Summary: The work of the church is found in confidence in it’s leadership, and setting an example for others to follow.
I. As a church, we believe in what is called the “imminent return of Christ.”
A. The imminent return of Christ, means that we believe that Jesus Christ could return at any time, even before this church service is completed, to take His bride, the church back to heaven.
B. The belief in the imminent return of Christ is not a new theology.
1. In fact, believers from the very beginning of the church age believed that Christ would return at any moment.
2. Evidently some in the church of the Thessalonians had such a belief that Christ would return at any moment, that they even stopped working because,
a. Why work if Christ is coming back soon?
b. Why continue to pursue life in this world, since life in the next was going to happen; maybe even today?
(1) Every prophecy has been fulfilled that must be fulfilled.
(2) The world certainly seems to be getting worse and worse with each passing day, and we believe that as the world gets worse and worse, the return of Christ gets nearer and nearer.
C. However, Mark relates Jesus as saying, ““See to it that no one misleads you. 6 “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 7 “And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 “For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
II. The logical answer then to the questions of the return of Christ is,
A. It well could be today, or tomorrow.
B. It just as well could be a thousand years from now.
C. Again, Luke quotes Jesus as saying, ““It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; (Acts 1:7)
1. And Acts 1:7 is followed by Acts 1:8 - “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
III. Most commentators see 2nd Thessalonians 3 as Paul’s admonition to believers in Christ who had stopped working in the secular work force because they thought Jesus was coming back.
A. That may well be the case, BUT, I believe this passage also has application to those in the body of Christ who have stopped “working” to fulfill Acts 1:8.
IV. Acts 1:8 are the last recorded words of Jesus Christ to his followers.
A. After He spoke came the ascension, and the Apostles standing, looking into heaven,
B. As they looked for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, two angels appeared with these words, - “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
C. In other words,
1. Don’t concern yourself with when or how Jesus will return.
2. Get to work doing that which He commanded you to do.
D. GET TO WORK.
E. Those same words apply today as well, “Get To Work”
V. And how do we go about getting to work?
A. First, “Have Confidence”
Have Confidence In Your Leaders (vs. 6-14,15)
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads and unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
14 And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.
15 And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
I. I believe that verses 6 should be coupled with verses 14 and 15 because they kind of become “book stops” for what comes in between.
A. In verse 6, Paul says, “We command you.”
B. And in 14 and 15 he states, “if anyone does not obey...” here are the consequences.
II. As I was reading these verses, I thought two things,
A. First, “Would I be qualified to say, ‘I or we command.”?
B. Second, “I wonder what would happen if church leaders today said ‘I or we command you.”
1. Actually, in today’s church climate I can well imagine what would happen.
a. Either several people would stop fellow shipping or
b. The pastor would immediately be “asked” to step down.
c. At least here in America