“Brothers, 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. 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. 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 and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV).
Our faith needs to be informed and that information applied to our life situation. Sometimes we suffer needlessly because either we just don’t know facts we need to know or we have the facts but do not apply them to what we are going through. Such was the case with the Thessalonians. They were Christians, but when they experienced the death of a loved one, they grieved just like the rest of people of do not know God.
Paul did not want them to remain uninformed, so he reminded them of some basic Christian doctrine:
- Jesus died and rose again
- Jesus is coming back
- Jesus will gather Christians both dead and alive
- Jesus will meet his people in the air
- Jesus will be there with us forever
The teaching of Jesus Christ changes everything. Yes, He died, but now He is alive. He is coming back for all His people whether dead or alive. The trumpet will blow, graves will crack open, and Christians will rise to meet the Lord in the air where we will remain with Him forever. Those who die before you will not be forgotten by God. Sometime we get caught up in the speculative sensationalism of end-time theories and miss the most important point of the second coming – we will be with the Lord!
The teaching of Jesus Christ changes the way Christians view death, whether our own or that of a loved one. Sure, we may still grieve at the prospect of our own death but not without hope of what is to come. Yes, we may weep at the graveside of a loved one, but not without hope that our brother or sister will be with the Lord forever.
And so we need to encourage each other with these words. We cannot let our fellow Christians remain ignorant of the basic doctrine of Christ and fear death in the same way as those outside of Jesus. Encourage them. Tell them the teaching of Jesus Christ changes everything.