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Courage in the Face of Death - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - Waiting Well

Made for More / Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church
The Truth Network Radio
September 30, 2023 8:00 am

Courage in the Face of Death - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - Waiting Well

Made for More / Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church

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September 30, 2023 8:00 am

Do you live in fear? Are you anxious or worried about your health or the health of a loved one? Check out week 7 of our Waiting Well series.

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Yeah, across our campuses, let's praise God for stories like that with Mason.

I mean, guys, do not miss what he said. The single greatest discipleship mover that was in his life was turning loose and opening his hands with money. There's a reason for that. There's a reason why Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and says to him, hey, you want to follow me. What are you willing to give?

Give everything away. The Bible says we're not going to serve two different masters. It is the love of money that is the root of all types of evil. There is something that competes for God in our life kind of more than anything else in a lot of ways. And that's why what we see many times is that when disciples open their hands, when it comes to giving away their money, there's much of their heart that ends up kind of tied up with that and it follows them. It's where that treasure, our heart is going to go. And so we just want to praise God for stories like that. And we are, if you're brand new, you're coming right into the middle of something called The Deeper Initiative at Mercy Hill, where we're praising God and praying for some big things over the next couple of years.

We're not quite halfway through, but we are kind of getting towards the halfway, the middle point of that. And so we want to invite you to jump in or to stay strong. One of the things that I want to invite you to do though is to come, we're doing a prayer and vision tour. It's kind of marking the kickoff of our halfway point in The Deeper Initiative, and we're going to do it at the new home and hub.

So I want to show you guys a couple of pictures of the way things are coming together at the new home and hub. You know, I know that many of us are worshiping about half the church worship is worships and offsite locations. And we believe that the home and hub is going to do so much for growth of campuses throughout the triad. We really believe there's going to be a real cohesion to our church when there's a place that we can all come together for big things like Christmas and worship nights and things like that. And so this is really an all church, hands on deck kind of deal. We're right in the middle of it. I really want to ask you to come and come to the prayer and vision moment that we're going to have.

And here's why, let me tell you why. In six months or a year, whenever it is, all right, so at some point, the home and hub is going to be in the rear view. Faith will have been sight. And it'll be gratitude at that point. But it won't be an opportunity for us to stretch our faith anymore. We'll be standing in it. We'll be seeing what God is doing in it. This is an opportunity right now while we're still in the midst of, man, there's still money to be raised. There's still prayers to be prayed.

The baptisms, the adoptions that are going to happen, the marriages that are put back together, the missionary sent are still in the future. My point is this, now is the time to have our faith stretched. Now is the time for God to move in us, all right, when it comes to this. There's going to be a time when this is going to be a little bit like, hey, we saw God do it and we praise him for that. Now is the time that we get a chance to beg him for more and allow him to grow us in this process.

So come and meet us out on the land. It's a vision and prayer walk. Guys, it's happening Sunday, October 15th. There we go, Sunday, October 15th from one to six. You're going to choose a one hour time slot. It's going to be just like a Charleston walking ghost tour, okay, except not Charleston and no ghosts. All right, so, but you guys sign up. No, it's going to be, it's going to be really significant. I think it's going to be something that really moves the needle for us.

All right. First Thessalonians chapter four is where we're going to be this weekend. And I'm really pumped to dive into the word with you guys. Some of y'all are going to know this. If you've been around Christianity very long, if you've heard a lot of preaching, his preachers pick up on this, but it's told a lot. But in 1988, this is a true fact. Okay. In 1988, a book came out, made the rounds called 88 reasons why the rapture will come in 1988. All right. And 300,000 copies were sent out to pastors all over the country, which then followed 4 million copies sold. All right.

The author of that book said this, this is his quote, only if the Bible is in error, am I wrong? Well, you know, well, didn't age too well. Actually my pastor, pastor JD Greer, Summit Church in Raleigh, Durham was a teenager in 1988, and he was playing soccer and his soccer coach stopped their practice 30 minutes early and made them get on the bleachers to wait it out.

Okay. Just to see, seriously, it was September 13th. Cause that was the last day. It was September 13th. It was supposed to happen between the 11th and the 13th, 1988. It's 13th, hadn't happened. He stops practice.

We're going to sit on the bleachers. He told JD, he said, Hey man, if it happens, make sure all the equipment gets back to the, you know, to the, to the gym. Okay. So, and if you know JD, you kind of know why he said that. No, I'm just kidding. So he, he, and anyway, he, you know, it's, it's kind of a funny thing. Now we look back. I mean, funnier than that is that the next year, this is you can't make this stuff up in Christianity.

Okay. And the next year, 89 reasons why the rapture will come in 1989. Apparently he got his dates a little wrong.

You can't make this stuff up sometimes. Here's why I'd lead with that. Christians have a preoccupation with when the end times will come. And I'm here to tell you that I don't think that's the point. The point is not when. Waiting well is not guessing about when. Waiting well is understanding that God has given us literature that we call eschatological literature in the Bible. That, that we have apocalyptic literature, not what we're doing today, but we have these different glimpses of some things that are out there. We certainly have a glimpse of something that's coming and we get a knowledge a little bit of what happens when you die and what's going to happen in, you know, the rapture event or, or when Jesus comes back, the day of the Lord.

Y'all, we get these glimpses, but they are not to satisfy curiosity. They are to shape character. That's what this is in the Bible for. It's in the Bible to put steel in the spine of a believer that is still living here and now. In a broken world, in a persecuted world, we need endurance and durability. We need resilience if we're going to live the Christian life. And so the Bible gives us glimpses of what is coming in the future and says, Hey, grab on to that picture of the future and bury it in your heart today. The whole idea here, and you've, if you've ever heard us preach, like I'm, I'm about halfway through the book of revelation. We do like one every other year or something, you know, we're just kind of going all the way through and we'll, we'll make it through. And here's the thing.

This is what you're going to know. And even we preach revelation or Daniel or something like that. It's like, man, it ain't about charts. It's about change, life change. How are we different because of what we have heard about what's coming in the end?

Now, now here's the deal. 80%, Pew research put it like this. 80% of Americans believe in some type of afterlife, probably 80%, 70 something percent believe in some type of heaven, maybe even close to, well, I doubt it's close, but you know, some, some kind of heaven deal 10% or so 7% or so.

I can't remember the exact numbers. You know, it's some kind of, some kind of afterlife of some sort. I think that's probably about right until you get close to your own death. Then the number jumps to 99%.

Okay. I'm going to put it at 99, 99% when you actually start thinking about yourself, you end up believing in an afterlife, but here's the deal. And this is what I want you to see today. What about your belief in the afterlife is changing you now? Because a lot of people believe in something that's coming out there.

It's not changing their life today. God gives us glimpses of then so that we will be shaped in the now. Here's the big idea this weekend, hope in our resurrection. And let me say this, the resurrection of other people, the resurrection of believing friends and family members gives us a durability in the face of death. It gives us what we need. It gives us a foundation to be resilient, to endure.

Dare I say it gives us the ability to shake our fist at the enemy of death. Now, I don't know if that characterized you today. There have been many, many moments in my life where that is not what came out.

That was not what characterized me. Maybe today what you're thinking is, man, that's not me. I live in fear. I have health anxiety. I live in anxiousness. I'm worried about health and I'm worried about the loved ones. You know, the Bible can really help you with that. And if we will understand and believe what He has for us, it can begin to change some things in our life.

And I want to show you some things that I really think will. You ever been really, really tired? You ever been really like, man, you're playing ball. You're working outside all day in the hot sun. You're on a long hike.

You're just that. I mean, you just are wobbly and tired and you got to sit down. Some of us are feeling that way with the fear and anxiousness in our life over our death or the death of a loved one.

And then you have that moment where you just smash a massive cold Gatorade or water and you just feel like, man, I'm getting my legs back under me. That can happen for us today. That can happen in our life if we will drink in what God has for us in anchoring our hope in something that is in the future, in our resurrection. Here we go, verse 13. 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.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Now quickly here, I just want to say, remember we were talking about God's will last week. Remember God's will is not necessarily what neighborhood you move into.

It's what type of neighbor you're going to be, right? That's more like it's about growth. That's God's will for your life. Well, we kind of, I ran out of time a little bit last week, but he gets into some other things that are growth oriented, okay? God's will for you is also that you would be an independent worker, that you would exhibit brotherly love.

He gets into some of that. Verse 13, he changes, and he wants to point all of our eyes up toward heaven, and he wants to get us to anchor some of our hope in something that is coming in the future. And this is what he says. Let's just go kind of verse by verse here.

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. Now, I want to draw your attention, if you're looking at this, in your copy of Scripture, I want to make sure that we understand something right off the point, because I gave a pretty big assertion. I said, hey, man, it's not about charts and change. That's not an argument. That's an assertion. It's not about timelines. It's about, you know, shape and character. That's an assertion.

Well, here's why I say it. Because what we're going to see in this passage today is this. He links, but we do not want you to be uninformed with this concept of, we want you to grieve with hope. Not without hope.

My point is this. He's going to teach us some things about the end times, not about our curiosity, but it's about how we grieve in the world. How we are a people who grieve differently.

We are not the type of person who is crushed, but rather we are pressed. We will grieve differently than the world if we understand some things that he wants to inform us of. That's a clear purpose. The clear purpose here, we're going to see in the very last verse that I get into today, is that we are to encourage one another with the things that we learn about the end times, not argue and fight with each other about the things that we learn about the end times. So what we're going to have to do is we're going to have to take a high view, and we're just going to have to say, well, the things that are gray, we're going to leave gray.

But there's plenty here that we can chew on that's not gray at all. And one of the things that's not gray is I want you to be informed so that you will, look, not grieve as others do who have no hope. Now, it's interesting in verse 13 that he says this. He says, but I don't want you to be uninformed. Now, why do I say that's interesting? Because other places in 1 Thessalonians, he's calling them to remember things. All right, he's saying to them, remember that when I was with you, remember. He doesn't say that now.

Why? Because now he's getting into some theology that he didn't have a chance to tell them about. You are uninformed because I didn't get a chance to finish your training.

You guys remember how this all started. Acts 17, plants a church, isn't there very long, gets kicked out. I didn't have a chance to get to some things and you not knowing some things is putting fear in your life. Man, it's creating division in the church because I wasn't able to finish your training.

I wasn't able to finish your discipleship. I was thinking about this, one of my kids when they were five years old, first little game of tee ball and tee ball nowadays, they stand, it's not like off a tee unless the kid can't hit it, none of my kids. Okay, so they got like the right in front of you and they just throw the little thing and they just crush it, a little soft kind of ball.

They're four years old, five years old, something like that, right? And one of my kids, we've been working all summer on just, I mean, smacking the ball. I wanted them to just boom, crush it. I want them to knock it out and hit it so hard. And I tell them all the time, listen, if you hit it hard enough, the other team will move out of the way.

Okay, that's my thing with them, all right? So he's up there, man, and he's like five years old and a guy throws it to him and he just crushes the ball, drops the bat, perfect form running down the line. Problem is he ran straight to third, okay? And it was, he's upset, he didn't really, and I get, and listen, I'll never forget this because, I mean, it's like a thing in my parenting. I got right in his face, he was upset, and I got right in his face, right in his eyes, and I said, hey man, this is my fault. I said, this ain't your fault, this is my fault. I've worked so hard on you being able to alligator, you know, get the ball, and I've worked so hard on you running around and smacking it that I didn't take the time to finish your training in this area. And there was a hole that was left by me, not by you, it was left by me.

And I just said to him, hey man, we're gonna get this figured out, you know, we're gonna make sure that we get it figured out. Now, for Paul, I don't know that you would say it's his fault in the way that I'm saying that about myself, but the point is the same. There was a hole in their discipleship. He's not saying, remember these things, he's saying, you're uninformed. I can't have you be uninformed about this, I need to teach you some things.

And that really rocks me a little bit, I don't know if it does you. Listen, if you are a senior in college and you've got about one more year with that family group where there are freshmen, if you're a parent and you got high school kids at home and you got just a couple years and then they're gonna move on and do some other things with life, if you're a community group leader and you got a bunch of young pros or young marrieds in your group and you know how transient our culture is, you don't know how long you have them. I don't want to leave a gaping hole in somebody's life that God has given me to disciple. And I think about that for you.

Man, are we redeeming the time? There is a part of this that is very simple. Y'all, moving from ignorance to knowledge is a major component of discipleship. That's why at Mercy Heal I have no problem, a lot of times when there's social upheaval, when there's things going on in the culture, people want to say, what's the church doing about this? What's the church doing about this? What's the church doing about this? And I have no problem, and people don't like it, I have no problem saying, the main thing that we do is teach the Bible. What do you do?

No, no, no. The main thing that we do is try to shape the way people think in a godly way. And that will trickle down into other areas of life. That's not all we do, but that is the main thing that we do because we've got to move from ignorance to knowledge. Listen, you cannot believe something you don't know, and you cannot behave something that you don't believe.

It cannot get all the way into your behavior if you don't believe it, and you can't believe it if you don't know it. So my question is for some of us today, man, are we in a position to train some people that God has put in our life, and how is that going? Paul is in this letter saying, I want to pour out what is left unfinished in you. And here's what he wanted them to see. I want to inform you, and we're going to get into what it is.

We're going to get into meeting him in the air in the first dead in Christ arise and all that, okay? But the first part is this. The reason is because I'm seeing something in your behavior that is connected to belief that ends up being connected to knowledge. You don't know, so you can't believe in what you know.

If you don't believe it, you're not going to behave it. And what they're not behaving rightly in is they're grieving like the world because they don't have a hope that comes from belief in the resurrection. They don't understand how it's all going to work out, and therefore they're grieving as those who don't have hope. And what he's saying is, I don't want you to be uninformed that you may not grieve, verse 13, as others who have no hope. That in all of these things and all of the tragedies that we see in death and people that we see around us, what he's saying is, man, we see grief and there should be two types of grief. And I hate to say it like this because it puts such a fine point on it, but it's really true. There's godless grief and there's godly grief. It kind of puts a fine point on it. And I don't mean to push on anybody. I'm just saying, there's a way that we grieve that is in line with the world.

No hope, don't know what's going to happen. Certainly I'm not anchoring something in the future, hope that I'm informed about. And then you have godly grief. I think what he's saying is this very simply, what we believe changes how we grieve. If we're going to be a people with durability, resilience, endurance, and strength, it's going to come because we believe some things about the afterlife. Now that doesn't mean that death is not a tragedy.

I want to make sure you understand this, okay? Death is a tragedy. Death is to be grieved. Death is something that humans were never intended to go through the horror of, but it is the reality now. But even having said that, there is a way that Christians grieve and there's a way that others grieve. You know, 2 Corinthians tells us like this, you ever heard the phrase, we're pressed but not crushed? It's not that we're not pressed. It's not that—some people in here right now or at our campuses have probably had this idea, maybe baked in even from when you were a kid, that if you grieve death, some kind of way your faith is weak, that is so far from the truth.

I mean, it's so far from the truth. Death is a tragedy. There is grief involved. It's just not the grief of the world. It's just not the grief that we see that comes from not having hope. You know, I think about the believers here, it seems like what he's saying is the brothers and sisters that are here, they lost people and they didn't know what was going to happen.

