Thursday, May 12, 2022

2022.05.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle not want them to be (1 Thessalonians 4:13)? Concerning whom? Lest they do what? What do all Christians believe (1 Thessalonians 4:14a)? What will God therefore do (verse 14b)? By what is the apostolic team speaking (1 Thessalonians 4:15a)? Until when will some believers remain alive (verse 15b)? But what won’t these remaining believers do? Who will descend from where (1 Thessalonians 4:16)? Attended by what three phenomena? Then who will rise first? Then who shall be caught up together with whom (1 Thessalonians 4:17a)? Whom will this combined group meet (verse 17b)? When will this reunion be broken? What are believers to do with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)? 

There are many who think theology is uncomfortable, so they’d like to keep Christianity simple. But if we’re going to have true comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:18), then we can’t afford to be ignorant (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Theology is the mechanism by which God communicates to us the comfort of Christ. Other words, idle words, ignorant words won’t do. It has to be His words (1 Thessalonians 4:15a). “These words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Without His words, then we’d just be people who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), who don’t have the assurance of a risen (1 Thessalonians 4:14) and returning (1 Thessalonians 4:15) Savior.

God raised Christ from the dead, and Christ will physically return. Those whose bodies are sleeping in Jesus have souls that are very much awake and alive, and God Who raised Christ from the dead will bring their souls back with Him when He returns bodily (1 Thessalonians 4:14b).

Those whose bodies and souls are still together won’t go first (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Instead, the dead in Christ will rise first (end of 1 Thessalonians 4:16); their souls will be reunited with their bodies. That way, all who are in Christ can be caught up together (1 Thessalonians 4:17a) to meet the Lord in the air (verse 17b). There’s no scurrying back to heaven at this point. The Lord returns to judge, and His people will judge with Him. The point is not merely being reunited with one another. Being reunited with one another is just a safeguard so that when we are reunited with Him, we will all be reunited with Him together. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

That’s the great comfort. Those who have “fallen asleep” are already with the Lord. Their bodies are still united to Christ and rest in the grave until the resurrection. But their souls are present with Christ, and will return with Him for the resurrection. 

He Whom heaven lauds with shouts and archangel voices and divine trumpets (1 Thessalonians 4:15) has so joined us to Himself that death cannot separate our souls from Him, and resurrection will restore our bodies to His presence permanently. The more we know about who He is and what He has done, and the more accurately we know it, the more confidence and comfort we will get from it. Theology supports and strengthens our laying hold of Christ.

What is your attitude toward theology? How are you pursuing increased/improved theological knowledge? What use do you make of your theology for laying hold of Christ? How does this comfort and strengthen you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how merciful You are to want us not to be ignorant and to give us Your own Word! Forgive us for being content to be ignorant and even resisting the effort required to improve our doctrine and the discomfort of disagreeing with those whose theology is poor. Forgive the wickedness of our treating more knowledge of Christ as of little value. Grant that we would have hope and comfort from being sure about Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH492 “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds”

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