Dave spoke from 1 Thess 4:13-18 last night about the future hope of Christians, including the hope that we will see all those who have died in Christ again one day.

Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians was brief and cut short, and he wrote letters to them to continue his teachings and to correct errors in their thinking. One question which worried them was what happened to those who had already died when Christ returned to earth. Paul uses the metaphor of sleeping to assure them that death’s separation is not permanent. He shows that there are two kinds of grief. Natural grief occurs because of the pain of the separation of death (even Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, knowing the pain that his sisters were feeling at this time.) But we do not grieve without hope, for we have a confident expectation of what we do not as yet see. We are not like those who believe that with the death of the body comes the annihilation of the soul or that that is the end of all life. Nor do we believe in reincarnation or other forms of teachings that encourage a vague, impersonal hope. Instead, we have a personal hope, embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ and resting secure on His resurrection.

Because Jesus was raised from the dead, all those who trust in Him will also be raised from the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15). Philippians 3:20 reminds us that we have a heavenly citizenship and that our lowly bodies will one day be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Mortality will put on immortality.

Those who have already died before Christ returns will not be left behind. They will be raised to life again. We will be re-united with those we have loved and the pain of separation will be no more, just as a relationship is ‘on hold’ when a person sleeps but is resumed when they awake. We have the promise of fellowship with God forever.

Being with the Lord begins now, though. We must have that relationshp with Him in this life if we are to hope that it will continue beyond the grave. Jesus is God’s lifeline and we have to take hold of that lifeline now, for the alternative is to be against the Lord (Matt 12:30) and to without hope for ever.

We also had two birthdays to celebrate: