Those Who Sleep in Jesus

We sorrow, but not like those who have no hope.

1 Thessalonians 4 (4)

Pray Psalm 16.7-9.
I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4.13, 14.

1. Why is “sleeping” a good way of thinking about Christians who have died?

2. What is the basis for our confidence in the day of resurrection? Why should that give us hope?

Apparently, some members of the believing community in Thessalonica had died since Paul left them. Naturally, this would cause grieving, and grieving is what Christians must do at such times. However, as Paul notes, Christians do not grieve “as others who have no hope.” We grieve the loss of loved ones, but we do not despair. If our loved ones knew the Lord, then they have merely “fallen asleep” in Him, and we will see them again. If they did not know the Lord, then we at least may take comfort in the promise of resurrection for ourselves, and rest our loved ones in the goodness and wisdom of God, Who does all things well.

When we die, our bodies go to the grave. Our soul, however, goes directly to the Lord, to be ultimately disposed to one end or the other, whether to heaven or to hell, in either place, to wait for the day of resurrection and the joining of body and soul for eternity.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the guarantee that we who believe in Him will also rise (v. 14). We need to know this and know it firmly (v. 13), for this is the Christian’s blessed hope, that one day, because of Jesus and with Him (v. 14), we will rise again, be glorified in our bodies, and live in the presence of God’s glory forever.

So while we sorrow at the loss of loved ones, we focus on Jesus, alive from the dead and preparing even now to return and take us as His Bride. Thus we grieve, but we grieve with hope, and rejoice in the Lord and His precious and very great promises. Let us never be ignorant of this great promise, and let us ever cling to this blessed hope.

1. How is the grieving of Christians not like the grieving of those who have no hope?

2. Is it a good idea to be as clear as possible about the day of resurrection and life in the new heavens and new earth? Why? 

3. Are heaven and the new heavens and new earth the same thing? How are they alike? How are they different?

Thus when we have to face the hard and cruel necessity of death, we are upheld by this consolation, that we shall shortly see again those whose absence we now mourn. For their end is not called death but a slumber and a falling asleep. Jerome (347-420 AD), Letters 75.1

Give me an ever-clearer vision of Jesus, exalted in glory and coming again, so that I…

Pray Psalm 16.

As you pray, count the number of ways the Lord is good to you. Let your mind focus on Jesus, exalted in glory, and thank God for the promised day of resurrection.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 16 (All to Christ: Jesus Paid it All)
Preserve me, O my God; I refuge seek in You. 
You alone are all my good, my Lord and Savior true!
Refrain v. 11 
Make me know life’s way! Pleasures fill Your hand.
Fill my life with joy each day! Before Your face I stand. 

The saints within the earth, majestic in their day, 
Delight me with the worth of all they do and say. 

They endless tears shall weep who worship idols vain; 
Their ways I will not keep, nor speak their empty names. 

My portion and my cup are You, my Savior dear; 
You help and hold me up and ever keep me near. 

I bless Your Name, O Lord; my mind instructs each night;
You teach me by Your Word and guide me in the right. 

You are ever with me, Lord; in You I shall not fall. 
But rejoicing in Your Word, I abide within Your call. 

Soon Your glory I shall see, for as Jesus rose again, 
You will come to gather me to my home with You in heav’n.

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Order our workbook, God’s Covenant, and find out how all Scripture fits within this redemptive framework (click here).

Forward today’s study to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link to the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Paul’s ministry and prepare for your own.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

Today's ReVision


God rules everything.

Join the Ailbe Community

The Fellowship of Ailbe Newsletters