1. Paul makes frequent mention of the second coming of Christ in this epistle to the Thessalonians
a. In every chapter there is some reference to this great event
2. Paul discusses the comfort of Christ's coming both the facts and the events
A. THE CHRISTIAN IS NOT IMMUNE TO SORROW
1. We experience the sorrow of separation - Acts 20:37-38
2. But we need not experience the sorrow of desperation
a. The despair of having no hope
b. The despair of not ever seeing a loved one again
A. GOD WILL BRING THEM WITH JESUS
1. Just as He raised Jesus from the dead, so He will bring those who sleep in Jesus!
a. In this text, he limits his discussion to the righteous dead
b. Elsewhere, we read of the of resurrection of the wicked - John 5:28-29
2. What do the terms fallen asleep and sleep in Jesus mean?
a. The scriptures often speak of death as a sleep
1) Bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep - Matthew 27:52
2) Jesus says of dead Lazarus, our friend sleeps - John 11:11-14
3) As Stephen is stoned to death, it is said he fell asleep - Acts 7:60
3. That God will bring them with Jesus implies they are with Jesus now!
a. As stated later in this epistle - 1 Thessalonians 5:10
B. THEY WILL PRECEDE THOSE WHO ARE ALIVE
1. It seems some in Thessalonica feared those who had died would miss out on the blessings of Christ's coming
2. Paul reassures them (and us) that such is not the case
b. Therefore, by no means will those alive precede those who are dead - 1 Thessalonians 4:15
c. This assurance we have by the word of the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 4:15
A. THE LORD WILL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN
1. Note what is said about His coming - 1 Thessalonians 4:16
a. It will be with a shout
b. It will be with the voice of an archangel
c. It will be with the trumpet of God
2. This is not describing some silent rapture!
B. THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST
1. Their souls will be coming with Jesus - 1 Thessalonians 4:14
3. This will happen first, so we who are alive will not precede those who are dead
C. THOSE LIVING WILL BE CAUGHT UP WITH THEM
1. Those alive will be transformed - 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
a. Their mortal bodies will put on immortality
b. Their corruptible bodies will put on incorruption
2. The righteous living will then join the righteous dead - 1 Thessalonians 4:17
3. Together in the clouds we will meet the Lord in the air - Acts 1:9-11
D. In this wonderful way we shall come to be with the Lord forever! As Jesus said, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:3). What a blessed hope!
A. TO BE COMFORTED
1. The wonderful promise in our text certainly provides comfort
2. Comfort that can sustain us in times of great loss
3. While we may sorrow when a fellow-Christian dies, it is not the sorrow of those who have no hope!
B. TO COMFORT ONE ANOTHER
1. Comforting others in their loss of a loved one is a common human trait - John 11:19
2. Certainly Christians are to weep with those who weep - Romans 12:15
3. But for those who are fellow Christians, we can do more - we can provide comfort!
a. Comfort them with the comfort we have in Christ - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
1. Paul will have more to say about the coming of Christ in the next chapter
a. In which he writes about the timing of Christ's coming
b. In which he writes about the preparation for Christ's coming
2. But in a passage that addresses
a. The problem of sorrow
b. The promise for those asleep
c. The procedure for Christ's coming
d. The purpose for these words
3. We are reminded that death need not be good bye, but only good night (relate the story of the father who on his death bed told all his children good night except the one unfaithful son to whom he said good bye)
When the time comes for our loved ones pass on, will we be able to find comfort in this passage? Will those who survive us be comforted by its promise when they grieve over our death?
-- Don Treadway, October 2009 --