1. This morning we studied an important activity mentioned in Hebrews 3:13 [God's people are to exhort one another]. 2. This evening we are studying the "words of comfort" recorded in these verses. Discussion: I. (vs.13) PAUL DID NOT WANT THESE CHRISTIANS TO REMAIN IGNORANT CONCERNING THEIR LOVED ONES WHO HAD DIED
A. According to 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, they were waiting for the Lord's return (also see 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). B. For some reason they thought that their loved ones who had died would miss out on the blessings associated with the Lord's return, and they were sorrowful. C. Paul said that they should not grieve like those who have no hope. 1. It is not wrong to express sorrow and grief when a loved one dies in the Lord (John 11:35). 2. These people obviously had misunderstandings about the resurrection. 3. Paul taught them what they needed to know so they would no longer be ignorant, and their sorrow would be relieved. II. (vs.14) THE RESURRECTION OF CHRISTIANS IS BASED ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION
A. When Paul was in Thessalonica he proved from the Scriptures that Jesus was resurrected (Acts 17:1-3). B. Because Jesus was raised, His followers who have died will be raised when He returns (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). III. (vs.15-17) PAUL REVEALED WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN CHRIST RETURNS
A. (vs.15) Those who are alive when the Lord returns will not "prevent" [precede] those who have died in the Lord. 1. (John 5:28-29) When Christ returns, those who have died will be raised. 2. Those who died in the Lord will be raised to eternal life. 3. (1 Corinthians 15:50-53) Those who are alive will be changed. 4. This shows us that Christians who are alive when Jesus returns will have no special advantage over those who have died. B. (vs.16a) The Lord's descent from heaven will be accompanied by 3 sounds: 1. "a shout" (the Lord's voice -- John 5:28) 2. "the voice of the archangel" (Michael -- Jude 9) 3. "the trump of God." C. (vs.16b) "The dead in Christ shall rise first." D. (vs.17a) Those who are alive will be caught up together with those who have been raised, in the clouds. E. (vs.17b) Together, we will meet the Lord in the air [Jesus will return in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7)]. F. (vs.17c) The Lord's followers will be with Him forever (John 14:3). IV. (vs.18) THESE WORDS COMPOSE A COMFORTING MESSAGE Conclusion:
1. Death for a Christian is temporary -- "sleep." 2. May these instructions help us gain a much greater appreciation for: a. Psalm 116:15 b. Revelation 14:13.