Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”
Our Bible verse for today: “We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “The dead in Christ shall rise first.”
The consummation of your salvation occurs on the day of the second coming of Christ. That is when believers receive their resurrection body that they will spend eternity in. At this point salvation is complete for all believers from all of Christian history.
However, there is a sequence to the final phase of the consummation. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 that the dead in Christ arise first and receive their resurrection bodies. Then after that, those who are still alive at the time of the rapture rise and are given their resurrection bodies. Why the delay? Why do those who are still alive have to wait a few moments as others receive their resurrection bodies first?
The Bible doesn’t actually answer that question for us but I think it’s probably a matter of fairness. Those who are still alive at the time of the second coming of Christ never had to go through the agony of physical death. They didn’t have to endure a long slow deterioration of the physical body that ended in death. They did not have to suffer the ravages of cancer or some other terminal disease. They weren’t murdered. They also didn’t have to spend hundreds or even thousands of years in the intermediate state in the current heaven waiting for the final consummation of their salvation.
The dead in Christ did have to experience those things. Whereas those who are still alive at the second coming of Christ got to skip all that life-ending stuff, the dead in Christ had to go through it. So now, in the moment of fulfillment, those who suffered, died, and waited, receive their resurrection bodies first.
I’m thinking it’s probably not really that big of a deal. I doubt that any Christians who are still alive and watching all of this happening are going to be thinking that it’s somehow unfair for them to have to wait a moment. And I’m pretty sure that none of those who did die and who are now rising first will be looking back and sticking their tongues out at those who have to wait. I think we’ll all be cool about it.
So now the consummation of the salvation process is done. You have the full spiritual stature you will have for eternity, and you are finally in that very cool resurrection body.
So now what? What will eternity be like? Well, once again it’s surprising to discover how much detail the Bible actually gives us about this. We will begin to take a look at life in eternity tomorrow.