1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…
We have here —
I. A CONTINUANCE. Nothing shall prevent our continuing to be forever with Him. Death shall not separate us, nor the terrors of judgment. As we have received Him, so shall we walk in Him, whether in life or death.
1. We are with Christ in this life. "Your life is hid with Christ in God." If we are not with Him, we are not Christians. Separated from Him, we are dead. We are constantly with Him —
(1) In the sense of abiding union; for we are joined unto the Lord, and are one Spirit. In consequence we feel an intense joy, even Christ's own joy fulfilled in us. For the same reason we are bowed in sorrow, having fellowship in Christ's sufferings. This companionship should be manifest to others by its fruits. Men should take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.
(2) In the sense that His unchanging love is always set upon us, and our love never dies out, "Who shall separate us," etc.
(3) By the continual indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
(4) Whenever we are engaged in His work. "Lo! I am with you alway."
2. We shall be with Christ in death. "Yea, though I walk," etc.
3. After death, in the disembodied state, we shall be "absent from the body," but "present with the Lord," as was the dying thief. And the body shall sleep in Jesus, and awake and say, "When I awake, I am still with Thee."
4. In due time the last trump shall sound, and Christ shall come; but the saints shall be with Him (ver. 14). Whatever the glory of the Second Advent, we shall be with Jesus in it.
5. There is to be a reign of Christ, and whatever that reign is to be, we shall reign also.
6. And when cometh the end and the mediatorial kingdom shall cease, we shall ever be with the Lord.
II. AN ADVANCEMENT.
1. It is an advancement on this present state for —
(1) However spiritually minded, and there fore near Christ, we may be, being present in the belly we are absent from the Lord. To "be with Christ," we must "depart."(2) Though our souls are with the Lord, yet our bodies are subject to corruption, and after death the separation will continue; but the time will come when this corruptible will put on incorruption, and the whole manhood be perfectly with the Lord.
2. What this glorious state is to which we shall be advanced. We shall be with the Lord in the strongest sense of the term; so with Him, that there will be no business to take us away from Him, no sin to becloud our view of Him; we shall see Him as a familiar Friend, know His love and return it, and this "forever."
3. We shall be with the Redeemer, not as Jesus only, but as the Lord. Here we have seen Him on the Cross, and lived thereby; but we shall there see Him on the throne, and obey Him as our King.
III. A COHERENCE. "With" signifies not merely being in the same place, but a union and identity. Even here our lives run parallel in a sense. We live to Him, die with Him, so shall we rise and ascend, and then we are to be forever with the Lord.
1. By sharing His beauty.
2. By being made partakers of all the blessedness and glory He now enjoys.Conclusion:
1. This "forever" must begin now.
2. What must it be to be without the Lord?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: