FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
NOTE the term for death is sleep. This is quite normal and leads me to believe that those who die are asleep and not running around heaven cooking for God or playing golf with the saints. And, then when Jesus returns and resurrects those who are dead, they will awake from what will seem like a nap. They are in the presence of the Lord, but asleep. This makes a whole lot of sense for me!
This is a message of hope concerning those who have already died. There is still hope for them and we will see how that will work.
14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 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.
NOTE that someday Jesus will return to earth and will bring all those believers who have fallen asleep in Him. There will be a loud command, a shout, a trumpet and at that moment those who have already died will be resurrected first. (Some think this is because they have 6 feet farther to go!)
THEN, those believers who are still alive when Jesus returns will be caught up or snatched up together with Him and them in the clouds. There all will meet the Lord in the air. And, from then on, all believers will be with the Lord forever!
Some believe this will happen before we go through the Great Tribulation spoken by the prophets. Some believe it will happen just a few years after the Great Tribulation begins (about 3 1/2 years). Others believe this will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation. I have an unshakable position. I believe Jesus will come before the Tribulation, but if not I will move quickly to the 2nd position of waiting for 3 1/2 years. Then, after 3 1/2 years, if Jesus hasn't shown up yet, I move quickly to that final position of believing He will come at the very end of the Great Tribulation. AND THAT IS UNSHAKABLE! i call it the PAN-TRIBULATION THEORY. It will all pan out in the end, no matter what I believe.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. THEREFORE, since someday Jesus will return and take us to be with Him forever, we are to take comfort in this and encourage one another.
You know what's interesting? The Moslems are hoping Jesus returns to bring peace to the world. The Christians are looking for Jesus to come back and bring peace. And the Jews are looking for the Messiah, whoever He is, to come and bring peace to the world's struggles.
However it all works out, I have always liked that bumper sticker that says, "Jesus is coming back and boy, is He mad!"