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The Ministry of Consolation
"Together, with them" (1 Thess. 4:17)
The view which the enlightened believer upon conversion receives of the carnal
nature, often produces in certain minds an unscriptural repudiation of homely and
domestic affections. To such their Lord is `an austere man', and holiness is synonymous
with mortification. To such the possibility of practical combination of holiness and
natural affection does not seem possible. The Apostle when foretelling the apostate times
of the end could place side by side, "unholy, without natural affection" (2 Tim.3:1,2) and
could enjoin young widows to remarry (1 Tim.5:14).
To that man of God there was nothing carnal in the full appreciation of God's
Fatherly care, and while being thoroughly conversant with the joys of independence in
the midst of privation, he could nevertheless write of creature comforts, that God had
given them "richly to enjoy".
There are many, who by the workings of the selfsame austerity, are deprived of the
`comfort of the Scriptures' with references to "that blessed hope". Waiving for a moment
the dispensational position of 1 Thessalonians 4, and seeking from it the comfort for
which it was primarily written, we would draw attention to one feature which has gripped
our own hearts, and turned tears of sorrow into those of joy. The austere view, touched
upon above, tends to rule out the God-given natural affection that should find a sanctified
place in the hope of the believer. True it is that our hope is not to meet the Lord, be with
Him and be like Him, whether the meeting take place on earth, in the air, or far above all.
Some there are who have become persuaded that the meeting once again of loved
ones is not to be uttered in the same breath. Yet, we feel sure that many whose lips with
all sincerity give utterance to these self-effacing words, will often feel their hearts crying
out for the assurance that the hope of meeting their Lord need not banish into the
background the hope of meeting their loved ones too.
It is here where the consolation of the Scripture is fuller and kinder than the
conceptions of man. The Divine order we find in 1 Thess. 4:17 is "together with
them...to meet the Lord". There will be no furtive glances, no aching hearts, when we
enter into the presence of the Saviour. All we have loved and lost in the faith shall meet
again, and TOGETHER WITH THEM (and not otherwise) shall we MEET THE LORD,
and ever in unbroken unity be with Him.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (verse 18).