Summary: The subject of the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.
“What A Day of Rejoicing That Will Be”
By Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Our passage for this morning touches upon a subject that intrigues Christians and offers us the most
glorious hope that we could ever imagine.
The subject is the return of Jesus Christ to earth and the resurrection of the dead!
The concern of the believers at Thessalonica involved dead believers.
Would their loved ones who had died share in the resurrection when Christ returns to earth?
The church at Thessalonica had just been founded...
...it was brand new...
...but it was also being bitterly persecuted...
...they were under savage attack!
Some of the believers were dying.
Some were even being martryed for their faith.
What about their loved ones who had already died?
What about our loved ones who have already died?
So, the Apostle Paul begins this passage with: “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall
asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”
All kinds of concerns about the resurrection arose in the minds of the Thessalonian believers....
....just like they do in the minds of all of us....
...in every generation.
And Paul tells us two striking things about the resurrection of dead believers when Christ returns...
...the first is: do not be ignorant about the resurrection.
Instead, study and grasp what God teaches and be comforted and challenged in the glorious hope that He
Second: do not grieve excessively over loved ones who die before Christ returns....
...We are bound to experience sorrow and grief...
...but we are not to suffer the same kind of grief that unbelievers suffer...for they have no hope!
There is absolutely no hope for the unbelievers of the world...
...but there is the most glorious hope for those of us who do believe!
The fact is forcefully declared--those who have died--those who were born again in this life will return
“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.”
Note the words: “in him.”....
....God will bring those whom we love who have passed on ahead of us with Christ when Christ returns...
...and that means that they are with Him right now..at this very moment!
Remember the crucifixion?
Remember the criminal on the cross who said to Jesus: “Remember me when you come into your
And what was Christ’s answer to him?
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The point is this: our loved ones who have died...are with the Lord...
...they are living face to face with Him right now.
We don’t have to wonder where they are...
...when they died, they immediately went to be with the Lord in paradise...and they will never be separated from
...and when Christ returns to earth, He will bring everyone who has died in Him back with Him!
Jesus says in John 8:51: “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”...
....and in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Jesus Christ came to this earth to die and bear the punishment of sin for us--and to rise from the dead
In his book: Living Jesus, Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson...one of my professors at seminary writes: “Faith
begins with the resurrection of Jesus...
...The resurrection is the grounding for the entire Christian life....
...and the resurrection is the chronological beginning of the Christian religion.”
In his book: The Case For Faith, author Lee Strobel writes: “The resurrection of Jesus could not have
been a legend....
...the apostle Paul preserved a creed of the early church that was based on eyewitness accounts of Jesus’
return from the dead---and which various scholars have dated as early as 24 to 36 months after Jesus’ death.
That’s far too quick for mythology to have tainted the record.
The truth is that nobody has ever been able to show one example in history of a legend developing that
quickly and wiping out a solid core of historical truth.”
Our hope---the glorious hope of believers--is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ...
...and there is no greater basis for hope in the entire world!
“According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of
the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel