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, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A recent Cornell University study on Americans’ belief in an afterlife revealed that there has been very little change on this issue for more than 70 years. According to the study, belief in heaven has been true for over eight in ten people even since the late 1960s, while belief in life after death remains roughly in the range of seven in ten. That’s the best that a “spiritual” world can give us, maybe an 80% chance that there is a heaven or even life after death.
I don’t know what a study of the Thessalonian church would reveal, but it seems from Paul’s letter that they were confused. So, Paul sets them straight. He claims the highest authority for his words: Jesus. Jesus has died and risen again. His resurrection is the proof that the dead will rise and the confirmation that He has the authority to raise the dead on the Last Day. At the command of the Lord, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, the dead will rise.
If we are around to see that, we’ll follow them to resurrection glory. The same is true for all who live and die in Christ. Sin and death have been conquered by the crucified and risen Jesus. This is our greatest strength when we face the trials and terrors of death.
We don’t have a 70% or 80% chance of a resurrection to eternal life and a place at the Feast of the Lamb. We have a 100% guarantee from Jesus. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O Jesus Christ, do not delay, But hasten our salvation; We often tremble on the way
In fear and tribulation O hear and grant our fervent plea: Come mighty judge, and set us free From death and ev’ry evil. (“The Day is Surely Drawing Near” LSB 508, st.7)
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch