Summary: 2nd Coming, Readiness, encouragement
THE RETURN OF THE KING
1 Thess. 4: 13-18 (p836) Nov. 18, 2012
Please remember there were no chapters and verses in the bible when these letters were originally written…None of the early Christians in Thessalonica would have any idea what you were talking about if you said, “Today’s study will be from 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18.”
This is Paul’s first letter to a group of Believers, both Jew and Gentile who meet in the synagogues, but also in homes and private places…if you remember Paul and Silas came there after being severely beaten and put in jail in Philippi…where God miraculously broke them out of jail with and earthquake. The jailer was about to kill himself because he failed the responsibility of losing all these prisoners…but Paul and Silas assure him…we could have run…but we’re all here…Paul then shares the gospel…God’s Spirit works, and the Philippian jailer and his family surrender to Christ and immediately in the middle of the night they are baptized.
The same persecution that put Paul and Silas in jail follows them to Thessalonica…they have to flee for their lives after only 3 weeks…But the new believers are family committed. They are growing in the faith, and they are loving in their relationships…but…they are also going through the wringer! Paul says, “you became imitators of us and Jesus in spite of severe suffering ( 1 Thess 1:6 We dared to tell you the gospel in spite of strong opposition” (1 Thess 2:2) “You suffered from your own countrymen.” (1 Thess 2:14) “In fact when we were with you we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.” (1 Thess.3:4) “In all our distress and persecution we were encouraged because of your faith” (1 Thess 3:7)
What is severe suffering for our faith…what is strong opposition to the gospel…what is suffering (for our faith) from our own people…and facing real persecution for our message?
I’m not sure; we have any idea what that is, even now in America…but maybe what we deal with is even more difficult to overcome…
Cassie Bernall may or may not have been asked, “Do you believe in God?” Immediately before the Columbine killers shot she...but I will tell you a gun to your head is pretty black and white… “I believe...Gun goes off…your Spirit is in the presence of Jesus.
In China, India, Iran…and many many other places your faith in Christ as your Savior and Lord will be put to the test…severely….
But what we deal with in American is different…Christianity is a word that describes anyone who goes to church or believes in Jesus (in any form of belief)…many are very comfortable at practicing the religion of Christianity, but certainly not letting it change their lifestyles or the schedules.
Because of that I believe real commitment to the cross is exchange for the Love of an easy chair. Denying self, carrying my daily death on a cross I Christ, and truly living like Jesus...is hard, when I don’t believe I have to…nor does it make me really long for the Kings return.
The Thessalonians didn’t have that problem…luke warmness wasn’t the issue…severe persecution and strong opposition to the gospel were…
It’s exactly why Paul writes….may He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (1 Thess 3:13)
Hang in there…in the midst of a sexually immoral society, where you are beaten for your beliefs…Jesus is coming for you!
I IGNORANCE ISN’T BLISS
“We don’t want you to be ignorant”
[I remember at Johnson I had a professor in the “History of the Restoration Movement” get so frustrated with this guy named Dwight that he said, “You are ignorant!” and Dwight said, “I don’t feel ignorant”]
Ignorant doesn’t mean “stupid”. I think my professor really wanted to call Dwight…that word instead of ignorant.
Ignorant means “uninformed”…here’s an example….I was ignorant of the fact that U.K., Duke, N.C. and other basketball schools receive 4 times the revenue from football than from basketball…it shocked me!
“What most people don’t understand is that every school is a football school. The amount of revenue that football can generate dwarfs even the greatest basketball programs.” said Mark Nagel, associate professor in the sport and entertainment management department at the University of South Carolina. “Certainly the fans identify with what sport wins the most, but football just has the potential to make so much more money with attendance and television contracts.
I was ignorant of this information…uninformed.
The Apostle Paul does not want the Thessalonians to be uninformed about those who fall asleep”.
And clearly he’s not talking about those 1 or 2 that do the head nod thing on Sunday morning. (Demonstrate) He’s talking about Believers who die before the Lord’s return.