A bank in Binghamton, New York, had flowers sent to a competitor who had recently moved into a new building. There was a mix up at the flower shop, and the card sent with the arrangement read,
"With our deepest sympathy". The florist, who was greatly embarrassed, apologized. But he was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor of a deceased person. That card read, "Congratulations on your new location".
If the deceased were a Christian that would be a great message! It reminds me of a new song by Southbound - "Address Change Notification". (Click on picture above to listen to be blessed)
Just what does happen after we die? What will happen to the dead when Jesus returns? What will happen to the living? Those are age old questions that have been asked down through the centuries.
Job 14:14 “If a man die, shall he live again?”
The Epicurean epitaph of that day was: “I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”. It was inscribed on the gravestones of those who followed the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus as well as many of the ancient gravestones of the Roman Empire. This quote is often used today at the funerals of humanists.
The pagans of Paul's day had no real hope of life after death. The Thessalonian believers had been raised in a pagan culture with these kinds of philosophies. They were confused about those who had died in Christ; where were they? What would become of them? Even today there are believers who are confused over these very same questions. To help clear up the confusion, the Apostle Paul gives us this passage.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 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.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Paul says that we should have assurance concerning those who have died in the Lord because Jesus died and rose again. This is at the very core of the gospel message. The fact that Jesus won the victory over death is confirmation that we too have victory over death. Those who have died in Christ will return with Him. Those who die as Christians immediately go to be with the Lord. They will be coming back with Him to receive the church as His bride. The dead in Christ are not in the ground, they left their body behind but that’s all. They have been in fellowship with the Lord all this time and they will return with Him.
Both those who have died in Christ and those who remain alive will be united with Him when He returns.
There’s going to be a getting up morning and a glad reunion day. Neither those who have died in Christ or who are living will be at a disadvantage. When Jesus returns, we will all receive our glorified bodies. In a moment in the twinkling of an eye, this mortal will put on immortality and the corruptible will put on incorruption.
The Rapture is about to take place! The English word "rapture" is derived from a Latin word which means "to seize" or "caught up". It literally means: “To be snatched away suddenly, unexpectedly, secretly, and suddenly as a thief”.
When Jesus comes again what a day of rejoicing that will be! There will be absolutely nothing that can separate us ever again.
Paul wraps it up by saying, "Encourage each other with these words." What words? These words of hope, the words of Christ's return and the words that speak of resurrection. "Encourage each other with these words." Paul started out this passage by talking of those who grieve like men who have no hope. And the good news he gave was news that would bring hope. These words were originally intended for those who were grieving over their loved ones who had passed away. Now they are words of encouragement for all times. They give us great comfort in our time of grief and sorrow. There is coming a day when we will be reunited with all our loved ones who are in Christ. We do not grieve like men who have no hope. We rejoice because we know that those who have gone before us are experiencing victory.