Summary: While it is impossible to known when the Lord will return, the Scripture does reveal what we can expect as that time draws near. Paul sought to equip the church to prepare for and endure during the End Times. These words of exhortation are especially needed today.
Enduring in the End Times
1 Thessalonians 5: 8-11
Paul had spent a great deal of time dealing with the rapture of the church and the second coming of the Lord. He sought to enlighten them concerning the events that are sure to happen. If you remember, the Thessalonians were a bit confused, and even concerned, about who would be taken as the Lord returned for the church. Apparently, they also had questions concerning the coming of the Lord.
After seeking to settle them regarding the coming of Christ, Paul shifted his focus toward preparing the saints to endure for the Lord during the end times. He knew this would be a most difficult season for believers, but one in which we must endure for the glory of God.
We have heard all our lives that the Lord could return for the church at any moment. Just because He hasn’t returned yet is no indication that He isn’t coming. The world stage is being set in our generation for the Lord’s soon coming. Consider a few verses of Scripture that deal with His coming. 2 Thes.2:3 – Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2 Tim.3:1 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 Tim.3:13 – But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. Surely you will agree these prophecies are being fulfilled?
We are in the midst of difficult days, but we must press on and continue the work He has called us to do. The passage we’ve read provides instruction for those who are living in the end times. I want to consider the details of our preparation as we think on: Enduring in the End Times.
I. The Armor of the Believer (8) – Paul knew this would be a battle. He knew the enemy would be relentless in his attacks. If Christians are to endure, we must possess and properly use our armor. Let’s take a moment to consider the armor.
A. Soberness – We have already dealt with this in our last study, and yet Paul was inspired to speak of it again. Remember, being sober has the idea of “rigid discipline, living a pure life of righteousness.” As we think of a soldier going into battle, he has to be disciplined, taking all he has learned and applying that to the current situation. He cannot deviate from the battle plan no matter how much he is tempted. He must stand his ground, even when it seems defeat may be imminent. He is to be aware of his surroundings at all times.
This provides a profound truth for us as well. We have the benefit of the complete Word of God. Most of us were raised in church and we are grounded in our faith. We know what we believe and why we believe it. We are equipped for the journey and the battle. This is where our soberness is so important. We could have the best tools or weapons at our disposal, but if we fail to use them or use them improperly, they are of little benefit. We must be disciplined to stand even when it seems we are standing alone. We must keep our eye on the advance of the enemy and stand firm in the Lord.
B. Breastplate of Faith and Love (8) – Paul speaks next of the breastplate of the soldier. This was a vital piece of armor. It protected the heart and the vital organs. If a soldier’s heart is left vulnerable, he may not survive the battle. The same is true for us. We don’t wear physical armor, but we must ensure that we are dressed with the breastplate of faith and love.
These two are critical in defending the heart. Without faith in the Lord we are tempted to abandon the cause and flee from the fight. If we lose our focus and faith, we will not survive. Through faith we trust in the power of the Lord and are shielded from temptation and sin.
Love is also important within the heart. When we shield our hearts with love, we are willing to endure when others might fail. Love creates an allegiance to our Master. Love allows us to see as God does. It allows us to feel the needs of others. It is much easier to abandon a cause when there are few consequences, but when we love and care for those around us, we are more likely to stand and fight. Love will compel us to endure for our children, for the church, and even for those who are unsaved.