Summary: In this text Paul tells us 3 things about the second coming. (1 Thessalonians pt - 5)
“Getting Ready For The Second Coming”
1 Thessalonians Part Five
A new preacher had just begun his sermon. He was a little nervous, and about ten minutes into the talk his mind went blank. He remember what they had taught him in seminary to do when a situation like this would arise- repeat your last point. Often this would help you remember what was coming next. So he thought he would give it a try. “Behold, I come quickly,” he said. Still his mind was blank. He thought he would try it again, “Behold I come quickly.” Still nothing. He tried it one more time with such force that he fell forward, knocking the pulpit to one side, tripping over a flowerpot, and falling into the lap of a little old lady in the front row. The young preacher apologized and tried to explain what happened. “That’s alright, young man,” said the little old lady. “It was my fault. I should have gotten out of the way. You told me three times that you were coming.”
Jesus Christ is coming! And we have been told a whole lot more than 3 times in the bible that He is. Therefore, the responsibility for being ready rests with us.
The Thessalonians were waiting for the return of Jesus, they felt sure it would happen in their lifetime... And there were experiencing many different feelings about His coming.
Some, were anxious because they had loved ones, fellow believers who had already died... and they were concerned about what would happen to those who have died -- when Christ returns. Others, were anxious because they were worried about the same thing many today are worried, "how can I be ‘really’ sure that I’ll be ready when Jesus comes back..."
So Paul, knowing of these 2 concerns, addresses them in our text today...as he talks about the second coming.... Paul will tell them 3 things about the second coming -- that will answer those concerns... First I want us to talk about:
the hope of the second coming
I THESS 4:13-15
Grief is a very powerful human experience and emotion. However firm our Christian faith may be, the loss of a relative or friend, causes a profound emotional shock... It calls for radical and painful adjustments which may take months or longer. A Canadian evangelist, put it well when he said, after the death of his first child at the age of 21, "The struggle, is to bring our faith & our emotions together..."
Grief also leads to anguished questions about those who have died. What has happened to them? Are they all right? Will we see them again? Such questions arise, because of our concern for the dead, and because their death, reminds us of our own mortality and undermines our security.
As I said earlier, many of the Thessalonians were concerned that the dead in Christ would somehow be at a disadvantage when the Lord returns. Listen to verse 13 again,
“Brothers we do not want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope...”
There are 2 things Paul does not want the Thessalonians to be; first he does not want them to be ignorant about what is going to happen to those who have fallen asleep (those who have died in Christ) And he is going to address this issue directly in the following verse...
And second, Paul doesn’t want them to grieve like the gentiles who have no hope... Now, is Paul here forbidding Christians to grieve? Is it wrong for a Christian to grieve? Did Jesus ever grieve over the death of someone? Yes he did.... So grieving is natural... And it is really unnatural, for someone not to grieve after a loss of a loved one....
(Let me make a brief practical application here; the worse thing can do when someone has lost a loved one , is to not allow them to grieve...."You shouldn’t cry you know where he is..." No they need to grieve because a very bad thing has happened in their life -- they have suffered a great loss)
So you see, Paul is not forbidding us to grieve, but rather he is forbidding us to grieve like the gentiles who have no hope. The pagan world in Paul’s day had no hope of life after death... A typical inscription on a grave demonstrates this fact...
"I WAS NOT -- I BECAME -- I AM NOT -- I CARE NOT..."
Much of our world doesn’t have hope after death... that’s why so many avoid talking about death, or try to prolong this life, freeze their bodies...etc And if they ever do talk about death they usually make jokes to hide their real fear... like Woody Allen who said, "IT’S NOT THAT I’M AFRAID TO DIE. I JUST DON’T WANT TO BE THERE WHEN IT HAPPENS..."