1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
A little boy climbed up into the lap of his mother with a series of endless questions.
· “Mama, where were you born?” “Oklahoma, son.”
· “Mama, where was daddy born?” “Son, he was born in California.
· “Mama, now, where was I born?” “Son, you were born in Texas.”
The little boy was silent for a few moments as he processed all the answers and said, “Mama, isn’t it great how we all got together!”
That is how we are all going to feel about “living together” in eternity with God and each other. “Isn’t it great how we all got together!”
At the Milan Cathedral there are three doorways, each with a different inscription.
- Over the right-hand portal is a sculptured wreath of flowers with the motto: “All that pleases is but for a moment.”
- Over the left-hand entrance are a cross and crown, under which are the words: “All that troubles is but for a moment.”
- But over the central door there is a simple sentence: “Nothing is important save that which is eternal.”
John Newton, “I’m still in the land of the dying. I’ll soon be in the land of the living.”
What is the world coming to?
1. The Rapture is Coming!
There is a natural “curiosity.” What is the exact time? The return of Jesus Christ is by divine determination, not human deliberation. “No man knowth the day nor the hour…” Matthew 24:36.
V. 2. “For yourselves know perfectly…” You know perfectly that no one knows perfectly when Jesus will return. None have been told the calendar, but we have been told the characteristics of Jesus’ return.
Believers are “in the know.” Unbelievers are “in the dark.”
Believers are of “the day,” unbelievers are “of the night.” There is a “night and day” difference.
Believers do know “how” He will return. The Bible tells us.
His coming is Imminent. “The Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” Christ’s return will be unannounced and, for many, people will be unprepared.
His coming is Inevitable. “As travail upon a woman with child…” How many of you precious women know something about “travail”? Two things are part of why this is used about Christ’s return.
· Travail = pain. As the pain are more intense, closer together the event of birth comes.
· Travail = predictable. What does “travail” mean to a mother who has carried her baby inside her for 9 plus months? It means she is going to give birth. It is inevitable.
His coming is Inescapable. “They shall not escape…” Think about the people who through their money or influence or popularity have escaped various things. It will not be so with the rapture. The unsaved who are left behind will not escape what is coming following the rapture.
No wonder Paul’s attention is turned to believers living before the rapture and calls them to…
· Watchfulness, v. 6a.
· Soberness, v. 6b, 8.
· Preparedness, v.8b Why would someone put on a “breastplate of faith and love” and a “helmet”? The only reason I know is to be equipped to fight, to engage an enemy, to battle a foe.
Those who may be somewhat familiar with Bible prophecy, what follows the rapture on this earth? The answer is, the “tribulation,” a literal seven-year period when God pours out His wrath.
2. The Tribulation is Coming.
Future events cast their shadow before they appear. The shadow of the tribulation which will immediately follow the rapture is being cast today in our world.
Globalism is replacing nationalism.
· Global economy.
· Global government.
· Global religion.
And it is all being pursued under the guise of “world peace.” “Peace and safety” are the watchwords of our day.
· How do we disarm North Korea and Iran?
· How do we quieten the economic fears of European countries like Greece?
The world’s troubles are so vast, so far-reaching the only hope is for one man to direct the affairs of the whole world—the antichrist.
But what does the Bible say about all of man’s attempts at peace that ignore the Prince of Peace? “Sudden destruction cometh upon them,” v. 3. “Destruction” is another word for the “judgment of God.”
Now, that is some mighty bad news! There’s no way else to spin it. The Bible says of the Tribulation there is worse than anything ever seen before it in world history.
· “The day of God’s vengeance,” Isaiah 34:8.
· “For the day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble,” Jeremiah 30:7.
· “The great day of His wrath,” Revelation 6:17.
· “The time of trouble such as never was,” Daniel 12:1.
· “The end of the world,” Matthew 13:40, 49.
· “Such as was not since the beginning, no , nor ever shall be…” Matthew 24:21.
In those day of the tribulation people will desire to die. The future holds nothing positive for them. In spite of all the horrors and heartache, people will refuse to repent. Instead, they will curse and blaspheme God, Revelation 16:9, 11, 21.
Now, that’s bad news.
