Matt Hagee - What His Hand Will Do
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Would you stand to your feet and turn your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 4:13 through 18, as this morning we conclude the sermon series "The mighty hand of God". I want to look at what Paul has written to the church about what God's hand is going to do for all those who believe in his son, Jesus Christ. Let's read 1 Thessalonians 4:13. If you're there, say amen.
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as those who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord that we, who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of an arch angel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And 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".
Heavenly Father, today we open the pages of your word and we find comfort in a world that is struggling and searching for answers. We recognize that you are the answer, you are the way, you are the truth, you are the life. Now let your word become a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path: that we might humble ourselves today, as we look forward to what you have promised in your word to do. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, amen.
You may be seated. The 1st century was no cake walk for Christians. They were being martyred. They were being wrapped in oily rags. They were being led in the coliseums. They were being sawn in two. And the Bible says that they loved not their lives unto the death. And so Paul, encouraging his fellow believers, he said, don't be unaware when you sorrow as those who have no hope. And it's imperative that you understand that from the very beginning this morning before we even discuss what the rapture is аbout: that there are two kinds of people. There were in Paul's day and there are in this day. There are those who believe and there's those who don't believe. There are those who have been forgiven and those who need forgiveness. That's the difference, not that one is perfect and the other is impure. One has received what the other one needs.
So Paul begins with these words, "Don't be unaware". When you sorrow, have sorrow mixed with hope, because there's coming a day in which we're going to get to see those who fall asleep again. Now the thing that's interesting to me about this thought is that most of the time modern Christianity doesn't make much room for it. The New Testament church in the 1st century, they kept this as their focus, as their source of celebration. And we want to consider the return of Jesus Christ to still be lying in the tomb. And we want to put the stone back over it. Joshua pointed to a memorial stone, and he said, when your sons walk by these stones, tell them what they mean.
Well some day, there's going to be a stone in your memorial. It'll have your name and it'll have the day you breathed your first, and it'll have a day you breathe your last. And it doesn't matter if you died a billionaire or broke: there's just going to be a dash in the middle. That's the common fate of every man. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgement". Recognize that the only hope that we have is that when we fall asleep, we fall asleep in Jesus Christ, because the only ones that are going to get out of that grave are those who have received him as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The New Testament church was so focused on this that they celebrated it when they saw each other. They would say, "Maranatha," which means "He's coming". Why do I bring that out? Because you cannot be ignorant about death. Death is a reality. It's not a morbid one: it's a real one. And those who know Jesus Christ can look at the grave with the keys of victory, and say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory"? We fear it because we do not know what's on the other side. But Jesus Christ has gone before us. And he said, "I am he who was dead: and yet, I am alive. And I will be alive forever more". And if we believe in him, we have everlasting life. So child of God, do not have a spirit of fear, for God has not given us fear, but power, and love, and sound mind. And by the power of his word and the love of his son, and this mind that is in Christ Jesus, I have the keys to victory over death, hell, and the grave through Christ, my Savior!
There are two types of dead, those who die in Christ and those who do not. For we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, it says, "And the dead in Christ", say that with me, "And the dead in Christ". If there are dead in Christ, there are dead outside of Christ. And you need to know that if you die outside of Christ, it's too late. Those who are dead without Christ, they will not rise. They'll remain in their graves through the millennial reign. They'll remain in their graves through the tribulation and the Great Tribulation. They'll remain in their graves until the Great White Throne judgment, in which they will then rise from their graves, and be taken to heaven, and before God, they will kneel at the feet of Jesus. For the Bible says, "Every knee should bow and every tongue should confess".
Now you need to know that these who are dead without Christ, when they kneel before Jesus, the Bible says that next they receive their reward in the lake of fire. And that's why revelation chapter 20 tells us very clearly, "Blessed is he", say that with me, "Blessed is he that has part in the first resurrection, because the second death has no affect on him". So if you have received Jesus Christ before you breathe your last breath, even if you die and die in Christ or if you live until the rapture of the church, when the trump of God sounds and we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, you have escaped the second death. You're not going to be judged righteous or unrighteous. The fact that you got to go to glory means that you are going to spend eternity with the King of kings and with the Lord of lords. That's when we're going to fill the throne room of God with shouts of praise and echoes of triumph, because we have overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil!
