We Shall Not All Sleep, But We Shall All Be Changed
Some will have slept in death before their resurrection at Christ's return. However, Christians living during Christ's parousia or presence will be changed in the twinkling of an eye without sleeping in death. Each, at the instant of their dying, will be raised to immortality. Rev 14:13 gives us the time element of the resurrection of the saints who are alive at Christ's return:
"Blessed are the dead [in Christ] which die in the Lord from henceforth …that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."
All the saints, even those living today, are, in this text, considered "dead."
"Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)
Nevertheless these "dead" do (or must, according to their covenant) “physically” die; the specific point of time in which this takes place being indicated by the word "henceforth."
That point of time is during our Lord’s parousia, not immediately upon his return note you, no! Even the sleeping saints were not immediately raised at the very moment of our Lord’s return but shortly thereafter in 1878.
Rev 14:13 speaks of something that happens from "henceforth," that is, from that time onward. Blessed are the saints who die from that point on because, though they rest from their labors in the flesh, they will not have to wait in the sleep of death as their faithful brethren who preceded them had. Their "works" follow immediately with them as they are raised to meet the Lord. Thus, we see that these scriptures teach the resurrection of the sleeping saints at his return (or shortly thereafter); and then (in the intervening time), an individual resurrection of the remaining living saints as each one (having made their calling and election sure, i.e. having been proven faithful even unto death, Rev 2:10) dies, and is changed "in the twinkling of an eye."
Note: As stated elsewhere although there will (are) individual members of the body being resurrected intermittently during this time we believe that at the end as we enter the great time of trouble (Armageddon) the last members of the body, “the feet of him” having given their final witness will be put to death and thus experience their resurrection collectively as a group.
The Problem of a Partial Quotation
A set of verses in our Lord's Great Prophecy is frequently used to prove the instantaneous gathering of the living saints to Christ in the air. It will be seen however, that they have nothing to do with the living saints being taken to heaven.
“I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Luke 17:34-36) This is a classic example of the danger of a partial quotation. Upon the basis of this limited citation, it might be reasoned that the ones that are taken are caught up to heaven, but Verse 37 rules out this possibility:
“And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, “Wheresoever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” The curiosity of the disciples was aroused by Jesus' statement that two people would be in various situations and one would be taken. They specifically asked where they would be taken. Notice that Jesus DID NOT SAY they would be caught up together with him at his return. His answer was "Wheresoever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
Some feel the body here referred to is the body of Jesus. However, Matthew 24:28 specifies that the body of which the eagles are gathered is a dead body or carcass. The lesson of the eagle in Job 39:30 corroborates this usage of a slain body. Further, if the body is referring to the literal body of Jesus, then eagles must also be literal and thus would render the passage meaningless. Both the body and the eagles are symbolic. Jesus is evidently basing his lesson on two characteristics of eagles found in Job 39:27-30; the eagle's ability to see her prey (food) afar off; and her willingness to travel a great distance to secure this food—where the body (the carcass or food) is, there the eagle will be. The Scriptures compare faithful Christians to eagles in this respect. They have the ability to see or discern spiritual food afar off and they will travel great distances to secure it.”
The eagles will be gathered together, joined together with those of like precious faith.
Continued with next post.
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