Summary: Paul was sharing these thoughts with those who were believers in Thessolonica. Each of us is commanded to participate in the ministry of bringing comfort to others around us.
Date Written: February 18, 2001
Date Preached: February 21, 2001
Church: BBC (PM) Wed Night
Series: Great Imperatives for the Christian Walk
Title: The Imperative Being a Comforter
Text: 1 Thess 4:13-18
An English woman had 2 daughters and one had died and the other had moved to America. One day she boarded a ship to go and see her daughter in America.
During the ship’s journey they encountered a great storm that tossed the ship around like a ragdoll. All on the ship were distressed and panicking, except for this elderly lady.
When someone asked her why she was so calm at a time like this, she told them this. I am on my way to visit my daughter. I have one in America and the other is in Heaven. Regardless of what this ship does, I will be seeing one of them soon! She had hope that eliminated her fear and panic. She was comforted in knowing that her destination was set. Those around her could find comfort in her strength. Being a Christian she could rest assured that whatever the outcome there was hope!
And I want us to see that the words of our text tonight are directed to Christians and NOT to non-believers. Paul was sharing these thoughts with those who were believers in Thessolonica. Each of us is commanded to participate in the ministry of bringing comfort to others around us.
We are to provide this ministry with the precious promises and provisions of God that are described by the Apostle Paul in tonight’s passage.
When I look at this passage I can see 3 things that we must look at when we look at the ministry of being a comforter.
The need for comfort.
The basis for the Christian’s comfort, and
Being a comforter.
1st I want us to look at the need for comfort.
Sooner than we think or can imagine, we will either be in need of comfort or be associated with someone who is in need of comfort.
Very seldom does a month go by in which death does not touch some family in our community. Or touch the lives of someone very near and dear to us. We are not to remain unconcerned in the presence of grief. Our ministry is to be concerned and offer comfort to those who are hurting.
Let’s look at what Paul said here in this passage:
v.13 – “…but we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep…” Now while there is much speculation concerning death and what comes after death. There is also some great ignorance about what the NT teaches regarding God’s provision for those Christians who die.
Each believer should study the NT to fully appreciate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We need to delve into great passages of Scripture like 1 Cor 15 which tells us about the importance of the resurrection and why we should take comfort in it.
v.13 also states “…that you may NOT grieve as others do who have NO hope…” Believers do grieve over the death of someone near and dear just as non-believers do. That is because we all feel the pain of loss when someone we love dies. We all have that selfish longing of wishing they were still here with us.
However, while the believer grieves over the loss of a loved one Paul tells us that we must not grieve as those who do NOT know Christ! Because their sorrow is the sorrow of those who have no hope after this life.
A very perceptive observer on the mission field noticed that the Christians did not express their grief as the Nonbelievers did. He noticed a peace about the Christians and an utter hopelessness about the nonbelievers.
He stated that if this was the ONLY benefit from being a Christian then it would be worth all the effort and expense put forth by all the missionaries. As followers of Christ we are encouraged to refrain from grieving as if we had NO HOPE!
But why? Why should Christians refrain from grieving as the world grieves? I believe we can find this in following verses of this passage as we see…
The basis for the Christian’s comfort:
The Apostle Paul says we are to ‘comfort one another with these words…” What words was he referring to?
a. “…we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” v.14. Our only hope of victory over death and the grave is based solely on the victory of Jesus over death and the grave.
Jesus died for our sins and raised again on the 3rd day (resurrecting for our salvation) Jesus conquered the power of death and the grave for us…he did this on our behalf! The resurrection of Jesus provides us with a revelation of what God has planned for those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior!