But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.1 Thessalonians 4:13(NASB)
There are a number of areas in our Christian walk of which we should not be ignorant. We should not be ignorant of the spiritual gifts relating to the Church age nor the cunning devices of Satan who seeks to entrap us in worldly pursuits, fleshly activities and cunning lies.
We should not be ignorant of God's past and future work in connection with the nation of Israel nor of God's dealings with the Body of Christ (the Church) in this present age. We should also not be ignorant about believers whose eyes have closed in death, nor of the return of the Lord, the Rapture of the Church, and the resurrection of the Body that will one day happen to all that have fallen asleep in Him.
It is incumbent upon us to know what takes place after we have left this mortal toil so that we do not grieve inconsolably as those who have no future hope in Christ. It is good and right to mourn with those that mourn and we certainly miss those that have gone before, but we should never be as grief-stricken at the passing of a saved loved one as those that are unsaved and who have no hope...
We have a hope in Christ and an assurance that weeping will one day turn into laughter, sadness will be overtaken with joy, and God Himself will wipe away every tear from our eye.
Old Testament saints had an incomplete understanding of death and resurrection, for only until Christ had fully and finally broken the power of death at Calvary and triumphed over sin and Satan, was the power of death broken and the sting of death removed.
Like Christians in the early Church, we also need to know that there is a resurrection unto life for the believer, and a resurrection unto death for those that have rejected God's gracious offer of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. We need to know that there is a God-ordained order in the resurrection, with Christ being the first-fruit from the dead.
Christ was raised as the first of the resurrection harvest, then all who belong to Christ will be resurrected when he returns for His Church: "The dead in Christ will be raised first and then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." What a great comfort this is and no believer should be ignorant of this wonderful truth so that we will not grieve for our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone to be with the Lord ahead of us.
But Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end of the coming Tribulation period, when Israel as a nation will call on the name of the Lord, and Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords with the armies of heaven to set up His fast-approaching Millennial Kingdom. On that day, the nation of Israel will rejoice in unison saying, "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord."
The resurrection of the unbeliever is a terrifying prospect, but will not occur until the millennial reign of Christ has ended. Then, they will stand condemned before the Great White Throne of judgement because they have not believed on the only begotten Son of God.
We do not grieve as do those that have no hope because our hope is in the Lord. Let us seek to share the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ with those that are dead in their sins and without hope in the world, knowing that every day that passes is a day of grace when lost souls may come to a saving faith in Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus is my blessed Hope, that He died to pay the price for my sins, and rose again, breaking the power of sin and death in my life and the lives of all who trust in His name. Thank You that I am positioned in Christ, accepted in the Beloved, and that my citizenship is in heaven. How I praise You that I have been given eternal life and have a future hope in the Lord, and thank You, Father, that death is simply the doorway into a future life with Christ, when I will see You as You are. In Jesus' name, AMEN.