Summary: As the born again believers looked up into the sky looking for Jesus to soon return they had many unanswered questions to ponder about heaven. Praise be to God that we can review the answers to these questions through Scripture!

Questions about Heaven?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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Imagine for a moment what it must have been like to be a Christian right after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. It was during this time much of the New Testament was written by Apostle Paul who was teaching and guiding the group called “The Way” into the truth concerning the Lord. As the mere babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1) strived to take in the meat of the Gospel message they had many questions the least of which related to the transformation of their bodies upon Christ’s return. Let me give you a hypothetical but Scripturally based account of some of the likely thoughts new believers would have been wrestling with as they tried to make sense of their promised transformation.

As I look up into the sky, I cannot help but reminisce of the events of the last few years. I remember when I first heard about a man in the desert crying out the words of Isaiah “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (40:3). I could have easily dismissed this man’s message as that of a raving lunatic, after all he did live in a desert, dressed in camel’s hair and leather belt, and ate locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4); and yet I found myself drawn to his message. I thought to myself that maybe the rumor of his being filled with the Spirit of God was true (Luke 1:15) and if so, he might be Isaiah’s predicted forerunner of the Messiah! While I must admit that I liked him calling the Pharisees and Sadducees “brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7), it was his promise that One would soon arrive that would baptize with the Holy Spirit that really got my attention (Mark 1:8). It still takes my breath away when I remember the moment that John said, “look the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) and I turned and saw Jesus! When John said he was “not worthy to carry His sandals” (Matthew 3:11) he was not exaggerating for while I saw judgement in Jesus’ eyes what I saw most profound was grace, love, and acceptance. When I heard Jesus preach “repent, for the kingdom of God has come near” (Matthew 4:17) my heart overwhelmingly said “YES” and my life was forever changed.

After having heard that Peter, Andrew, James, and John had quit their lucrative fishing business to “fish men” I and others too decided to follow Jesus as well. O how I enjoyed watching Him perform all those miracles! I was there when He fed the 5,000 (Matthew 14:15-21) and 4,000 (Matthew 14:15-21, 15:32-39), casted demons into a heard of pigs (Matthew 8:28-33), healed the invalid at Bethesda (John 5:1-15), healed the woman with the flow of blood (Matthew 9:20-22) and for countless others! I also remember Jesus taking us up on a mountainside and once we sat down, He preached about how to be blessed, how to be salt and light of this world, how not to hate but love one another, how to pray, give to the needy, fast, store treasures in heaven and so much more (Matthew 5-7)! While, like the 12 disciples, I did not fully know what His teachings meant later in His ministry He promised to send one He called the Spirit of truth to help me understand and obey His commands (John 16:12-15). When I heard that Peter called Jesus “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15) for a moment I believed it might be possible that I am not just following an amazing prophet but Isaiah’s foretold Messiah! While I stood afar and watched the governor’s soldiers flog, mock, and strip the clothes of Jesus only to put a scarlet rob and a crown of thorns on His head and then take Him to the dreaded placed called Golgotha (Matthew 27:27-33) to be crucified, my heart broke for how could one cursed on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23) be the Messiah who was to free my people from Roman bondage? Despite my sorrow it was short lived for just three days later I got news that Jesus’ tomb was empty, and He had appeared to Mary Magdalene and the apostles (John 20)! So, now as I stand here looking up into the sky, though I have the Spirit of Truth to guide me, I am still filled with so many unanswered questions concerning death, Christ’s return and when and how will I get my promised new body like His.

While the above story is not based on the thoughts and feelings of any disciple, I think it fairly represents some of the thoughts and feeling they must have had when looking up into the sky waiting for Christ’s return. The remainder of this sermon is going to address some of the questions about death that Paul was trying to state to the church in Thessalonica so that we too might better understand our hope in the Lord, Jesus Christ!

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