Back to School Week 4: Class Dismissed
Back to school. It’s that time of year when we all do whatever we can to prepare. We hit the sales, stock up on all the supplies and make sure we are equipped for the next challenge life is about to throw at us. But are we sure we have everything we need? Maybe our backpacks are still missing something.
Well, good morning to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app, and good morning to everyone here. Before I get started in my message, I’ve got a couple of real quick things that I want to say. First of all, can we all give my wife a huge shout out for the job she did last weekend? Come on. She did a great job, didn’t she? It was fantastic. Really a good job. And then, I also want to stop for a minute here and really give the one who should get all of the thanks, which is the Lord, a big round of applause. We broke our all-time attendance record this last weekend. We had 1,490 people here. Can we give the Lord a big hand clap?
Well, most of you all know that we’re in a series called “Back to School.” What I do at the beginning of every sermon in a series is to sort of just do a little bit of a summary because I know in every time we gather there’s usually a new face, a new visitor, or someone who’s maybe missed a week or two. I just think it’s good to bring us all back together as to what we’re doing.
What we’re doing is we’re trying to contextualize things in our series. I mean, I’m passionate about the fact that when you come to Grace, I want to make sure that you leave with something that you can walk out of here differently than when you came in. I want to equip you, as the pastor of the church, to be able to live the abundant life that God has for you. So, when we started this Back to School idea — and it was something we had talked about months before then — we thought, “You know, everybody’s going to be going back to school. How cool would it be to make a list of all the things that we could talk about, have some fun with them, and then move into a good biblical teaching on something?”
So, that’s what we’ve been doing. We talked about tests, we talked about extra credit and did a parent-teacher conference. So, this weekend, what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about “Class Dismissed.” I don’t know if you were like me, but man, I loved it when the bell rang at the end of class every day because I was ready to get out of class. I don’t think anybody enjoyed the bell ringing any more than Chip Bennett. Now, as I got into college, graduate work, PhD and doctoral work, I ended up enjoying school. But man, when I was in high school, that bell couldn’t come fast enough. And the best part was when the bell rang for the summer because then you had all summer off. It was fantastic. But I think all of us, at some level, whether you loved school the entire time, you got straight A’s and you were the that never missed and all of that stuff — and God bless you if you were. In fact, you are the star, not the guys like me that were looking for the bell to ring. But the reality is I think all of us, at some level, can sort of relate to the fact that when that bell rang, it was like, “Yes!”
There was just something inside that this is over and now we’re going to go have some fun or go do something at home or whatever it was that we were going to do. So, I think that sort of naturally segues into what I want to talk about this weekend: When the final proverbial class bell rings. When the Lord returns. I want to talk about that because I think it’s important. One of the things I think you’ll find here at Grace is that there’s nothing in Scripture that we’re unwilling to talk about. If it’s in the Bible, we want to deal with it. So, I know whenever I talk about the return of the Lord, that just becomes an issue. It just really does become an issue because so many people have ideas about the way the Lord’s going to return. I mean, maybe you got a chart at home that you open up every night and look at. You know what this it, that is and the book of Revelation and all this. God bless you if that’s you. I mean, I’m not trying to make fun of you in any way, shape or form, but some people are really into it. Some people are like, “Man, I don’t want to have anything to do with that.”
But all of us, at some level, know that when you talk about the return of the Lord, it’s one of those things that gets everybody going. It’s interesting how that is because, in our Christian faith, we sort of have what I call the close-fisted things, the things that Christianity is not Christianity without these. Now, there’s a lot of people that make things on the peripheral things that we argue about that are not what I would call salvific, but there are some close-handed things. I mean, you’ve got to believe God exists. I mean, if you don’t believe that there’s a God, why would you even follow Jesus? Why would you even want to be a Christian? Why would you even have anything to do with it?
