Our Dear Dead.

1 Thes. 4:13-18.
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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For
this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive
and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which
are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and
the dead in Christ shall rise first : then we which are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord
in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfori
one another with these words.
Sanctify us, O Lord, through Thy truth :
Thy Word is truth. Amen.
Beloved in Christ:
We are reminded not only, by nature but by the text
selected by the Church, that death is coming. One glance
at the trees, the leaves of which have fallen to the ground,
one glance at the grass that has withered, will tell you
that the winter is near and that death is coming. In our
selection of texts for the Church year, as we approach the
end we treat of death, of the resurrection, and of Judg-
ment. We have been thinking very much concerning the
dead in other families, but I would invite you this even-
ing to go with me to yonder cemetery, and just spend an
hour by the side of the graves of your own dear ones. As
a nation on the 30th day of May we pay a tribute to our
soldiers who laid down their lives on the battlefield for
the liberty and protection of our country, but, my dear
friends, some of the greatest battles have been fought in
homes with the blinds drawn closely down, in rooms where
they have not been seen by the world. There have been
battles fought in your own home among those that have
passed beyond that are not described on the 30th day of
May, and it is perfectly in order that we should, at least
once in the year, pay special respect and honor to those
of our own who lie in yonder little beds prepared by
the Savior as a place of rest until He shall raise them up
on that beautiful morning; and no difference how humble
our homes; no difference where those little flowers are
j^en, it was a dear one that passed away ; and, therefore, I
invite your attention this evening to
May God, the Holy Spirit, help us so to live and so
to die that when that hour comes that we fall asleep, we
may fall asleep in Jesus.
I. Concerning our dear dead, let me state that l^ot
all are here. We are apt to think that only a few people
are dead. We think of the one billion, four hundred mil-
lions of people on this earth as if they were the greatest
part of humanity; we forget that in every century three
times as many people as are living on earth today, pass
beyond. Where is the man who is able to compute how
many people have fallen by the hand of death from the
days of Adam and Eve until this very hour? Multitudes,
multitudes are sleeping in their graves. In every family
there are some missing, and when we trace this family
back to our forefathers, we need not go far until we are
compelled to say, they are all dead ; not all are here.
II. Then I would say, Our dead are dear. How dear
they are to us, those that sleep under that little mound
yonder. One has a dear father there, another a dear
mother, another a dear brother, another a dear sister,
another a dear wife, another a dear husband, another a
dear little child. Sometimes Avhen we read of the ungodly
people who are ready to slaughter their children, we won-
der how it can be. When I stop to think how dear that
one is to me that only saw this world twenty-five hours, I
wonder how any man can be brutish enough, how any
woman can be hard-hearted enough, to rejoice in the death
of their offspring. How dear our dead are to us.
III. ext I would say of our dear dead, They sleep
so near. It is not far away that we find their little beds.
There was a time when this world was a large world;
there was a time when it took a long time to go to where
some of our dead were; but in these days of swift com-
munication and swift travel, it only takes a little while
to go to yonder bed where mother sleeps, to go where
father sleeps, and where brother and sister, and dear little
children sleep, where our dear little son sleeps, and he
sleeps ! Oh, what a beautiful thought, he sleeps ! Heathen
philosophy never knew that, but we know it. He who
conquered death said, Lazarus sleepeth. The maid is not
dead, she sleepeth. When those men picked up their rocks
and threw them at Stephen until he fell dead, I suppose
they thought he is now out of the way, but the Word of
God tells us he sleepeth. Stephen is sleeping; Lazarus is
sleeping; and our dear dead are sleeping, not far away.
When we put our children to sleep we never think it is a
sad hour. With a kiss and with a prayer we say "Good-
night, little darling,'^ expecting in the morning to see them
awake. But, my dear friends, when our children awake
in the morning, they only awake to go to sleep again ; they
awake to die ; but these dear dead of ours, when they wake
up, they will awake never to sleep again.
IV. Concerning our dear dead, I would say, Hide
not your tear. "But I would not have you to be ignorant,
brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sor-
row not, even as others which have no hope." Mark well,
the Holy Spirit does not tell us not to sorrow, but not
to sorrow as those who have no hope. Throughout the
history of the world funerals have been dreadful days for
the children of the world, and I cannot help but notice
in my own ministry the wonderful difference between a
funeral in a Christian home and a funeral that is held in
some home where there is no hope. In all homes we find
sadness, and why should we not? Hide not your tear. It
is sad in every home to part with our dear ones, and we
never know ho^^ dear they are until that hour when they
close their eyes in sleep. Therefore, it becomes necessary
for us not to be too careful not to shed a tear. There is
nothing in this stolid philosophy that simply says we
cannot change things and what do we care ; and stand at
the grave as if w^e Avere stone and had no hearts of flesh.