We're going to get into that. They didn't know what was going to happen in the resurrection, and it was tearing them up, and he's trying to inform them so that they would grieve in a different way. Here's the deal, I'm about to get into this, right, in verse 14 in just a second. We're going to talk about the truth that's supposed to unlock the door for godly grief, but before we do this, let me paint a picture of why you should want it. Have you known people that reacted to the same situation in two wildly different ways? I mean, when I say godless, what I'm talking about is, man, I'm running so hard in my pain that now I'm turning to substances.

I'm running away so hard that I cannot be known and I'm isolating, you know. I'm running into things that are sinful and destructive in my life because I'm so sad and there's so much grief, and yet you have others that react to the same way. They're sad, they cry, there's grief, and yet they're not crushed. They bring people closer in some kind of way. When they walk through that tragedy, they say, I've never been closer to God.

I mean, there's just two different ways that people walk through these things. You know, there's a family in our church who lost an adult child years ago, and man, just absolute tragedy. This family is a godly family. You talk to them even now, it's probably going to be tears and probably going to be, but I'm telling you, I was around them and with them through that whole kind of process and watched their life, and they pulled people close. They learned things about God that they would never know any other way. They to this day have opened their life so much that they immediately are walking through tragedies with other people who have lost adult children. This is walking through it in a godly way. It doesn't mean it don't hurt.

It doesn't mean it's not a tragedy, but it does mean that they're grieving in a different way. They have, as Charles Spurgeon said, learned to kiss the wave that throws them against the rock of ages. Have you learned that? How are we doing it? How do we do it?

Well, I'm going to tell you the way to do it. The way to do it is, what I'm about to read, we grab from the future and we bury in our heart. Okay, we got to grab it and hold on to it, and here's what it says. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 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. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, the voice of an archangel, and the sound of a trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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. Now I hope you see the Christian position here is not that we don't grieve.

I hope you don't see that it's a happy-go-lucky, everything is all right in the world because there's a God in heaven, or any of this, okay? The idea is not that. The idea actually is very deep. What he's getting at here is the secret to unlocking godly grief is understanding something about the resurrection. It's not trying to get more shallow, in other words, it's going deeper. It's not trying to just kind of take a very cheap view of death, it's a very deep view, all right? There's a song right now, okay? We're talking about the opposite of the bury me in Georgia song, okay?

It's not just like chunk me in the clay and don't worry about it if you've heard that song. Instead, what it's like is, no, no, no, there's something deep that the Bible's saying about death being a doorway to everlasting life. Doesn't mean it's not hard, doesn't mean it's not tragic, but when we understand that death is a doorway to everlasting life, we understand that it's not the end of the story.

Listen, I know that some of us are like, but wait a minute, this sounds like you're only talking about people who have lost believing loved ones. And here's the deal, the reason that I'm talking about that is because that's what the passage is about, okay? But I also, this is hard, but I also understand that some kind of way when it's all said and done for the Christian, no matter who we have lost, some kind of way we're not going to weep over those things in heaven. I don't know exactly how that works, but I do know that some kind of way God will reap such glory in the end that we will have looked back and said, God, your grace, my salvation, I'm so overwhelmed. But this passage is about believers that have been lost.

I think this is what's going on, okay? If you're trying to understand like what is the Genesis of the passage and why is it written? I think it's this, I think the people were left with a hole in their discipleship because they were left uninformed, all right? And now they have this thought of, wait a minute, people have died and Jesus hasn't come back yet, what happens to them? That's what they're trying to figure out. Probably even more specifically, I think they're thinking, wait a minute, if they're dead, how are they going to be with Jesus at His kind of day of the Lord, at the entry of the new heavens and the new earth? At that Aslan kind of moment, at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia, when the kingdom of God is invading, further up, further in, if they're already dead, how are they going to participate?

