Our Tremendous Hope 1 Thess 4:13-17 EBC 3/21/06
Hope (confident expectation) is a powerful thing. The hope of better soothes the soul. G. K. Chesterton said, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.”
Someone said “hope is to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely”. Biblical hope is entirely different. The words used for hope in the Bible, on the other hand, tell an entirely different story. They teach us that biblical hope is “A deep settled confidence that God will keep His promises!” Biblical hope is a “joyful, confident expectation”.
We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. It may bring sorrow, it may bring happiness and joy but it also may bring Jesus. Titus 2:3.
The hope of the believers is wrapped up in the second coming of Christ. In 1 Thessalonians, written not more than 20 years after the death and resurrection of Christ, his coming again is presented by way of comfort and encouragement to those whose Christian friends had died. Paul had been compelled to leave Thessalonica before he had time to give his converts there as much teaching as they required, and when some of their number died shortly after his departure, their friends wondered if they would suffer some serious disadvantage at the Second Coming, in contrast to those who would still be alive to greet the returning Lord. No, says Paul, “those who have fallen asleep” will suffer no disadvantage.
I.The hope of the Resurrection(13-16)
The Rapture of the church generates much discussion. The young church at Thess. had many questions concerning this event. Paul’s answer to them was not doctrinal but Pastor. He didn’t explain it in a great detail but set out to encourage the young church. Since they were suffering persecution, they felt as if they had missed the rapture.
A. The condition of the departed (13)
1. Sleep refers to the body and never to the soul. Soul sleep is completely foreign to scripture. Sleep means to lie down or to lie outstretched. The soul can’t do this.
a. 2 Cor. 5:8-
b. Phil. 1:23-
1. John MacArthur- Those statements teach that believers go consciously into the Lord’s presence at death, for how could unconsciousness be “very much better” than conscious communion with Jesus Christ in this life.
c. Luke 23:43- Jesus promised the repentant thief.
1. After death the redeemed go consciously into the presence of the Lord, while the unsaved go into conscious punishment.
B. The location of the departed(14)-
1. If Jesus promises to bring the departed with him when he comes then they must be with him now.
2. We don’t have to worry about the saved departed they are with him now and they will be brought back with him. The marvelous truth is that Christ will bring with him all the saints that have died in the Lord.
II. The hope of the Rapture (16-17)
A. We can understand two things about our resurrected bodies
1. The same body that dies gets raised. The only difference is the body gets changed to be a suitable body for Heaven.
a. 1 Cor. 15:42-44- the way it’s put in the ground (this book written 5 years after Thess.)
1. One of the most obvious characteristics of human life is it is perishable. Every human body is sown with a perishable body- that is subject to ageing and deterioration.
2. Our new bodies will be raised imperishable- that is they will know no decay, sickness, deterioration or death.
3. Our body was also sown in dishonor. John MacArthur- At the fall man’s potential for pleasing and serving God was radically reduced. Not only his mind and spirit but also his body became of immeasurably less value in doing what God had designed it to do. Thru sin our bodies became dishonorable. But, that same body will be raised in glory (honor).
4. It is also sown in weakness that is - it has little resistance to disease and harm and endurance but is will be raised in power. That is anything that the spirit tells it to do it will be able to do it.
5. It is also sown a natural body. The body we now have can only live in this physical world. Our new bodies will be spiritual bodies suited perfectly for Heaven. John MacArthur- In the resurrection everything about us will be perfected for all eternity. We will not be the same as angels, but will be “like” them in that we too will be perfectly equipped and suited for heavenly, spiritual, supernatural, living.
a. 1 Cor. 15:50-53- the change before Heaven
2. We will forever be with the Lord. We will never again loose fellowship with the Lord.
B. We need to know some other things about the rapture
1. It will be sudden-
a. Caught up- to seize upon, to snatch away
b. One moment we will be on earth doing our own thing and the next minute we are gone.
2. It will be selective-
a. We- Jesus isn’t coming from everyone only those who have been changed by the grace of God.
b. Many will expect to go but they won’t make the trip.
1. Matt. 7:21-22-
2. Those with God’s nature will go, those with Adams nature will stay
3. Dwight Pentecost- “Things to come”- There is a distinction between the true church and the professing church. The true church is composed of all those in this age who have received Christ as their Savior. The rapture will only remove the true church, only those who have been truly born again and have received His life.
3. It will be serious- everyone else will be left behind to face the horrors of the Tribulation period. A time never known before to man- a time of complete chaos
4. It will be splendid (17)
a. We will see again our Loved ones - There are multitudes that have gone on to Heaven. We miss seeing them and talking to them. The day is coming when we will all be together never to have to sat goodbye again.
b. We will see our Lord – it will be thrilling to see our loved one equally thrilling it will be to see the one who loved us enough to give his life for us. The one who died for me on the cross.