Summary: 2nd Coming - our hope! (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.