Promises from the Bible (1 Thessalonians 4)
As individuals, I think there is no more difficult time than this to express our true feelings. To find the proper words is so difficult and . . . words seem so inadequate, so incomplete--yet we do our best to express our sympathy/our concern to those left behind.
But I am reminded again that what we need at a time like this is revelation, not just words.
- We need something that speaks of certainties, not just hopes.
- We need something that speaks with authority.
- We need something that provides true comfort and gives something and someone to believe in/to trust as we go on from here.
- We need more than sincere expressions of sympathy and concern (as wonderful as they are) in a time of sorrow and death
- We need the authoritative, comforting "Thus saith the Lord!" the revelation of Scripture.
And God has not left us without Revelation in a time like this. He has spoken clearly, concisely and with authority. Let's look for a few minutes at what the Bible, God's Word promises the person who dies in the Lord. The passage I want to look at was written especially for those in a time of sorrow --1 Thess. 4:13-18.
The Bible Promises
the Believer a Reception in Glory
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
1. Paul was writing to these believers to instruct them about those who had died. The term "fall asleep" refers to those who had died. Paul doesn't want those left behind to sorrow as those who have no hope.
2. The reason they don't have to sorrow as others without hope is given in verse 14 (read). Those who have died in the Lord are with Christ. The souls (immaterial part) of departed Christians are with God and Jesus is going to bring them back with Him when He comes for His Church.
3. The rest of Scripture teaches us the same thing.
- II Corinthians 5:6-8 tells us that when we Christians die, we go immediately to be with God. To be "absent from the body-present with the Lord."
- Philippians l:23 Paul tells us when we depart from this life, we are with Christ.
3. We need not sorrow then as others who have no hope because the authoritative Word of God promises the believer an immediate reception in glory--"absent from the body present with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:8"
But not only does the Bible promise the Christian an immediate reception in glory but . . .
The Bible Promises
the Believer a Resurrection of His Body
1 Thessalonians 4:15-16
1. These verses promise that the bodies of our Christian loved ones will be raised from the dead.
2. The Bible teaches the sleep of the body, not the sleep of the soul.
3. These verses teach us that those bodies of Christians that are sleeping in the graves will one day come forth--be resurrected when Christ comes back. In vs. 16 we see that the souls of the believers (who are now with Christ) will be reunited with their resurrected bodies at Jesus' coming for His church.
4. And that body will be a body described in Rev. 21:3-4 as:
- free from pain
- free from sorrow, crying, tears
- free from sin
- free from death
5. The Christian's soul goes immediately to the presence of the Lord. The Christian's body rests in the grave until the day the Lord comes back for His church when it will be resurrected into a glorious body and be reunited with the soul.
6. We need not sorrow as others who have no hope for the Christian is promised: (a) an immediate reception in glory; and (b) a resurrection of his body. But there is more . . . for not only does the Christian who dies have the certainty of an immediate reception in glory and a resurrection of his body but . . .
The Bible Promises
a Reunion With Christ and With Loved Ones
I Thessalonians 4:17
1. The reunion is actually two-fold, first with loved ones:
- The Lord may come back today, if He does the believers who are alive will be reunited with our Christian loved ones in God's presence. Our separation is not permanent! (and then secondly there will be a reunion with Christ). One day the Lord will come back and Christians who are alive will be caught up to join the resurrected bodies of those who have died. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord."
- God promises Christians that they will be reunited whether through death - (Review) The Christian who dies has the promise:
of an immediate reception into the Lord's presence
of a resurrected body
of reunion with loved ones (fellow believers)
(Little wonder Paul says that these verses should be used at times like these) for he says, "wherefore comfort one another with these words." those who are left behind can be comforted in knowing the certainties of these verses.
1. But we should not forget that these promises are conditioned on faith in Christ as Savior who died as our substitute on Calvary and rose again (vs. 14)
2. The reality of death should make us stop and ask whether we could claim these promises if we were to die.
Right now, if you're not sure where you will spend eternity . . . I invite you to ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior from sin by an act of your will; trusting Him to save you from your sin. It was (name's) deep concern that his friends know Jesus as their Savior. Won't you trust Him right now as your Savior?
3. I thank God that (name) knew Jesus Christ as His Savior from sin. It was this faith that sustained him through the trials of illness that he so bravely faced.
4. Because (Name) had trusted Jesus Christ to be her Savior from sin, on the authority of God's Holy Word, I can say that (Name)'s soul is now with Jesus in glory. Her body will one day be resurrected. We'll be reunited with her and spend eternity together with the Lord.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words."