Hope is in retreat in a world "too sophisticated" for faith
There was an inscription in Thessalonica which read: “After death, no reviving, after the grave, no meeting again.”
A typical inscription on a grave: ‘I was not, [then] I became, [now] I am not, [and] I care not.’
Is that so different from today?
The members of the church at Thessalonica were surrounded by this, had grown up hearing this, and their hearts were troubled by this.
The Gospel of Hope
Against this, Paul offered them Hope in Christ
Paul, who proclaimed to the Athenians in Acts 7:31 that the proof of the Gospel was the resurrection of Jesus.
That is worth our consideration: Mohammed is in his tomb, as is the Buda, but not Jesus of Nazareth, for His tomb is empty
Paul told the Christians at Thessalonica that he did not want them to be uninformed, and "grieve as others do who have no hope."
He is not saying "do not grieve." Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus! He is saying that our grief should be mingled with HOPE. And that hope is of reunion!
On That Great Day!
Verses 14-17: The Rapture verses
Books have been written, movies have been made, but while the method of our reunion is important, Paul tells us the reason even mentions it in verse 18: "encourage one another with these words."
The Dead in Christ are Resurrected
Elsewhere Paul had said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
In verse 14, "through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died," those who have been "absent from the body."
And in verse 16, "For the Lord himself... will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first." At that moment the promise is fulfilled, that what was sown perishable, is raised imperishable, never to die again.
Those Living in Christ are Changed
Verse 17: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them..."
"Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." - 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
A Completed Reunion!
Verse 17: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever."
No more tears of reunion in Heaven while tears of parting on Earth. The Shadows are over. Now comes the Morning!
Let no one steal your Hope
Let us give the last word to Peter (which no doubt would have made him happy)
Does this sound at all familiar? "I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” 2 Peter 3:3b-4 (NLT)
"But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. " 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Less than two days since Jesus arose? Yes, we still have our sure and certain hope!