The Second Coming: Questions and Answers

When we read one of Paul’s letters, it is like listening to one side of a phone conversation. On the side we can’t hear are questions and concerns.

What if we read this passage as a series of questions and answers? Let’s try it and see what we can learn.

Question: What happens to believers who die before the coming of the Lord?

Answer: For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died (1 Thessalonians 4.14).

A future hope of bodily resurrection lies with the resurrection of Jesus.

The fact that “God will bring with him those who have died” implies that believers who have died are already with Jesus.

As I wrote in yesterday’s article, N.T. Wright calls this experience “life after death.”

Paul wrote about “life after death” to the church.

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight—

But we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Question: What will the experience of believers be, who have died prior to Jesus’ coming?

Answer: For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.

For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thessalonians 4.15-16).

The people who are alive at the second coming of Christ will not have an advantage over those who have died. The “dead in Christ will rise first.”

I believe N.T. Wright has the best explanation for this passage and others such as 1 Corinthians 15.

He calls the bodily resurrection of believers “life after life-after-death.”

There will be a bodily resurrection at the second coming of Christ and the “dead in Christ will rise first,” according to Paul.

Jesus pictured this event when he gave instructions to his disciples about the end time.

Matthew 24:30-31“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

“And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Question: What will happen to believers who are alive when Christ returns?

Answer: Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4.17).

Believers who have experienced “life after death” will experience a bodily resurrection. They will be joined by those who are alive at the second coming.

Paul explores the bodily resurrection in his second letter to the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5.1-5For we know that, if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly dwelling, for surely when we have been clothed in it we will not be found naked.

For while we are in this tent, we groan under our burden because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

The one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a down payment.

Paul’s words about the bodily resurrection are difficult for me to understand. Here is my best explanation, as informed by N.T. Wright.

(1) Our ultimate future involves a new body that is similar to Jesus’ resurrection body.

(2) While “life after death” is an enormous blessing, we are not fully complete until we have the resurrection body.

This is a difficult concept for me to understand. However, it seems to reflect what Paul wrote in his letters.

(3) Our interaction with the Holy Spirit is God’s assurance that we will fully live beyond the grave.

Question: Please summarize the most important part of your message.

Answer: The bottom line is “we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4.17).

However things work out what is most important is that we will be with the Lord and never be separated from him.

Question: What shall I do with this information?

Answer: Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4.18).

Jesus guaranteed our future and it included being with him.

John 14.1-3“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and tackle this passage on YouTube today. You can find it on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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