THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST – 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16 For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the “dead” in Christ shall rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This Koine Greek word translated as “dead” can mean “dead” (as a corpse), or it can mean “spiritually dead” (separated from God because of sin). The next verse shows both connotations of this Greek word translated to mean “dead”. "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:22). The deceased cannot bury the deceased, but those who are “spiritually dead” in trespasses and sin can bury the deceased. This example is used to help us see the word “dead”, as in the “dead in Christ” shall rise first, refers to those who are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, not “deceased”. And the dead in Christ shall rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16b). Who are the “dead in Christ” that rise first? Are they believers that died (deceased) or are they believers that are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins by not being reconciled to God? The following verses help us to see who they are. Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:26a). Those who live and believe in Christ never die (“decease”), because: It is appointed for men to die once (Hebrews 9:27a). But when believers are joined together with the Spirit of Christ, we are joined together with Him into His death, and have “died” with Christ. You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). We never die, because Christ, Who is alive forevermore (Revelations 1:18), is the life within us (Galatians 2:20). Born again believers that depart from this world do not “die”, we “fall asleep”. If the “dead in Christ” were born again believers that deceased, and if they arose from the dead, they would have to die again which is contrary to scripture, for it is appointed unto man to die one time. This is why the “dead in Christ” are those who have the Spirit of Christ within, but are “spiritually dead” in trespasses (as prodigals) because of pursuing worldly lusts, rather than repenting to be reconciled to God and born again as a child of God. God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14b),……... Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17a). God will bring those who “sleep in Jesus” with Him,…….and we will be caught-up together with “them” (who sleep in Jesus) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. But the “dead in Christ” shall rise first;……believers in Jesus Christ that are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (“dead in Christ”) repent and confess their trespasses to be made “alive in Christ” and raised up together when forgiven, ………..before we who are “alive in Christ” and remain are caught up together with them (who “sleep in Jesus”) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Believers are “in Christ” by the Spirit of the Son of God within (1 John 5:10-13). But even though we are “in Christ” we can become spiritually “dead”, separated from God the Father as prodigals by pursuing the lusts and ways of the world. Believers that are “dead in Christ” need to repent and confess their trespasses to be made alive in Christ by being reconciled to God when forgiven us of all trespasses. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5b). How can we know we are born of the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God? If we know that He is righteous, we know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him (1 John 2:29). Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10). We are not saved by works, but our works of righteousness are a testimony that we are born of the Spirit as Christ lives in and through us. Then the King will say to those on His right hand (the righteous), 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me' (Matthew 25:34-36). "The righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' (Matthew 25:37-40) Let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (1 John 3:7). Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In our world today, pornography, drugs, and gambling are additional sins of the flesh we need to turn from. As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ have power (by the Spirit within) to be born again and saved as a child of God. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31). But just because we believe in Christ, may not mean we have been forgiven of all trespasses to be reconciled to God and saved. “Shall be saved”, may not mean, “have been saved”. We believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, repent and are baptized with water in the name of Jesus Christ as a testimony of our faith to have past sins forgiven by the grace of God (Acts 2:38, Matthew 28:19-20). We repent and confess our sins to be made alive together with Christ and saved by being reconciled to God when forgiven of all trespasses. We should forgive others of their trespasses against us, and try to have others forgive us of our trespasses against them. We need to repent of sins of the flesh (including hate and covetousness) to be forgiven of all trespasses and made “alive” in Christ by being reconciled to God before we can enter the Kingdom of God. It is harder for a rich man in bondage to the sin of covetousness to enter the Kingdom of God, than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. We want heaven, but the wealthy often love money more than the Lord or their neighbor in need. Behold, I speak a mystery to you; we shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in a glance of an eye, at the last trumpet. For a trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Believers, spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, repent and confess their sins to be reconciled to God when forgiven of all trespasses. Because God the Father (eternal life) and God the Son are One, we have eternal life by the Spirit of God the Son within us. We are joined together with the Spirit of Christ and raised up together: from corruption to incorruption, from weakness to power, and from dishonor to glory as we are made in the image of Jesus Christ to have our mortal body “changed” in the “blink” of an eye to put on immortality (perfection), when sanctified completely by the Holy Spirit of God our Father to be a “son” or “daughter” of God and heir of the Kingdom of God, seated at the right hand to go out no more. Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20). Trust the Lord, and God bless.