Summary: This message talks about the hope we have as Christians of seeing our loved ones again who died in Christ.
Scripture: 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 1:7; 21:1-5
The title of my message this morning is “No Hope.” Through this message I want to share with you why it is so very important that we bring people to Christ because only through that relationship can people have an eternal hope that will not fade. This week I have spent a lot of time thinking about Jackie’s co-worker whose daughter died. I was thinking about whether or not this mother had a hope that she would see her daughter again on the other side. But this only happens if the daughter died knowing Christ and that the mother too as a relationship with Him. I cannot overstate this importance. This week I also heard from a woman whose father recently died. In my email conversation with her I noticed the hope that she had that she would see her father again. Although she is still in the midst of her grieving period, she understands that she will see her father again and therefore she is also exhibiting true hope. As I continued to think about these two individuals, my mind went to my brother and how he dealt with the death of his daughter. While I cannot imagine the pain one experiences when they must bury their child, I do understand the pain of burying someone you love. I am using the word “bury/burying” versus the word” lose/lost” because if someone we know dies in the Lord, they are not lost for we know where they are. But, when someone dies and we do not know what or if they had any type of a relationship with the Lord then there is really a sense of loss as we will not see that person again. If someone dies and will spend eternity in the lake of fire, their family members and friends who are saved have truly “lost” them and will never see them again. Let me explain.
One of my favorite Scriptures that I have often mediated on since my mother’s death is found in First Thessalonians 4:13-18. This will be our Scriptural text for this morning. If you will turn there, let’s read what it says. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: "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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 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. 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. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words." I want you to notice and pay close attention to verse thirteen. It says “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.” The last line talks about someone who is grieving without any hope. I want you to understand the hope that Paul is references in this verse. Keep this statement in mind for a moment as I tell you a story.
I. Dante’s Description of Hell
In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri wrote the epic poem “Divine Comedy” which, if you’ve ever read it, knows that this poem is not a comedy. It was called a comedy because during the 14th century Italian literature was, by requirement, divided into two categories: tragedy and comedy. A tragedy represented “high” literature and written in formal Italian while a comedy represented “low” literature and was written for the general population. The poem has three parts; Inferno which is about Dante’s descent into hell; Purgatorio focuses on his time in Purgatory after surviving hell; and finally Paradiso, his arrival into heaven to commune with God. For the purposes of this message, we will briefly examine some of the things he writes about in part one of the poem, Inferno. Dante’s description of hell was extremely vivid as he described how individuals, based on their actions on earth, would be placed into one of the nine different circles which made up hell. Here is how Dante described hell and how people were placed in the circles based upon the sins they committed on earth. I will not go into too much detail as not to scare our little ones: