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1 Thessalonians 5





For a long, long time a lot of folks have wondered about how all of this will end.  They have been curious about how all of this culminates.  And, many times, they have been fearful of the last days. 

God, in His graceful sovereignty, has told us much about the last days and end times.  But, in His graceful sovereignty, He has also withheld some of the details.  For His own reason, He has refused to tell us when the last days and end times will “officially” begin.  But He has told us what to look for and what will happen.

At the end of the previous chapter, Paul wrote to us about the rapture of the church.  The word rapture does not actually appear in the Bible.  But don’t let that cause you to question the reality of it.  The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible either.  The word rapture actually comes from a Latin word which means to catch up or to be caught up (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

This catching up or rapture is actually a prophetic sign that the end times have come upon the earth.  At the rapture, the church (all Christ followers) will be taken physically to heaven.  That many countless people disappearing simultaneously will throw the world into an unprecedented turmoil.  And out of that turmoil, the antichrist will rise with “all of the solutions to all of the world’s problems”.  And he will soon become the one world ruler.

In verse 2, the Bible speaks of the “Day of the Lord”.  This phrase can refer to a 24 hour period or to a longer time period.  Here it refers to the seven year period of great tribulation that will begin at the very moment the church is raptured.  Although other very intelligent and well-meaning folks might point to a different eschatological calendar, I am quite convinced that the rapture is the first domino that falls and that it is what starts all of the other dominos falling until the Second Coming of Jesus occurs.

In other words, the church (Christ followers) will not be on the earth during the Great Tribulation.  Verse 9 says God has not destined us for wrath.  And if you will take a look at the Revelation, you will notice that after the end of Revelation 3, the church is not seen on the earth again until she returns with Jesus at His Second Coming.  For those reasons and others, I believe the church will not go through the Great Tribulation.

Although we as Christ followers will not be here for the Great Tribulation, we still need to know about it.  I could make a very similar statement about hell.  Christ followers will not be in hell but it is helpful for us to know about it.  So, God tells us much about what will happen during the Great Tribulation. 

Why would God want us to know about that?  The closer the earth gets to the Great Tribulation, the more things will come into line to make the events of that seven year period possible.  In other words, we can see things happening today that point to the Great Tribulation.  The closer we get to the Great Tribulation, the closer we have to be to the rapture of the church.

Like us, the Thessalonians had lots of questions about all of this.  There is nothing wrong with asking those questions and struggling for answers.  But we should be careful about getting so wrapped up in eschatology that we forget to live out the Christian life.  So, in verses12-22, Paul kind of gives us a laundry list of things we should be doing in the meantime.  Those are really good things for all of us to strive for.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

1 Thessalonians 4





This chapter begins with an interesting word: Finally.  Most of you have been around church long enough to know that when a preacher says “finally” it really doesn’t mean much.  For example, Paul’s use of the word “finally” comes at the half-way point of his letter.  In other words, his conclusion is going to be as long as the body of his letter.  Preachers are weird creatures.

Paul begins this chapter talking about the Christian life.  As is often the case in the Scriptures, the Christian life is referred to as a walk.  That’s a pretty good description.  The Christian life begins with a step of faith and then continues with a series of steps that become our Christian journey.

Paul challenges us in verse 1 to walk or to live in a way that pleases God.  Then he goes on to talk about what a God pleasing walk would look like.  To begin with it involves sexual purity.  At the time Paul was writing this letter, the Roman Empire was a most immoral place.  And sexuality immorality was absolutely rampant.  Imagine people who lived in that and who actually participated in that getting saved.  Although they were given a new nature at the point of salvation, they would have still had a lot of bad habits that they were probably more than fond of.  So, Paul challenges them with the fact that walking in a way that pleases God means living a sexually pure life.

When you get to verse 7, Paul makes the point that sexual purity is necessary for holiness.  In other words if we desire to be like the Lord, we need to live pure lives. 

The more we are like the Lord, the more we will genuinely love others which is the topic in verse 9.  Paul goes on to say that the Thessalonians were known for loving other believers but he encourages them to love more and more.  As Christ followers we cannot love enough.

In verse 11, we are given some other characteristics of a holy life.  We are to live a quiet life.  Too much noise of our own making or the result of others distracts us from the most important things in life.  We are to take care of our business.  And we are to work to provide for ourselves, our families, and for others who cannot provide for themselves.  Living like this provides an indisputable testimony to those who are not Christ followers.

When we get to verse 13, Paul seems to shift subjects.  But in effect, I think he is giving us a reason to live a holy life.  And that reason is one day, Jesus is coming back to rapture believers out of the earth. 

There are some who tend to reject the notion of the rapture but I want you to notice what Paul says about this in verse 14.  He places the certainty of the rapture on the same level of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He says if we believe that Jesus died and rose again we should also believe that Jesus is coming back to get us.  This is absolutely huge.  The death and resurrection is the foundational truth of the Gospel.  And in the same way that we believe and cling to that truth, we should also hang on to the fact that Jesus will come and get his church.  Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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