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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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Sermon: Comfort in Grief
Bible Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

I. Introductory Discussion

The “gap”/ “deficiency” (cf. 3:10) that Paul addresses in this passage is:“Grief” or “trauma of death”

II. Verses 13

1. The expression “we do not want you to be ignorant (4:13) introduces either a fresh information or an elaboration of an already known information
2. The subject of this passage is about “believers who are now asleep” (verse 13)
3. Paul’s goal of dealing with this subject is that the believers will have “the right kind of grief” over the death of their loved ones (verse 13)

a. Paul is not teaching that Christians must not grieve
b. But he insists that Christians must not grieve “like those who do not have hope”—

i. Examples of some hopelessness (from epitaphs)
ii. “If you want to know who I am, the answer is ash and burnt embers”
iii. “We are nothing. See, reader, how quickly we mortals return from nothing to nothing”
iv. “I didn’t exist, I existed, I don’t exist, I don’t care”

c. The way Christians handle their grief must differentiate them from their non-Christian neighbors

i. Grief needs to be missional—very important
ii. Through a hopeful grief, Christians can bear witness to the Gospel to the non-Christian world

d. Christian “hope” originates from Jesus’ resurrection

III. Verse 14

1. Paul reminds Thessalonian believers the content of Christian hope (verse 14)

a. Verse 14 was an early Christian creed, an important article of faith

i. Jesus’ resurrection is integral part of the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-4)
ii. “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures”
iii. “was buried”
iv. “was raised from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

b. Check the word “bring” instead of “raise”—it has the connotation of reunion of the dead and living
c. It is this reunion that brings hope to the believers that those who are dead in Christ will be united with those who are alive in Christ

IV. Verses 15-17

1. With regard to the dead in Christ, Paul gives instructions to Thessalonian believers from God (verses 15-17)

a. The Lord Jesus will come with loud singing and trumpet sound (Parousia) (cf. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13, 5:2)
b. The dead in Christ will rise to meet Jesus prior to those who are alive in Christ—
c. Those who are dead in Christ and alive in Christ will be caught up together during the meeting of the Lord
d. They will be with the Lord forever
e. So, “the dead in Christ” continue to exist in the life-giving sphere of the resurrected Jesus
f. This union will last forever
g. The loss is a temporal reality
h. The grief does not need to be a grief without hope

V. Verse 18

Because the Lord will unite the dead with the living at His coming, the believers need to encourage one another with this message (verse 18)

VI. Lessons

1. Believers must not grieve with hopelessness or despair
2. Grieving is natural even for Christians when the death of a loved one occurs (e.g., John 11:35; Phil 2:27), but it must be mingled with hope within the Christian community
3. One’s belief in the resurrection of Jesus should affect their responses to their life-situations
4. While you celebrate good memories of the now deceased loved ones, live with the hope of seeing them
5. Leverage your griefs for missional advantages
6. A good number of our responses to life-situations is the result of our ignorance

Take Away:

Replace your grief with the Christian hope

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at wjsubash@crossroadbangalore.org