Redemption, not Abandonment

Central to the doctrine of salvation is the promise of REDEMPTION. God will not abandon what He created. Moreover, both the term and the concept of “Redemption” mean the recovery of that which was lost, in this case, the creation itself that is presently enslaved by sin and condemned to decay and death. In His redemptive plans, the end state of redeemed things and persons will be vastly superior even to their original state when He first created them. This principle is epitomized in the promise of bodily resurrection.

Until the day Jesus arrives, his church must focus on harvesting men and women from every nation as it proclaims the Gospel across the planet. That is the task he assigned his disciples to carry out until the day of his return.

Creation - Photo by Gary Scott on Unsplash
[Photo by Gary Scott on Unsplash]

Moreover, the “
end” will not come until his people complete this task, and THAT is the factor that will determine the timing of the final day. Removing the “Body of Christ” from the Earth several years before the completion of this mission is not an option.

When the Apostle Paul discusses the future hope of the church, he bases it on the past death AND resurrection of Jesus. Salvation was not achieved by his sacrificial death alone, but also through his resurrection from the dead - (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20-23).

The apostolic tradition teaches redemption, not abandonment. Salvation is actualized in all its fullness at the resurrection of the dead when all believers “meet” Jesus as he descends from heaven. Dead believers will be resurrected and living ones transformed, and both groups will receive their immortal bodies (“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”). Paul consistently locates the resurrection of the righteous at the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus - (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

In First Thessalonians, he reassured the Thessalonians concerning the fate of fellow believers who died before the ‘Parousia,’ which is why he laid stress in the passage on their bodily resurrection on that day.

Not only so, but any believer remaining alive would be reunited with his or her resurrected loved ones, and then, all the gathered saints would “meet the Lord in the air” as he descended from heaven.

Both living and dead Christians will be changed forever when he appears, and after that, the ENTIRE CHURCH will be with him “forevermore.” The passage does NOT state that Jesus will take his saints back to “heaven” after meeting them “in the air.” It only ends with the statement, “And so will we be with the Lord forevermore.”


When interpreting the final verse of the passage, the larger context must be kept in view. In the next chapter, Paul warns that the unprepared will be overtaken by the events of that day - “like a thief in the night.” The “arrival” of Jesus from heaven will also coincide with the “Day of the Lord,” an event associated with God’s judicial punishment of the wicked.

In his second Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul declares that when Jesus is “revealed from heaven,” the righteous will be vindicated but the unrighteous will receive “everlasting destruction.” Both events will occur at that time, and both groups will receive their just desserts - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

In the New Testament, Jesus is always “coming” and never “going.” When any physical direction is provided, he is coming “from heaven” and descending to the Earth where he gathers his saints to himself - (Matthew 16:27, 24:30, 25:31, 26:64, Acts 1:11, 1 Corinthians 15:23, Revelation 1:7).

The most comprehensive list of the events that will occur on that day is found in Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians where he corrects false teachings that deny the bodily resurrection - (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-57).

His “arrival” will result in the cessation of death (the “last enemy”), the resurrection of the dead, the final subjugation of all hostile powers, the consummation of the kingdom, and the transformation of the saints still alive that day from mortality to immortality.

The resurrection of the righteous will mean nothing less than the termination of death, and believers who are still alive will be transformed, the very same scenario presented to the Thessalonians. The point is NOT THE REMOVAL of the church from the Earth, but the resurrection and transformation of its members, whether dead or still alive.

Creation Alone - Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash
[Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash]


That day will result in the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. It will be a day of joy for the spiritually prepared, but one of everlasting punishment for the unprepared. The old “heaven and earth” will be dissolved, and the New Heavens and the New Earth will appear in all their fullness - (Matthew 13:30. 25:13, 25:31-46, Luke 12:33-39, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Peter 3:10-11).

One thing that will characterize that day will be its finality. Death will cease, the old death-doomed creation will disappear, resurrected believers will be with the Lord “forevermore,” and the unrighteous will receive “everlasting” destruction - (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:5-10).

The biblical hope is NOT found in escaping from the spacetime continuum or the desertion of God’s original creation but in the bodily resurrection and New Creation. The Gospel proclaimed by Jesus is about redemption.

Connected to the resurrection are the “New Heavens and the New Earth.” Even now, the entire universe is “groaning,” not in despair over its eventual annihilation, but in anticipation of the resurrection of the “sons of God” and the “restoration of all things” that will follow - (Romans 8:19-25, 2 Peter 3:10).

In the end, the city of New Jerusalem will DESCEND from heaven to the new earth. In that glorious city, everyone who has been redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb” will live forevermore in his presence free from all sorrow, suffering, and death.




Son of Destruction

Rosh Means Head