CHRIST'S COMING FOR THE CHURCH.
From a certain moment in my life when I was about 18 years old,the whole basis of salvation had to be explored and the doctrine of the church discerned. I saw very clearly that the CHURCH was made of men and women redeemed in the blood of Christ, growing in grace into Christlikeness. They were bearing witness to the unsaved that by grace they too might become members of His Body. When therefore I speak of the Church I do not mean the Roman, Anglican,or Orthodox and certainly not the Baptist but I mean such persons as are truly redeemed. You may be a church member and yet not be in the Church set forth in Ephesians.
This company of whom the greater part inevitably are now in Paradise with the increasing remnant on earth is most precious to our Lord. It is the company of the redeemed in His blood, for it He travailed and with it His purpose through the ages is bound up. The first development in our Lord's Coming will be entirely concerned with His believing people.(1 Thes. 5 makes this clear.) "The trumpet shall sound." It will be a closed circuit in so far as the world is concerned. "The dead shall arise." The saints on earth at the time will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and in that way and in no other we shall for ever be with the the Lord. In passing let me commend these two epistles, 1 and 2 Thessalonians to you. In reference to the first please note that each chapter contains a reference to the Second Coming.
The Church is the first concern in order of time. Paul in l Corinthians 15 enlarges on what he writes in this epistle.The significance of what is called a "body" is its adaptability to its purpose and environment. Hence he makes the point that there is a natural body and a spiritual body. The present natural body is adapted to life here. Through it we have fellowship in speech and act. It is made for the procreation of the generations, needing food and drink, responsive to gravity and because of sin subject to death. That body would be quite inadequate for the era of glory. Identity is not an issue. We have the example of our Lord who passed out of the One Being of the Godhead into the Form of God and thence into the likeness of men. He died on th Cross, was buried, raised from the dead, ascended into heaven and in Him now at this moment dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, presently to come again with His church toestablish His kingdom.
All through amidst the changing phases He was the SAME JESUS. Indeed as we are to be like Him we too must pass through these metamorphoses not to obscure or obliterate our identity but in order that we may be enabled to fulfil the purpose of God throughout the ages to come. The believer never sees death as a realm for he has passed from death to life. If he what is called 'died' it will not mean entrance into the realm of death (like world dictators) but into what I think is Paradise. But at His Coming this corruptible (that has died) shall put on incorruption, this mortal (raptured and not dying) shall put on immortality and we shall be like Him. It will mean a body greatly enhanced in stability, capacity, free from listlessness and ready and eager for the tremendous purpose of God through the ages; for we are to share with our Lord His victories till every enemy has been put under His feet, the last enemy death being disintegrated. We are then to be with Him as He hands over to the Father a Universe in total accord with His will, the redeemed in oneness with His Divine nature and God will be all in all.
That briefly may be said to be the doctrine. There is of course much more that should be noted. In Thessalonians each chapter has a reference to this truth. When we are converted our attention should be directed not to a backward look at the Cross or even a resurrection or ascension but the whole revelation of Christ that we may indeed be waiting for His Son from heaven, Jesus our Deliverer, from the wrath to come. Chapter 2 ends with the enquiry of the apostle re-the crown of rejoicing.
Chapter 3 ends with Establishment of being at His Coming, with all His saints. Chapter 4 tells us plainly exactly how we shall ever be with the Lord. While the last chapter in its concluding verses declares the prayer of the apostle in v.23.
It will indeed be a marvellous occasion when the whole host of the redeemed from every generation and every nation are gathered in the bodies of immortality and incorruotion as the one and only Body of Christ, the One Head of the Church. "The Lord knoweth them that are His." Nobody will be there by reason of holding an ecclesiastical office. Each and every one will be a sinner saved by grace, redeemed in the blood of Christ. Every individual so blessed will be there and no individual so blessed will be absent.
As I suppose the Judgment Seat of Christ will be set. It is to Christians that Paul declares: "We (including himself) must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ." Crowns and rewards which will not be "prizes" unrelated to the person and the future but capacities that spring out of faithfulness. This accomplished the Lord with His Church of the Body is now ONE. The Body with its Head, not the Head without the Body or the Body without the Head after the fantastic speculations of today, but the Lord in glorious manifestation with His believing people of the Body, will rend the heavens and come to a startled, unbelieving mankind. The place whereon He shall place His Sovereign feet is Mount Olivet.
Even so come Lord Jesus!
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