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CONVICTION REGARDING GOD'S PROGRAM FOR THE FUTURE GIVES HOPE FOR THE BEREAVED

GOD'S FORMULA OF COMPASSION: KNOWLEDGE + FAITH GIVES HOPE

KNOWLEDGE + FAITH = CONVICTION

CONVICTION GIVES HOPE

Introd.: Two different groups of believers in view:

1) those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord

2) those who have fallen asleep (already gone to be with the Lord in spirit)

The Context is tremendous anticipation of the imminent return of Christ.

A. Conviction Frees the Bereaved From Unmitigated Grief (:13)

1. Uncertainty regarding lost loved ones intensifies the grieving (:13)

a. the importance of knowledge

b. the area of concern = the status of those sleeping

c. the nature of the grieving process

Hiebert: "The force of the original is to prohibit all sorrow for their dead. We need not assume that Paul intended to prohibit that natural sorrow and sense of loss we feel at the death of loved ones, but he is prohibiting all sorrow which mourns the supposed loss

sustained by loved ones because of their death. Such sorrow is not for Christians. For them to give way to their grief would be to act like the pagan world." (p.189)

2. A Vacuum of Hope leads to unmitigated grief

B. Conviction Focuses on the Reality of the Resurrection and Return of Christ (:14)

1. Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is the sure foundation of our Christian hope

Christ took the sting out of death and transferred the victory from the grave to the resurrection ("It's Friday, but Sunday's coming")

2. The future glory of sleeping believers is assured at the return of Christ

C. Conviction Feeds on a Knowledge of Eschatology = God's Program for the Future (:15-17)

1. Divine Revelation Validates Conviction

2. The Equality of the two different groups of believers at the return of Christ

a. The living will not have an advantage over the dead (:15)

b. Description of the Lord's return

1) Bodily, personal return

2) In spectacular glory, majesty, and authority

c. The dead in Christ will rise first

d. The living will be caught up together with them in the clouds

e. Both groups will have realized their goal of personal union with the Lord that will last forever

Conclusion: "Therefore, comfort one another with these words." (:18)


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