For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
Let's take a minute to focus on that phrase in verse 10, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. We'll take a look first of all at the doctrinal application, and then we'll consider the spiritual or the practical application.
Chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians gives the clearest overall description of the catching away of the church prior to the tribulation time. And there are 2 groups of saints that are said to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. They are the dead in Christ (v. 16) or them which sleep in Jesus (v. 14) and we which are alive and remain (vv. 15, 17). This discussion of Christ's return continues into chapter 5. It is compared to the coming of a thief in the night (vv. 1-4) and just like any other passage dealing with this same subject, it includes instruction for each of us to live a life of service to God in light of His soon coming (vv. 5-8). Verse 9 presents the comforting promise that God's church is not appointed to wrath (which will be poured out upon the earth during the time of the tribulation – Revelation 6:16-17; 15:1ff; 16:1ff), and verse 10 assures us that this promise is given to all those who make up the body of Christ, whether we wake (alive and remain) or sleep (the dead in Christ). Aren't you glad the Lord has promised to come and deliver us from the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), also known as Daniel's 70th week (Daniel 9:24-27)! Also see Revelation 3:10.
Does that make sense? Hope so. Now, the practical lesson. We've seen that the promise of living together with him has reference to the time when Jesus returns and takes us home to heaven. But is it not also true that Jesus promised His followers, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20) and I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5)?
Here's the thought. It is a great blessing that Jesus' death on our behalf on the cross of Cavalry means we have the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven with God. But it means more than that. It means that I can live this life here on earth in the blessing of His presence. Whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Praise the Lord, the life that I NOW live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Are you enjoying abundant life in Jesus Christ today? That's why He came. That's why He died. That's what He wants to give you. Not just eternal life in heaven, but a victorious life here on earth.
We should live together with him. Do you acknowledge the presence of God in your daily life? Would you take Him to all the places you go? Would you let Him hear all the words you say? Would you play all the music you listen to for Him? Would you invite Him to sit down and watch that movie or that TV show with you? Whether or not you would, remember He's there.
And as you go out and strive do what's right, take comfort in knowing that the God of peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9).