Today's Foundations Devotional: Marks of true believers
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice
of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will
rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall
always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Last week we considered the first phase of the resurrection, called by Paul “Christ the firstfruits.” We saw how exactly and completely the account of Christ’s resurrection given in the New Testament fulfilled the prophetic typology of the ordinance of the firstfruits as ordained for Israel in the Old Testament. We shall now go on to consider the second main phase of the resurrection – that which Paul refers to as “those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:23).
Notice carefully the exact phrases which Paul uses concerning this second phase of the resurrection. First, the Greek word here translated “coming” is parousia. This is the word mainly used throughout the New Testament to denote that aspect of Christ’s second coming which primarily concerns the Church – that is, Christ’s coming as the Bridegroom to take His bride, the Church, to Himself.
Second, we must notice how carefully Paul specifies those who will take part in this second phase of the resurrection. He says, “Those who are Christ’s.” This phrase indicates possession. It is equivalent to saying “those who belong to Christ.” This certainly does not include all those who make a profession of faith in Christ. It covers only those who have so fully and unreservedly yielded themselves to Christ that they are entirely His. They are no longer their own; they belong to Christ.
Paul describes a double “seal” that marks those who fulfil this requirement.
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19).
In the last resort, only the Lord Himself knows exactly who are those that belong to Him. In outward conduct, however, all such believers have one feature in common: They “depart from iniquity.” Any who lack this second, outward seal are not among those whom the Lord acknowledges as His.
InGalatians Paul gives afurther mark bywhich such people are distinguished.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (5:24).
Professing Christians who lead careless, carnal, self-indulgent lives will not be numbered among those whom Christ will receive to Himself.
Christ is coming, it is true, “like a thief,” but He certainly is not coming to steal. He will take to Himself only those who are already His own.
With this warning in mind, we will consider in the next couple of days what will take place at this second main phase of the resurrection. Since Paul states that it will take place “at Christ’s coming,” it is clear that this second phase is directly associated with the return of Christ.
Lord Jesus, please help me, in my dedication to You, to be completely
Yours at your coming. Please make my life in all respects a sounding,
clear testimony of Who You are Lord. Amen.