1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 teaches that the Lord Jesus will return in the clouds to receive the faithful, both the resurrected dead and those still living. Upon reading that section of Scripture, and others like it, some have wondered, “What then?” Some have even wondered if this resurrection has already occurred, thinking that perhaps there are faithful ones here who were just…left behind on earth. Pairing a couple of simple passages clarifies this issue and should put every believer's mind at ease.
The first is the one mentioned above. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, some Christians in Thessalonica were concerned because their brethren were dying. The promise of Christianity is eternal life with God, but how can the dead receive rewards? The apostle Paul’s inspired answer is that they will be resurrected when Jesus returns. Even in death, the faithful can confidently expect their reward. The faithful living and resurrected will be caught up in the clouds to be with the Lord forever.
The second passage is 1 Corinthians 15:20-24. The same events are discussed here as are presented in 1 Thessalonians 4 but with additional detail. After the Lord Jesus returns to receive the faithful, verse 24 says, “Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father…” The end spoken of is the end of this world.
When paired together, these two passages identify that the resurrection and Jesus’ return in the clouds will happen at the end, on the last day, also called the judgment day. No one will miss Jesus’ return. All will witness it, and the faithful will be rewarded in it! You have not been left behind. Remain faithful to the end, and you will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).