3-Week Series: Double Blessing

Sermons

Summary: The Lord will come as a thief in the night; and therefore they are to be ready at all times, like a good soldier.

9/8/18

Tom Lowe

Lesson 15: With No Sorrow Concerning Those Who Have Died

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

Introduction:

The idea of the second coming had brought another problem to the people of Thessalonica. They were expecting it to happen very soon. They fully expected it to happen while they were still alive but they were worried about what was going to happen to those Christians who had already died. They could not be sure that those who had already died would take part in that great day when Jesus comes for His Church. Paul’s answer is that there will be one glory (Rapture) for those who are dead and those who are alive.

The coming of the Lord Jesus is the principle theme of both Thessalonian epistles. Paul is not presenting the doctrine of the Rapture as though the believers had not already heard of it; he is simply reminding them of the things he preached when he was with them in person. Evidently some of the weaker saints had misunderstood some of his teachings concerning the Lord’s return, and false teachers had attempted to cause the believers to think Paul had let them down.

In 5:1-3 Paul warns them that no man knows the hour or the moment of the Lord’s return. He will come as a thief in the night; and therefore they are to be ready at all times, like a good soldier - fully armed and ready for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Lesson 15

(4:13) Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death,

Timothy brought a full report to Paul from the Thessalonian church. Apparently some Christians had died since Paul’s ministry in that city. Perhaps some had suffered Martyrdom for their faith. The Good News Paul had delivered earlier included the wonderful truth about Jesus’ return to earth. But Christians in Thessalonica were still perplexed about what happens to Christians who die before Jesus comes back. The answer to this serious question becomes an incredibly encouraging message in Paul’s letter. Paul doesn’t want these young Christians to be fearful about God’s plan for any believer’s future.

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed” is a phrase Paul uses often in his writings. In this way he calls sharp attention to the topic he is about to discuss. There is no excuse for ignorance on the part of believers, for every believer has in his heart the Teacher of the Word of God (Romans 8:9); and since the Spirit dictated the Word of God to holy men who wrote it down, He is the best teacher. In 1 John 2:27 we are told that we don’t need any man to teach us for we are taught of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Paul commands “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

He refers to the dead as “those who sleep in death,” a common expression of his day, but now, since the resurrection of Jesus, a phrase filled with greater meaning. Dead people often look as if they are unconscious or asleep. Paul’s descriptive phrase appears to be a picturesque expression rather than a doctrine, as some would make it. The apostle speaks of the sleep of the body, not the sleep of the soul. The body of a believer sleeps in the grave, but his spirit goes into the presence of Jesus Christ: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8{1]).

To the Christian, death is sleep. No, the believer does not become unconscious in spirit; the body returns to dust, but the spirit goes back to God, who gave it. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The beggar Lazarus died and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom. Jesus said to the penitent thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” He used the term “sleep” when referring to the death of the body: “Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her.” "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep" (Luke 8:52). He made the same statement referring to Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (John 11:11). Sleep indicates a restful condition of the body; in sleep the body relaxes and is rebuilt . . . but sleep is a temporary state. In the true sense of the word, the believer’s body is put in a grave - a crypt or sleeping chamber in a mausoleum - and it will remain there until the resurrection, at which time it will be raised an incorruptible body that will never die. Sleep, therefore is not permanent. The body returns to dust, only to be raised incorruptible when Jesus comes.

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