Four Facts About Those Who Die In Christ
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
"I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." Sorrow at the loss of a dear companion and friend is unavoidable. But believers do not despair in their sorrow. Our sorrow is sweetened with hope, both for our departed friends and for ourselves. And our hope is based upon four facts revealed in these verses.
1. THOSE WHO DIE IN CHRIST ARE NOT DEAD. They "are asleep" (v. 13). When the scriptures speak of believers as dying, or dead, it is only to accommodate our weak understanding of things. The bodies of God's saints sleep in the earth, in the arms of Christ, awaiting the resurrection. But their souls are awake and alive with Christ in heaven serving him day and night.
2. THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO HEAVEN WILL COME WITH CHRIST WHEN HE RETURNS TO THE EARTH (v. 14). When Christ comes the second time in his glory, he will come with tens of thousands of his saints. Those who are now with him in heaven will come back with him upon the clouds of heaven.
3. THE DEAD BODIES OF THOSE GLORIFIED SAINTS WILL BE THE FIRST TO RISE IN THE RESURRECTION (vv. 15-16). When the Lord appears in the air, the bodies of our departed brethren will arise from their graves and be again united to their souls in glorification. Then we, which are living, shall be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. He will destroy this present earth, create all things new, and we shall descend with him to his new creation. And all this shall be done in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye!
4. AND WE, WITH OUR FRIENDS WHO NOW SLEEP IN CHRIST, SHALL FOREVER BE WITH THE LORD (v. 17). There will be no more parting then! We shall be with Christ and with one another forever! "Wherefore comfort (exhort and instruct) one another with these words." Though all earthly relationships, precious as they are, must be dissolved, and though our bodies must return to the dust (This is the result of sin.), our union with Christ and our union with one another in Christ shall never be broken. This is the fruit of grace! Death for God's saints is not an enemy, but a friend which ushers us into the portals of glory to be forever with Christ!