We live in a world that is easily overcome by fear. And as some of you have no doubt observed recently in our country that fear can lead to panic and hysteria. And it can cause us to do crazy things- like depleting the world’s supply of toilet paper. Why is that? Why is fear so powerful?Hebrews 2:14–15 ESV14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.The author of Hebrews tells us that Satan’s power over this world is the power of death, and he holds people captive, he holds them prisoner, in lifelong slavery through the fear of death. That is Satan’s stronghold! He wields the power of the fear of death. And what I mean is, the chains that Satan uses to bind people to his power, his cruel chains, are made out of fear, and it is the most powerful fear there is, the fear of dying and of death. And we have seen that power vividly displayed before or eyes in the last few days. Now the glorious news of the gospel is that for those who have become children of God through believing in Jesus and receiving Him as their Savior- we no longer have to fear death! Why? Because through the death of Jesus He destroyed the one who has the power of death and he has delivered us from lifelong slavery. In other words the chains of fear that Satan uses to bind us to his power are broken! We have been delivered from them. However, sometimes we still live in fear of death. It’s like we willingly return to Satan’s dungeon, and we offer the devil our hands so that he can bind us all over again to the fear of death. This is our problem, but the truth is we have been delivered from that fear. Satan is a defeated weaponless powerless foe- because he has been destroyed by Jesus’s death on the cross for our behalf. How do we live lives free from the power of the fear of death?This is the question Paul aims to answer in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.Remember, Paul is addressing these believers from the heart of a disciple-maker. His goal is to spiritually reproduce himself in the lives of these saints. He wants to teach them everything he knows.Paul was separated from the Thessalonian believers and he couldn’t text them or do a Zoom chat with them. So he did the best that he could- he sent Timothy to find out about their faith. Timothy had just returned and reported to Paul the good news that they were standing fast in the Lord. But Timothy also reported some areas that were lacking. And Paul, being the disciple-maker that he was, was trying to fix those deficiencies.1 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? So, Paul begins to teach them in chapter 4- in the area of sanctification and in the area of loving one another. Now he moves on to teaching them about the rapture in vv. 13-18. Paul instructed the Thessalonian believers to live hope filled, comforted, encouraged lives by embracing the truths of the rapture. We must live lives full of hope, full of comfort, and full of encouragement by embracing the truths of the rapture.How do we do that?I believe Paul gives us three truths about the rapture that we must understand, believe, and live out so that we might be hopeful people.
I. We can live hopeful lives by reminding one another that Jesus’ death and resurrection guarantees our victory over death (vv. 13-14)
1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 KJV190013 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
A. Living in ignorance to the truth is what causes sorrow and grief (v. 13)
Paul says to these believers in v. 13- that his wish or his desire is that they would not be ignorant to the truth. Ignorant- to be uninformed, to be lacking in knowledge or information. How is it possible for us to be ignorant of the truth? Especially, the truth pertaining to the rapture and to Jesus’ death and His resurrection. I doubt that I am going to give any of you new information this morning. So you sit there and you think, “I know all about the rapture and the resurrection and Jesus’ sacrificial death- I am not living in ignorance.” And that is true in one sense of the word. My question is, do we live with an active awareness of the truth? Or do we live as if in ignorance to the truth? What do I mean? Let’s say you have a severe dairy allergy. Every time you eat dairy you get intense abdominal pain. Now if you live in awareness of that truth you are not going to do what? Eat dairy. But, let’s say you are at the Wisconsin State Fair and you walk by the cheese curd booth and you get a whiff of the smell of freshly fried Wisconsin cheese curds. And your stomach does a T-Rex impersonation. At that moment what are you thinking about? You know that if you eat them you will get a stomach ache, but you don’t care. It’s like you block that knowledge out of you head, you live in ignorance of the truth so you can eat those curds. Paul’s desire is that we would not live in ignorance concerning those who have fallen asleep. Apparently the Thessalonians were worried about their fellow believers who had already died. They didn’t know what was going to happen to them. They already knew about the rapture and they were teaching that doctrine to others. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 KJV190010 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. So now Paul is supplying what is lacking in their faith concerning those who have fallen asleep.And he does this- SO THAT they might not sorrow or grieve. This same word “sorrow” or “grief” is used in John 16 of Jesus’ death.John 16:20 NASB9520 “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.Don’t be ignorant of the truth concerning death, because ignorance leads to grief and sorrow. And God doesn’t want us to live in perpetual grief and sorrow. Even as others who have no hope. Don’t live in grief don’t live in hopelessness- Believer, God doesn’t want you to live this way.
B. Our fear of death is destroyed because of our confidence in our Savior (v. 14)
1 Thessalonians 4:14 KJV190014 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.Here Paul is building his argument- he is building his case against the fear of death. Don’t grieve, don’t be sorrowful, don’t be hopeless. Why? For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again- This is the first part of the argument. If we, beloved, believe in Jesus- that he died for our sins and that he was buried and that he rose again. Do you believe that? Do you have confidence in that? To what degree of confidence do you have in the death and resurrection of Jesus? If you are a believer you have staked your eternal destiny solely on his death and his resurrection, haven’t you? So, if you believe that- if you have staked your confidence on Jesus for your eternity!(Then) even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.Literally the Greek reads:(Then), so also Godthe ones who have fallen asleep BECAUSE OF JESUS / or THROUGH JESUSHe (God) will bring with Him (Jesus).