Summary: There should be clear differences between Christians and the world. This sermon looks at how the word hope differs between Christians and the world. Christians have real hope and the world has false hope.
Things That Make Christians Different From The World: Hope
Hope is a remarkable word in our world and in the world it can mean anything from I sure do hope that it rains today to I hope I win the lottery today to I hope that I’m saved or I hope that I’m going to go to heaven.
But for Christians, and I mean true believers here, it means that we have complete assurance and confidence in what we believe, who we believe in, what He has promised us and where we are going to spend eternity.
Early Edition was a popular television program in the 1990s that featured a young man who received the next day’s newspaper a day ahead of time. And because he always knew the future, this man’s purpose in each episode was to save people from a tragedy or problem he had read about in tomorrow’s paper. So if he knew a building was going to burn, he tried to keep people from entering it. Or if someone was going to be hurt by an act of violence or an accident he tried to prevent the encounter from taking place.
If you own a Bible, you have an “early edition” of future events. By reading God’s prophetic Word, you can know God’s plan for all eternity. Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m not interested in prophecy and all this end times stuff.” To which I would reply, “Do you long to have hope?” By hope I mean absolute confidence and peace in your present and future circumstances. Hope is one of the great characteristics of Christian reality.
At the start of the letter, in 1st Thessalonians 1:3 which says this: “constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father…” Paul tells us that hope produces steadfastness and through steadfastness we build perseverance. If there is no hope in the church, there will be no perseverance, and no perseverance will mean the demise of local churches. Fortunately, there is good news: God provides hope in a hopeless world. In 1st Thessalonians 4 verse 13-18 we read this:
13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul shares two truths that we can always count on.
The first one is the hope or assurance of your resurrection. There is no room in a believer’s heart or mind for doubt about this wonderful promise from God to us. The Christians in the church of Thessalonica were under the false belief that their loved ones who had passed away were not going to heaven because they died before Jesus came back the second time.
So Paul did what he was so good at and that was educating people on the things of Christ and he explained to them that their loved ones were being well taken care of and that they needed to know that since Jesus died and rose from the dead that their loved ones would also be raised from the dead if they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
This hope or assurance from God about where Christians go after death is pretty much just the opposite of what the world believes happens to people when they die. So when Paul said “don’t grieve as those who have no hope” what that means to me is that when lost people are faced with death or dying either their own or someone else’s they can get very scared, distraught, and apprehensive because they are not really sure in their mind or in their heart what exactly is going to happen to them or their loved ones when they pass away.
Because we have as our foundation the truths that are recorded in the Word of God we as Christians know exactly what is in store for us as believers and we also know exactly what is in store for those that we know who are not Christians and that part is what breaks the hearts of many a believer.