Gone With The Wind

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians  4 : 13-18
Subject: Rapture; Return of Christ; Judgment

In 1939 David O. Selsnick produced one of America's great movie classics. Nearly everyone has seen, "Gone With the Wind." If you have seen it you remember the setting. The story takes place during the days of what many call the American Civil War. I like to refer to it as the war of northern aggression and occupation.

The movie follows the life experiences of Scarlet O'Hara. If you remember, no matter what tragedy takes place in Scarlet's life, she chooses not to worry about it and repeats the phrase throughout the movie, "I'll think about that tomorrow, tomorrow is another day."

Well the Bible describes an event that is still on the horizon of the future. It is an event that will clearly show that there will be no more tomorrow's.

Not for Scarlet O'Hara, Not for Rett Butler, Not for anyone.

It is referred to in the Word of God as the "Great and Terrible Day of the Lord." I want to make a statement and I want you to search down deep and ask yourself what does this statement make you feel. Here is the statement "Jesus is coming again." There are different kinds of reposes: "So what it's no big deal." "I don't believe it." "I've got things I want to do first." "Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus."

If you are truly saved, then there should be - No fear, No denial, No debate, about the fact that Jesus is coming again. In fact the last words in the Bible say it best, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20) Now there are two reasons Paul gives us for writing the early church about the soon return of the Lord Jesus.

1. So We May Be Enlightened.

(Vs. 13) "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep..." The Thessalonians church had their end times Prophesy confused. They didn't understand the order or sequence of events when Jesus would come again. Now today, there is also a great deal of misunderstanding about this Christian doctrine than perhaps any other. In Vs. 13 the word "ignorant" literally is "agnoeo". It literally means, "not to know" this is where we get the word "agnostic." You see Paul is teaching that we ought to know what we believe about Christ's return and also why we should believe it. We do not need to live in a desert of doubt when it comes to the 2nd coming of our Lord.

There are different ways you can understand the world around you. History says, "Look back." Science says, "Look around." Philosophy says, "Look within." Christianity says, "Look up." You see what you don't know about Christ's return can really hurt you. Will Rogers once said, "It is not what a man does not know that is so dangerous. It is rather what he knows that ain't so that makes him dangerous. You need to be certain about the facts of the return of Jesus Christ why?

2. So we may be encouraged.

Notice what Paul said in vs. 18, "Therefore encourage each other with these words." Now once you know the truth, you should share the truth. There is no reason to fret or to fear over Christ's coming. Jesus said, "When you know the truth, the truth will set you free."

How are we to respond: We are to be:

Optimistic - Enthusiastic - Evangelistic

It is very interesting to me, that Paul said these words should, "encourage you." You see the next event on God's prophetic time clock is the return of Jesus Christ to rapture His church. The Bible teaches very clearly.

Jesus is coming surely. John 14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there you may be also."

Jesus is coming swiftly. Matt. 24:27 "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."

Jesus is coming secretly. Matt 24:42-43 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into."

Jesus is coming surprisingly. Matt. 24:44 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour you do not expect."

Now Paul gives the outline of what is going to happen when Jesus comes here in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Thessalonian church.

When we were in school, we were taught the "three R's." They are the basics of education - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Now this morning, I want to give you the "four R's" concerning the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now if you understand these four words. You will be able to interpret the book of the Revelation. You will understand the signs of the times. You will be able to read your newspaper or listen to the evening news with a greater understanding and appreciation of how our world is lining up to meet the Lord Jesus Christ all over again.

I. The Return of the Savior

Paul says, that the coming of the Lord is certain. You know we are living in an age where people are always gambling.

People run today to the horse tracks, they buy lottery tickets, and they visit Casinos. Did you know gamblers have a saying, "Never bet on a sure thing because there is no such thing as a sure thing?" Someone asked me recently, "Pastor if I were to win the lottery, would the church except the money?" I told them, "No, that's tainted money. But if you choose to give it just don't tell me about it and everything will be all right."

But friend you can bet your life that Jesus is coming again. If ever there was a sure thing, the return of Jesus Christ is a sure thing. There used to be an old saying, "There is nothing certain but death and taxes." But did you know even death and taxes aren't certain. You see if you move to Monte Carlo, you don't have to pay taxes. And if Jesus comes before you and I die, if you're a Christian, we'll be "Gone With the Wind." So even death and taxes may not be certain, but it is certain that Jesus is coming again.

A. The Work of the Savior

You may say, "Pastor, how is Paul so certain?" Well number 1. Because of the work of the Savior in

V.14 he said, "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those, which have fallen asleep in Him. You see, here's the simple argument: If you believe in the Resurrection, You must believe in the Return. And if you believe in the Return, you must believe in the Resurrection. In other words, Paul said, that if you have enough faith to believe that Jesus indeed was raised from the dead, you won't have any trouble believing that He will come again. The return is based on the resurrection and the resurrection is based on the return. If one is true, the other must  be true. Do you know what I've noticed, that if a person denies one, he will also deny the other. If a person doubts or denies the literal, physical, visible resurrection of Jesus, he will also doubt, the literal, physical, visible return of Jesus. Paul argues, if Christ was raised from the grave, and He was, then He must return from glory, and He will.

B. The Word of the Scripture

Vs. 15 he says, "According to the Lord's own Word..."

Paul is not writing his opinion, his theory, or his hypothesis. He is writing the Word of God. Did you know that 1/3rd of the Bible is about the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ? In the New Testament alone, there are 318 references to the coming of Christ that's one out of every 30 verses. Now had Jesus said it only one time that would be enough for me. But He repeated Himself. And friend, God always keeps His Word. If Jesus said He would come again, you can take that to the bank.

It is interesting to me that we're told here not only about the sights of His coming, but also about the sounds of His coming. Did you know there are three sounds that the Saved will hear when Christ comes again?

1. A Command to Get Up

Vs. 16, "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command." Your translation may say, "With a shout." That word shout literally means "a shout of a command." You see it is a military term. It was used when a General called his soldiers to get ready for battle. It was also used when a King would shout a command to his subjects. Now I found this very interesting. There are

Three times in the New Testament where we are told that Jesus shouted. And every time he shouted there was a resurrection. In John 11 when Lazarus had died. You remember, Lazarus had been in the tomb for three days. And the Bible says, "Jesus was glad." Now that doesn't mean He was morbid, or insensitive. But it goes on to say, "I am glad for your sake that I was not there, that you may believe." In other words Jesus was going to perform a miracle so mighty, that everyone who watched it would become believers. But in John 11:43 the bible says, "Now when He had said these things, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth." Now you know why Christ had to say, "Lazarus, come forth?" Because if he had just said, "Come forth," everybody in all the graves around the world would have come forth.

When Christ was hanging on the cross, we read from Matthew 27:50, "   and Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit." Then the bible says, "and the graves were open and many bodies of the Saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many." The third time is here when the Bible says, "He will return for His church." Vs. 16 says, "And the dead in Christ will rise first."

Now isn't that interesting...

At the first shout in John 11 - A Man was raised.

At the second shout in Matthew 27 - Many were raised.

At the last shout here in 1 Thessalonians - Millions will be raised.

We're speaking of movies. Do you remember the old Tarzan movies? You know all Tarzan movies are just the same. He only knew five words: “Me Tarzan, You Jane, Umgowa.” But in every movie there was a time when Tarzan needed help and he would cry out that yell and all kinds of animals in the jungle would come running to his aid. You could see elephants walk on water when Tarzan gave a yell. But ladies and gentleman, when Christ shouts on that final day, God's people are coming out of those graves! But the bible says there'll be another sound heard that day.

2. A Cry to Give Up

Look at vs. 16 again, "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the Archangel..." Now who is this Archangel? Well in the little book of Jude, vs. 9 it tells us it is Michael, who continuously does battle with the Devil himself. I believe that's why it says in vs. 17, "We will meet the Lord in the air." You see the Bible tells us that Satan is, "The prince and power of the air." (Eph. 2:2) You see Michael and all of the angels are going to go right to the Devil's home court. The air. They're going to say to the Devil and all of his demons, "Step aside and let the Bride of Christ through, they are headed to their eternal home to live forever with Jesus." You see the voice of the Archangel will be a declaration to give up the fight. The battle is over.

And then the third sound that will be heard that day is "a command to Go Up." Vs. 16 says, "The trumpet call of God." When Paul told this to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 15:52 he said. "In   a moment, In the twinkling of an eye, At the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Now why does he say the last trumpet? You know it's very interesting when you realize that, a Roman camp, when it was about to be broken up and sent off to war, there were three trumpets that were sounded.

The first blast meant, "get packed, get ready to go." The second blast meant, "fall into line."

The third blast meant, "march away."

The scripture says that at the last trumpet Jesus will come. That means that His army will march away never to do battle with death, hell and the grave again.

II. The Resurrection of the Saints

Vs. 16 says, "The dead in Christ will rise first."

The Bible says that when Jesus shouts, it will either be for the dead to "come forth" or for the living "to come up." And those Saints are going to come up out of the grave with their new glorified bodies.

Up from the sea, Up from the sod, All of God's Saints, Are going to God.

Now here is a question. Why do the people buried get to go first? Well think about it. It's only fair, after all we've got a head start.

The Bible teaches a bodily resurrection. You see when you die, the body sleeps, but not the soul. You know some people today teach "soul sleep." They say that when you die you have no comprehension of anything around you. It's just like your soul goes to sleep. But that's not what the Bible teaches.

We read in 2 Corinthians 5:8, "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."

In the Bible sleep is a metaphor used to describe death. Have you ever seen a corpse? (If you look around there are a few here this morning.) Well when you see someone who has died lying in a casket, they look asleep. Their hands are folded, their eyes are closed. They look like they are simply sleeping. In fact, did you know the word cemetery comes from a Greek word "coimeterrion?" It   means literally a sleeping place, or a resting place. The word "coimeo" means to sleep.When a man dies, his body goes to sleep, but his spirit goes to heaven if he is saved. In Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it."

When Christ comes again, the soul of the Saved will be reunited with their body and it will be a glorified body, just like the one Christ received after His resurrection.

III. The Rapture of the Saved

Vs 17, "After that, we who are still alive and who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

Paul says, there will be two groups, which will be, "Gone With the Wind." The asleep, and the alive. The asleep will be Raised.

The alive will be Raptured.

The word in vs. 17, "caught up" literal means, "to snatch up quickly." The word, "Rapture" that we often use to describe this event comes from a Latin word, "Raparea" which means caught up.

Now when that happens, the Bible says we will be instantly transformed. 1 Corinthians 15:51, "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." "The twinkling of an eye" - GTE says that that lasts 1/100,000 of a second. Now ladies, that's a quick makeover.

You know when I travel over to Israel we go down along the Dead Sea. There the people bathe in saltwater, they put Dead Sea mud all over them, masks on their face etc. But friend, when Jesus, you're not going to get a Makeover, you're going to get Madeover!

A 60 year old women prayed for God to help her live longer and look younger. God promised her if she would get the operations, the exercise, and eat right, He would give her 30 more years of life. She began to exercise and eat right.

She had a face-lift, nose operation, and got a dark tan. She had her hair colored and permed. She got her fingernails and toenails done. She had her teeth whitened. She bought a new, exclusive younger looking wardrobe. She got herself altogether. A week later she was in New York shopping and accidentally stepped in front of a bus and got ran over and died instantly. When she got to heaven she said, "God I thought you told me if I would do all those things, you'd let me live another 30 years." God said, "That's right I told you that." She said, "Well what happened why did you let me get run over?" God said, "Because I couldn't recognize you!"

Friend you'll get a perfect body when Christ comes back! The deaf will hear, the blind will see, the cripple will walk.

There'll be: No cancer, No back pain, No tooth aches, No Leukemia, No Muscular Dystrophy, No tumors or aching bodies. And bless God, no Doctor bills. No more debt, and no more funeral homes. This dilapidated, dying, diseased body is going to be transformed into a body like Christ.

There's the last word in the outline:

IV. The Reunion of the Sanctified

Vs. 17 says, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Here is the formula:

Return + Resurrection + Rapture = Reunion

Family reunions usually happen in the summer time you see people you don't even know that you're related to. Sometimes you see those you wish you were not related to. But there is coming a great family reunion in heaven. Let me show you what it will be like.

A. The Largest Family Reunion

The largest family reunion in history is going to take place. There will be millions and millions there. Revelation 5:9, "And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open it's seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue, and people and nation."

B. The Longest Family Reunion

It will last forever.

C. The Loveliest Family Reunion

It will be held in a crystal palace, beyond pearly gates, lined with streets of gold, by a crystal sea.

D. The Loudest Family Reunion

Sometimes we sing the song, "When we all get to Heaven, What a day of rejoicing it will be. When we all see Jesus,

We'll sin and Shout the victory."

Here is the good news. Those loved ones who died in Christ will be there and you will forever be reunited with them.

That husband or wife, Son or daughter, Miscarried baby, Friend, Neighbor, etc. You will see them again.

The song, "Beyond the Sunset" third Stanza,

"Beyond the Sunset, God's glad reunion with our dear loved ones, who've gone before. In that fair homeland, we'll know no parting,

Beyond the Sunset forevermore."


The Resurrection and the Rapture are by invitation only. If you die without Christ you'll not be raptured, you'll remain. And you'll face terrible things during the great Tribulation Period and ultimately be condemned to an eternity without Christ. You know if you take a magnet and pass it over the surface of a table where there is.

Gold, silver, mercury, lead, zinc, iron, and copper. You can take that powerful magnet, but the only thing it will pick up is the iron. Do you know why that only iron is attracted to a magnet? It is because only the iron and the magnet share the same nature. The magnet does not share the nature of gold, or silver, or mercury, or lead, or zinc, or copper. My friend when Jesus comes again only those who share His nature will be taken. The real question is are you going to be, "Gone With the Wind?"