Text: I Thess. 4
I. The Return of the Lord
For the hope of His coming we have a threefold cord: (1) The Divine Announcement; (2) The Angelic Affirmation; (3) The Apostolic Confirmation. There is the Divine and glorious promise of the Saviour; "If I go away; I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there ye may be also" (John 14:3). His coming again is the hope of the Church. In Scripture it is viewed as: A purifying hope (I John 3:3), a comforting hope (John 14:3), a delivering hope (IPet. 1:13.
II. THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS
The Scriptures leave no doubt that all saints will be caught up to heaven when the Lord comes. As we have seen, the Lord's own promise announces it (John 14:3); the Father's program demands it (I Thess. 4:14), and the Spirit's indwelling assures it (Rom. 8:11). The sal vation of the saints in its three aspects is all of grace: It was grace to begin with (Eph. 2:8-9); it is grace to continue with (Titus 2:11-12); and it is grace with which we complete the pilgrim journey (I Pet. 1:13).
III. THE REUNION OF THE DEPARTED
The language of the passage breathes recognition in the meeting of departed loved ones at His coming. When the Old Testament Partriarchs died we read that they were "gathered unto their people"; with this assurance "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (II Sam. 12:23). Heaven will be but the continuation of the happy fellowship of saints that was begun down here.
IV. THE REJOICING OF THE REDEEMED
For the Lord's people His coming will mean the end of all sorrow, conflict and temptation. The Church militant will be the Church at rest. It will mean the end of the road for the weary pilgrim, the cessation of warfare for the Christian soldier, rest from all labor for the tired workman and farewell to the night of weeping for the afflicted saint. God shall wipe away all tears, as the redeemed enter their everlasting home.