EASTER 2007: “1 Thess. 4:13-18, He Is Risen Therefore We Do Not Grieve As Those Who Have No Hope”
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
2. THE REASON FOR MY PICKING OF THIS TOPIC FOR MY TEACHING THIS EASTER SUNDAY SERVICE.
Having recently attended the funeral of my grandmother, seen the four year anniversary of my father’s death this past Friday as well as the fourteen year anniversary of the death of a very good friend yesterday, and having friends and family whom I have recently talked and counseled with concerning the loss of loved ones, this morning I wanted to share with you the things that I have been thinking and talking about lately relative to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Part of what I always share at the funerals of believers is the fact that the scriptures tell us that we Christians do not need to grieve our loved ones in the Lord who have passed away because, as our text tells us, we are promised that in the resurrection we will recognize and be reunited with all of these loved ones in the Lord who have passed away before us. Thus, the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us great hope of the after life that we can have and hold as an anchor for our soul. All of us as Christians must settle in our minds this concept of the hope that we have in Christ after the grave.
Thessalonica — a large and populous city on the
Thermaic bay. It was the capital of one of the four Roman districts of
4. THE PURPOSE FOR THE WRITING OF THE BOOK OF 1 THESSALONIANS.
The letter of 1 Thessalonians was the
first of all of Paul’s epistles which he wrote.
He likely wrote the book from
The letter was written after Timothy had returned from Macedonia and reported that the Thessalonians were confused by and misunderstood some of Paul’s prior teachings, however that they had remained steadfast in their faith and purpose. Many suspect that Timothy also returned with a list of questions to Paul from the church which Paul addresses in the epistle.
Paul wrote this first epistle to the church then to commend the church for their faith and steadfastness (In the third verse of the epistle Paul remembers their ‘work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ’), but also to address their misunderstandings and questions, as well as some accusations made against Paul of doing ministry for profit.
In the letter, Paul likewise exhorts the church regarding their tendency to fall into moral laxity and laziness, and also not respect their teachers. Paul likewise encouraged the church in this letter to go forward in the Lord. Finally, Paul encouraged the church about what would happen to believers who would pass away prior to the Lord’s return, telling the church not to grieve for them as those do in this world who have no hope, for the Christian is assured that he will be resurrected along with his loved ones when Christ appears.
At my grandmother’s funerals down in
The fact is that there is a heaven and a hell that a person is going to go to after they leave this life, and it is only through faith and commitment to Christ as one’s personal Lord (Master) and Savior that will allow anyone to go to heaven (with the exception of young children whom most believe are covered by Christ’s atonement). Even Jesus in John 3:16 tells us that this is a perishing world and that unless a person believes (that is has saving faith) upon Christ that he will perish for eternity along with this world: 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Having said that, for the Christian we know that God’s word promises us that we will not only have eternal life in heaven with God when Jesus returns, but also that we will be reunited in glorious reunion with all of our believing loved ones when we pass away or Christ returns.
6. REASONS FROM THE SCRIPTURES FOR BELIEVING THAT WE WILL RECOGNIZE OUR LOVED ONES AFTER WE PASS FROM THIS LIFE.
6.1. EXAMPLES FROM THE GOSPELS.
6.1.1. In correcting the Sadducees who believed there was no resurrection, Jesus told them that the Lord was not the God of the dead but the God of the living (Mark 12:26-27).
Mark 12:26-27, “26 “But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.””
6.1.2. In Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus who had died and respectively gone to Hades and torment, and Abraham’s Bosom, both of these men had kept their identities and personalities and were clearly distinguishable (Luke 16). Even their words in that place are recorded for us.
6.1.3. When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to the Mt. of Transfiguration and Moses and Elijah appeared, note that everyone recognized them, and that Moses and Elijah recognized and talked with each other (Luke 9:30).
6.1.4. In Matt. 27:52-53 we read that after Jesus had been raised from the dead that many tombs were opened and that many of the Old Testament saints were spotted and recognized by many in the surrounding areas.
6.1.5. After Jesus was raised from the dead we see that in His resurrected body that there was enough of a resemblance to His former body and appearance that He was recognized and that He showed others His wounds He incurred in His body from being crucified (John 20:20, 27).
