From the time of Pentecost until the coming of the Lord, those dear and faithful saints who died in Christ slept and waited for his coming; but as the Apostle says, these would be the first to be honored with an awakening from the dead. Hence we understand that shortly after the second appearing of the Lord Jesus, during the time of the shout of encouragement that was going on among the peoples of earth, these dead saints in Christ were resurrected and caught up with the Lord Jesus in the air, to be for ever with him, as stated by the Apostle. —1 Thessalonians 4:16,17.
Those remaining, who had not died up to the time of the Lord’s appearing, but who since die as do other men, have their change instantaneously. Their resurrection is instantaneous, as St. Paul plainly says: “Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”. (1 Corinthians 15:51,52) These are the blessed ones of the Lord because they participate in the first or chief resurrection and thereafter reign with Christ. (Revelation 20:6) These promises, then, are to the effect that they shall be forever with the Lord Jesus in the presence of Jehovah: therefore in glory. Jehovah for centuries has been preparing this class, the new creation, “that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called".—Romans 9:23,24.
It is customary for the royal family of a nation to have the choicest jewels of that nation in possession. These jewels are kept in the presence of the king, that they might be admired by him. Concerning those who shall constitute the new creation, the church, the Prophet of God wrote: “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him”. (Malachi 3:17) That these shall be admired by the Lord Jehovah as the zenith of his glorious creation is indicated by the Prophet who writes: “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God".—Isaiah 62:3.
Those who by patient continuance in well doing battle faithfully unto the end have the precious promise of being made a part of the temple of God; hence will be in his presence. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name.”—Revelation 3:12.