We believe that there’s a God. We believe that God came in human form in Jesus. We believe that Jesus was God. I think that if you try to take Jesus not being God, then you sort of lose Christianity. You have the death on the cross, you have the resurrection on the third day, and you have the fact that Jesus is going to come back one day. Those are sort of what we call in the Latin phrase a sine qua non. It’s the “not without which.” If you think of a chocolate sundae, you cannot have a chocolate sundae without chocolate. I mean, you can’t. The sine qua non of a chocolate sundae, the not without which, is chocolate. I know some of you all, I’ve already lost you for the message here because all you’re thinking about is chocolate right now, but come back in here, join me back in here and let’s talk about this.
The sine qua non of Christianity are these things here that we believe. What’s interesting is we don’t usually argue about most of that stuff, like Jesus being God. I’ve never gotten in a room and — now, people who are not Christians or people that are thinking about becoming a Christian, but I’ve never had a bunch of Christians that love God, that pray on a regular basis, read their Bible, sit around and go, “You know, I’m not really sure Jesus is God.”
Nobody argues about that. Or like, “I don’t really think Jesus died on the cross. We don’t have those arguments. Or, “He didn’t rise from the dead on the third day.” Somebody who’s not a Christian may make that argument, but as Christians we don’t argue about that. But we do get heated when it is the return of the Lord. We just do. We have these ideas. I don’t know what your ideas are. Maybe your idea when you think of the Lord returning, you think of something like this: Trumpets, rainbows and all of this. You just have this smile on your face and that’s what you see when I say, “The return of the Lord.”
Some of you all may have grown up in traditions like me where you thought that the Lord was going to come back and was going to pull everybody up. In your mind, you see everybody sort of whisking away off into heaven, and there they go. And if you really got into this idea and you know about the rapture and all of that, you may have even invested in what we call a rapture hatch, where you don’t want those pesky roofs and ceilings keep you from the loving arms of the Lord. Some of you all probably have that on your house.
So, when you think about that, a lot of times the second coming and Jesus returning becomes this fearful thing. You know? We don’t want it to be fearful here at Grace. In fact, the passage we’re going to look at, we’re going to realize that that’s the last thing that Paul wanted anybody to think about the Lord coming back. So, this is my ask. I’m asking you this weekend, I’m asking everybody, wherever you’re at on this thing — “Hey, I’ve got all these books, charts and everything,” or you’re like, “I don’t want to talk about it ever, because it’s just controversial.” What I’m going to ask everybody to do is just put those walls and defenses down. Put those systems down. Put all the things that maybe you think for a minute, and let’s just look at the text. Let’s just open up a text and let’s work through a passage of Scripture. Let’s see what it says. Let’s see if maybe it might teach us some things that maybe we haven’t seen because we haven’t been willing to look at it without the lenses of our system. When I think about that and when I think about reading something and letting the Bible really speak for itself, I’ve found in my life, when I really understand what Scripture says, it’s so much better than when I’m misinterpreting Scripture.
In fact, it reminds me of an old Peanuts cartoon where Linus and Lucy are talking because it’s really raining hard, and I think this makes my point about making sure that we just look at Scripture well. What happens is Lucy says, “Boy, look at it rain. What if it floods the whole world?”
Well, Linus says, “It will never do that. In Genesis 9, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”
She says, “Well, you’ve taken a great load off my mind.”
He says, “Well, sound theology has a way of doing that.”
Right? So, what we want to do is we just want to look at what does Scripture say and how does it speak to us? We might find that this passage that we may be very familiar with, it might actually be dealing with something that we’re not even aware that it’s dealing with. It might force us to look at some things a little bit differently. But I guarantee you that when we’re done, you not only are going to be challenged, but you are going to be encouraged.
Well, the passage that we’re going to look at happens to fall in 1 Thessalonians 4. It’s a pericope, we call it. It’s a passage that sort of falls together. All of the verses from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 really flow together well. Paul is addressing an issue in the church there at Thessalonica. There’s an issue that he’s dealing with. We’re going to look at this issue because he’s not really dealing with what we may think the passage is speaking of. He’s actually dealing with something completely different. I think once we get the gist of what’s going on, then we’re going to be able to see the passage in all of its beauty. So, let’s get to work here and let’s sort of understand what’s going on here in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
We don’t have all the data points because we don’t know everything that was said by Paul to the church there at Thessalonica, but what we do know is is that there was a problem. They were concerned about an issue. So, Paul deals with it. Let’s look here. Let’s start in 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,”
We don’t know what the bother was. We don’t know. Did somebody come in and teach them something that was wrong and they taught him that the resurrection had already happened, and then these people that died weren’t going to really be with Jesus? We don’t know. We don’t know what he’s dealing with. We know the problem he’s dealing with, we just don’t know what caused this problem.
He says, “I do not want you to be uninformed, ignorant, without knowledge, about people who have died.” Now, in the New Testament, a lot of times they used the word “sleep” because, technically speaking, Christians believe in resurrection. It’s sort of like when you go to sleep at night and then you wake up. It doesn’t mean that they’re not dead, because he’s going to call them the “dead in Christ” in this passage. They’re dead, but he uses the term because, as Christians, we don’t believe that when you die that’s the end of it. But he says, “Here’s the deal: I don’t want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep.” The context of this passage, the overarching concern in the words that follow are that Paul is trying to help educate a local church about a concern that they have of some of their Christian brothers and sisters that have passed away.
They’re concerned that their passing away might keep them in some way from experiencing the fullness of what God would have when Jesus returns. They’re concerned about people that have died. So, he says, “I don’t want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep.”
“That you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
He says, “Listen, I know people have died and I know you’re concerned about that, but I want to teach you something that will really make a difference in your life when you’re dealing with someone who’s passed away. I want to give you some hope here. I don’t want you to be uninformed because you might be uninformed. If you don’t know what I’m going to tell you, you might see things differently than what they are. I don’t want you to grieve. You’re going to grieve. There’s nothing wrong with grieving. There’s nothing wrong with missing someone. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. But he says, “I don’t want you to grieve as others do who don’t have hope.”
What’s this hope? What’s this hope that Paul’s talking about? He said, “Having this hope will help you to grieve differently from people who don’t have this hope. So, I don’t want you to be uninformed. I don’t want you to be ignorant. I want to make sure that you understand about people that have fallen asleep, people that have died. The reason is so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
Listen to what he says here: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,”
“Listen, I know you’re suffering. I know you don’t know what to do with the people that have died around you. I know you have questions. So, I want to address this as a pastor. I want to speak to you as a church, pastorally. I don’t want you to be uninformed. Because if you don’t have all the knowledge that you need, you may grieve like people who don’t have the hope that we have. Because, see, we believe, as Christians, that Jesus died and rose again.”
Huge part of Christianity. This is probably the most important thing to get right with Christianity: That Jesus died and He rose again.
Look what he says here: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so,”
So important here. We know that Jesus died and He rose again.
“Even so, through Jesus,” — listen here — “God will bring with him [Jesus] those who have fallen asleep.”
He says, “Listen, I know there’s people that have died, and I know you’re concerned about it. I know this is an issue to you. So, I don’t want you to be uninformed. We believe, don’t we, that Jesus died and rose again? We believe that. Because of that, that’s a hope that we have that’s different from the world that grieves when somebody dies because they’re never going to see them again. We have a different way in which we grieve because we believe in resurrection.
“Even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him [Jesus] those who have fallen asleep.”
In other words, those that have died, their bodies are here, but they have gone to be with the Lord, spiritually. When Jesus comes back, He’s going to bring them with Him. They’re coming with Him. Something’s going to happen when Jesus comes back. And he’s writing this not to tell us about the end times, or not to give us some secret little recipe of how things — he’s dealing with a pastoral issue, trying to encourage his church about people that have fallen asleep; people that have died. He says, “I don’t want you to be uninformed. I want you to know. I want you to understand what’s going on because we believe Jesus died and rose again.”
“Even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,”
So, whatever he’s getting ready to say, he’s never said before to the Thessalonians. He’s getting ready to say something to them because he doesn’t want them ignorant, he doesn’t want them to sort of not understand what’s going on, so this is really important. In other words, he’s getting ready to share one of those secret things from God; one of the things that they wouldn’t have known. This is something he got from God.
He says, “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive,”
And he’s not saying that he thinks he’s going to be alive. He’s not saying he thinks he’s going to be dead. He’s just merely talking about the fact that when Jesus comes back, we who are alive...
“Who are left until the coming of the Lord,” — and the word he uses here in the original language is the same coming of an emperor, a Caesar when they would come to a town. It’s the same word that’s used for them. He says, “Those who are left when he comes back...”
Listen: “Will not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
“Now, you’re concerned about the dead, so listen, this is important.” He says to the church that they’re not going to get gypped in this whole process. “We’re not going to precede them. They’re going to be okay. I know you’re concerned, so I don’t want you to be uninformed because somebody’s told you that if they’ve died, they’re somehow gypped. When you’re there and the Lord comes back, it’s going to be better for you then that they’ve died, or maybe they won’t go, or whatever they may have told you. But hold on because I don’t want you to be uninformed because we believe that Jesus died and rose again. We believe that Jesus is going to bring them back. But stop here for a second because I need to tell you something from a word of the Lord. I need to give you a little revelation here. We who are alive, who are left when Jesus comes back, are not going to precede those who have fallen asleep.”
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven...”
And we may say, “What does that mean?” We’re going to have to do some work here. Does it mean that He’s descending? Does it mean that He’s coming from another place and coming to us, like He’s stooping to our level? What does that mean? Well, we’re going to have to look through all of this, but let’s read it first and then we’ll go through it.
He says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command,”
Now, that cry of command is a battle cry. It is a cry that everybody would hear. It’s a cry that’s like a clarion call. Of course, this battle cry would be that the battle’s over, but it’s a cry of command.
He says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel,”
Now, that’s interesting because we don’t have any voices of archangels in Scripture very much. It just doesn’t really talk about it, but we do know in the First Century there was a form of literature called “apocalyptic literature” where they talked about the archangel’s voice as always sort of talking about things. When the sons of darkness and the sons of light would come against each other, there would be a big, public cry. The voice of the archangel. So, we have a cry of command, a big battle cry — that’s a public cry. We have the voice of an archangel. It was a loud, loud voice.
“And with the sound of the trumpet of God.”
When the Sabbath would come in, they’d blow the trumpets and everybody would hear it. Now, some people wouldn’t come, but everybody heard these things. I mean, these are really loud shouts, voices and trumpets.
He says, “And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
This is not that they will rise up in the air. This is resurrection. He says, “Listen, you don’t know what’s going on with the dead people. I’m going to tell you. They’re not going to get gypped. You’re not going to be first. When Jesus comes back with those that have fallen asleep, their spiritual selves, when He comes back, those that have died in Christ...” — He just called it being asleep, but they’re dead in Christ — “...what’s going to happen is they will rise first.”
In other words, their resurrection will be first. They will resurrect to whatever new body they’re going to have. You don’t have to worry that they’re going to get gypped or somehow going to lose out, but the fact of the matter is when Jesus comes back in His coming, because you’re worried about them — and this is the whole passage dealing with people that have died. He’s not really trying to give us how the Lord’s going to come back or the cadence of something or anything like that. He’s dealing with a pastoral issue about people that have died. He says, “Here’s the deal: They’re not going to get gypped because they’re going to be reunited with their spiritual selves with their body to the Lord. They’re going to rise first. They’re first.”
“Then we who are alive, who are left,”
In other words, when the Lord comes back, if you haven’t died and you’re on the earth, resurrection will happen for the dead.
“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together...”
This is one of those phrases where a lot of people feel like this is “caught up” like you’re snatched out. It could also be that you are caught up in the jubilation and caught up in the moment. We’ll have to look at these words and figure out what’s going on.
He says, “Will be caught up together with them in the clouds...”
And we’ve got to figure out what that is. Is that “clouds” clouds? Is Jesus coming on a cloud? Is He not coming on a cloud? Is it like Isaiah 19:1 where the Lord rides a cloud over to Egypt, which is really not riding a cloud? That’s just sort of a way of saying something. We’re going to have to look at this.
He says, “Will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,”
Now, we definitely can stop here for a second. The word “meet” is a word that is definitely used in antiquity on a regular basis. It’s used in your Bible many times. When Jesus comes to Jericho, they go out to meet Him, then they bring him back to the town. You can read that in the next. They go out to meet Him. In other words, this idea of “meet” is when a dignitary is coming to town, a group goes out and meets them. And then they bring them back. It’s just a delegation to meet. You see that in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Matthew 25. They go out to meet the bridegroom, but what do they do? They come back to the town. So, whatever Paul is saying — and we’ll get into this in a minute. We’re going to be caught up in these clouds to meet the Lord. So, when we meet the Lord, we’re just a delegation of like, “Yes,” as He comes to the Earth. Really important here that we get this because we’re going to spend more time here. But I just want you to get the cursory reading here of what’s going on.
“And so we will always be with the Lord.”
In other words, when this happens, it’s game over. We’re going to be with the Lord.
And listen: “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
It doesn’t say to preach this passage and create fear. It doesn’t say to preach this passage and get everybody scared. He said, “Whatever I just told you, however you want to interpret it, this should be massively encouraging to you.”
So, let’s look here a little bit more in-depth at what’s going on. We’ve been talking in this series about what we call “vocabulary phrase.” Normally, we call them “take-homes,” but these are vocabulary phrases. So, let’s look here at some vocabulary phrases to see if they can help us understand what Paul is saying.
The first vocabulary phrase is what I call a “text hijack.” A text hijack, by definition, is when a text is divorced from its context and then used as a proof text. What happens is when we’re reading Scripture, we have to sort of figure out, “What is the context of what I’m reading? What’s the main message here?” Is the main messages, “Hey, listen, right before the Lord comes back, right before the end of time, if it’s getting really bad, all of a sudden, what’s going to happen is the Lord’s going to sort of sneak in. He’s going to sort of whisk away some people and everybody’s going to be freaking out.”
That’s not the context of this passage. The context of this passage is simply this: We don’t want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep. This is a context of asking what do you do with people that have died? How do you handle that? So, when this passage is pulled out to try to make some in-time, eschatological thing, it might make sense why it becomes a fearful text rather than a text of encouragement.
The reality is this: The definitive answer on how Christians are to deal with death is the resurrection. That’s the definitive answer. My mom died a year and a half ago. And do you know what keeps me going? I mean, I love my mom. My mom was so involved in my life, so involved in my kid’s life. Do you know what I say every morning when I get up? “I’m one day closer to seeing my mom.” Because I know that there’s a resurrection. That resurrection gives me hope.
So, Paul is saying, “Listen, I know the question that you have. You’re worried about the dead. I don’t want you grieving like people who don’t have hope. I want you to realize what the real issue here of Christianity is. It’s resurrection.” So, don’t allow the text to be hijacked to start teaching something that it’s not really talking about. It’s really talking about the encouragement to the resurrection. When Jesus comes back, there will be a resurrection.
Second vocabulary phrase is “when a secret isn’t.” I don’t know about you, but what I was taught in my life — and you still may believe this, and you’re welcome to believe this. The beautiful thing here at Grace is nobody’s trying to push anything on you. We’re just trying to look at the text. Being honest.
I was told that this passage was a secret return. It was like Jesus is going to come down, pull some people away and airplanes were going to go down. People would be sitting there and there would be their pants, socks and shoes and they would be gone and all of this. The problem is that when a secret isn’t a secret. Because here’s the reality: It’s not much of a secret when everything’s public. So, this idea that this passage is a secret is missing what Paul’s actually saying. He starts off by saying, “Hey, it is a secret. Lean in here. I’ve got something to tell you that you don’t know because I’m giving you this by the word of the Lord. In other words, this is something God has given to me and I am giving to you.”
But after he tells them the secret, everything in this passage is public. There’s a cry of command. That’s a cry that everybody hears. And see, we got this idea if it’s this secret thing, how then can everybody hear it? It’s not. It’s like they’re just going to be gone. Everybody’s going to be freaking out in fear and everything else. No. It’s a cry of command. It’s a voice of an archangel. It’s the trumpet of God. It could not be more public. This is something that everybody’s going to experience and everybody’s going to see. It’s a public event. So, we can’t really call it a secret when it isn’t a secret.
Then he says, “We’re going to meet the Lord in the air.” This is really important. We need to dig into this a little bit because this idea of meeting is used of a dignitary that comes to a town, or a war hero that’s coming back from a battlefield where you go out and meet them, but you’re not going out to meet them to then go back to some other city. You’re meeting them to escort them back.
A great professor who teaches at both Princeton and Baylor in New Testament interpretation says this: “The word ‘meeting’ is used of a ruler paying an official visit, or the return of a conquering hero of war. This particular dignitary...” — which is Jesus in this passage — “...receives tribute not outside the city gate, but in the air. That Jesus is in the air signals that His dominion is not that of an earthly ruler. Unlike the Roman emperor, He’s not in charge of particular territories. He’s in charge of all territories.”
See, what we’re doing is when we’re alive and those that have died, when Jesus comes back for resurrection, what we’re doing is we’re meeting the Lord in the air and His power and authority that is beyond this world is now coming to bear on this world, which is why we meet Him in the air to come back here to see His power shown throughout the world. Incredible. Just great stuff.
The third vocabulary phrase: “I totally forgot I was watching a video.” Come on. You know it. You know it. The definition is a moment when you realize you’re learning something and growing in the Lord while Pastor Chip is in Cuba. Come on, now. You know that’s true. Touch your neighbor and say, “Yeah, that’s true.”
Let’s continue on. Number four: “Know your OT, bro.” That’s my vocabulary phrase. What does that mean? What that means is the Old Testament is the background for many New Testament passages. Knowing that illuminates many New Testament passages. This passage in 1 Thessalonians, if we know our Old Testament, makes so much sense. In the Old Testament, in Exodus 19, Moses has gone up to the top of the mountain and the Lord said, “Hey, I need you to get everybody cleaned up, everybody in white robes. Live right. Don’t do anything wrong. Gather around the mountain because what’s going to happen is I’m going to come down on the mountain and I’m going to have clouds, trumpet blasts and everything, and then I’m going to descend on the mountain.”
Here’s one of the passages in the Old Testament out of Exodus 19:16: “On the morning of the third day...” — that’s a resurrection phrase, third day, so this is a resurrection motif — “...there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast,” — clouds, trumpets, clouds, trumpets — “so that all the people in the camp trembled.”
What happens next? The Lord descends on the mountain. Well, what happens? Well, when the Lord descends on the mountain, the only person that can go up is Moses. Everybody else stays at the bottom. What Paul is saying is, “You remember the clouds and the trumpets?” He’s straining here to use words and imagery. He says, “Remember when the Lord came and descended with the clouds and the trumpets and nobody could go up to be with Him? That’s not the way it’s going to be when Jesus returns. His people will be able to go and be with Him. And it won’t be a moment of trembling. It will be a moment of joy.”
We have to know our Old Testament or we’re liable to take these passages and really abuse them. The last one I’ll say here is: “YOLO? It’s a no-go.” Let me explain what that means. We talk about YOLO. We talk about You Only Live Once. Well, that’s not true. I mean, we don’t. You may go through this world one time, but we don’t live once. We believe in resurrection as Christians. So, the definition here is the resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian theology, and the definitive answer on how Christians are to deal with death. That’s what this passage is all about. Paul says, “That you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” He’s like, “Listen, I’m not going to tell you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, discipline yourself and just go to work to deal with death because death is there and there’s nothing there.”
No, no, no. He doesn’t do that at all. He doesn’t say that at all. In fact, this is the way I would say it: He doesn’t teach his audience to deal with death by adequate self-control, self-discipline or restraint as would have been taught in antiquity. But his consolation to death is resurrection. He says, “The whole reason we see everything differently is because we know that one day Jesus is going to return. When He returns, His power and authority will be here in the earth and there will be resurrection. You don’t have to grieve as people who have no hope because there’s a resurrection coming.”
And that’s what he’s telling this church. Not only that, but he says, “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
He’s not saying, “Take this and use it for fear.” He says, “Take this as a note of encouragement. This is an encouraging passage because when Jesus comes back there’s going to be resurrection, and the dead in Christ will be the first ones to get put together. Then we who are alive, who remain with the Lord, will meet the Lord in all of His power. We will be caught up in that moment of jubilation, but we will come back here and God’s authority will be on this earth. We will be reunited in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. We’ll take on a different form of body as well as those people who are dead in Christ.”
He says, “When that happens, what a glorious day that’s going to be. So, encourage one another with these words.”
So, I want to leave you with this: Resurrection is a game-changer. I want you to lean in here for a second as I conclude. The teaching of the resurrection is the central piece of Christianity. Resurrection means that what you may have done, you can be a new creation and God can do great things in you. One day, you know you’re going to be with Him. Resurrection says that if someone’s died that you loved, it’s going to be okay. I’m going to see my mom again one day. I’m also going to see a baby that was miscarried that Mindy and I had together. I’m going to see that. Why? Because resurrection is a game-changer. This isn’t about using eschatology to give you fear. This should be the glorious moment in our lives whenever anything goes wrong. No matter what’s going on in our life, this world is not all that there is. Resurrection is a game-changer.
Paul says, “Listen, lean in here, I want to encourage you with something. When the Lord comes back, there’s going to be resurrection. His power and authority are going to come to bear. It’s going to be a moment which we’re caught up in jubilation, we’re caught up in the moment and it’s going to be so incredible. We will be enraptured with the power and authority and life of Christ.”
That, my friends, is what Christian hope is all about. It’s all about that. If you need hope, Paul would say, “Remind yourself of the resurrection.” That will give you hope. It is the hope that we have that overcomes the grief of a lost loved one. It’s the confidence that we have that we’re not going to remain the way that we are. It’s the confidence that no matter how bad our bodies are, or how sick we may be, or what we may be struggling with, or the problems of this world, one day those are not going to be the reality. One day, it’s going to change. The reason we know that it’s going to change is because as we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so. Even so.
So, I would encourage you if you’re here right now and you don’t have that hope and you want that hope, it’s as simple as saying, “Jesus, I believe You came. I want You and I want Your power because I believe You rose again on the third day. I believe You died for me. I want in.”
Find somebody and let them know that that’s where you’re at. But for us that are Christians, sometimes as we get going in the world and just doing the things, sometimes it bogs down. Sometime we just need to know that resurrection is a game-changer. Let me pray for you.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the opportunity to be able to share Your Word. I thank You, Lord, that when we look at Your Word and we just take it in context and we read it for what it is, it’s just beautiful. It’s life-changing. It’s massive in what it does for us because it tells us about Your Son, Jesus, and tells us about resurrection. Lord, we’re grateful for that.
Lord, I pray that anybody that’s here this weekend struggling, that they would have the hope of resurrection speak to their heart right now for Your glory and for Your honor.
Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here, I pray that You would lead, guide and direct us. I pray that You would watch over us and protect us. I pray that You would continue to help us be the church that You’ve called us to be, which is the church to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Lord, we love You, we praise You and we honor You. In Jesus’ name we pray, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. See you soon.