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Summary: 2nd Coming - our hope! (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13-18.


Years ago an S-4 submarine was rammed by a ship off the coast of Massachusetts.

• It sank immediately.

• The entire crew was trapped in a prison house of death.

• Every effort was made to rescue the crew;

• But all ultimately failed.

• Near the end of the ordeal, a deep sea diver, who was part of the rescue crew;

• Thought he heard tapping on the steel wall of the sunken sub.

• He placed his helmet up against the side of the vessel;

• And he realised it was Morse code.

• In his mind he spelled out the message that was being tapped from within.

• It was repeating the same question; “Is there any hope?”


• “We can live forty days without food,

• Eight days without water,

• Four minutes without air,

• But only a few seconds without hope!”

These verses in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 are often called;

• The great hope of the Christian.

• They are a great encouragement especially when we are facing difficult times.

These verses were originally written as a response to a misunderstanding:


A simple misunderstanding can cause great anxiety.

• Communication nowadays is so easy with e-mail and telephone,

• But until the 20th century it was very slow.

• Two hundred years ago messages were passed over long distances;

• By signal stations on hills.

• When the Battle of Waterloo was being fought;

• England awaited news regarding the outcome with baited breath.

• At last the signals began to whirl, the message being spelt out letter by letter:

• "Wellington defeated …"

• These two words came through clearly;

• But then fog covered the hillside.

• Quite understandably the people thought they’d lost!

• What a catastrophe for the nation!

• The people were plunged in gloom as they thought that was the end of the message;

• But it wasn’t because eventually the fog lifted;

• And another two words were added which made all the difference:

• "Wellington defeated … the enemy."

If we’re not careful misunderstandings can often cause confusion and trouble:

• A theological misunderstanding had caused;

• Confusion and grief to the new Christians at Thessalonica.

• Paul the apostle had personally taught this Church;

• That the Jesus Christ was coming again (returning to planet earth a second time).

• But a few months later Paul had to leave the city of Thessalonica,

• And return to Athens and then go on to Corinth in the south of Greece.

• It was after Paul’s departure;

• That a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Second Coming arose among the Church.

The cause of the sadness was that a number of Christians in the Church had died;

• And this caused a problem for them.

• They did not know if this meant that those who had died;

• Would miss out on the celebrations when Christ returned.


• Remember before they came to faith in Christ;

• These believers at Thessalonica had been pagans.

• And for pagans death comes with a fearful finality.

• A common inscription on the gravestone in the pagan world was:

‘I was not

I became

I am not

I care not’

So the Christians at Thessalonica had a problem:

• They did not know if those who had died;

• Would miss out on the celebrations when Christ returned.


Imagine you have just received an invitation to a reception at Buckingham Palace.

• Eagerly you plan what you will wear;

• And then off you go on a spending spree to buy your new outfit.

• You arrange for transport and check and double check all the details.

• In a thrill of anticipation you let your mind turn over all that could happen.

• Then tragedy strikes. The day before you are due to go;

• You slip over and somehow manage to break your hip.

• The news from the hospital is not good;

• They want you to stay in overnight, this means that you are confined to a hospital bed.

• The red-letter day arrives,

• When you should have been at the palace;

• All the celebrations go ahead,

• But unfortunately for you, you miss out because you are not there.

In a far greater and more important way these Christians:

• Did not know if those who had died;

• Would miss out on the celebrations when Christ returned.

• The subject is too important to leave to chance.

• So just in case any of the Thessalonians are still uncertain or muddled in their thinking,

• So Paul puts on record some clear teaching about the believers who have died.

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