it for all that you're worth and no human will hear it. But you will have a pack of dogs running toward you. My point?   In order to hear a dog whistle, you have to be a dog.

In order to hear The Shout of The Lord, you have to be a born again believer in Jesus Christ! Now, that simplifies everything for me! Greg Osborn Good News Ministries http://www.gnmin.org
 

B. The . . Harkening of the Shouting Saints. v 16 b - 17 a
        ". . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first. v 17 a Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,

1 Cor 15:51-52 NAS 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Illustration
The Charity Baptist Church in Carlinville, Illinois is a fine open country church. I pastored this church while in College. One Wed. night as I remember a man by the name of Larry Eads coming up to me and saying, "Pastor, have you ever thought where you'd like to be when the Lord returns for the rapture of the church?"

I said, "yes, I have." And he said, "well, where would you like to be?" I said, "I'd like to be preaching right in the midst of the Sunday night service and the Lord just take us home." I don't think he listened a whole lot because he wasn't so much interested in what I had to say about it as he was to tell me what he thought. He wanted to be out in the back of the church in the cemetery lot and he wanted to watch those who had died in the Lord pop up out of their grave.

Humor One Got Away
I heard about a family that experienced a sad death when their son died. When the family went out to the grave site after the funeral, their little girl wandered away and saw an open grave. She then came running and shouting to her mom and dad and said, "Mom! Dad! One got away! One got away! "

All of us in Christ are going to harken to the voice and get away as we go to meet the Lord in the air..
 

Illustration
Scientists have computed that it takes one-fiftieth of a second to blink and eye. They say that a person blinks 25 times a minute. Thus, a motorist who averages 55 miles an hour on a ten hour trip, drives 33 miles with his eyes shut.

C.    The . . Heavenly Home of the Shouting Saints. v 17 b
            ". . . and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
 

Illustration
I recently read a story about a Dr. Fred Craddock who went back to his home in Tennessee to care for his sister who was very ill, and decided to go to church on a Sunday night He went to the church that he had attended as a boy. And while he was there as the sun was going down, he noticed the beautiful stained glass windows. After the service he commented to a friend, "You have new windows?" "Yeah," his friend replied, "Aren't they beautiful?"

Dr. Craddock wondered how this little church could afford such beautiful stained glass windows. He looked at the memorial inscriptions on the bottoms of the windows and noticed that he did not recognize any of the names though he had grown up in the community and knew many people there. He asked his friend about the names. His friend replied, "Well, there was a church up in St. Louis that ordered new windows from a company in Italy. When they got there they were not the right size, so instead of shipping them back, the company said, 'Try to sell them' while they made new ones. They advertised them and we went up there and bought them." Dr. Craddock then asked, "Are you going to put nameplates on them for the folks in this church?" "

We took that up at the board meeting," his friend informed him, "and decided to leave those names there? "Why?" asked Dr. Craddock. The friend replied, "It's good for our church to know that there are a lot of saints in God's kingdom that we don't even know?

There will be a lot of saints you and I never knew in this gathering.
 

Application

John 5:24-26 24"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. NAS

The believer is getting ready for flight. I like the way a preacher in Florida puts it, "You can take an airplane ride if you want to, but I'm getting ready for a plain air ride." Sermon by Ken Trivette
 
 

3.    Facts about the . . Serene Saints. v 18



"Therefore comfort one another with these words."

A.    Serene Saints Receive Comfort from . . Reassurance. v 18 a
            "comfort one another"

            1.    You know all of us can have a ministry of comfort.
 

B.    Serene Saints Receive Comfort from . . Reality. v 18 b "these words"
 

Illustration
When I was working on my doctor's degree in the state of California, I took a class on hospital ministry. The class took place at Hogg Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, California. One day when we went to class, the Chaplain said, "today, you're assignment is go out and visit room by room and choose whatever floor you want to go to." I protested that I didn't feel like it was good for me to just walk into anybody's room uninvited and the Chaplain was very sympathetic. He said, "I don't care how you feel, go do it."

So I chose to go to the orthopedic ward where everyone will have something related to their bones. I did this because I had something in common because as a teenager, I had bone grafts and a very serious bone break. As I went into the very first room, a young man in his thirty's was recuperating from surgery where both of his legs had been removed below the knees. I awkwardly asked how are you doing? He came back with these words. "I can't kick." And then he laughed. It relieved me so that I started laughing.

As I continued to talk with this man, it was obvious he had a relationship with the Lord and although I went in as a Chaplain's assistant to give some comfort to him, I walked away being comforted by this man's faith in Christ. Paul says comfort one another.
 

Illustration Our Daily Bread May 21, 1999
Rock guitarist Jim Hendrix led a promiscuous life, indulging in drugs and behaving outrageously on and off the stage.

At the end of a concert in 1970, Jim smashed his guitar. According to Robert McGee and Donald Sapaugh in Search for Peace, the audience screamed and applauded, but suddenly the frenzied applause stopped. Jim had fallen on his knees and was staying in that position motionless. He broke the stillness by asking, "If you know real peace, I want to visit with you backstage."

But apparently nobody responded to his startling invitation. Several days later he died from an overdose of drugs. Peace, real peace, eluded Jim Hendrix.

But that peace is available "IN CHRIST".
 

Application

Rom 8:37-39 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NAS

Facts about the . . Sleeping Saints.

Facts about the . . Shouting Saints.

Facts about the . . Serene Saints.