God’s Family #3

Monday, February 3, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

Save the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12, the Thessalonians were the most spiritually mature assembly of Christians recorded in Scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote two brief epistles to them, commending their sound testimonies, encouraging their endurance under intense persecution, and urging them to grow even more in Christ. The Thessalonians “received the word [of God] in much affliction” (1 Thessalonians 1:6): they had “persecutions and tribulations,” great sufferings (2 Thessalonians 1:4-7), and 1 Thessalonians 2:14 indicates their fellow Greeks (albeit unsaved/pagans) were responsible for their distresses.

The language of 1 Thessalonians 4:13—“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”—indicates some of the Thessalonian Christians were being martyred, killed by their pagan neighbors. The Holy Spirit, working in and through Paul, addressed the Thessalonians’ concerns: “What happened to our brothers and sisters in Christ who were killed? Will we ever see them again?” (Being former pagans themselves, their Greek philosophy denied bodily resurrection, so Paul affirmed the doctrine.)

Paul continues, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (verse 14). The verb “sleeping” describes the appearance of their physical bodies, not the state of their souls and spirits (cf. Daniel 12:2; Revelation 6:9-11). Our brothers and sisters who have died in Christ, their physical bodies are here, buried on earth, yet Paul wrote “will God bring [them] with Him.” To wit, the “real” them—their souls and spirits—are in the third heaven! Just as Paul heard some fantastic words and sounds in heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), the saints in heaven are enjoying fellowship with other Christians and Jesus Christ (being “far better with Christ” [Philippians 1:23], they are unaware of how long they have been there!).

If you think Christian fellowship on earth is enjoyable, just wait until heaven….