I think that's probably the question that they're asking. And Paul has got a simple answer, guys, they didn't miss the party, okay? In the economy of God's kingdom, they didn't miss the party. What he's trying to show them is the same thing that he writes in Romans 8 38, nothing will separate us, not even death or life, nothing will separate us. And if we die before Christ comes back, are we going to be with Him?

Yes, we're going to be with Him because the dead in Christ will rise first and then the ones that are alive will come after and we will meet Him in the air. Now, you're saying, man, you're skipping over a lot of the left behind book here, okay? I know that, all right?

And will Kirk Cameron be there? That's the biggest question, okay? But here's the deal, I want to make sure you understand with me the way that we teach the Bible at Mercy Hill. We major on what is clear.

It's what we really try to do, okay? And there are some things in this passage that are crystal clear, and that's what we should be talking about, all right? So one of them is this, our hope is anchored in nothing other than the resurrection itself from this passage. I mean, he anchors it in Jesus Christ's resurrection. If He is raised, then we can expect resurrection. Hey, they died, but they didn't miss the party.

Why? Well, because Jesus died once too, right? And then He was raised. And so believer, if you are dead but you're in Christ, you can expect to be raised. That's what He says here in verse 14. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will bring Him with those who have fallen asleep. Jesus didn't just die for our sin, He was resurrected for our life, for our rebirth.

This is what the resurrection is. This is what is pictured so beautifully in baptism, y'all. We had a chance to baptize a few weeks ago. One of the stories in baptism years ago, we had an incredible adoption story of a sibling group that was adopted by a family at Mercy Hill.

Now they're old enough, one of those children was baptized this last month. And listen to this, in the baptismal waters, in the testimony part of all the work that goes into the baptism of a child, he said something to the effect of, man, I want to be baptized and show what God is doing in my life because I know that God wanted me just like my parents did. Yes, He did, bud. Yes, He did. He wanted you.

He brought you into His family, right? But what does He do in baptism? Well, you go down in the water. Well, what does that signify?

Death. The water is over, grave dead, okay? Now we're coming up out of the water. What does this represent? This represents life. Okay, so like Jesus dies on the cross and goes underneath death. Now He burst forth from the tomb in life.

And that's what happens to me. It's not just Jesus died for my sin. He was resurrected for my rebirth. He was resurrected for my life, okay?

That I would be joined with Him. And this is the picture that he's getting into here. He's trying to assure the church, remember, this is not about curiosity. It's about changing their life. It's about something anchored in their soul that produces life change, okay? And what he's saying I think is, hey, if you understand what Jesus has done, death, burial, resurrection, now we can understand that even those who have died before Christ has returned can expect this type of resurrection.

This is what he's getting at here. They wanted to be present at the final resurrection. They wanted to be present at the day of the Lord. Even though I know some of us are like, wait a minute, you know, we need to get into some eschatology or whatever. Some of those trees are a little hard to see. The forest ain't hard to see at all. The forest is Jesus is going to come back. New heavens, new earth.

Everybody that's saved is going to reign with Him. That's pretty simple. That part is pretty clear. What he's saying is, hey, you don't need to grieve as those who have no hope because those who have died before Christ comes back, they can expect a resurrection.

The second thing I'll show you is this. I think it's very clear in this passage. We will join, every one of us who are believers, we will join in the triumph of Jesus forever. Now, as I said, this passage is a matter of great debate. It's talking about something called the rapture that Christians talk about a lot where we are, you know, I mean, it's crazy.

There's a thousand views on every angle of it. Is the rapture that we're taking out of the world or is the rapture that the sinners and non-believers are taking out of the world? I mean, all this stuff, okay? What the Bible is trying to get us to see, I think, here is, and it says in verse 14, that God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. Now, fallen asleep is just, all that is is a Greek euphemism for death.

