What will take place when our Lord comes back again to receive His blood-bought people unto Himself? What will be His portion and what will be their portion in that happy day? What will be the results of Christ's second advent insofar as they affect the Church? We say |the Church,| though it would be more accurate to speak of the saints, for Old Testament believers equally with the New Testament believers, will share in the wondrous blessings and glories of that glad occasion. How then will the Redeemer's return affect the redeemed? We leave for consideration in our next chapter the question of the worldward results of Christ's second advent. For the present, we confine ourselves to the results, Chruchward, of the Saviour's appearing. What will these be? What will be the order of events? Surely these questions are of entrancing interest and profound importance. And blessed be God, they are not left unanswered. It is true that the Holy Scriptures were not written to gratify an idle curiosity, and that many questions which engage our minds are passed over in silence; nevertheless, upon everything that concerns our vital interests sufficient has been revealed to satisfy every trusting heart.
Were we to attempt an exhaustive reply to the questions asked above, we should be carried far beyond the limits of a comparatively brief chapter. All we shall now essay will be to present to our readers an outline which sets forth the most prominent features of this phase of our subject as they are unfolded in the Word of God. Seven items will engage our attention, namely: -- The descent from Heaven of the Lord Himself, The Resurrection of the sleeping saints, the Translation of living believers, the Transformation of every saint into the image of our glorified Saviour, the Examination and Rewarding of our works, the Presentation of the Church by Christ unto Himself, and the Manifestation of the Church with Christ in glory. May the One who has been given to take of the things of Christ and shew them unto us, illumine our understandings and draw out our hearts in adoring worship.
The one Scripture which sets forth more fully than any other the order of events which shall occur at the Redeemer's return for His saints, is found in 1 Thess.4. In the course of these pages we have had occasion to refer to this passage a number of times in various connections, but we would ask our readers to bear with us while we quote it once more. |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: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord| (1 Thess.4:16, 17). In this passage three things claim special notice: first, the descent of the Lord Himself; second, the resurrection of the sleeping saints; third, the translation to heaven of those believers which shall be alive on the earth at that time. Before we enlarge upon these, we would first call attention to the close relation the above passage bears to our Lord's words as recorded in the opening verses of John 14 -- |Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that were I am, there ye may be also| (John 14:1-3). There is a fourfold correspondence between these two passages: the Saviour said, |I will come again;| the apostle wrote, |The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven.| The Saviour avowed, |I will receive you unto Myself;| the apostle declared that the saints shall be |caught up together to meet the Lord in the air.| The Saviour promised, |Where I am, there ye may be also;| the apostle assures us, |So shall we ever be with the Lord.| The Saviour prefaced His gracious promises by saying, |Let not your heart be troubled;| the apostle concludes by saying |Wherefore comfort one another with these words.| To borrow the language of T.B.Baines, |There can surely be no question that these passages, running so closely parallel, relate to the same event.| How wonderful is the verbal agreement of Holy Writ! How the comparison of one passage with another, brings out the unmistakable unity of the Scriptures! And how this demonstrates for fact that behind all the human amanuenses there was One superintending and controlling Mind! Verily our faith rests upon an impregnable rock! But to return to 1 Thess.4. Let us view