6.1.6. In Matthew 22:23-32, when asked a question about whose wife a woman would be in the resurrection who had been married to several brothers in this life, Jesus taught that though we will recognize and know our loved ones in heaven that we will no longer be bound in marriage in heaven.
6.2. TEACHING FROM THE EPISTLES.
6.2.1. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 we are told that now we see through a mirror dimly but that in heaven we will know fully just as we are also known.
1 Corinthians 13:12, “12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
6.2.2. In 1 Peter 1:3-9 we are promised that we have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, a hope that we hold for our lives beyond the grave.
1 Peter 1:3-9, “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”
6.2.3. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 tells us that when our earthly tent (body) is torn down that we will have another building (body) from God in heaven, and thus we will not just be disembodied spirits or merely be absorbed into the all.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5, “1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.”
years ago we had a blessed friend of ours from our home fellowship pass away
from lung cancer after a little over a two year battle and having been in remission
for two years. This woman who was a new
believer when she first had contracted the cancer, just after moving to
6.2.4. In our text for this message (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) we are told that we who are believers should not grieve like the rest of the people of this world who have no hope, because we know that in heaven we will recognize and be with our departed loved ones.
188.8.131.52.Notice in this passage that Paul states that when the Lord returns that it is the dead in Christ who will rise first from the dead, then the rest of us who are alive when He returns.
184.108.40.206.Notice also how Paul reiterates this hope we have in Christ for ourselves and our loved ones right near the end of the epistle : 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, “9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.”
6.2.5. Dr. J. Rodman Williams has written, “Hebrews 12:23 speaks of "the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven." The glorified church in heaven means, along with much else, a common recognition. Yes, heaven will be a fulfillment of all human relationships without earthly limitations. Truly we will know one another fully and completely and rejoice in the Lord's presence forever!”
6.2.6. Revelation 7:9 tells us that there will be a great multitude in heaven, including people from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue, “9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.”
6.2.7. 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 describes the type of body and life that we will have in the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:35-57, “35 But
someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they
come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless
it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is
to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But
God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its
own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of
men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of
fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the
glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another
glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So also
is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is
raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is
raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it
is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural
body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is
written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became
a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first,
but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the
earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy,
so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who
are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we
will also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this,
brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
So, our loved ones will be transformed with a glorified body that is sinless, spiritual, and raised in power. There will be enough of their previous form and personality to recognize them however.
I don’t know how much of this life that we in heaven will discuss. Perhaps we will be so taken up with and in awe of the Lord that He will capture most of our attention and the things of this life will not occupy us too much. There is also a verse that tells us that the Lord is going to remove from us some of the difficult and sorrowful memories of this life. He promises also in that place to remove all sorrow, crying, and tears.
7.1. In conclusion, funerals are for the living really, not for the dead. When one of the saints passes from this life don’t feel sorry for them, they are face to face with the Lord and experiencing the greatest of blessings. They probably don’t want you to pray for them to be raised from the dead either! We will grieve when someone in the Lord that we love passes away, this is the natural reaction. However in the midst of our grieving and disappointment we must have great peace in our hearts knowing where they are and that we shall see them soon, and, we must also be very happy for them and rejoice in the Lord.
7.2. I have been to funerals of the loved ones of those who do not know the Lord, such as that of my great grandmother when I was about 12 years old, and I have seen how that for unbelievers who have no hope that the death of a loved one is the greatest of tragedies and that there is no conciliation or comfort for their grief. However, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, we Christians are not to grieve as do those in this world who have no hope.
7.3. The scriptures tell us that we can know that we have eternal life through trusting in Christ as our Lord and Savior, for it is written, “…These things were written that you might know that you have eternal life.” Do you know that when you pass from this life that you will spend eternity in heaven?
7.3.1. If you are not sure you would spend eternity with the Lord, or sure today that you would not, I would like you to invite you to receive the free gift of eternal life in Christ.
7.4. If you were to die today and you were to stand before the Lord and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you reply to Him?
7.4.1. Man is sinful and, “all have fallen short of the glory of God,” therefore no one will ever be good or righteous enough to get to heaven based on our own merits and deeds, no matter how hard we may try to do and be good.
comes through the grace of God when we simply receive by faith the gift of
eternal through Christ and trust completely and only in what Jesus did on