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Section 9B .. The Future

003white   Index to Section 9B... The Future         >         Index To Heaven       >       Heaven: Jesus’ Second Advent and The Resurrection

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What And Where is “Heaven”?..
Part III... Jesus’ Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body

Carol Brooks

Index To All Six Sections

 Part I ...   "Heaven" v. The Promised Kingdom of God

 Part II ... The Location and Nature of Heaven... The Promises and The Prophecies

You Are Here 001orange Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body

Part IV ... What The Bible Says About The Resurrected Body

Part V ... A New Heaven and A New Earth

Part VI ... No More Sea?

 Part VI ... The Bema or Judgment Seat of Christ, and Rewards in Heaven
 

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Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. (Revelation 1:7 NASB) 


The Second Coming of Christ

No future event real or imagined will be as significant, as momentous, or have as much impact on the entire human race as the Second Coming of Christ. For some it will be catastrophic, for others a long awaited deliverance (which is entirely up to us). The New Testament describes His coming in graphic detail leaving no doubt that His return will be physical.

    And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11 NASB)

    Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. (Revelation 1:7 NASB)

    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 will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NASB)

In other words, Christ will return to earth in exactly the same way that He left except for one difference - His ascension was only witnessed  by the disciples but the entire world will see Him return.

But what about believers - both those who have already passed on and those still alive at when Christ returns?


The 'Intermediate State'
If you have read the previous two chapters you should know by now that the long held belief that when Christians die they immediately go to 'heaven' where they remain for all eternity is completely false. God never intended for there to be a permanent heaven somewhere out there.

What is true is that when a believer dies, his body remains on earth but his soul goes to be with Christ in the "third heaven" (the present abode of God). As Paul said, to be absent from the body at death is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) and also spoke of having a desire to "depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (Philippians 1:23)

The time spent in the place that is currently God's throne room is often called the 'Intermediate State' - with good reason. It was never intended that believers stay there permanently but is the intervening period between leaving the earth and returning to it. And, as Scripture tells us - they return when Christ does.


Christ Returns With Those Believers Who Have Already Died
In more than one place in the New Testament, we are told that the Lord will not return alone.  Matthew said He would return with His angels to administer judgment.

    "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels (Gk. aggelos) with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; (Matthew 25:31-32 NASB)

Both Jude and Paul added that the Lord would be accompanied by His Holy Ones

    It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones (Gk. hagios), to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." (Jude 1:14-15 NASB)

    so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints (Gk. hagios). (1 Thessalonians 3:13 NASB)

The Greek hagios (sacred or holy) is most often used in combination with another word to describe something or someone. For example, it is often used together with the Greek Pneuma (breath) to refer to the Holy Spirit. Jude 1:20 refers to a "most holy faith" while Peter spoke about the "holy prophets" (2 Peter 3:2). In Revelation 11:2, hagios is used with the Greek polis which refers to the holy city... Jerusalem.

However, when used by itself hagios refers to believers and is usually translated "saints".

    to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints (Gk. hagios): Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7 NASB)

Which should make it pretty obvious that the Lord is returning with both His angels (Matthew 25:31-32) and departed believers (Jude 1:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 quoted above). Additionally, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 unambiguously states that "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus".

However, considering they are already in a celestial heaven and apparently managing quite well without a physical body, one has to wonder what the point of a bodily resurrection is? The answer is very simple... Departed believers don't need their physical bodies where they are now, but will when they return to earth.


The Resurrection Of The Dead
The phrase resurrection of the dead means that something that has already died is made alive -  It could not possibly be called a resurrection were God starting from scratch.

The Bible teaches that on a set day in the future our actual physical bodies will be raised by Jesus Himself the evidence for which is pretty much irrefutable.

    This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:39-40 NASB)

Other verses say

    But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:20-24 NASB)

    Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 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 will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NASB)

1 Corinthians 15:42 establishes that there is a continuity between our current bodies and our resurrected bodies i.e. our bodies are sown "perishable" but will be raised "imperishable". Then a few verses later we are told when it will happen.  

    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 will be changed.  (1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB)

No one has any clue as to how God can raise a body that has been dead for years or even hundreds of years. What we do know is that matter never completely disappears or ceases to exist, but simply transforms from one type to another as the particles eventually break down.


"Meeting" The Lord Jesus Christ In The Air
According to the Scriptures, after the bodies of the "dead in Christ" are resurrected, believers who are alive at the time will be "caught up together with them" to meet the Lord in the air. This leaves two questions. 1) When does this take place? and 2) Since we can be reasonably sure that after meeting the Lord in the air we do not stay suspended in space for all eternity, what happens next

Timing
In the Olivet Discourse Jesus clearly tells us when this single "rapture" will take place.

    "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. (Matthew 24: 29-30.)

Paul was equally explicit. He linked the resurrection of the dead to two simultaneous events - Jesus' second coming and the last trumpet...

    But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:23 NASB)

    Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 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 will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52 NASB)

The Seventh Trumpet will, in many ways, be the most consequential of all. When it sounds some very significant and apparently rapid changes take place. The bodies of the dead in Christ will be resurrected and reunited with their spirits. Believers who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet (Gk. apantesis) the Lord in the air. The entire wondrous events are described in the book of Thessalonians

    But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 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, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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 will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet (Gk. apantesis) the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NASB)

However, this trumpet also heralds the beginning of the seven bowls. Once believers are all safely off the earth, God will rain down the seven bowls that will be the final death knell for the inhabitants of the earth.

(See That Earth-Shaking Seventh Trumpet   and    The Rapture


What Happens Next?
The word "meet" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 above was translated from the Greek apantesis about which Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 402, (Nelson, 1985) says

    "It is used in the papyri of a newly arriving magistrate. "It seems that the special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary" (16)

This is substantiated by the only two uses of apantesis in the New Testament- inthe parable of the ten virgins and in Acts 28:15.

     "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet (Gk. apantesis) the bridegroom.... But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet (Gk. apantesis) him.' (Matthew 25:1, 6 NASB)

    And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet (Gk. apantesis) us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. (Acts 28:15 NASB)

Both situations demonstrate that the word apantesis is used in the context of going out to meet someone who is headed your way, then turning around and accompanying that person to their intended destination.

 If we were to go up to "meet" the Lord in the air and then accompany Him to an ethereal "heaven", then God's words in Psalm 2 ring very hollow indeed. It is only in the context of Christ returning to the earth to establish His kingdom, that the words make any sense whatsoever.

    "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth (Heb. 'erets) as Your possession. (Psalms 2:7-8 NASB)

Also See Ezekiel's prophecy about the Golden Gate on the eastern side of Jerusalem's old city wall. HERE

 
Summary:
At the Seventh Trumpet, the spirits of the faithful who have already died and are with Christ will return with Him and receive their resurrected bodies. Immediately after which those believers who are still alive on earth will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord, receiving their 'glorified' bodies in the process. Then Christ and those who have been His disciples from the days of Abraham will return to earth where He will set up His everlasting kingdom.

Considering the many, many, prophecies that state Christ will rule from Zion, it is no wonder that He comes to earth in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem

    In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4 NASB)

But it isn't going to be exactly the same earth, and we aren't going to have exactly the same bodies.


Continue On To Part IV - The Glorification of The Body. Philippians 3:20-21 says the Lord Jesus Christ will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. This of course leads to the question of what we know about Christ's body after he was resurrected. HERE


Endnotes

[16] Moulton, Greek Test. Gram. Vol. I, p. 14. http://studybible.info/vines/Meet%20(Verb),%20Meet%20with,%20Met

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The Promises and The Prophecies

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