“The Presence of the Lord” is NOT a figure of speech

The Apostle Paul was not using a figure of speech, or a form of symbolic writing in the following excerpt from his first letter to the Thessalonians:

“…to establish your hearts unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13)

Paul used virtually the same phrase, the presence of our Lord Jesus, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1. The subject of all three references is a literal, physical place and time: “in the air” at the return of Christ, when the members of the Body of Christ — “those who are Christ’s in His presence” (1 Corinthians 15:23) — have had their bodies changed into incorruptible, immortal bodies like His!

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:23)

In what some experts believe was the first among Paul’s 13 New Testament letters, he introduced an idea that was unheard of up to then. The only resurrection known to the circumcision apostles was “a resurrection of life” that Jesus spoke about in John 5:29, aka “the former resurrection” that the Apostle John wrote about in his “revelation”:

And the souls of those executed because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who do not worship the wild beast or its image, and did not get the emblem on their forehead and on their hand — they also live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead do not live until the thousand years should be finished.) This is the former resurrection. Happy and holy is he who is having part in the former resurrection! Over these the second death has no jurisdiction, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will be reigning with Him the thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

The distinction between “a resurrection of life” and the resurrection Paul wrote about is important for at least three reasons:

  1. They take place at different times (Paul’s is first, followed by John’s. The amount of time between them isn’t known; but what is known is that between the two events is an extraordinarily difficult period, “the indignation(Revelation 6:16).
  2. Two completely different qualities of “life” await the participants.
  3. A resurrection of life” mentions no change of body for those who are living.
  4. Paul’s picture of the presence of our Lord Jesus” includes an “extreme makeover” for the Body of Christ — whether alive or not — at the time of His coming.

“…for the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the Chief Messenger, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall be rising first. Thereupon we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And thus shall we always be together with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The importance of Paul’s declaration to us is that the Body of Christ has an earlier, higher, and surpassingly more glorious expectation than could be realized in an earthly body. As wonderful as Christ’s kingdom on the earth will be, and as interesting as it may seem to rule and reign with Christ for 1,000 years, the members of His Body are headed for a meeting with Him in the air — in the celestials — “in the presence of our Lord Jesus.” The dress code is strictly formal: a glorified immortal body like His…the same kind of body that blinded Paul on the road to Damascus!

Paul’s declaration of a literal, physical change for dead and living saints at the Lord’s coming — in His presence — is the first shocking secret that Paul revealed to liberate and impart worth to men and women who, until they heard Paul’s revelation of God’s saving grace, were pagan, living ignorant, purposeless lives.

Even if it were an option — and it isn’t — why would we consider settling for an earthly expectation when a celestial one is not only in view…it’s what the word of God promises? What a grand spectacle it is, and what a grand expectation we share!

Blessings and joy in the journey.

Published by Scripture Doc

Author of GO GOD - Jump On Or Hang On, 'Cause God's Gonna Win!, and a REVENOUS student of the scriptures since 1972, it became clear to me that the original language translations (from Greek and Hebrew) didn't square with the English versions in significant ways...so significant, in fact, that people were once considered heretics for investigating what the original manuscripts REALLY said. The "heretic" label persists in some Christian circles today, when one's perspective calls traditional doctrines into question. Someone once said, "The odds of someone being right is directly proportionate to the number of people trying to prove him or her wrong." Since 1972, the operating principles that ultimately birthed the ScriptureDoc project are these: 1. The word of God was written for regular people, not just theologians...it has to make sense. For that matter God Himself must make sense, otherwise how can we know Him, and what benefit would there be in knowing Him? 2. When the word of God (or God Himself) doesn't make sense, it is our understanding that is lacking, not His word. We need to investigate, educate, expand, and adjust our knowledge, perception, and understanding. 3. The goal is to, "Endeavor to present yourself to God qualified, an unashamed worker, correctly cutting the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) 4. Last one: "All scripture is inspired by God, and is beneficial for teaching, for exposure, for correction, for discipline in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be equipped, fitted out for every good act." (2 Timothy 3:15-16) 5) OK, one more: "Request and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who is requesting is obtaining, and who is seeking is finding, and to him who is knocking it shall be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8) So . . .here's a forum where we look into what the word of God REALLY says, and what it REALLY means. IF you;re happy with what you've learned about God to date, this probably isn't for you; however, if you're open to what may be an alarmingly fresh perspective, jump on in. Join the live study (or by recording), called "Light Up The Scriptures" every Tuesday night at 8:00pm Eastern Time. Email me back for call-in details. Check out the book, "GO GOD! Jump On Or Hang On, 'Cause God's Gonna Win!" at www.Victory-Publishers.com

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