Okay? People have built wild theologies off of that idea. It's just, but you go back in Greek in this time and you're going to see that people just commonly said this for death, okay? And then the dead in Christ will rise. First, he says that in verse 16, all right?

So the dead will come first. And then in verse 17, it says, we're all going to come if we're on the earth and alive during this time. Look what he says, then we who are alive, who are left will be caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will always be with the Lord. Like I said, it's a little hard to maybe kind of piece together some timelines of all this kind of stuff, but overall, I think what it's given us is the picture of a, this is what the Greek is trying to show us. It's the picture of a dignitary coming in to a new city or coming into a new area to enjoy the banquet.

Here's the deal. And as he's coming in, people are joining the processional. And that's us. It's the dead in Christ first. I mean, why are they first? Well, what are they coming for? They're joined with God in this whole thing. Well, they're trying to go get their bodies back, okay?

That's what they're trying to do. And because our faith is not just a spiritual deal, you know, we can expect a bodily resurrection, and this is part of the beauty of Christianity, that we don't demonize the physical or only talk about the spiritual. We are whole people. The idea of being a spirit before the resurrection is something of being unclothed.

It's not natural for us. God is going to bring all of that back together in the resurrection. And this is the moment that he's talking about. I don't know all the twists and turns about how we get there, but this is that great day when the new heavens and the new earth and God is coming in and Jesus is triumphantly coming in. Y'all, this is the day that graves turn into gardens. This is the day when dry bones live again. When no one is left and a new heaven and a new earth is exactly what we are heading for.

Further up, further in. This is the day when faith in him will be healed and be able to sing. This is the day when brothers and sisters who cannot walk will run. This is the day that the blind will see. This is the day when you and I will understand what it means to worship without sin.

Can you imagine that? Freedom, true freedom to live in God's sight every second, every breath, nothing hidden from him. This is the new heavens and the new earth. We're going to sing a song later that talks exactly about this day because a great celebration is coming. When those who slumber will awake. Now here's what it says in verse 18.

This is my point. Y'all, this is what we're supposed to be doing with great truths like this. Therefore, encourage one another with these words. Talk to each other about heaven. Talk to each other about that great day when Jesus comes again.

Talk to each other. Man, encourage one another. When we have brothers and sisters, and we do in this church that are facing very dire things when it comes to health, man, let's continually speak life into them. I don't mean in a cheesy way, but I'm saying let's speak in life and scripture and we understand what Jesus is going to do and allow that to build a foundation in us so that we can be durable and resilient and endure and not give up and shake our fist at death as an enemy because we know that Jesus Christ and his gospel is taken away at sting. And this is what I think this passage is about.

Eschatology, the end times theology, it's a theological word, was given to strengthen character, not satisfy curiosity. It's meant to build in us an unshakable foundation. You know, I think I heard this illustration.

I thought it was really good. I just wanted to share with you guys. You know, you take an inch.

I'm from Florida and then live in North Carolina. I've never had this, but I'm fascinated by this when you see these people that live in places where like a lake will freeze over and they can drive on it. Have you seen this? I mean, I would never drive on it, okay? But people do it, okay? But I think about this idea. You know, you go out there and there's a lake. If there's one inch thick of ice, listen to me, there is no amount of belief that can keep you from falling right through it. There ain't no about, there's no amount of, I'm going to get my, I'm going to try to believe, I'm going to try real hard. There's no, but if you have a sheet of ice on that bad boy that's three feet thick, there's no amount of doubt that can let you fall.

You could drive a car on it. Why does God give us things and glimpses and apocalypses and things that we have in the end time? It's to build a three-foot sheet of ice under your feet so that even in a day of doubt you will not fall. That's kind of, I think, what these are about. It's not about predicting. It's about preparing our heart to stand firm because the days are evil. So here's what I call you to do. Anchor your hope in the resurrection, all right? Anchor your hope in the resurrection. I know some of you today might say to yourself, man, I'm not the person right now that can shake my fist in the face of death.

