Proper 27 · 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 · November 12, 2017
By David Peter,
This sermon is the fourth in the sermon series entitled “Fatherly Encouragement.” It is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. The Apostle Paul addresses the Thessalonian Christians as his dear children, giving them encouragement in their journey of faith in Jesus.
Fatherly Encouragement toward Expectation
An informed expectation of Christ’s return brings hope and encouragement to the believer as he faces his death and the death of loved ones.
That the hearer grows in the confident hope of Christ’s return.
Little children are not immune to the shock and horror of the death of loved ones. They may experience the loss of a grandparent to heart failure or the death of a classmate due to an automobile accident. Inevitably they wonder if their loved one who died is safe. They wonder if she will live again.
The Thessalonian Christians, who were still young in their faith, held similar concerns. Some of their loved ones had died. Apparently they had expected that Jesus would return before any believer died. So now they are perplexed about the destiny of their deceased Christian family and friends. They wonder if their beloved dead will be safe and will live again.
St. Paul writes to these confused Christians to provide them with comfort and hope. He encourages them by pointing them to the promises that God has made regarding the glorious reappearing of His Son, Jesus Christ. These same words bring great encouragement and hope to us who face the tyranny of death.
I. An uninformed expectation about the future is a hopeless one.
A. Paul addresses a misconception that believers who die will miss Christ’s glorious appearing (4:13).
B. Misconceptions about death and the afterlife are held by many today, leading to no hope or false hope beyond the grave.
II. The enlightened expectation about the future is filled with hope and confidence.
A. This hopeful expectation for the future is based on a past event—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (4:14a).
B. This hope-filled expectation focuses on a future event—the glorious coming (Parousia) of Jesus Christ (4:14b–15).
C. The reappearing of Christ will follow a clear sequence which provides comfort and encouragement.
1. The Lord will descend from heaven visibly and audibly (4:16a).
2. Those who have died with faith in Christ will be raised from death (4:16b).
3. Those believers who are alive will be gathered in the air for the triumphal procession (4:17a).
4. All believers will forever be with the Lord (4:17b).
D. We confidently trust God’s promise of future resurrection.
III. The expectation of Christ’s return brings encouragement (4:18).
A. The message of Jesus’s return in glory comforts and encourages us.
B. We now encourage others with this message of the final victory over death.