Summary: The Lord's Return, Resurrection, Hope
THE RESURRECTION QUESTION - The Dead in Christ
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (p. 825) March 19, 2017
Last Tuesday morning I came into the office and this was the first headline I saw on my news scroll.
Mississippi Man, declared dead, wakes up in body bag at Funeral Home.
The guys’s name is Walter Williams and he’s from Lexington, Mississippi…Here’s the video:
[Walter’s story reminded me of the 3 older gentlemen who were talking about their funerals and discussing what they’d want their friends and family to say about them…the 1st guy said, “I’d want them to say I was a hard working man that provided for his family.” The 2nd guy said, “I’d want them to say I was a loving husband and father”…and the 3rd guy said, “I’d want them to say…’Look!! He’s still breathing!’”]
Walter’s family was rejoicing because at least for a while he would still be with them. Death is a difficult subject and each of us want to escape it for as long as possible… “Look!! He’s still breathing” is our desire for all those we love.
Scripture describes death like this… “The last enemy to be destroyed.” (1 Cor. 15:26)
The reason death is the last and greatest of our enemies to be destroyed is because nothing separates us from others like death…Nothing here on earth ends a relationship like death. There is no reset button…there is no do-over.
If the relationship is bad when death comes, there’s the pain of never being able to make it right. If the relationship is good, there is the pain of it being gone…that life here isn’t as good anymore. If death comes early then there’s always the wondering of “what could have been,” as if it were stolen.
For those who are left…death is the separation between when we saw them, and when we see them again…or if we will see them again. Death stings…death seems to have the victory.
But it doesn’t for those who are in Christ. And for those who have died in Christ.
This is exactly what the Apostle Paul addresses in our text…He’s writing to believers who have faced the death of a mate, a parent, a child, a friend…and he wants to reassure them and us with:
I. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN JESUS RETURNS
Have you ever had someone say to you…“I want to talk to you, but I don’t want to tell you what it’s about right now?”
Yeah! Horrible isn’t it…because you don’t know if it’s good or bad…and when someone does that…it’s usually BAD. The time between that statement and the conversation is terrible because the information you need is withheld…you worry and try to figure it out…the word ignorant doesn’t mean “stupid.” It means uninformed…without the knowledge you need to make wise decisions.
Paul says “Brothers and sisters.” He’s writing to fellow believers, “we do not want you to be uninformed (“ignorant”) about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.” (v. 13)
This information doesn’t remove grief…grief is the result of death…for believers and non-believers alike…but the information he’s going to share gives his brothers and sisters…and us hope…and hope is an essential for faith.
Grief isn’t something you just “get over” or shake off…grief is defined as “intense sorrow, great sadness.”
Author Edgar Jackson properly describes grief:
Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with uncertainty and confusion that he lashes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years. Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who has died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life. -Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong, p. 171
Grief is no joke…it’s hard…and without hope it’s absolutely crippling.
It’s the very reason Paul writes these words in 1 Thessalonians…and it’s the very reason “The Resurrection Question” must be answered with this hope: “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.” (v. 14)
David writes in Psalm 30 “weeping will endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”