When we stand by the open graves of our dear ones we
realize what sin has done ; we know what it means to have
those sacred cords torn apart; we know what it means to
say, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust over the flesh and
bone of our own bodies ; but let us not, with all our tears,
weep like those that have no hope. It is a terrible thing
to stand by the grave of one who has not fallen asleep in
Jesus. I am not surprised to find people weep and howl
in the presence of their dead when they have lived like
animals and died like animals and have no hope; but re-
member, that the apostle Paul does not admonish every-
body not to weep. ''Weep not like those that have no
hope; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with
But how about those who do not sleep in Jesus? To
think that I should stand by the side of a father's casket,
who did not love Jesus, to think that I should stand by
the grave of a mother who was not baptized and never
cared for the Bible nor for prayer, nor for things that are
good and holy; to think that I should have to stand by the
grave of a son Avho never gave his heart to God ; to think
that I should have to stand b}- the grave of a daughter
who had died in her sins ; to think that we must stand b}^
the graves of our offspring, created in the image of God,
and dying in all their sins and agonies, no wonder we
should weep and howl and cry out, My God, why hast
Thou forsaken me? But, my dear friends, hide not your
tears, even though you know your dear ones fell asleep
in Jesus; though you know they are better off than they
would be here. It is perfectly allowable to let a tear steal
down over your face ; it is no easy matter not to see that
dear one in her little chair; it is no easy matter not to
see the mother's face any more; it is no easy matter to
part in this world from those who have gone to yonder
shore. Let us not be ashamed of a tear for our dear dead.
V. Then, I would say concerning our dear dead, The
way is clear. "For this we say unto you by the Word of
the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the
coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are
asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with
the i rump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise
first : then we which are alive and remain shall be caught
up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in
the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.'' Mark
weJl, these words which I have just read are not the opin-
ions of an apostle Paul. He declares this Word he got
from the Lord Jesus Christ. ow surely, the Lord Jesus
Christ w^ho died on Calvary, slept in the grave, and arose
again on the third day, conquered death and remained
on earth a period of forty days and forty nights and then
ascended on high in the presence of the disciples, went
on home to the Father, and afterwards cried from heaven.
"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" and in the Book
of Kevelation called down to John from heaven, know the
way. It was He who said, I am the Way, the Truth and
the Life, and no man cometh to the Father but by Me.
Jesus, who died and ascended on high, shows us that He
is the way, and the way for our dear dead to go home.
I am not talking this evening about those that fell
asleep without Christ ; I am talking to you as a Christian
people. The apostle Paul was writing this letter to the
Thessalonians ; they were a Christian people, but they
were worried about their dead ; they had the promise of a
coming Savior, and they thought He would come soon, and
He had not come; they were wondering, When will our
Savior come? Oh, says the apostle Paul, I have got a
message for you from the Lord, and it is a very clear mess-
age concerning the dead. I want you to understand that
when death comes you fall asleep, and you remain in the
grave until Christ shall come in the clouds. The same
Savior that went up on high is coming again, and when
He does come, do not for a moment think that these dead
ones are going to see Him last. o, He says, you shall not
prevent those that are dead. The word "prevent" origin-
ally meant, to go before; and so he says, you must not
think you are going before. "For this we say unto you by
the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain
unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or go be-
fore) them which are asleep.-- In other words, when the
Savior comes, and you and I are not dead, those that are
dead A\ill rise before we go to heaven, and we shall see
them when they rise. Oh, what a comfort it is tonight to
know that your dear dead ^ill rise up and you shall see
them; for we are told here that We shall be caught up
together. Families shall go to heaven together, those that
fall asleep in Jesus; we shall know each other; we shall
be together ; and we will go on home to that home on high
the same way that Jesus Christ ascended.
ot only is it a fact that we shall be there and go
together, but we shall go there at the shout of the Lord
our God. It is a remarkable thing what a power the Word
of God has. When we turn to the first chapter of the
Bible we find that God said. Let there be light, and there
was light. God created the heavens and the earth with
His Word, and I do not know that He said it very loud;
He may have whispered. Let there be light, and there was
light. The same God, who with a whisper of His Word,
can make the sun and the moon and stars and the con-
stellations of the heavens, when He shouts, the dead shall
rise, your dead and my dead. People say. How shall the
dead rise? The dead shall rise by the shout of the mighty
Word of God that made the heavens and the earth with a
word. The trump of God shall sound; the archangels
shall sound their trumps, and God shall raise them up,
and then Ave shall be gathered with them.
