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December 9, 2020 3:00 am
The contrary to the way a lot of people think Christians are not supposed to be people who are happy all the time we go through valleys, we experience deep sadness in morning just like everyone else does what we ought to grieve differently today on Truth for Life.
Alastair Begg clarifies the issue of bereavement for believers in a message called Christians scream to their heavenly father we thank you for your faithfulness that is expressed in so many different ways, not least of all in getting to this and preserving for is your word, the Bible and we do pray that we might increasingly become students of your were that we might hide it in our hearts that we might not sin against you, that it might correct us Trina's grow as fetus leader's accomplish the purposes that you have ordained for this study in your word in our lives and in archer, to the glory of your name we ask first Thessalonians and the fourth chapter in this section which begins at verse 13, Paul was responding to a number of questions which had come to in from the believers in Thessalonica, for example, in verse nine he talks about brotherly love fairly wrong. He's talked about the whole relationship of moral purity and so on. And now he comes to a matter which was clearly troubling. These Thessalonian believers insofar as some of them had obviously got the notion that all who believe were going to be present alive at the return of Jesus Christ. And now they were faced with the fact that a number of their friends and loved ones and acquaintances who themselves had believe had actually died. And of course the Perugia the return of Jesus Christ had not taken place. And so, in addressing their concerns.
They obviously point them to their teacher Paul and they ask him to address this matter of the nature of death and expressly the issue of the return of Jesus Christ and in the verses which begin here in verse 13 and throughout a little more of first Thessalonians, and certainly in the second Thessalonians, Paul provides us with rich and important instruction concerning the return of Jesus Christ, however, were not going to go any further. In the 13th verse and deal with this issue of bereavement in the life of a Christian and to try and guide us through the verse we will look first of all let the word distinction and then instruction and then application notice with me. First of all, the distinction which this verse contains that I actually had a number but I want to point one out in particular the distinction which exists between those whom he addresses referring to the minute genetics sends male and female as brothers are brethren and those to whom he refers at the end of the verse as the rest of men, so that is a clear distinction between the brothers and the rest of men now in tracking through this in our studies, we've noticed that brothers is a designation that could equally be translated, Christians or family because it is indicative of their son ship in the family of God. It is expressive of the transformation that is been brought about as a result of God's work within their lives back in chapter 1 in verse nine. In addressing them.
In the early part of the letter. He says that the report is going around of the church at Thessalonica, they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us the tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead.
Jesus, who rescues us from the coming raw and those believers in Thessalonica were in no doubt as to this amazing transformation which had been brought about as a result of God's grace within their life's and if you follow through in verse four of the first chapter, he refers to God's initiative. In this act of redemption.
For we know, brothers loved by God that he has chosen you in the way in which they knew that was because the gospel is gone and brought about this change within their lives. In verse 10 of chapter 2, he says you are witnesses.
And so is God of how holy, righteous and blameless.
We were among you who believe, and in verse eight of chapter 3. For now we really live since you are standing firm in the Lord. Three statements which correlate to the experience of genuine Christian faith chosen by God.
Personal belief, standing firm in the Lord. It is as a result of God's initiative and grace that we have been granted the ability to believe and having believed and moved on. As we find ourselves stabilized by truth. We can be described as those standing firm in the Lord. Now, this distinction then ought to be a great encouragement to them.
And indeed, it ought to be a great encouragement to the believer tonight as well as a challenge to those who are agnostic and unbelieving in the matters of faith because it is this living personal faith designated in this statement of brothers which distinguishes them from the rest of men. Paul puts it very clearly in the Ephesian letter and in chapter 2 of Ephesians where he describes the pre-converted experience in verse three of Ephesians 2 all of us. He says also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. And like the rest we wear are by nature, objects of raw so we were once the rest we were not simply like them. We wear them and then in verse 12 of Ephesians 2 he makes this great statement concerning the change brought about by the grace of God.
Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel foreigners to the covenants of the promise without hope and without God in the world. This is a designation of what it means to be without Christ and if you've come this evening and you are not trusting in Christ as your Savior and as your Lord if you have not come to him in repentance and in faith, then the issue is not simply that you are an irreligious person for you may be very religious. The issue is not that you are a person without interest in the things of God because you may have a deepening and quickening interest in the things of God but it is not of marginal significance.
The circumstance in which the unbeliever finds themselves.
