Summary: As we see the Last Day approaching Christians prepare by encouraging one another.
This Sunday marks another change in the church year. For the next three weeks we focus our attention toward Jesus’ Second Coming. During these Sundays known as the season of "End Times" we consider the things our Lord has told us about his Second Coming. This morning the Apostle Paul talks to us about that last day. As we look to that final day, Paul exhorts us to:
Encourage One Another
1. To be ready
1. To be different
2. To be confident
As we await the Last Judgment we are to encourage one another to be ready. We encourage one another to be ready for the Last Day because as Paul tells us it is coming like a thief! What does he mean by that? First and foremost he means that none of us actually knows when that day will be. There have been many people throughout history who have claimed to know, who have predicted that Jesus would come on a specific day at a specific time. As we approach the new millenium many such predictions have been circling. But Paul tells us that this day will come like a thief - because no one knows when a thief is coming! If they did - he wouldn’t be a very successful thief.
Paul also warns us that there are going to be many who won’t be prepared for the final judgment because they’ve focused all their attention on the things of this world. He says in the text that there will be many in the world who will be calling out, "Peace and safety." They will think they’ve got life by the tail - plenty of money to live on, insurance to guard against any unexpected disasters, in good health, and with relatively few conflicts or problems. They will believe they have found and achieved heaven on earth. They won’t be ready to meet their maker because they’ve focused all their attention on finding earthly happiness. That’s why Paul wants us to continue to encourage one another to be ready - so that we don’t lose our eternal focus!
Paul also exhorts us to encourage one another to be ready for that Last Day because it is going to come on like labor pains. A pregnant woman may know when her due date is, she may know when she should be going into the delivery room, she may know when the baby is supposed to be resting in her arms. Yet how often are babies born exactly when they’re expected? Many women have been rushed off to the hospital to give birth in the middle of the night - without warning. When the birth pains come - it’s time to go regardless of what had been planned. So also with the Last Day - it will come suddenly with very little warning.
When that day comes there will be no turning back. For the woman who is going into labor it doesn’t matter if she wishes she weren’t pregnant. She can’t change her situation. The baby is coming - and it’s coming now! The woman in labor that pain is unavoidable! Keep in mind Paul is speaking at a time when the epidural wasn’t around, no C-sections, or knock-out drugs. The same is true with regard to the Last Day - when the trumpets blare and our Lord returns unbelievers won’t have a chance to come to know their Savior. No longer will the gospel preached because there will be no more converts. On that day all will stand to be judged before the throne of the Almighty God. If they had not come to faith by that point in time it will be too late. No further preparations or changes can be made.
As we consider all of these things it’s important that we constantly encourage one another to be ready for that Last Day. Why is that so important? Because this world, our sinful flesh, and the devil don’t want us to be ready for that Last Day. They want us to get caught up in the things of this world and push God out of our lives. They want us to concentrate all of our attention and focus on the pleasures of this life so that we’re not prepared when Judgment Day comes. They don’t want us to be prepared because ultimately they want us to spend eternity in the torments of hell with them. They’re working very hard to try and keep us from preparing ourselves for our Lord’s Return.
That’s why it’s important that we continually encourage one another to be ready for that Last Day. As we prepare for that Last we are to encourage one another to be different.
When Paul encourages us to be different he isn’t talking about expressing individuality. He is talking about being different than the unbelievers around you. He encourages us to be different because we are sons of the day. We are sons of the light.