August 21, 2017
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Easy-to-Read Version)
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Our featured Scripture for this fourth blog in the series, Gain, Loss, And Gain, is I Thessalonians 4:13 through 18. It is a rather long passage for a blog, so I shortened it as much as I could without losing the meaning of what Paul has written.
Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about those who have died.
We don’t want you to be sad like…those who have no hope. We believe
that Jesus died, but…also…that He rose again. So we believe that God
will raise to life through Jesus any who have died and bring them to-
gether with Him when He comes. What we tell you now is the Lord’s
own message….The Lord Himself will come down from heaven….And
the people who have died and were in Christ will rise first. After that
we who are still alive at that time will be gathered up with those who
have died. We will…meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the
Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
I want to emphasize Paul’s words in verse 15: “What we tell you now is the Lord’s own message….” It did not come from the apostle’s mind! It came directly from God – to “…encourage each other with these words.” (verse 18). And truly, these are words of encouragement!
While I was writing this, my office phone rang. When I answered, I could hear sounds of something being moved around, but no voice answered my “hello?” What happened is what we refer to as a ‘butt-call’! – an unintended call from a cell phone in someone’s pocket. I hung up, and immediately the phone rang again. My dear friend Bob, who lives on the other end of the state, realized he had made a ‘butt-call’ and called back to talk. I asked how they were, and he replied, “Under the circumstances, it could be better.” Sandy, Bob’s dear wife, has a younger sister, Christy, who is dying of cancer. She and her husband live in Florida. Bob and Sandy – and other family members – are traveling in to express their love to Christy, and to say goodbye. She probably has only a week or so to live. Bob, Sandy, Christy, and many of the family members are Christians! Although he and Sandy knows the truth of I Thessalonians 4:13 through 18, I reminded Bob of Paul’s words of comfort – any separation of believers is only temporary. Someday, perhaps soon, we will be together again forever with the One who redeemed us! Bob and I prayed together and I wished them a good trip to Florida, and a great last visit with Christy and family. God’s timing is perfect – even for ‘butt-calls’!
What Gain, Loss, And Gain am I referring to in this blog?
• Gain – We have great gain in our relationships with loved ones, in most instances, over many years! My dear wife Hope and I have been married for going on 49 years. She is the perfect fit for me – God’s best gift He could have given me – after, of course, His own dear Son, Jesus Christ my Lord! My wife is such an easy person to live with. We get along very well, and I love her more than I can say! I pray for her every day, and ask God for many more years with my precious life-mate!
Then there is my immediate family – two daughters, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren! I love them all, and many have accepted Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior. My extended family includes one brother in heaven, Christian cousins, and many, many believing friends! I have great Gain through my family and friends!
• Loss – This brief temporal life is not guaranteed, even for the proverbial “…threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…” (Psalm 90:10 – King James Version). James 4:14 says, “What is you life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” I know my loved ones can be taken from this life in an instant. Even with my beloved wife there is no guarantee for tomorrow! I would feel the loss keenly, and from my current vantage point – I depend on her for many things – I don’t know how I would make it! But because of the positive example I have seen in others who have suffered the loss of a loved one, and because of the promises I read in my Bible (see Deuteronomy 33:25; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5; and many more), I know, by God’s grace, I will get through any Loss I experience!
• Gain – The last Gain of our title is from two perspectives:
✞ Loved ones left behind – To know our loved one is in heaven with the Lord is indeed a Gain for us and a blessing! This is especially true if that one has suffered in this temporal life. To know that one is safe and happy; to know that we will someday – perhaps soon – be together again, this is as Paul says in verse 18, a great comfort…with these words!
✞ The one who has passed – It is not easy to explain just what the one in heaven is experiencing because Paul, in I Corinthians 2:9, tells us, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But there are great and strong hints as to what that one will experience:
▸ II Corinthians 5:8 – “…absent from the body…present with the Lord.”
▸ Revelation 21:4 – “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain….”
▸ I John 3:2 – “…we will be like [Jesus]…for we shall see Him as He is…” (see I Corinthians 15:49). Since the Lord has no stain of sin to mar His perfect being (see Isaiah 53:9; Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22), our sin nature – some of the works of which are listed in Galatians 5:19-21 – will be gone! Only our godly nature will be left – never to sin again! (See I Corinthians 5:17; 15:50-54).
▸ I Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [our believing loved ones] to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” We will be with Jesus forever! (See John 14:6). And we will be reunited with our Christian loved ones forever also!
And so while there is Gain and Loss in this life, there is eternal Gain in heaven! Let the words Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 ring in your heart and soul: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”