Paul says, do not be unaware of these things. And that's important, because there's coming a day when the Lord himself shall descend with a shout. And where you laid your father, and where you laid your uncle, and where you laid your brother, and where you laid your friend, and where you laid your child: those graves are going to move. And that which you have laid in the ground will be resurrected. And you're going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. And ten thousand times ten thousand, we are going to enter the gates of glory. And we shall ever more be with the Lord! Hallelujah! Maranatha! The Lord cometh!
Here's what the Bible says, verse 14, "If you believe", say that with me, "If you believe that Jesus Christ rose again, even God will bring him those who have fallen asleep". Paul is saying, if you believe that Jesus lived, and died, and rose again: then you'll rejoice in the fact that he's coming back. There's a lot of people though that don't want to believe that Jesus is coming back. Why? One, they're afraid: two, they're selfish: three, they've gotten so convinced that this world is as good as it gets: they haven't heard what the Bible has to say: that the half hasn't entered into the minds of men what God has prepared for his own.
Let's talk about the fearful for a moment. Every day when I was a child, my dad would come home 5:30, 6 o'clock. Every day he'd come through the back door, and I'd hear his house key come out of the lock, and his keys would fly across the air. And hit the hall tree. Dad's home. Same sound, same time, same channel every day. Now here's the thing about my relationship with dad. Most of the time, he'd come through the back door, and I'd hear that key, and I'd get a big smile on my face, because the guy who was going to catch an all of my pitches, the guy who was going to throw me football passes, the guy who was going to take me out and shoot baskets, he was home. And I was glad to see dad. But on occasion it was rare, for certain reasons, my mother would look at me, and she'd say, "Matthew, wait until your father..." you know about this.
It's 6:30, 5:30, 6 o'clock. I'd hear the same key in the same hand come in the same door, fly through the same air, and hit the same hall tree. Except rather than run and rejoice into his arms, I'd rededicate my life to Christ. "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit". Why? Same dad, same relationship, same love. The difference was not in him: the difference was in me. You see there are a lot of people who are afraid about the return of Jesus Christ, and that's because they're a lot more comfortable carrying around baby Jesus than they are kneeling and submitting to the Lord Jesus. The fear factor is not in him: it's in you! There's fearful people and then there's selfish people. I used to be numbered amongst the selfish.
All of my life I've heard people preach about the rapture. My father would get in the pulpit and he would say powerful things like, "God could be back before we have lunch today". And I'd go, "O Lord, no. Not lunch. I hate to travel on an empty stomach. I don't know how long it'll be before the marriage supper. And if we skip lunch, that would be bad". I'd lay in bed at night and stare at the roof, and I'd say, "Oh Jesus, don't come until I can drive. Let me pass my driving test, and get that license, and be free". Then I got a ticket. Then I said, "Even so, come Lord Jesus". I even took the long way home, because I didn't want dad to know. And I'd lay these bargaining chips out with the Lord.
"Lord, let me get out of high school. Lord, let me get through college. Lord, let me get married. Lord, let me have children". But the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that it was only my selfishness that was trying to tell God when he could do what he has foreordained to do from the beginning of time. You see, who am I to tell the mighty hand of God when it's time to come and reward the faithful? Who am I to but thank him that he thought enough of me to include me in the opportunity to be redeemed? The only way that you can get excited about the rapture is when you've humbled yourself, and you've said, "Lord, if you come in the next 20 minutes or you come in the next 200 years, it's fine by me: just don't leave me here".
There's the fearful, there's the selfish, and there's those that just want to ignore it, pretend like it doesn't exist. There will be a rapture, because the Bible says there's going to be a rapture. Paul said it in 1 Thessalonians, "The trump of God shall sound". Why a trumpet? Because it's announcing the appearing of royalty. Whenever the king of England or the queen of some monarch walks into a room, there's a sound of a trumpet letting everybody know that the king has arrived. Well, when the King of kings and the Lord of lords splits the Eastern sky, the angels of heaven are going to blast the trumpet to let the world know that the king above all kings has come to return and redeem his own!
People say, "Well how do you know it's real"? Jesus said in Matthew 24 that many would come, saying that they were the Christ, and they would deceive many. Now we've seen modern applications of this. But how do you know that it's real? People ask from time to time, "Do you think Jesus is on the earth today"? No. Why? I'm still here. They say, "Well how can you say that with confidence"? I'll take you back to my house. Growing up in my house as a child, we had what we called "The whistle". And the whistle was a power that pastor possessed, in which he could go, and all five of his children would break their ankles running in his direction. It didn't matter what you were doing, where you were doing it. You could be half a block away, and if you heard the whistle, you came running.
Now the thing that's funny about this whistle is that it has such a power over you that now that all of his children are adults, and they have children of their own, I mean mostly, we're, you know, civilized people. But if pastor were to walk into this sanctuary and go, I would go flying over pews. What do you need? The reason that I know that whistle is because it belongs to somebody I love. And the reason I respond the way I respond when I hear it is because I want to do what he wants me to do as fast as I can do it.
Now I assure you, when the trump of God sounds, and I hear that shout, I'm not going to wonder if it's Jesus, because my feet that are standing on this stage are going to leave this earth, and I'm going to sail past the sun, and past the moon, and past the stars. I'm going to go through gates of Pearl and walk down streets of gold. I'm going to see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Matthew, and Mark, and Luke, and John. I'm going to get to hug family members that I've said "Good-bye" to. I'm going to get to see Jesus who died to save me. And I'm not going to lie in bed and wonder what's going on. I'm going to shout, hallelujah, I am free! I am free! I have victory in Jesus!
And so to these things I say, "Even so, come Lord Jesus". The apostle John, he got to write revelation. He got to write the letters to the seven churches. He got to write about the seven bowls, and the seven vials, and the seven trumpets of judgment and wrath. And seeing all that God had told him to write down, he closes the revelation by saying, "Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus". John wrote that in the 1st century, thousands of years ago. And here we are still believing in Jesus, still saying, "Even so, come quickly". I want him to come. If he comes in 200 years, even so, because the grave where they lay me will be waiting for that trumpet to sound. If he comes in the next 20 minutes, even so, because it means that this race is over and our troubles and trials are gone.
I want him to come. I want him to come because there's so many wrongs that need to be made right. I want him to come because there's so much division that only the Prince of Peace could pull us back together. I want him to come because there's so many burdens that only he can carry, and so many chains that only he can break, and so many mountains that only he can move. I want him to come because most of all, I want to see him, and I want to thank him, and I want to tell him face-to-face, thank you for loving me. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for giving me the power of your shed blood: that I might be set free. I want to kneel at his throne and worship him, and tell the one who has given me all things, what a joy it has been to be called a son of the living God and to walk in the power of his might. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Come Lord Jesus. Come Lord Jesus.
Would you stand to your feet? If you're in this place today and you know that you're not ready to see Jesus, you know that if you breathed your last breath, you'd die without him in your heart: you know that the way you're living and right where you're standing, if that trump were to sound, you wouldn't get to go. If that's you, I don't want to leave this place without giving you the chance to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, to make him your Savior, to be ready to meet him and rejoice in the joy of your salvation. So today, if there's any doubt in your mind that you need him in your heart, if you know that you're not living at you should, I want you to raise your hand right where you are and hold it high. We're going to sing this song in worship. And those of you with your hands raised, I want you to begin walking this way, because you are why we have had church today.
I want everyone in this place to repeat this prayer with me.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for dying for my sin and setting me free. Today I come before your throne, and I receive forgiveness, and I become your child. I humble myself under your hand and profess that you are Lord to the glory of God the Father. Today I receive the gift of my salvation. And I am asking you to write my name in the lamb's book of life, so that when the trump of God sounds, I'll meet my Savior in the air, and receive victory in Jesus today. Thank you Lord, in Jesus' name. Amen.