Remembering Those Asleep

“Remembering Those Asleep”
I Corinthians 15:1-6


A) Understanding the word “Asleep”

  • We can read of Jonah who was called of God to go and preach to Nineveh and he fled to Tarshish on a boat in defiance of God’s command…Jonah 1:5…Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
  • This term “fast asleep” in the Old English (Our Bible was created, 1611) does not mean he went to sleep quickly. It means that he slept hard, not easily awaken, a deep sleep.
  • Then we read of Jesus on the boat with His disciples and they encountered a storm in Matthew 8:23…And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24) And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. Note that Jesus was not “fast asleep,” as was Jonah.
  • These two are examples of one meaning of the word asleep.
  • But this Memorial Day weekend I want us to know and focus on the other meaning of the word “asleep” found in I Corinthians 15.

I. Keep In Memory What I Preached

    A) The Gospel

  • I Corinthians 15:1…Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
  • In this chapter, Paul is preaching the resurrection of Christ as well as the resurrection of the believers in Christ. This “the gospel.”
  • In verse 1, we see where Paul says 4 important things concerning the gospel
  1. “ declare unto you” – I have made you aware of the gospel
  2. “which I preached” – I have preached with the authority from God
  3. ”ye have received” – You heard it and understood it.
  4. “wherein ye stand” – You have been saved by the gospel, and reject it not.
  • There were some who in the church at Corinth who kept the gospel in “a memorial.” They did not forget, they remembered daily, lived it daily, and preached it daily to their family and friends.
  • But there were others who cared less and become apathetic (not interested or not emotional) towards the gospel.

    B) Keep in Memorial

  • I Cor. 15:2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
  • Please don’t misunderstand this verse. It would be easy for some to say… “You have to remember the gospel in order to keep your salvation.” No, that is not what this verse is saying.
  • What I believe it to mean is that “if” a person is saved they will remember what the gospel of Jesus Christ is about and therefore not wish to do what they used to do. They will repent of their sins. If they do not remember then their belief was “vain (no good.)
  • Paul had recognized the fact that some of the Corinthians had a shallow faith, no-saving faith. (Matthew 7:14…Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.)
  • Some people believe only as demons believe. (James 2:19…Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.) They were convinced that the gospel was true, but had no love for God, no love for Christ, and no love for the believers.
  • True believers of the gospel which saves you will “hold fast (stand firm) to what they have been taught about the gospel. They will not get weak, and be tossed around to and fro from every wind of doctrine.

    C) What is “the gospel?”

  • I Corinthians 15:3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, Paul is saying here that he is preaching to the Corinthians exactly what He received from the power of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the other disciples as to what they witnessed.
  • So, what is the gospel?
  1. “…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”
  2. “4) And that he was buried,”
  3. “…and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
  4. 5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;
  •  Now we come to the title of our message today as we read the last part of verse 6…of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”
  • When Paul said “…of whom the greater part remain unto this present,” he means that most of the people of the Corinthian church still remain (still alive) that witnessed the “gospel” the teachings of Jesus, witnessed Jesus coming back in a cloud to the 500 at one time.
  • But then the last part of that verse 6, that is in our title… “…but some are fallen asleep.”
  • This word here in the New Testament is translated koimaō (sounds like koy-mah’o) which means…be dead.
  • In other words… Paul said in verse 6 that there are some eyewitnesses still alive to tell others of Christ’s account (true events of the gospel) and there were some that “…be dead.”
  • I said all that to say this… Those who “are asleep (dead) in the Lord (saved), should be always on our mind as we wait impatiently for our turn to pass from this world to the next (heaven). I personally cannot wait to leave this horrible world with its ever rising crime, its evil, its satanic activity, its pain and suffering, this old body decaying as we get older. I can’t wait to see my earthly father (Kendall A. Wilcoxson) , my good deaf friends Bro. Carl Rose, Bro. James and Joan Hansen, Bro. Craig Turtness.
  • All these precious deaf souls that my heart still yearns for since their passing. I will not forget them. Why? Because I encountered them when I encountered my Jesus, my Savior, My friend.


II. Keep In Memory What You Have Received

    A) Receiving the gospel

  • Back to our text verse I Corinthians 15:1…Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
  • Can you remember when you received the gospel of Jesus Christ?
  • Can you remember when God made His Spirit real to you?
  • Can you remember when you were on fire for the Lord?
  • If you remember all of that, take a stand. Don’t let anyone change your mind as to the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
  • Don’t forget our loved ones who have taught us what we know, taught us what we believe, honor them by remembering.
  • Many times we forget who gave us what, or what we have received from certain individuals. I believe that it is important to remember what we received pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • To be quite honest… I can literally say that there is always something that I can remember about every single friend that I have had over the years and what they have donated to my memory. Maybe not all of it good, but I do remember.
  • Do you know that it is very true that we remember more about the bad things that people do to us than we remember about the good things.
  • Bad things done to us cause pain, hurt, and emotions that are hard to get over.
  • Good things done to us we tend to forget, or take lightly.
  • I believe that maybe this is why Christ Jesus taught more about hell than he did about heaven. Hell is a bad place to go, a bad situation for those who live there eternally.


