Series: Encouragement [#8]
A MODEL OF BEING PREPARED
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
As I preached about the Rapture last week, I didn’t say much about what I believe happens next. I believe that once all of the Christians are raptured out of here, the 7 years of Tribulation will begin. After the 7 years of Tribulation, Christ will return with the Church for the Battle of Armageddon and His Millennial Reign.
We do not know when Jesus will come back; but we are told to be prepared for His coming. That’s what Paul told the Thessalonians to do.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 (NIV)
1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you. 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
You prepare by…
While, Pastors do teach new things; most of a Pastor’s teachings are reminders of what the people already know. Paul reminded the Church that they knew the Lord would return, even if they did not know the day. They also knew God would judge evil, even if they didn’t know exactly when. They also knew God willed them to live each day guided by faith, hope, and love. If believers with such knowledge live on the basis of what they already know, they will be prepared for tomorrow, whatever tomorrow brings.
There are 2 types of children listed here:
? Children of Darkness.
? Do not expect Jesus’ return.
? Suffer a false optimism regarding the future.
? Live unprepared for the coming judgment.
? Will not escape the day of the Lord.
? Are destined for wrath.
? Children of the Light.
? Expect the Lord’s return.
? Enjoy a valid optimism regarding the future.
? Live prepared for the coming judgment.
? Act out faith, hope, and love.
? Possess salvation.
You prepare by…
2. Relying on Jesus.
Do you have friends you can rely on? If they promise to do something, they will follow through. Well, the promises Jesus made to His church are even more reliable. 1 day as He promised, He will return in glory and judgment.
Paul paints 2 pictures to describe the Lord’s return.
? “A thief in the night.”
How will Jesus’ return be like the coming of a thief? Jesus isn’t coming to steal; but just as the arrival of a thief, Jesus’ return will be unexpected. A thief doesn’t call ahead. “Suddenly” implies a surprise, an unexpected event. Unbelievers who think they are secure will suffer destruction because they cannot see in the darkness.
? “A pregnant woman.”
How does a woman’s experience of labor compare to the Lord’s return? You hear many stories of women who are in their 9th month of pregnancy, having unexpected contractions. What is the point of the biblical analogy? The last phrase of verse 3 says, “And they will not escape”. The coming of the Lord is as inescapable as labor at the end of a normal pregnancy. The Day of the Lord, and the judgment that attends it, is inevitable and unavoidable. The Lord is coming. The Day of Judgment cannot be avoided. Are you prepared?
You prepare by…
3. Living in anticipation.
Paul told the Church the Lord was coming 1 day, and he wanted them to be prepared. Some will not be ready for it. Unbelievers are like persons who stumble about in the dark or those who are drunk or who are asleep. They cannot see where they are going. They are neither aware nor watchful. They have rejected Christ so they cannot live enlightened by salvation, His life, or His teachings. They will suffer the wrath of God.
Christians on the other hand, do not live in darkness. They know the Lord is coming; but they don’t know when. So, they won’t be surprised as they would by a thief at night. As children “of the day” they expect His arrival. We are to live sober watchful lives.
How does a church prepare for the Lord’s return? By living His love and sharing His truth. What are we going to do to see that other are not left behind?
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
We must be about encouraging one another in our Christian lives. Our destiny as Christians is all to the same place, Heaven.