Here it is separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel foreigners to the covenants of the promise and without hope and without God in the world and we remain in that condition unless we find ourselves. As with the Ephesians, verse 13 of Ephesians 2, but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ on further reference, in which Paul makes the same thing clear is as we've seen in the book of Titus and in Titus chapter 3 he describes the experience which is expressive of the same distinction at one time. He says we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another and then here's the change. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior. He saved is not because of righteous things we had done but because of his mercy he saved us, through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace we might become heirs having the whole of eternal life. So the distinction is not a superficial distinction, it is a foundational distinction, it is of vital distinction. It is the distinction between brothers and sisters in Christ and the rest of man. It is the distinction between faith and unbelief between life and death, hope and hopelessness, rock and sand broad and narrow light and darkness, and there is no middle territory we are neither brethren in Christ or we are like the rest of men, without hope and without God in the world.
I love ones.
If that does not stir within you, some kind of evangelistic quickening of your heart some kind of stimulation motivation in my own spirit to the issue of what we're facing amongst our non-Christian neighbors and friends, then we are in some kind of severe spiritual malady. The distinction then which the verse provides. Secondly, the instruction which this verse conveys. He conveys instruction. Essentially regarding two areas. First of all to deal with their ignorance on the subject of death brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep in the matter of Christian living. Ignorance is never bliss.
Indeed, Paul frequently addresses the matter of ignorance and he does so to point out how dangerous ignorance really is and I just give you three references to this effect. First Corinthians chapter 10 in the verse one for I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact brothers and the goes on to address the problem of ignorance chapter 11 of first Corinthians in verse three. I do not want you to be ignorant of these matters. Romans chapter 11 and verse 25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery brothers so that you may not be conceited. Many problems in Christian living can be traced to ignorance and so he is concerned that they want to live in ignorance because ignorance will breed confusion and confusion will breed disruption in all manner of chaos and so if there are those amongst the Thessalonians, whose like the Corinthians were beginning to suggest that perhaps the resurrection had somehow our spiritual element to it and that we were not anticipating the bodily return of Jesus Christ that our loved ones who had died were somehow in some quasi-conscious state lost in some time warp somewhere process that kind of ignorance will be very disconcerting to, and conversely knowledge is by Paul described with frequency as a key to blessing and we pray this. He says in verse 10 of Colossians 1 in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. I say to you again. That's why we study the Bible in this way I can tell you what it really what a relief it is to me to be gone for a couple of Sundays are not to have to come back and think goodness gracious. What am I supposed to say to these people. I don't know how I don't how a person does that Sunday by Sunday and week after week trying to come up with a topic to address. I command those who are able to endure with greater effectiveness is no judgment on them.
But for me it is a great liberation to know that I gotta get back to first Corinthians 16 verse 13 I got to get back to first Thessalonians 4 verse 13 and if you're tracking with me, you expect me to be there and why so that your knowledge may increase so that we will not live in ignorance so that when the issues of life face as and when the pressures and difficulties often as and when the questions of death, overwhelm us, will be able to say oh yes I remember that sin.
First Thessalonians 4 and verse 13.
I hope you have some guy in a little notebook some kind of little process of storing things away some way to build up your own little compendium of discovery so that one day when you gather your children and grandchildren around you and they'll say tell me some of the things you've learned over the years.
Grandpa you will be able to return to that companion book to your Bible or you will be able to turn to the leafs that you've inserted in your Bible and you will be able to go to the day when you made that point of progress and made that great discovery. I will you notice carefully that he refers to those who fall asleep and not to those who are asleep. I don't want you to be ignorant about those who are actually falling asleep as the present participle is not referring to those who are asleep, and his use of the present participle I think is very important indicating the way in which death has been transformed for the Christian number of people asked me after our studies in first Corinthians 15 concerning this issue of Wally for sleeping. How are we sleeping and I thought we were actually with Jesus and how can we be with Jesus. If we really asleep in do we sleep for very long or when does that stop and start and I understand those questions is because they they buffet me as well and I find this to be very helpful.
The picture of sleep regarding death is a common picture.
It's common in all sorts of places completely outside the scope of the Bible. It is also a common picture in the Old Testament as we read of the Saints of God who are described as having entered into a rest from their labors. When you come into the New Testament you find a similar use of this notion of sleep, but the primary emphasis I think in pointing to the issue of sleep is to identify the temporary nature of death for the believer that it is not a permanent condition that it is a momentary experience. It is if you like 40 winks. If we might put it in that way the kind of element that comes across clearly. When the sisters come to a Jesus concerning Lazarus's friend and their brother and they press him in relationship to these things and John recorded in the 11th chapter in the 11th verse of his gospel, the words of Jesus, our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I'm going to wake him up is only a temporary issue. He sets John start commenting on this. It is then because a human corpse lies in the grave still is it where resting in the waiting resurrection that it is appropriate to call death sleep and to call a graveyard cemetery. The word symmetry was at a note of this week actually comes from the Greek coin material which means a sleeping place. Hence, the notion that is conveyed in our symmetries, but the picture of sleep even used in that way and pressed to its fullest. As a picture is not intended to convey in the New Testament, the idea that the condition of the soul. In the interim period between death and resurrection is one of unconsciousness, very important understand that the picture of the soul between the moment of goodbye and the law is not a picture of unconsciousness that sleep helps us to grapple with what is happening to this body, but it does not explain the totality of the experience of the soul immediately following the parting of body and soul in the moment of death. No weekend delve deeply into this polemic turn you just a couple of portions. Luke chapter 16 and verse 19 and following in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. I want to delve into this except for you to see that in the telling of this story.
Jesus clearly taught that after death, there would be an immediate awareness of bliss or pain. Jesus was not teaching some soul sleep existence before ever that was encountered, but was teaching hundreds important in the use of parables that we don't press everything to illogical conclusions, but certainly it is clear from this that he is making it obvious to his readers that when you die, you're going to know whether it's good or weather is bad, you're going to know whether it's heaven or whether it's hell, you're going to know whether your with Jesus, or whether you are absent from Jesus.
Luke chapter 23 and you can study these passages for your homework and at your leisure look 23 and verse 43 you know what I'm going the man on the cross addresses Jesus and says remember me when you come into your kingdom and Jesus answered and I tell you the truth today you will be with me in paradise. You find the same thing in the expression of Paul in relationship to death in Philippians and chapter 1 where he says for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain and then he says I don't really know whether I can choose staying alive for dying and going to heaven because I'm torn between the two.
I desire to depart notice and be with Christ, which is far better but it is more necessary for you that I remain in this body. How we could say more concerning that.
But that probably is enough for just now he wants to address then the ignorance of these people in relationship to this matter of falling asleep. He also wants to provide them with instruction concerning the issue of grief. Paul is not here suggesting that the believer is to be free from grief altogether, but rather that he is to be free from the grief which marks the pagan in the face of death for the unbeliever in death. There is only the dreary wail of despair that is covered up with small talk and finery have far too much plastic and fake flowers and a deep emptiness for the believer.
There is the exulting tear stained Psalm of whole there is genuine grief, but it is not the grief of unbelief is the grief attached to the nature of loss. So then there is a distinction which the verse contains between those who are in Christ and those who are the rents grieving and loss, but believing with hope of encouraging message from Alastair beg I'm Truth for Life.
Anytime we face a crisis whether it's because of the death of someone we love or any other trial were facing. We look around for comfort and for believers. God's promises are a source of peace in the midst of the storm, so I will suggest to you a tremendously encouraging collection of daily readings written by the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon draws the analogy that God's promises are like bank checks that point us to a future reality that is guaranteed. He's written a devotional that is titled checkbook of the bank of faith and each day includes a promise God has made to us in Scripture, followed by a brief reflection.
This book comes in a rich leather cover and it's cleverly designed to be the size of your checkbook.
It can fit in your pocket. Checkbook of the bank of faith makes a great stocking stuffer. You can request a copy for yourself when you make a needed urine donation today and you can purchase additional copies to give as gifts simply go online to Truth for Life.org/donate or click through the image you see on the mobile app you know our study about God's providence in the midst of prolonged periods of difficulty couldn't be more perfectly timed to close out 2020. I'm sure you'll agree this is been a challenging year. So, our team has prepared a study guide that goes along with Alistair's series. My times are in your hands. This is a 12 session study guide that is perfect for any group to tackle during the new year, or for you to work through on your own. It's a great way to apply Alistair's teaching to your personal situation will help you trust in God's providence.
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Visit Truth for Life.org/store Bob Lapine. Be sure to join us again tomorrow as Alastair calls us to consider what the Bible says regarding grief when he concludes his message Christians grieved to Bible teaching of Alastair beg is furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living