I get that. I don't know that I'm that person today. I want to be that person. I believe God has that out there for me and I'm going to believe Him for it. I know the way there though. You know the way there is to soak in the Word like this and to have people in my life that encourage me in this.

I mean, that's what it says. Encourage one another. Be informed so that you don't grieve like the rest of the world.

All right? So if we want that, we're going to soak in it. You know, Pastor Tim Keller, he passed away, prolific author, kind of a C.S. Lewis of our time in terms of just the things that he wrote and things like that. And I had the chance, this was crazy, I had the chance to see an email correspondence that was between him and a mentor of mine right towards the end when when he was walking through his cancer struggle. And I mean, it was one of those things where, you know, we got a chance to see it. It's like, you know, man, don't don't forward it to anybody or don't, you know, don't don't respond directly to him, you know, whatever.

But we got the mentor I'm talking about one of the few of us to see it for this reason. You know what Keller said in that email? The email first said, how you doing? His email back said physically failing, spiritually stronger than ever. Now, I want to pair that with something, OK, because he also wrote an article when he was walking through all this in a secular magazine. And here's what he said.

I thought this is really interesting. He said he said a bunch of things. But one of the things he said was this.

One of the first things I learned, presumably talking about how hard the things that he was going through, his diagnosis and all that. One of the first things I learned, listen, was that religious faith does not automatically provide solace in times of crisis. A belief in God and an afterlife does not become spontaneously comforting and exponentially strengthening.

You know what he was saying? We live in a culture where 80 percent of the people believe in an afterlife. What is it changing about their life now?

That's what he's getting at. What is it changing about your life? Because knowing that it's out there doesn't necessarily automatically... You're talking about a guy who died saying, man, I'm stronger than ever spiritually, physically failing. But it didn't happen automatically, right?

It happened by soaking in the Word and being encouraged by others. So do you fear your own mortality? Do you fear the mortality of others? Man, is there something going on in your life?

We've got stories like this in our church all the time. I understand it. One day it will be all of our stories. That's one of the things that we learn, man. Death is an abstraction until it's right in your face. There's something out there you're not thinking about, and it's right here. Man, it's out there for every single one of us.

Do we fear that, or can we be strengthened in the Word of God today? You know, last week I turned 40, okay? So, you know, I know, I made it, all right? So appreciate that. Appreciate it. My kids got me a cane.

No joke. They got me a cane. Then I came walking out like... But you know what I mean? You hit some of these milestones, and you're just like, you know... Man, I don't want to get... Listen, I don't... And I'm learning... Listen, some of you guys are an absolute inspiration to me in this.

I can name name after name after name. I do not want to sit around in fear over the next decade, the next decade, the next decade. What I want to do is come screaming out of the tunnel for the second half.

That's what I want to do. And I'm not going to do that if I'm all wrapped up in fear. So how do we... Are we wrapped up today? There's an answer, and that answer is, man, are we soaking?

Are we grabbing from the future? There is a resurrection. Jesus Christ is alive.

If you are found in him, death is a doorway, and that's all it is. Man, some of us right now are lost because we've lost somebody. We've lost a friend. We've lost a family member.

We've experienced a miscarriage. I want you to take heart today. It's not the end of the story, especially if you're dealing with a believing friend. I want you to know they were in Christ.

You will see them again. But listen, even if they were not in Christ, some kind of way in the economy of God's kingdom, he will be glorified in it all in the end. And we know there are no tears in heaven. I know that's hard, but some kind of way God is doing something with all of it. I'm going to call upon you to trust his sovereignty today, all right? Man, let's pray. Father, we thank you for this day. And God, we ask as we move in to this response time in our message, Lord, that you will just move in us and through us. And God, I just pray that you'll move our hearts around, God, that you'll bring courage and strength. Lord, I pray that we'll be changed today by your Spirit. In Christ's name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-30 20:08:12 / 2023-09-30 20:25:50 / 18

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