Summary: This Sermon was preached on November 8, 2003 in memory of Sis. Emily White, a valiant soldier of God. The objective is to keep the believer’s mind focus on the resurrection during times of death.
The Apostle Paul addresses the question concerning the state of those who die in the Lord. The Thessalonians knew that Jesus had risen and they believe that his return was imminent. But they were confused concerning those who were dead already. They thought that somehow their deceased love ones would miss out on the glory of Christ’s return. They were looking for Christ’s to return and take them home to glory without dying. So Paul in a pastoral way attempts to explain to them the status of a believer after death. Paul in the text seeks to unravel their ignorance in these important matters. He says, "Brethren I would not have you ignorant concerning them which are asleep in Christ." He does not speak about the dead in general but he speaks in relation to the Thessalonians which had died in Christ. Note that Paul says; We must be informed about life after death. If we are confused about life after death, it would be very difficult to live before death. Our Joy here is predicated on our understanding of the hereafter. Much of our sorrow in bereavement is a direct derivative of our lack of knowledge concerning the resurrection. Paul identifies two kinds of sorrows: there is a hopeless sorrow and there is a sorrow that is lessoned by the hope in a risen Lord. I submit to you today, that Sister Emily White left this earth with hope in the resurrection of Christ. She knew that the house on Liro was only temporary. So in our text, Paul responds to the problem by referring to the dead in Christ as asleep in Jesus. In the bible, sleep is a common euphemism for death. Jesus referred to Lazarus as asleep. The bible says; David fell asleep. Stephen fell asleep. The English word cemetary comes from a Greek word which means, the sleeping of the dead. Thus, the graveyards are a collection of death beds. When the believer dies, his body falls asleep in Jesus. Death does not annihilate him. The soul is retired from this troublesome world. The believer’s soul is in the presence of God and his dust is under God’s tender care. They that die in Christ are true winners and their removal out of this world is always better. The word sleep is unique to the body and not the soul. When the body sleeps peacefully on a pillar, the mind is constantly active. Memory is alive and dreams come and go. So it is with the soul at death. While the body sleep in a grassy bed, the spirit raoms in the heavenly regions. It departs to be with Christ. Sleep has its awakening, death has its resurrection. The soul that sleeps in Jesus remains with Him in life and death. When Christ conquered death upon calvary, He changed death into a sleep. The soul of our love ones are in a state of ceaseless activity and vibrant joy. Man is a tripartite being. He is composed of spirit, body and soul. With the soul, he is self conscious. With body he is flesh conscious. With the spirit he God conscious. But in the resurrection God will reunite the spirit man with his glorified body. The physical remains of our love ones will soon mingle with the dust. They will not hear the earth that passes over them but they will enjoy the sounds of heaven above. When the physical frame of the Christian is disrobed, the spiritual part of his complex being departs to be with the Lord. The bodies of the saints will sleep and Christ will wake them up. At the end of each day, the body falls asleep. At the end of life’s day, our souls will also fall asleep. But that which falls asleep is linked with an awakening. We sleep at night in the powerful hands of God. Then we wake up in the morning by the power of the same hands. Let us consider the essence of our hope this morning;