SanLo Community, an update for the week of August 19, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Eric for the message from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, “Are u Ready?” We are almost done in our series on the End Times. As we think about what is to come, I thought about the Lord’s prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Focus on those words, specifically Thy Kingdom come! Are u ready? There was a group of Thessalonian Christians who were very concerned about the return of Christ and uncertain about what happens to believers who have already passed away. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter, 1 Thessalonians, to answer their concerns. He encourages them to live like Christ will return tomorrow.
The first truth is Christ’s return will be a shocking surprise. (vv.1-3) The Thessalonians are deeply concerned about the timing and coming of Christ. Paul addresses their concern by letting them know that they don’t need to worry about the seasons and times of the event because nobody knows when it is going to happen. It will come like a thief in the night. Paul’s concern isn’t the timing of Christ’s return, but his deep concern is what it will bring. So, Paul addresses a couple things here to help us understand. First, Paul uses the term, day of the Lord to describe Jesus’ coming. It signified the coming of God’s judgment and wrath both in the present and in the future. Here that future reality will come to pass upon all who don’t believe, all who don’t follow Jesus. God will judge the world in the end. Unfortunately, Christ’s coming will bring about a severe pain in the judgment of God for those who reject Him. Second, not only the judgment, but Paul describes the false sense of hope and false sense of reality in verse 3. People will be saying, “There is peace and security!” Peace! Safety! Comfort! Paul uses a popular Roman political slogan of the day used by the government to promise peace, security, and prosperity to anyone who followed the Roman rule and authority. Paul is saying that it will be far from safe and secure. It will be the complete opposite of peace with destruction and devastation, and people will be completely caught off guard. Paul’s strong warning is, “Don’t be caught off guard!” The wrath and judgment of God is nothing I want you to face, neither does God want you to. In the end, there will be a separating moment, so don’t be surprised. Know for sure where your destiny lies by coming to faith in Jesus. He is the only one who can offer you true everlasting peace and security. Sadly, the return of Christ will be a shocking surprise for many.
The second truth is Christ’s return causes us to be sober minded. (vv.4-8) Paul does a compare and contrast in these verses by using the language of darkness and light, good and evil. Here the darkness represents moral and spiritual blindness, disobedience and separation. This sphere of darkness is where Satan, the mastermind of sin and deception, lives and dwells. Unfortunately, many people live in darkness blinded by their own sinfulness and lust. However, in contrast, the light represents moral and spiritual enlightenment. The children of light see God for who He is, the Light of the World. Because of grace, we become sons and daughters of light, not on our own merit, but on the merits of Christ. Our lives ought to represent the light rather than the darkness. In verses 6-8, Paul makes another contrast and comparison with being awake and being sleep. Those who are asleep represent those fallen away. Falling asleep is a picture of how we can become spiritually, ethically, or morally empty and live in the darkness of sin. This characterizes a person, who is lazy and lethargic to life and toward God. Contrast a sleepy person with an alive and awake person, they are alert, on guard, ready, and active. What better description of a person than a solider. The solider is always on guard and ready. They must be prepared at any moment to go into battle and fight. This particular solider is fashioned with the breastplate of faith and love - which protects the heart. The second piece of armor is the helmet of hope of salvation, which protects the mind. It guards what we think and feel. Paul exhorts and challenges us not to live in darkness or in slumber, but to be sober minded, meaning to be in control or clear headed, having a right mind in Christ. If we dwell on His coming more often, we’d be less concerned over the future, because our future is already set. We will have a secure hope. If we think more about the most glorious and wonderful person, of Jesus Christ, then we’ll worry less about the relationships we don’t have in life, because we’d be consumed with the greatest relationship in the universe. We will experience the greatest love of all. If we think more of Christ, then we would surrender far less times to Satan and His dominion of darkness. We will experience more joy and more happiness in the Lord. So, when we come to think about Christ’s coming, it ought to awaken us to His glorious end, but more importantly, to awaken us to our glorious God right now. That’s the second truth be sober minded.
The third truth is Christ’s return reminds of His saving grace. (vv.9-10) God has not destined us…God has appointed us, chosen us, elected us to not receive wrath. We are all headed on the wrong path toward the wrath and justice of God. That’s what we deserve! Because of our sin, we deserve the righteous judgment of God. However, that’s not what God gives to us. Instead of wrath, God offers us His beautiful and bountiful grace, unmerited favor, and blessing. We receive the greatest gift of all time, God’s gift of Himself for ever and ever. For what purpose, in verse 10, it says we might live with Him. We might be in relationship with our God. We might be brought back to Him. We might dwell with our Lord and our Savior, not just in the future, but in the present. Right now. Today and forever! That’s the good news. That’s the gospel. Amen!
The fourth truth is Christ’s return encourages us to share the good news. (v.11) Paul ends this section of Scripture by encouraging and challenging the church to live together in the coming of Christ and in the gospel. The word for ‘build up’ means to increase the potential of someone else. Paul challenges the Thessalonians to not lose heart to God or to the gospel, but to continue to grow and to increase the potential of others in the body of Christ. Every Christian has a responsibility to remind each other of the gospel and the good news. We are to invest in the lives of others around us to share the hope that we have in the Lord. There are no lone rangers in Christian life. You can’t be alone and survive to the finish-line without community. It is impossible. Do you have someone close to you challenging you to live for Christ? Do you have someone in your life reminding you of the coming King?
So, are you ready? Are you ready for the coming King? Are you ready for Jesus to return? I pray that we will all be ready when our time comes, but before then, let us live with a clear mind and clear focus to share the same good news with the world that so desperately needs it.