Sermon: Concerning The Dead In Christ 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Concerning The Dead In Christ

1 Thess. 4:13-18

Truth Taught- All Christians, including those who have already died, will meet Jesus at His Second Coming with great joy and excitement.

 

Introduction

Throughout the centuries there has just about always been a person making a prediction and setting a date for the return of Christ. In our modern day there continues to be those that set dates. The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson has made his predictions…

In 1976 he predicted the Jesus would return in 1982. In his 1990 book The New Millennium, Robertson suggests the date as the day of Earth’s destruction would be 2007.

Another end-times prognosticator is Harold Camping. Camping predicted the rapture would occur on 6 September 1994. When it failed to occur he revised the date to the 29th of September and then to the 2nd October. Camping’s fourth predicted date for the end Mar. 31, 1995. This would be Camping’s last prediction until 2011. Camping predicted that the Rapture and devastating earthquakes would occur on 21 May 2011, with God taking approximately 3% of the world’s population into Heaven, and that the end of the world would occur five months later on October 21. When his original prediction failed to come about, Camping revised his prediction and said that on May 21, a “Spiritual Judgment” took place, and that both the physical Rapture and the end of the world would occur on 21 October 2011. Well, he was wrong again and so has everyone else whose made these date setting predictions.
My end-times prediction is that end-times predictions will continue as long as they sell books.

What I want to remind us all of is that just because there have been and will be stupid people calling themselves Christians making predictions that don’t come true, we should never think that Jesus’ words about His return won’t come true.

Matthew 24:36–39 (ESV)

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

With this passage in mind, I think the words of John Calvin are very appropriate for us to keep in mind. He warns Christians to avoid excessive curiosity in the things the Lord has hidden.

So many times when people become enamored with a certain segment of theology, especially with the end-times they become consumed with discovering things that they are not able nor meant to discover because they are hidden things. They do this at the expense of the things that are clearly revealed. For someone to spend their life studying whether or not Jesus’ return will be pre, post, or amillennial and forget that they are to be growing in Christlikeness will mean that they may in fact have proven that their salvation is not even genuine.

What I’d like us to do today is to avoid excessiveness and to avoid unhealthy curiosity in the area of end-times and learn the powerful truth Paul has for us regarding the coming of our Lord.

What we have before us today is not an exhaustive teaching on end-times but a specific teaching. What the Apostle does is confronts an issue that the Thessalonians were struggling with. He uses the doctrine of Christ’s return as a means of comfort for those new Christians.

What was the issue? The issue was that the new Christians had been told that their deceased loved ones who were also Christians were for some reason not included in the end-times resurrection of the dead. No one knows for sure exactly the details of our Lord’s return. We do know He is returning. We know His return will be physical. We know His return will be sudden and unexpected. Much else beyond these things revealed in Scripture tends toward unhealthy speculation.

To sum up what Paul addresses in this passage, he answers the question: what happens to the dead in Christ?

Probably between Paul leaving Thessalonica and Timothy arriving some Christians had died. They were given inadequate explanations and Paul wants to bring them truth and that truth will be a comfort to them as they grieve.

So, if you have a loved one who has died and if that loved one was a believer, here are some encouraging words from Paul for us today.

Prayer

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV)

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

  1. We Do Not Want You to Be Uninformed

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

He gives his pastoral concern that he doesn’t want these new believers to be ignorant about those who have died who were Christians. He calls those who died who were in Christ, those who have fallen asleep. For a Christian who has died, sleep is a very good image because at the second coming of Christ they will be awakened. Specifically, we must realize he is referring to the body metaphorically sleeping not the soul.

This verse does not teach soul sleep, as many cultists might want us to believe. Soul sleep is the teaching that when a person dies that his soul “sleeps” until the time of the future resurrection. In this condition, the person is not aware or conscious. This is not taught here or any other place in the Bible.

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Sermon: Living to Please God- 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Living to Please God

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Truth Taught- God’s will for all Christians is that we become more and more like Jesus Christ in our lives

sermon: Praying That God Would Exercise His Sovereignty 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Praying That God Would Exercise His Sovereignty

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Truth Taught- Paul prays that God would grant His people what He has promised.

