Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Real Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:13 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.

13 Οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων, ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα.

I think it is pretty obvious that Paul uses "asleep" as a euphemism for "dead." Paul uses the subjunctive mood with the phrase ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε. This is the mood of possibility. It is not something that has happened yet, but it might happen. That is why it is translated as "may not grieve." This is one of the instances where it has a weak imperatival force to it. Paul is telling them not to grieve. He contrasts them with οἱ λοιποὶ οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα. This could be thought of as "the remaining." In other words, this is everyone else. Everyone who is not a Christian goes through life μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα. Note that ἔχοντες is a participle. This gives a continuous force to it. He is saying that everyone who is not a believer goes through life in a continuous state of hopelessness.

Of course, hope is big business. That concept got someone elected president. But if our hope is in any person then we are closer to this.I don't care if that person is a Republican or Democrat. There is no hope is a person apart from Christ.

This is a truth that we need to believe deeply. We say we do, but the way we live indicates otherwise. How zealous are we for evangelism? If our zeal is weak then it is because we do not believe this deeply. Do we despair when a brother or sister in Christ dies? We should be sad and miss them, but we should never despair because if they are in Christ then they have real hope. It's the same hope we have if we are in Christ.

But where this gets really tricky is the other side. Every funeral I've ever attended has promised that the deceased is in heaven. But how can someone say that unless he is sure that the person trusted Christ for his salvation? Otherwise, that person was living in hopelessness and will continue to do so for eternity.

It all begins and ends with Christ. He also is everything in between. You want real hope? It's in Christ and nowhere else.

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