Today I am going to go to the funeral of my friend Alexandru Malancea’s mother, a priest at the “Holy Trinity” church in Chișinau. I want to speak to him and to all who will come to comfort him and their families about the hope that the Christian has at his death. My friend’s mother, Nadezhda Malancea, was a special Christian who served God all her life with love and joy. Here is what God says in His Word about the hope and comfort of Christians at their death:
1. The knowledge of life after the grave brings comfort and hope
The apostle Paul thus begins the passage where he speaks on this subject:
„But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NASB)
What a horror it is for people who have no knowledge and hope in eternal life. Once, on the plane with my wife, I went through a terrible turbulence. I had the impression that the plane’s wings would break. At one point the plane began to fall down without any control. The main lights went out and only the accident lights came on. All the people on the plane cried out in an indescribable despair, because they all realized that their death was very near. I didn’t think at the time that we would reach our intended destination. I turned to look at what my wife was doing and to support her emotionally. But there was a deep silence and peace on her face that I could not see in anyone else on that plane where there was an indescribable panic. Such is the difference between those who have knowledge of their fate at death and those who do not. Do you have this knowledge? Do you know what will happen to you at the moment of your death and where you will go?
2. Faith in the Lord Jesus gives hope to the Christian at the moment of death
Paul further writes:
„For if we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NASB)
Today the fashion for believing in God has returned and most people say that they believe in the Lord Jesus that he died and rose again, that he is the Son of God, and so on. But their way of life is in no way similar to the way the Lord Jesus lived his life and how He asks those who have entered into a covenant with Him to live it. The Formal Faith, mentioned above, or which stops at the level of acceptance, does not bring salvation and cannot bring any hope in one’s life. Such a faith is said to be dead, and to be shared even with devils. Here is what James says in the letter that bears his name:
“In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to acknowledge, you foolish person, that faith without works is useless?” (James 2:17-20 NASB)
3. Christians fall asleep and do not die like those who do not have the hope of eternal life
Interestingly, when referring to the physical death of Christians, God uses the term “sleep” in the Bible. Why? Because the term “death” means separation and the Christian still separates from his physical body, and other people separate from God for eternity at the moment of their death, if they did not believe in Jesus from the heart and if they did not repent of their sins. The death of the Christian is nothing but a pleasant sleep, and then he awakens again with Jesus Christ, in a much better state than he had on earth.
4. Sleeping Christians will be resurrected at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
God goes on to say in His Word:
„For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB)
Then, when we meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds, we will see our loved ones who have fallen asleep again. My friend will see his mother then and they will rejoice together. How I wish I could see my parents there and rejoice with them forever. But I have no hope of this, because they did not know Jesus Christ. When my Christian aunt came and urged my father to read the Bible, he would say, “Well, sister, if I read the Bible, who will work?” This was an excuse for the vanity in which he lived. In the end, he had no joy in all the riches he had amassed. But this is another story and I will return to this site to tell it in its entirety.
5. Those who have fallen asleep in Christ have a privilege on the day of resurrection
It is said that they will rise first and ascend to the clouds, and only after this we, who will be alive then, will be taken up to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will spend eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ, and with each other.
“Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NASB)
Translated by Olya Trikolich