Let me ask you to open your bibles to the passage that we heard earlier from 1 Thessalonians and let me say right at the very start, “how good is this?” Here is message of great joy and encouragement to every believer who has or will be until the day that Jesus returns in glory. Even better we are told to use these words for that very purpose of encouragement and building each other up.
From this passage it would be very easy to get bogged down in the mire of distraction instead of looking at the beautiful truth and awesome promise every believer has from our God. In this light we have a couple of verses that really drive home the wonderful truth and promise of God. Look at Ch.4:16-17; “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call…………………..” Then moving over to Ch. 5:9-10; we read, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation………”
You will also notice that each of these verses is followed up with the message of encouragement for each other. The encouragement is that every believer whether having died or still alive will meet the Lord. But it will not just be a g’day how are you but something so beautiful and complete joining together of all the saints.
The promise made by God and restated by Jesus will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again in all his glory. The simple little promise of Jesus in John 14:3; “And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” We can also read Matt. 16:27-28; “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels and then he will reward each person according to what he has done………………” Both groups of believers are covered in these verses as some will not have died before Jesus returns again. And it will not matter because every believer will meet the Lord in the air. Notice also that for these references I went back to what Jesus said for the added emphasis rather than the restatement of them through the apostles though still true.
As you look at the verses from Ch. 5:9-10; we have declared for us how all this is possible for every believer. It is wonderful to know that it is going to happen but it is also important to understand that it will not be everyone. Here we see that all of this is only possible because Jesus died on the cross for us. We only receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ or as Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6;
But we also need to notice the beautiful promise set out in both of the verses we looked at from 1 Thessalonians. It flows on so wonderfully from what Jesus has done for us and even what will happen at the time of the return of Jesus. I think we need to look at the outcome of all of these wonderful blessings of God. At the end of v.17; we are told, “and so we will be with the Lord forever.” At the end of v.10; we are told, “we may live together with him.”
So how good is this because these are not empty words but the promise of our wonderful Heavenly Father to every believer? The promise is that we will live forever with the Lord there in the kingdom of glory. 1 John 5:11-13; tells us, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life in in his Son…………………..” And all that is required of us to repent and believe in Jesus Christ our Lord. What a wonderful encouragement for every believer for every day of our lives.
So don’t get caught out by trying to figure out when Jesus will come again. Leave that to God as you remember that even Jesus did not know the time or place. Paul is quick to remind these people of this fact as he talks about simply being prepared and to continue to live out your faith. The return of Jesus will be just like a thief in the night so be alert and self-controlled. Live as children of the light which is what they were and we are today. It might not be easy but we have so much to look forward to.
Paul also challenges us to always remember the promise of God as he declares in v.14; “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” Clearly those who die in the faith have the wonderful hope of the resurrection and will be raised first.
On the other hand those who die not knowing Jesus as their Saviour and Lord have no hope. Those who die not knowing Jesus it is too late having died in their sins. These are the people who seem to be living good lives but just as inevitable as the pains of child birth they will not escape. Those who are still alive when Christ returns and do not know him will be rejected by him. They will hear those powerful words of judgement, “away from me I never knew you.” It might seem harsh but this is the message of the bible, the truth as declared by God. There will be no excuse acceptable to God all you need to do is look at the words of Jesus in Matt. 25:31-46; as he talks about what will happen when he comes to separate the sheep and the goats.
Another danger in this passage is to read it and come up with more questions for God about the intricate details of what and how things will happen. We want to know the intricate details of where we will meet the Lord. We want to want to know other details as we link these words with other passages. But again remember we are told do not worry but just be prepared for the day of the Lord.
Look again as Paul focuses upon the key words of faith, love and hope as the only things that can help us keep our lives on track for God. Through these things we are being protected by the awesome power of God but also we must be active in standing firm because we will be attacked by Satan. Challenges will come upon us but through it all we have a visible hope.
Let us focus on the very positive truth conveyed in this passage for every believer. We have a hope that will never disappoint us because we have Jesus as Christ and Lord. Don’t get too tied up in how things are going to happen but just rejoice in the Lord that his return is all part of God’s plan. We do however need to keep praying for those still lost in sin before they die in the hope that God will speak to their hearts and they will hear his call to faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The beautiful thing is that when he does return we will be with the Lord forever. Christ has made it all possible through his death and resurrection. Cherish these things and use them to encourage each other in the Lord. As the saints of God we will be with him in glory forever. How good is this?
Let us pray……………………..Amen.