Summary: Jesus will return, He will raise His people from the dead, and we need to live such lives as will prepare us for His arrival.
The Return of Jesus I Thess. 4:13-18
INTRO.: Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He promised to return. After He left, the promise was repeated. Acts 1:1-11.
Later, there arose confusion about this basic gospel teaching. There were those who feared it would never happen. Others believed He would return but feared their loved ones who had died would not see Him. Christians in Thessalonica anxiously awaited the return of Christ and didn’t want their loved ones to miss it.
Paul is explaining to them death is merely a sleep from which Christ will awaken His people upon His return.
Two great truths basic to Christian faith and hope are set forth in this passage:
I. Jesus will return:
A. He made the promise. John 14:3
1. He never broke a promise.
2. His promise is sealed by the resurrection. If He could keep that one, how can He fail now?
3. ILLUS.: I heard A Jewish merchant on the radio say, “The greatest man who ever lived (Jesus) said he would return and never has.”
4. That promise will be fulfilled.
B. The promise by which we live has been declared long before Jesus came:
1. I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25
2. Dan 7:13 “son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.”
3. Zech 14:9 “The LORD will be king over the whole earth”
4. First and last prediction in New Testament: Matt. 3:11, 12 & Rev. 22:20
C. We testify to this promise in the Lord’s Supper:
1. I Cor. 11:26 links the beginning of our salvation to the end of it.
2. In the Lord’s Supper we look up to God, into self, back to Calvary, forward to the return of Jesus.
3. It is a temporary memorial to be observed only until Jesus returns.
II. He will raise His people:
A. Notice the order of events when He returns: 16-17a
1. Christ will descend from Heaven in view of all the earth.
2. Then the shout of the archangel and a great trumpet blast.
3. The dead will be raised. I’d like to be at the national cemetery at Arlington when that happens.
B. Christians will leave their temporary homes in the ground for a permanent one in Heaven.
1. We’ll be with the Lord forever.
2. Not like in this life were we see so many people come and go and some outlive all relatives.
3. In eternity there will be no separations.
4. The world we live in now is like a rented house. In heaven we will have a “place of our own.”
C. We are exhorted to comfort one another with these words:
1. Those who die in Christ will live again.
2. We will not be separated forever.
3. “Mandy,” an elderly nursing home resident, said she didn’t want to see the dead raised because, “they are dead and they belong in the ground.” she’s wrong. We never belonged in the ground.
4. “Comfort” is a Christian duty and an exclusive Christian principle.
III. The question of the hour; II Pet. 3:10, 11 “what kind of people ought you to be?”
A. “Walk in the light” I Thess 5:4
1. Be prepared for His coming.
2. We are not “in the dark” about it.
3. Know God’s Word and live by it.
B. Stay alert: I Thess. 5:8-11
1. Be self-controlled.
2. “Faith and love” (v. 8) involve relationships to God and man.
3. “Hope of salvation” involves relationship to Christ.
4. God has appointed us to obtain salvation. Do not disappoint Him.
C. Comfort and build one another up. I Thess 5:11
1. Learn to build others up rather than tear down.
2. We don’t like to be criticized & belittled. Don’t do it to others.
3. Pray for, teach, encourage one another.
4. We need to be alert to others’ needs. No self centered person will be ready when He returns.
CONC.: ILLUS.: student announced plans to clean his desk every Monday. Another asked, “What if the teacher inspects your desk Friday?” He decided to clean it every Thursday as well. “But, what if she inspects it on Wednesday?”
Finally, getting the message, he said, “I guess I’ll have to KEEP it clean.”
We should always be ready for the Lord’s return. He may come at any time.