1THESSALONIANS 4:13-18 (NIV – UK)
Believers who have died
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
A FUTURE HOPE
Death is a fear that grips the whole of humanity – fear of no longer existing – of ceasing to be. Without Jesus, Paul points out, mankind has ‘no hope’ (v. 13).
But in Jesus there is a great hope! There will be a day when Jesus returns: ‘the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God’ (v. 16). On that day when Jesus appears he will bring with him all ‘those who have fallen asleep in him’ (v. 14) – i.e. all those who received Jesus’ salvation – whether it be those who died before the Cross of Jesus and trusted in Jesus as they looked forward to that – or whether it be those who have trusted in Jesus as they look back at his sacrifice made on the Cross.
All those who have fallen asleep in Jesus and all of Jesus’ followers who are still alive on that day ‘will be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever’ (v. 17).
It’s a wonderful hope – a future of eternal life with Jesus. This is the only hope that offers relief to fear of death – this is the only hope that sets us free – a hope that we should encourage one another with on a regular basis (v. 18).
Question: Have you ever worried about death? How can you make sure you hold firm to the hope of a future life with Jesus?