Sermons

Summary: The picture Paul draws of the day when Christ will return is poetry, an attempt to describe what is indescribable.

9/20/18

Tom Lowe

Lesson 16: For we will be rejoined with them when Christ returns (1Th 4:15-18)

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NIV)

15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Introduction:

The picture Paul draws of the day when Christ will return is poetry, an attempt to describe what is indescribable. At the Second Coming Christ will descend from heaven to earth. He will give the command and immediately the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God will wake up the dead; then the dead and the living alike will be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ; and from then on they will be forever with their Lord. We{1] are not meant to take with crude and insensitive literalism what is a prophet’s vision. It is not the details which are important. What is important is that in life and in death the Christian is in Christ and that is a union which nothing can break.

Lesson 15

(4:15) According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

These words, as spoken by Jesus (“According to the Lord’s word”) are not found in the Bible, leading some commentators to think they were spoken by a prophet of the early church or that they represent the apostle’s thinking. But all such explanations seem unnecessary when we have the simple one, that it was said by Jesus, but was not recorded in the Bible. If we had reason for thinking that all He said is recorded, matters would be different. But as it is, we are expressly told that many things are not recorded in the Gospel record (John 21:25{6]). I believe this is one of them.

The second coming is a subject of such vast importance that the apostle was anxious to show that he had the highest and most incontrovertible authority for the statements he uttered?they came from the mouth of the Lord. The message of verses 13-18 is a direct revelation from the Lord given expressly to Paul. He had a special revelation from heaven, and spoke under the direct and immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Paul was a chosen vessel, ordained of God as an apostle and a minister to the Gentiles to reveal unto them the mystery that was hidden from the beginning. To Paul God gave very special and remarkable revelations concerning His dealings with the Church, the bride of Christ.

The second advent of Christ is especially taught in the Holy Scriptures (Matthew 24:3; Mark 8:3; etc.). Paul believed in the eminent return of Jesus, although he did not at any time say that Christ would come during his lifetime. We do not know the day, nor the hour, but we do know that the Word of God has been fulfilled?and surely Jesus is at the door and could come before you can take another breath.

(4:16) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel{2] and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven.”

Among the words of consolation in the parting discourse of Christ to His disciples was the promise that after His departure, He would come again and receive them unto Himself. For nearly two-thousand years the Church has been strained with profound, intense, and anxious expectancy; but still the promise remains unfulfilled. WILL HE COME? ARE THE HOPES OF THE CHURCH DOOMED TO BE FOREVER UNFULFILLED? If a question like these flits across the mind for a moment that doesn’t mean that the Church has lost confidence in the promise. Faith in the second advent of Christ is more widely spread and more firmly held today than ever before. The long wait has sharpened the longing, brightened the hope, and clarified the vision. With these words the apostle assures the Thessalonians of the second coming of Christ.

Only the doctrine of the atonement has more prominence than the return of Jesus in the Bible. In the New Testament the return of Jesus is mentioned 318 times. For each time the Bible speaks of Jesus’ first coming, it speaks 8 times of His second coming. How could such a truth have become so insignificant today, when it was so significant and obvious in the Bible and to the Early Church?

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