You will please to notice that there is not one
word said here about those that fall asleep in their
sins. We read in the Book of Bevelation of a first
resurrection and a second resurrection; Ave also read
in the Word of God of a Judgment, but remember, it is
not for us to tell just how long it will be between the first
resurrection and the second; the Bible does tell us that
there is a period of a thousand years called the millenium,
and I have my own private opinion about when that mill-
enium will be. Some people think it is coming before the
first resurrection, but how will that harmonize with the
teaching of God's Word that the world shall grow worse
and worse until the end shall come? There is no millen-
ium before the first resurrection, but I do believe that
when God shall raise up those that fall asleep in Christ,
and we who are here on earth changed in the twinkling of
the eye, shall be lifted up together with them, that God
will combine His judgment with the resurrection, and
that a thousand years there shall be of reign before those
who shall rise hereafter shall go into that awful death
of ever djdng and never being dead, called eternal death.
Of one thing we can rest assured tonight, and that is that
God will do things just right for our dead.
And now let us be in the clear ! If we want to ascend
to heaven on that last great day, we must die in Christ
Jesus ; and if we want to die in Christ Jesus, we have got
to live in Him; if we are going to be sure we are living
in Him; we must be sure we are living in Him right
now. How do you know you are going to fall asleep in
Jesus if today you are a child of the devil? Consequently,
we are admonished to comfort one another with these
words. Yes, there is a comfort in these words. Isn't it a
comfort to you, my dear hearer, tonight, to know that God
has dealt with every individual separately in all the Avorld
before? Isn't it a comfort to you to know that your own
¦dear dead were dear to Christ? Isn't it a comfort to you
to know that those who have fallen asleep in Jesus will
wake up never to sleep again? Isn't it a comfort to you
to know that you have enough heart in you yet to -shed a
tear for your dear ones? And isn't it a comfort to you to
know that the way is made so clear that a man must be
a fool if he does not understand it? ow, my dear friends,
take these words and comfort yourselves with them. God
will raise up your dead and give them the crown of eternal
life if they fell asleep in Jesus.
And yet I cannot close these few words this evening
without a word of admonition to those that are living
without Christ. How can I comfort your living ones when
you are dead? Some of you are living as if there were no
God in heaven ; some of yon are living as if the Bible were
a lie; some of you are living as if you took a delight in
opposing everything that God ever said. All our pleading
and all our praying, and all our coaxing, seems to be in
vain ; you have given yourselves apparently into the hands
of the devil, and you are living on from day to day, trying
to persuade yourselves that after all it will be all right,
no difference how you live nor how you die. If I were
to offer you five dollars tomorrow morning you would
l)e in my stud}- in five minutes time, but when I offer you
the plan of salvation to show you hoAV to live and die and
be eternally with your God and be saved, you do not care.
My friends, I come to you tonight with what may be the
last plea. Kemember, God is not always going to ask you ;
He is not going to continue forever and ever to say. Come
unto Me. I give you one more invitation tonight to come
to our class on Friday evening and learn more fully the
plan of salvation. Be ready every day to be the best citi-
zen you can possibly be in this world, and when you fall
asleep, to fall asleep in Christ, and then when you lie in
your coffin some preacher does not need to stand there and
play hypocrite; he does not need to stand there with
almost a broken heart and try to comfort people when
he cannot; he does not need to say, I hope you are in
heaven, when he feels in his very heart you are in hell.
T would ask you tonight to be honest with your own soul,
and honest with your God, and while you are thinking of
your dear dead, remember that when you rise you want to
be gathered with them, but as sure as there is a God in
heaven, as sure as this Bible is His Word, if you do not
fall asleep in Jesus, you cannot awake in His name and be
His. May God help you tonight to decide to live for
Christ, so that when you die and Ave speak of our dear
dead, we may speak of 3^ou as having fallen asleep in Jesus.
Then Ave can bring comfort to your dear family; then
thev Avill ijo home from the cemeterA^ and feel that it was
a good thing that our father, and our mother, our son,
and our daughter, prepared to meet their God. Did you
ever stop to think why we call that place out there God's
Acre, or cemetery? The Ge^jmans call it the yard of peace
— Gottesacker. Cemetery , means the place where they
sleep. Oh, what a beautiful thought. God's acre, the gar-
den of peace, where the angels of God are watching over
our dear dead. Amen.

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