Summary: It takes two things to be prepared for an event, great or small… We should be well-informed, and… We should be ready by acting on the information.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
November 16, 2003
13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)
A Youth Pastor wrote about Easter services in his church: “We showed a cartoon video of the crucifixion and resurrection to our kindergarten students. When Jesus was buried, one little boy who knew the story pretty well turned to a buddy and said, ’He’s dead now, but he’ll be back.’"
Thus a kindergartener spoke a truth many adults miss today…He WILL be back! In fact, according to Bible prophecy, the return of Christ for His church is the next great event on Heaven’s calendar. It could be today!
Great events require preparation.
Thanksgiving is only 11 days from now. (And I trust many of you will not put off preparing my pumpkin and pecan pies until the last minute.) Even as we speak the mall walls are hung with pre-season Christmas season!
We often take great care to prepare early for fishing trips, camping, hunting, and the “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house” trips. We prepare our retirement portfolio, insurance forms and our wills. Some of you will have your taxes done on midnight, December 31st. We prepare meals and deals, budgets and (in a few months) New Year’s Resolutions. We will even prepare what we will tell our friends in the event we don’t keep those resolutions.
The greatest preparation of all, in terms of importance and lasting value, is the preparation we make for eternity. This passage ought to make clear that being prepared for the return of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ is no small matter. He is our Savior and Lord. He is the One who has been the centerpiece of history, and is the coming King who will reign on the earth for a thousand years, and throughout eternity.
It takes two things to be prepared for an event, great or small…
We should be well-informed, and…
We should be ready by acting on the information.
We want to cover these two about getting yourself prepared with information and the way to act on the information in order to be ready for the return of King Jesus. However, there is one rabbit to chase before we begin, in order to lay a footing for the information. That “rabbit” is why Paul taught about Jesus’ coming.
Obviously Paul was answering questions in this letter. Recall that the Bible was not in its present form back then. The Apostles were still getting their information from the Lord and putting it to paper. So the early believers couldn’t take their concordance, or favorite Bible software and just pop-up Calvin’s Institutes of Religion, or the Baptist Faith and Message (choose one: 1925, 1963, 2000).
One problem Paul may have been addressing is the Gnostic influence. These folks (the Gnostics) did not believe Jesus was incarnated with a flesh and blood body, but was a spirit who only appeared to have a body. Therefore they also refused to believe in a bodily resurrection; so Paul wrote about the resurrection to dispel any doubts. “Now,” you say, “that’s silly; of course Jesus had a body. No one in this day and age has that problem.” Friends, we have a bigger problem with it now than ever before.
Have you ever watched “Crossing Over” – the TV program with John Edwards? Mr. Edwards claims to be able to receive messages from dead people. As his audience listens Edwards allegedly “gets” something – meaning a communication from a deceased relative or friend of someone in attendance. He then proceeds to develop the message, giving comfort and insight to the listeners. There is one of two possibilities:
1. Mr. Edwards is a king-sized con artist, raking in the bucks from people with pea-sized brains, or…
2. Mr. Edwards is the real deal…contacting the dead.