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1 Thessalonians 4:13-17


Intro: Our world is not a place that lends itself to hope. In fact, when you consider the death, diseases, natural disasters, evil, and all the other negative things that fill our world, there is just not a lot of room for hope.

         Hope is a powerful thing.

·       G. K. Chesterton said, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.”

·       Emily Dickinson, in one of her poems said, “Hope is a thing with feathers,/That perches in the soul.”

·       O. S. Marden said, “There is no medicine like hope . . .”

·       Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman philosopher wrote, “Hope is the dream of a waking man.”

·       Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

         Here is how the dictionary defines hope: “to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.”

         Hope, from the world’s viewpoint is just what that definition describes. The world sees hope as a wish or a desire. Hope, as the world sees it, is a longing for something that may or may not take place.

         The Bible teaches us that biblical is hope something entirely different than the wishful thinking of the world. Listen to the words of Psalm 31:24, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” And again from Psalm 71:5, “For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.”Hear also Paul, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity,” 1 Cor. 13:13.

         The world says that hope is merely a fond wish or desire. The words used for hope in the Bible, on the other hand, tell an entirely different story. They teach us that biblical hope is “A deep settled confidence that God will keep His promises!” Biblical hope is a “joyful, confident expectation”.

         In the face of the hopelessness that grips our world, there is one group of people that possesses genuine hope. The believer has hope!

         I do not know what tomorrow will bring my way. It may bring death, disease and disaster. It may bring sorrow, pain and hardship. It may bring blessing, joy and happiness. I may not know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know for sure that tomorrow might bring Jesus. Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

         The hope of the believer is wrapped up in the second coming of Jesus Christ. He is coming and His return brings us hope for all our tomorrows. I want to talk to you from this familiar passage about Our Blessed Hope. As Paul writes to the Thessalonian believers, he offers hope to a people who thought all hope was gone. Let’s examine the areas of life where we have hope in our Lord.


  I.            WE HAVE THE HOPE

               OF A RESURRECTION

(Ill. The Thessalonians had heard about the coming of the Lord. But, they thought that believers had to be alive until the coming of the Lord or they would somehow miss the resurrection and the rapture. They thought their departed loved ones, who had died and been buried, were gone forever. Paul writes to them to let them know there is hope for those who have gone on to be with Jesus.

         In these verses, Paul speaks about the saints who have gone on before. He lets us know what their situation is right now. In telling us about those who have left earth for Heaven, he gives us all hope.)

A.  The Departed And Their Condition – Ill. “asleep and sleep” Not soul sleep. A euphemism for death. Their bodies are asleep, but their spirits live on! Ill. “sleep” implies rest. That much is true, the redeemed are resting from the burdens and trials of this life, Rev. 14:13; Rev. 21:4.

B.  The Departed And Their Location

         In verse 14 Paul tells us that God will bring the dead in Christ with Him when He comes. If He is going to bring them with Him, then they must be with Him ahead of time. Ill. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:20-24; 2 Pet. 1:14. Don’t worry about those who have gone on before! They are with the Lord but they will be back. They are coming with Him!

C.  The Departed And Their Inclusion – Ill. The fear of the Thessalonians. Paul tells them not to worry. When Jesus comes, the dead in Christ will be raised fist. Ill. “Will not prevent” in verse 15 means that we will “not precede them”. We are all going in the first resurrection, but they will be raised and translated first! (Ill. A cemetery would be a great place to be at the resurrection.)



A.  It Will Be Sudden – “Caught up” – “to snatch away, or to seize by force.” When Jesus comes, it will be a sudden event. One moment we will be living life as normal, the next moment we will be with Him in the air, 1 Cor. 15:51-52. (Ill. The picture in Luke 17:34-36.)

B.  It Will Be Selective – Ill. “We”. Jesus isn’t coming for everyone. He is coming for only for those who have been saved by the grace of God. Many will expect to go, but they will not make the trip, Matt. 7:21-22. Some will go that we do not expect to go! It is a matter of faith! It is a matter of the heart. Those with His nature will go, 2 Pet. 1:4; those with Adam’s nature will stay! (Il. The picture in Luke 17:34-36.)

C.  It Will Be Serious – The rapture will be serious because only the redeemed will go! Everyone else will be left behind to face the horrors of the Tribulation Period. Be sure you are ready because Jesus is coming! (Ill. Matt. 24:44)

D.  It Will Be Sensational – The very language of this verse rings with excitement. It is a verse of action and adventure. The Lord is pictured entering the very domain of Satan to gather His Bride to Himself! (Ill. Eph. 2:2) The rapture is a military invasion! Jesus attacks Satan on his own territory, calls His wife up to meet Him there and proves His absolute dominion over Satan!

                  By the way, the Lord sent an angel to announce His birth. He sent and angel to announce His resurrection. The Lord sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and draw us to Jesus. But, when it comes time to collect His Bride, the Lord is coming “Himself”. (Ill. Jewish wedding custom! Ill. We are going to a wedding in the air, Rev. 19:1-9. Ill. Sounds exciting to me!)



(Ill. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rejoicing in this world. Everyone has their problems and their little attitudes and agendas. We will have to learn a new mindset when we get to Heaven. The land to which we are going is a land of rejoicing. This is made crystal clear in the book of Revelation as we catch a few glimpses inside the gates of that city, Ill. Rev. 4-5; Rev. 7:9-12. Paul gives us two reasons why we will rejoice when we arrive in Heaven.)

A.  We Will Meet Our Loved Ones – Ill. “caught up together with them” –There are multitudes that have gone on before us to Heaven. We miss them now, because we cannot see them. We cannot hold them, talk to them, or be with them. There is a day coming when we will be together again! They are safe with Jesus now. When He comes He will raise their bodies from the dead and take them up into the clouds with Him. We will see them again! Parents will see their children. Spouses will see their partners. Friends will be reunited again! What a day that will be! Surely we can rejoice in that truth!

B.  We Will Meet The Lord – Ill. “so shall we ever be with the Lord” – While it excites us to think about seeing our loved ones again, what thrills my heart is the knowledge that one day I will see Jesus! I will see the One Who loved me more than His Own life. I will see the One Who died for me on the cross. I will see my Redeemer. The Friend Who has stuck closer than a brother. I will see the crucified, risen Lord. I will see Him there, Ill. Rev. 22:4; John 14:1-3; Ill. Job 19:25-27! Surely we can rejoice in that!


Conc: I can have hope in the resurrection. I know the dead in Christ will live again, and if it is my lot to enter Heaven through death’s door, I know that I will live again as well.

         I can have hope in the rapture. Jesus is coming to get His bride and take her home to Heaven. I am a part of the Bride of Christ so when He comes, I will go with Him!

         I can have hope in the blessed reunions that await the people of God. What a joy it will be to see our loves ones and friends who are waiting for us in Heaven. What a profound experience it will be to see Jesus Christ.

         Yes, we have hope! It is unshakable and profound. It is eternal and powerful. It gives joy, peace and blessing to our hearts. Thank God for the hope we have in Him!

         Ill. The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their schoolwork during stays in the city's hospitals.

         One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child.

         She took the child's name and room number and talked briefly with the child's regular class teacher.

         “We're studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I'd be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn't fall too far behind.”

         The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I've been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn't accomplished much.

         But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?”

         The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize.

         “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don't know what I mean. We've been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He's fighting back, responding to treatment. It's as though he's decided to live.”

         Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization.

         He expressed it this way: “They wouldn't send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

         My brothers and sisters, you have to have hope! We have all the hope we need through our relationship with Jesus Christ and through the promise of His coming!





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