1 Thessalonians 4:13
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not…
One great miracle in the new creation of God is that death is changed to sleep; and therefore in the New Testament we do not read of the "death" of the saints (see John 11:11; Matthew 27:52; 1 Corinthians 15:51; Acts 7:60; Acts 13:36). Christians were wont to call their burial grounds cemeteries, or sleeping places, where they laid up their beloved ones to sleep on and take their rest.
1. We know that they shall wake up again. What sleep is to waking, death is to the resurrection — a prelude, a transitory state, ushering in a mightier power of life.
2. They whom men call dead do really live unto God. They were dead while they lived this dying life on earth, and dead when they were in the last avenues of death. But after they had once died death had no more dominion: they escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; the snare was broken and they were delivered. Once dead, once dissolved, the unclothed spirit is beyond the power of decay. There is no weakness, nor weariness, nor wasting away, nor wandering of the burdened spirit; it is disenthralled, and lives its own life, unmingled and buoyant.
3. Those whom the world calls dead are sleeping, because they are taking their rest (Revelation 14:13). Not as the heretics of old vainly and coldly dreamed, as if they slept without thought or stir of consciousness from the hour of death to the morning of the resurrection. Their rest is not the rest of a stone, cold and lifeless; but of wearied humanity. They rest from their labours; they have no more persecution, nor stoning, nor scourging, nor crucifying; no more martyrdoms by fire, or the wheel, or barbed shafts; they have no more false witness nor cutting tongues; no more bitterness of heart, nor iron entering into the soul; no more burdens of wrong, nor amazement, nor perplexity. They rest, too, from the weight of "the body of our humiliation" — from its sufferings and pains. They rest also from their warfare against sin and Satan. Above all, they rest from the buffetings of evil in themselves. The sin that dwelt in them died when through death they began to live. The unimpeded soul puts forth its newborn life as a tree in a kindly soil invited by a gentle sky: all that checked it is passed away, all that draws it into ripeness bathes it with fostering power. The Refiner shall perfect His work upon them, cleansing them sevenfold, even as gold seven times tried; and all the taint and bias of their spiritual being shall be detached and corrected. Theirs is a bliss only less perfect than the glory of His kingdom when the new creation shall be accomplished.Lessons:
1. We ought to mourn rather for the living than for the dead, for they have to die, and death is terrible.
2. It is life, rather than death, that we ought to fear. For life and all that it contains — thought, and speech, and deed, and will — is a deeper and more awful mystery. In life is the warfare of good and ill, the hour and power of darkness, the lures and assaults of the wicked one. Here is no rest, shelter, safety. Wherefore let us fear life, and we shall not be afraid to die. For in the new creation of God death walks harmless.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.