"Words of Mutual Comfort in death" I Thess. 4:13-18
There is no occasion like death and the graveside to press upon us what will happen at the end of the ages. When one dies, God gives a heavenly house for the soul but often with the body we tell our kids "to live is Christ and to dies is gain." The grave is the lowest common denominator and yet we have many questions even as adults. The Thessalonians looked for the imminent return of Christ before their death. But what about those buried before and those still yet alive? Will one preempt to heaven? Paul answers this question and points us to the end of the ages...or the coming of Christ. Ignorance hampers our comfort and then we like the world often times have no hope!
Misconception: The misconception of the Thessalonians had a devastating effect. They were concerned with those who die. "Will they miss the Lord's coming?" The Lord has filled many cemeteries and we too often have many questions even as our children and grandchildren ask us. Not to have a CLEAR understanding also has a devastating effect and we would have no hope in our mornings like the world as it too reminds them of their end. They have no hope...no concept of the eternal bliss that awaits the child of God! Paul is concerned that this does not happen to the child of God that they may have the comfort and peace. And we must preach these words loud and strong!
The Words: One word. CHRIST! Read verse 15. He puts it beautifully here. "By the word of the Lord (Jesus Christ.) These are the words that MUST be spoken especially at the cemeteries! We have spoken these words to each other or have heard them. We love to recite the Apostles creed at the cemetery because these are the very words! Paul gives us eschatology (the end things) here. Paul lays the foundation first and foremost.....the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ which is the CENTRAL CONVICTION of the child of God!!! Faith is completely vain without the resurrection! "But He was made the first fruits of a plentiful harvest!" He came and He vanquished the power of sin and took OUR condemnation and He said "It is FINISHED!" NO condemnation in Christ Jesus for the child of God! The resurrection is the CORNERSTONE of our faith when we stand looking at death or dealing with it. Scripture tells us to look at CHRIST! Our loved ones who have gone before are in heaven and it is gain for them. It is BETTER, but keep in mind it is not the BEST. Saints under the alter pray "how long oh Lord?" as we are taught to pray "come quickly" meshing together as scripture makes Christ's final coming the main and focal point and the focus of the church! He will come with a shout and the background music will be the praises of the archangels. The shout is read here as "THE COMMAND" You read "come forth!" And the dead in Christ shall rise first!
Our Hope: He will call them forth and their bodies will be raised. It does not matter where or how one has been buried. He will call and command them to sit at the wedding feast and we will be with the Lord forevermore in glory! That is our focus and the words we speak to one another. It becomes...no...it IS our comfort! The Lord is coming and the law has been fulfilled for us. Christ is the victor and we are co-heirs with Him of eternal glory. We have Christ and will live and dwell with His people forevermore.
Do you have this comfort and hope? May we comfort each other with these very words!!!