Because we believe

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 [ESV]

Garden Dahlia X2 | Dearborn, MI | August 2022

Do you recognize the difference between saying, “I think…” and saying, “I believe…”? I certainly do. When I say I think something is true, I’m expressing an opinion. It may or may not impact my behavior or decisions. It may also be a generic hope…I think I’ll go outside and take a walk. But when I say I believe something, it impacts what I do. I believe Jesus is the Son of God” is a much more significant statement than I think it’s going to rain today.” Belief implies gravitas, faith, and conviction. Thinking is more speculative.

Paul brings a word of encouragement to the people in Thessalonica based on their shared belief that Jesus died and rose again. There are major implications behind this assertion of belief. Think of it: Jesus died. That means that God has acted in remarkable gracious, merciful and sacrificial ways for the sake of lost and condemned creatures. Jesus, the Son of God, diedHe took our sins upon himself and suffered the consequences and wages of sin: death. He did that because he loved his Heavenly Father, and because he loved us. I believe this. Thanks be to God!

But I also believe that Jesus is no longer dead. This is a remarkable truth! God vindicated him by raising him from the dead. We will be vindicated in our belief in Jesus when we stand before God on Judgment Day. As a friend of mine likes to say, “The tomb is empty!” Whatever troubles, challenges, disappointments, pains, hardships, or torment we may face, they fade in the light of Jesus’ resurrection and the promises attached to that.

This is at least part of what Paul is saying here. Jesus isn’t only vindicated by his resurrection. He is not only shown and proven to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the grave (cf. Romans 1:4). He has promised, “Because I live, you too will live” (John 14:19). Because he died for our sins, and was raised for our justification (cf. Romans 4:24-25), we find comfort in Jesus’ resurrection and hope for our own, and for those who have gone onto be with him.

It seems the people in Thessalonica held unfounded fears that their loved ones who had died in the faith no longer had hope for Jesus’ salvation. Perhaps they thought Jesus was going to return before they died. Not to worry; whenever he returns those who are his will be with him forever.

We may face fears as well. Who gets in? How will I survive the Last Day if I’m still alive? How will I die? How will I make it through this valley of the shadow of death that I’m walking because of the loss of my spouse? How will I ever be forgiven for succumbing to temptation? These are all real fears. But Jesus has promised to be with us through them all. He died for our sins. He was raised for our justification. And because we believe we can take hope and comfort in being with him now and forever, and with our loved ones who have died in the faith when Jesus returns on the Great Last Day.

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