To be with the Lord
Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 NLT
Paul has been providing assurance and encouragement to believers in Christ in Thessalonica. They have been distraught by the idea that they might not see their Christian loved ones in the day of Christ’s return. From the text, Paul said “together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Death then is a temporary separation between those who have come to know Christ as Lord and Savior and died before His return and to those who remained alive when He returns. Death is a fact of life. Death is not an accident but a reality that each one will face. “A time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:3). “Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). To know where we will spend eternity is very important. Those who have trusted Christ “will be with the Lord forever.” This is the believer’s hope and joy: to know that they will be with their Savior for eternity. Heaven is heaven because of the presence of Jesus. And there is no greater glory than to see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face to face and to live with Him forever. The Lord Jesus Christ told the thief on the cross, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The phrase “with me” is so precious for there is no greater blessing than to hear the Redeemer say to us “you will be with me.” Paul was very reassuring to the believers in Thessalonica for this is also what he was looking for. The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ had proved to us that He will fulfill His promise that we too, because of our relationship with Him, will be resurrected from the dead. Because of this sure hope, we should be eager as we wait for His return and live our lives pleasing before Him so that we will not be ashamed. “And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame” (1 John 2:28).