Summary: The following sermon is going to look at Paul’s seven S’s of being ready to meet Jesus: sudden, sorrow, sound, sleeping, sober, salvation and solace.

7S of Being Ready

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Online Sermon:

Ever since Christ promised that He was going to prepare a place for His own- and one-day return, Christians have been “looking up” and speculating as to when this glorious day will occur. When faced with a crisis or upon getting elderly human beings who are naturally curious about the future are more likely to speculate that the “end times” are near. While hearing Jack Van Impe, Ronald Weinland, Jean Dixon and others make the case that Christ will appear during one’s lifetime is quite invigorating, does not predicting that which not even the angels or Christ knows (Matthew 24:36) not only seem arrogant but foolish for when the predicted date comes and goes it often leads many to question the accuracy of the entire Gospel message? In today’s passage Apostle Paul states that since the date cannot be predicted then the best humanity can do is to be alert and self-controlled, always living one’s life in certainty that the Day of the Lord will come. While this will be a day of judgment and wrath for unbelievers, for God’s own they will rejoice for on that day they will receive their new bodies and be taken to spend an eternity in heaven with Jesus! The following sermon is going to look at Paul’s seven S’s of being ready to meet Jesus: sudden, sorrow, sound, sleeping, sober, salvation and solace.

Sudden: Will Come as a Thief in the Night (verses 1-2)

Paul told the believers at Thessalonica that he did not need to write about the date of the Day of the Lord because, as they were fully aware, such a date would inevitably come but at a time and hour that only the Father knows. “We cannot fully understand the New Testament picture of the Second Coming unless we first explore their OT background.” The Day of the Lord in the Old Testament was to be sudden (Mal. 3:1; Job 24:14; Joel 2:9; Obad. 5; cf. Euripides) and seen as “God’s decisive and final intervention. Most prevalent from the time of Amos onward, the expression is used to refer to the time of God’s judgment on the wicked (Amos 5:8–10; Joel 1:15; Isa. 13:6) as well as deliverance for the faithful (Joel 2:32; 3:18; Obad. 15–17; Zech. 14:1–21).” Paul applied this Yahweh tradition to that of Christ. The New Testament writers “for all intents and purposes identified the Day of the Lord with the Second Coming of Christ.” Since the timing of Christ’s return was to be compared to a thief in the night, who was unknown and unpredictable, Paul implored the Thessalonians to channel their “eschatological fervor” away from estimating the date to responsibly serving the Lord continuously so that upon His return they would be found faithfully doing God’s will.

Sorrow: False Peace and Security (verse 3)

Paul warned the Thessalonians that when the Day of the Lord comes those who feel secured in their safety and peace would soon face sudden destruction and pain like that of a pregnant woman giving birth. In verse three Paul sharply critiqued the “slogans and propaganda about the Pax Romana of his time. From the era of Augustus Caesar 27 BC to Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD, the political stability, cultural advances and military might of the Roman empire enabled its members to move about easily and with relative safety. In verse three Paul stated how foolish it was for the unbelievers, even if they were part the Pax Romana, to think that peace and safety could ever be secured by their accomplishments. “God in Christ is the one who will bring justice, peace, and security once and for all, not the emperor with his slogans.” Like the people in Noah’s or Sodom’s day unbelievers of Paul’s day will feel they have peace right up until the moment Christ arrives and judges the living and the dead! Anyone found on that day not “with the Lord” (cf 4:17) will experience great sorrow and pain because it will be too late for them to escape the judgement of being eternally separated from God. Paul is not trying to scare the Thessalonian believers but to encourage them that the Day of the Lord poses no threat to them but is only to be seen as assurance that their enemies will one day be judged and in the mean time they ought to pray for them that they might come to know the Lord.

Sound: Christians Know what to Expect (verses 4-5)

In verses four and five Apostle Paul used dark/light imagery to reassure the Thessalonians that as children of the light they knew what to expect upon the Coming of the Lord. Darkness and light are not to be taken literally but as metaphors contrasting those who are still spiritually ignorant and under the rule of Satan (darkness) versus those who have been born again through their faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ (light). Light and darkness for Paul pointed to the truth that some people are “insiders” and others “outsiders” of God’s kingdom (Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1 John 1:6–7; 2:9–11). “Night for Paul was a time for thieves whereas daylight was the time for truth. The “thief in the night” suddenness of Christ’s return will not “catch insiders off guard” because when they walk in the truth as “children of the day,” darkness cannot overtake them! Since one cannot have fellowship with God while walking in darkness (1 John 1;5-6), Paul implored the Thessalonians to not be “careless or indifferent to what they have received” but to “be ready” for Christ’s return by “putting on the armour of light” so that they might be found faithfully walking in the very steps of Christ who purchased them at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20)!

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