Witness #6: Paul and the Thessalonians
“What is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” (1 Thess. 2:19).
Paul says that the believers in Thessalonica, whom he loved and served on earth, will be his “joy” and “crown” in heaven. So the special relationship forged between Paul and these believers on earth will continue in heaven. He is saying, “You have been my joy on earth, and you will be a joy to me in heaven.”
Jonathan Edwards takes up this theme: “The special affection that the saints have in this world toward other saints, who are their friends, will in some respect remain in another world.” Christians who knew and loved each other on earth will know and love each other in heaven.
Witness #7: The reunion of believing loved ones
“The Lord himself will descend from heaven…. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, 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. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (4:16-18).
Paul is writing to believers who are grieving over their own friends and family members who have died. Their grief isn’t about death in general, but about the death of their loved ones in particular.
He offers them this comfort in their sorrow: We will be “caught up together with them” to meet the Lord (4:17). The whole point is that Christian believers have the comfort of knowing that they will see their loved ones again. Christians never say goodbye!
As you remember those who have died in the Lord, look ahead in hope to being reunited with them in heaven.