 Introduction

Paul closes the first half of this epistle with a benediction. A benediction is a prayer of praise and blessing to God for what He has done and what He will do in the future. These public blessings were often used in worship to encourage God’s people to continue in the faith because God cares for them and will continue to care for them in the future. Here, in our passage for today, God’s spokesman issues a divine benediction to the Church. This prayer of praise is for all who believe, including us.

The benediction concept comes from the Book of Numbers where God commanded Moses to speak to Aaron and his sons so they would bless the people and put God’s name upon them.

Numbers 6:22–27 (ESV)

22 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

24    The Lord bless you and keep you;

25    the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

26    the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

27 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

There have been some interesting studies done on this form of prayer and in the early church it appears to have been a rather common practice to close a public sermon with a prayer in this form.  Very often at the conclusion of sermons in the early church, the preacher might say, May God grant you such and such and such and such and such and such.[1]

This is what the Apostle does here as he closes this section of the letter.

He does this because he is completely convinced their faith is genuine, especially after hearing Timothy’s report of their faith, hope and love increasing. So, now his prayer is no longer an anxious prayer that their salvation be genuine but a worshipful benediction type prayer thanking God and asking God to bless them and cause them to keep growing in their faith and love.

Prayer

1 Thessalonians 3:11–13 (ESV)

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

  1. May God Direct Our Way

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,

In verse 11, I want us to see Paul’s strong view of God’s sovereignty. He is attributing sovereignty to the Triune God. If he is going to ever be able to go back to the Thessalonians, it has to be God who paves the way. He strongly desires to go but he realizes that his life and path are in the hands of God. He is very comforted and happy with that truth.

Are you pleased that God is sovereign over your life? Are you at peace with the truth that God is in charge and you are not?

To believe in a god who is not sovereign over all this is to be an idolater. I want to take you back to the Land of Israel in the Book of Isaiah. I want to read to you God’s own assessment of Israel’s idol worship and then God’s self assessment.

Isaiah 46:1–11 (ESV)

46 Bel bows down; Nebo stoops;

their idols are on beasts and livestock;

       these things you carry are borne

as burdens on weary beasts.

   They stoop; they bow down together;

they cannot save the burden,

but themselves go into captivity.

   “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,

all the remnant of the house of Israel,

       who have been borne by me from before your birth,

carried from the womb;

   even to your old age I am he,

and to gray hairs I will carry you.

       I have made, and I will bear;

I will carry and will save.

   “To whom will you liken me and make me equal,

and compare me, that we may be alike?

   Those who lavish gold from the purse,

and weigh out silver in the scales,

       hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;

then they fall down and worship!

   They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it,

they set it in its place, and it stands there;

it cannot move from its place.

       If one cries to it, it does not answer

or save him from his trouble.

   “Remember this and stand firm,

recall it to mind, you transgressors,

       remember the former things of old;

       for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me,

10    declaring the end from the beginning

and from ancient times things not yet done,

       saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

11    calling a bird of prey from the east,

the man of my counsel from a far country.

       I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;

I have purposed, and I will do it.

Our challenge today is with all the voices around us saying things about God that are not true, that we gain our knowledge of God from the Bible. When the Bible tells us things about God that go against our current thoughts and beliefs we must adjust to align with the Bible. Here is one of those areas. God commands all events in the universe and when something happens it is because God is at work and even things we don’t care for, God is over them. He alone is good and His counsel stands. What is even more amazing is that God controls all things and He announces them before they come to pass.

       remember the former things of old;

       for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me,

10    declaring the end from the beginning

and from ancient times things not yet done,

       saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

We also see that fact that Paul’s praying is to the Trinity. He has a high view of the deity of Jesus Christ, doesn’t he?

What we should notice is how incidental this is. He’s not making a big deal of this fact. He’s not presenting a theological treatise on the deity of Jesus Christ. He is simply stating the fact as if everyone should already be acknowledging this. In his mind, this doctrine of the deity of Christ is assumed to be true.

I love what B. B. Warfield said concerning the doctrine of the Trinity,

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Book: Gleanings in Genesis

Book: Gleanings in Genesis
By A.W. Pink
Lesson 1:

Sermon: The Good News: True Faith Endures 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

The Good News: True Faith Endures

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

Truth Taught- Paul is greatly encouraged as he hears Timothy’s report that the Thessalonians’ faith is enduring through persecution.

 

Introduction

The entire purpose of I Thessalonians is to encourage the new Christians to persevere in the faith in light persecution coming at them from all directions. It mostly came from the Jews who were out to destroy what God had begun in the city. It also came from the pagans who were no longer part of the group any more.

The Apostle Paul had no way to tell how these new Christians were getting along because he was banned from returning to the city. Because he could not go, he sent Timothy back to spend some time with them, to encourage them and then to bring Paul back the news whether they were doing well or not. Was their faith genuine; was it a persevering faith or a false faith that would fail at the first sign of trouble?

When Timothy returned to Paul, he brought the best news. Their faith was still intact and it was spreading to others. When Paul heard this good news it brought great encouragement to him.

What was it that Timothy told him specifically that encouraged Paul?

1 Thessalonians 1:2–3 (ESV)

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In our passage today he speaks very passionately about their faith and love. Then woven throughout the epistle is their hope in Christ’s return. So today, we see that their faith was genuine because it was a persevering faith and it was a faith that produced Christian love for each other and it was a faith that looked to the return of Jesus Christ.

Prayer

1 Thessalonians 3:6–10 (ESV)

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

  1. Good News (3:6)

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—

There were two main parts of Timothy’s report: first, that their faith was still intact. They were persevering through affliction; second, that their love for Paul was as strong as ever. They did not believe the propaganda and false reports about Paul.

Then there are two parts to this verse 6. The first is the encouragement Timothy’s report brought to Paul. It was good news to Paul. His heart was encouraged as he heard Timothy’s report. Then there is another side of the coin, so to speak. The language here translated, as good news is the same word that every other place in Paul’s epistles is translated Gospel or good news in the sense of evangelism.

The verb is euangelizo (has reported good news). In every other case when used by Paul it is translated Preached the Gospel

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Sermon: Genuine Faith Cares for Other Believers 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:5

Genuine Faith Cares for Other Believers

1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:5

Truth Taught- Faith is shown to be genuine when we love and care for other believers.

1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:5 (ESV)

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

  1. Paul’s Love for His Spiritual Children (2:17-18)

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us

The Apostle expresses his utter heartbreak over being separated from his spiritual offspring. We remember the event and how the Jews were seeking to kill him and how his friends in Thessalonica helped Paul escape. He understood, as did the new believers that he may not be able to return. He loved them and longed to see them and be with them. He wanted to disciple and help them grow in their faith.

We can get a feel for how Paul viewed these new converts by reading this epistle. Already we’ve seen sections that speak of Paul’s love and gentleness among them like that of a nursing mother…

1 Thessalonians 2:7 (ESV)

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

We also read about his affection for them as a loving father…

1 Thessalonians 2:11–12 (ESV)

11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

Now as we read verse 17 of our text and as we look to the original language we realize that his longing to see them is like a parent who has been taken away from his young children. The original rendering of verse 17 goes like this: because we were orphaned. Our Bibles have it as being torn away highlighting the violent ripping apart, which is correct, but they leave out the relational part that has caused Paul’s heartbreak. Paul had lost his young children and his heart yearns for them. There is so much emotion on the Apostle’s part that the words are somewhat awkward. Like a parent separated from his young children, he really isn’t too concerned with grammar or with what he sounds like. I’m reminded of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  

Luke 15:20 (ESV)

20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

This father was very wealthy, a dignitary who had many servants and much property. When he saw his lost son he didn’t act dignified. He ran to embrace his son. Wealthy men in the ancient world did not run. It was an awkward sight to see a man holding his robe between his legs in order to run. He didn’t care, did he? His whole world was focused on his lost son who had just returned.

This is much like the emotions Paul felt for his children in the faith. When Paul traveled on his missionary journeys his converts were his spiritual children. Every time someone was converted under Paul’s ministry and he had to leave them part of himself, as it were, was with them. He cared and loved them and viewed them as his spiritual children.

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