III. Remember To Stand Firm (Be strong and not too flexible)

    A) The meaning of the word “stand”

  • I Corinthians 15:1…Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
  • I look at the word “stand” in this verse and it really causes me to think.
  • Literally to stand requires muscles in your legs, back, and shoulders to not relax.
  • Paul did not say “where in ye sit.” To “sit” means to relax and let nature take its course. To sit, is to rest from work, to not be watchful, or not really be alert.
  • The word “sit” also implies rest from work already done. Much like Jesus Christ who did His work on the cross and then cried “it is finished” on the cross, finished as meaning His work on earth was done. Then Jesus died and rose again to… what? “Sit” on the right hand throne of God. He rested from His work.
  • So when Paul said in I Cor. 15:1 “…and where in ye stand” he means you are still working, you are still learning the gospel, you are still teaching, and you are still receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are not to relax until God calls you home (in heaven).
  • The word “stand” is an action word that can also be said to mean Go ye therefore into the hiways (Matt. 22:9)” and Go ye therefore and teach all nations (Matt. 28:19)”
  • REMEMBER TO “STANDPaul also reminds us in Ephesians 6:13 (KJV) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
  • This Memorial Day, remember the words of this preacher, remember the words of Paul, remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and do not let anyone persuade you to believe otherwise. If you bend, If you bow, if you sway… your belief is in vain.
  • I believe that there is nothing better in this entire world that can be said when someone says about “those who are asleep”… “I remember when brother or sister So and So led me to Lord, I remember when he/she taught me about certain things that Jesus said.”
  • You should hope that the best thing some people remember about you after you are gone would be that they were a strong Christian and a faithful witness of Jesus Christ and His gospel.

 IV. A Memorial To Those Asleep

    A) What is a memorial?

  • In case you do not remember or do not know… Memorial Day used to be called “Decoration Day” in memory of the dead servicemen of all wars the United Sates had participated in.
  • Many people also decorate the graves of lost loved ones, or as the Bible says “…those asleep.”
  • I believe that it is very important for us to remember “…those asleep.”
  • The word “memorial” is mentioned 32 times in the Bible.
  • When I looked up the word “memorial” in the Webster’s Dictionary it gave this definition… 1. Serving to help remember some person or event. 2. Anything to help people remember a certain person or event as a monument.
  • One example in the Bible is mentioned in Exodus 12:14…And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
  • This was God telling Moses to remember the day that set into motion their deliverance from Egypt. The day of God’s grace applied to Israel for their idolatry.
  • The Jews still celebrate this day.
  • In this Old Testament Law of God given to Moses he advises them of an sacrifice offering given as a memorial to a woman who has sinned against her husband in Numbers 5:15…Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance. The word “iniquity” meaning to twist the truth, or pervert someone or something.
  • In this next verse we will see that stones were set as a memorial to God’s faithfulness to His children in Joshua 4:7…Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
  • Now we move to the New Testament and the words of Christ in Matthew 26:12…For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13) Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. Christ wants the testimony of this woman to be a memorial to her for what she did for Christ.

    B) God sets a memorial for us

  • Look now if you will to Acts 10:1… There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2) A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3) He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4) And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
  • Cornelius as you have seen in these verses was a devout man who feared God and was very generous with giving what he had to others.
  • Probably the most important thing I believe is the fact that he was always in prayer to the Lord.
  • Verse 4… is proof to us that God does not forget our faithful prayers. I have heard some say that “You don’t have to pray for something over and over because God has a good memory.” Well, I believe that it is true, God does have an excellent memory. But to hear our repetitive prayers…I believe it shows Him our hearts desire when we repeat prayer requests.
  • It is after much repetition in prayers over a particular thing that brings God to remember our prayers and alms.

C) Concerning Them which are asleep

  • In this next passage of scripture we typically use for funerals because it’s application is to “…them which are asleep.”
  • Paul is obviously telling the church at Thessalonica about Christians who have died and gone to heaven. Let us examine this… I Thessalonians 4:13…
  1. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, With the word used by Paul “ignorant” means uneducated about the subject at hand. What is the “subject?” The dead in Christ. The saved ones who have died.
  2. “…that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” We are not to stay in mourning for very long and continue to mourn for years over a loved one that is in heaven. Paul says that the only people who do that are the lost, those with no hope for a future. We as children have a hope in Jesus Christ that secures us, seals us until we die.
  3. 14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Paul encourages the church to remember that Jesus died and rose again, which gives us our hope of doing the same as He did. “so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Is talking about the rapture. The dead saints will come with Him at the rapture to meet in the air.
  4. 15) 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. 
  • I believe that what is meant by the term “a memorial,” or “remember them,” is to keep in mind their behavior, their faith, their doctrines, their lifestyle, their habits. I don’t believe that we are to dwell on it, but rather to remember.
  • When you have passed from this life to the next, what can people say about you?