Dave spoke this morning from 1 Thess 4:13-18, a passage written by Paul to encourage the Thessalonians when facing the grief death brings. We may have many questions about heaven, such as will we know our loved ones there and is it unspiritual to want to? Paul does not tell them not to feel grief, for death brings a separation on earth that is painful for us, but he distinguishes between two types of grief. Even Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus; when we are parted from our loved ones, there are tears and pain. However, we do not grieve as those without hope, for we have a hope that goes beyond the grave.
The hope of eternal life is foreshadowed in the Old Testament (see Is 25:6-9) and this is not simply a psychological trick to help us continue after the death of a lovely ones. Paul tells us that the resurrection of Christ is rooted in fact and this guarantees to us the future resurrection of others. Christ is the first fruit, and therefore the hope of our resurrection is based on His. We do not know when Christ will return and so it is important to be ready for this; not all will die as 1 Cor 15:51-53 also affirms. We are eagerly looking forward to this day because we shall then know the transformation of our mortal bodies (Phil 3:21-22) and so we can encourage one another, even when facing death, because we know there is more to come, there will ultimately be no separation then and we will be with the Lord forever. Without Christ, we are lost forever, but with Him, we have a glorious future!