Want some good news? Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:9. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you personally know Jesus Christ any appointment you had with wrath and damnation has been cancelled by Jesus’ death on the cross! Everyone faces the immediate wrath of the tribulation period that is coming to this earth and they face the ultimate wrath of damnation in hell and the lake of fire.
But, instead of wrath, we have been appointed “to obtain salvation.”
You might be thinking, “Preacher, I thought I have salvation right now?” Well, you do and you don’t. The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is three-fold.
· At the point of repentance and faith, we are saved from the penalty of sin.
· In our present live as we are obedience, we are saved from the power of sin.
· When Jesus returns, we are going to be saved from the presence of sin.
“I am saved! I am being saved! I am going to be saved!” And its all because of Jesus! That’s what Paul meant in Romans 13:11, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
Verse 9 tells us who does the saving. “...To obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” And just so we get it entirely straight, Paul adds verse 10, which tells us what Jesus did to obtain salvation for us. “Who died for us…” That is the gospel—the who connect you to the right Person, and the what reminds us of the redemption price.
Have you had this kind of “gospel experience”?
- Do you know Him?
- Do you know He died for you?
“Preacher, what comes after the rapture for believers?” Do you still have your Bibles opened to 1 Thessalonians 5? Look at the last phrase in verse 10. “That, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”
3. Eternity is Coming.
We are going to “live together with Him” in eternity.
· 2 Corinthians 5:8 “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
· Philippians 1:23 “Depart to be with Christ.”
“All nations, kindreds, people and tongues,” Revelation 7:9.
John 14:1-3 “I will receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also…”
All along, its all really been about eternity.
God Set His heart on us From Eternity.
Christ was a lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8.
“Loved you with an everlasting love,” Jeremiah 33:3. From vanishing point to vanishing point.
Of Israel God said, I didn’t love you because you were more in number...I loved you because I loved you.”
Sometimes in our attempts to make sure we are not identified as a Calvinist we make the foolish mistake of not understand salvation from God’s viewpoint is always eternal. God is eternal. And God views time from eternity.
Ephesians 1:5 "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love..."
God Saves us for Eternity.
“Eternal redemption.” Hebrews
Luke 10:20 “Names written in heaven…”
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
God will Sustain us for Eternity.
God Will Take Eternal Pleasure in Us For all Eternity.
Ephesians 2:7 “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Trophies of grace….
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” John Piper.
One day we will be retired to heaven. Sounds good, amen? Well, until then, we need to be riveted on heaven. The reality of heaven should be one of our greatest motivations. Folks, it is the others side that makes living on this side worth it all.
“The lack of interest in heaven is the other side of preoccupation with this world,” John MacArthur.
When we say, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” we are really saying, “Love heaven, and the things that are in heaven.”
· Our Savior is in heaven, Philippians 3:
· Our citizenship is in heaven.
· Our home is in heaven, John 14:1-3.
· Our treasures are in heaven, Matthew 6:20.
· Our saved loved ones are in heaven,
Until we reach heaven, we are homeless here. We are as much out of place in our world as Noah was in his world before the flood. He was a minority, but not a silent minority.
One man said, “The only ultimate tragedy we can experience on earth is to feel at home here.”
You remember the story of the old minister who heard a sermon by a young man, and when he was asked by the preacher what he thought of it he was rather slow to answer, but at last he said, ‘If I must tell you, I did not like it at all; there was no Christ in your sermon.’ ‘No,’ answered the young man, ‘because I did not see that Christ was in the text.’ ‘Oh!’ said the old minister, ‘but do you not know that from every little town and village and tiny hamlet in England there is a road leading to London? Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, “There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.”’ ‘Well,’ said the young man, ‘but suppose you are preaching from a text that says nothing about Christ?’ ‘Then I will go over hedge and ditch but what I will get at Him.’
Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the gospel. I have preached the gospel, not about the gospel, but the gospel, the full, free, glorious gospel of the living Christ who is the incarnation of the good news. Preach Jesus Christ, brethren, always and everywhere; and
every time you preach be sure to have much of Jesus Christ in the sermon (Spurgeon, 2006:§4).
Spurgeon CH 2006. The Soul Winner. Electronic edition created by T Koeppel.
Availdable from www.craigwhite.net/e-Sword.