1 Thessalonians 5_1-11 pt 2
1 Thess 5:1-11 Part 2 1 Thess 5:1-11 One of the things that you learn very quickly is how easy it is to get disappointed. When you are born, you do not really know what is going on as everything is really taken care of for you. Then you grow up a bit and you learn that you have to do something called sharing. Or where you used to be the cute one, a new baby brother or sister comes along who is just a little more cute than you. You grow up some more and then you have to start going to school. Not exactly how you thought you would be spending your days. You get older and start applying for colleges or begin working. Maybe you are not doing what you thought you would be doing. You get married, but as y’all age things get looser. You have children and of course you are quick to realize they are little sinners who need to be trained and taught that they need a Saviour. But we learn to handle and deal with disappointments. And as believers, we are quick to understand that everything in this world will fail us, but our God is always faithful. But even that can be difficult for some people because in our flesh we still have desires that are apart from God. Not only that, but we seek pleasures in so many things, creating for us little idols that we worship. And Paul is quick to proclaim that the Day of the Lord is coming. That God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (9). And so when we fix our eyes and orient our hearts towards the right things, we learn contentment. We learn how it is we may obtain true and real peace and joy and love and everything that is excellent in Christ. But then the question to be asked is this. Will this also disappoint us? Will we continue to wait and wait for the Day of the Lord and for Him to never come? I think that is how a lot of people all throughout the world, both inside and outside the church, think when it comes to the Day of the Lord. Because in the end they are looking for the wrong things. The argument that I made last time that we studied God’s word together is what I want to reiterate here. The end times, changes the way you live because you know that God is coming back for His people and so you are living in such a way that your life now will be your life in eternity. For His glory. Not seeking to interpret things and try and decipher when he is coming. We do not even care when He comes. We know that He is coming and so that settles that for us. We live now, while we have time here on earth for Him. We are sort of practicing now for the big show. When we will spend eternity with Him. In this manner, we will never face disappointment. Because our God is a God of promises. But not just of promises, kept promises. And we looked at how we are to be ready for His coming. That we are prepared and ready for His return and His reign. Our attention, our focus is completely on the Son. And I am going to continue to harp on this point. I want you to get it that when you study the end times, you are reflecting on the truth that God has revealed to us so that our living now is brought to glorify Him. On serving Him, knowing that He is coming and will call His people. And so we called out 5 things that would be characteristic of every believer in the end times: 1) We are ready (1-2) 2) We are not foolish (3) 3) We are not overtaken by darkness (4-5) 4) We do not sleep (6-7) 5) We are equipped (8-11) We talked in good length about the first three items for His return last time, so I want to look at the last two this morning. 1) We do not sleep (6-7) a. You know I have met a lot of people in my short ministry, and as you preach to people outside and inside you get to hear some pretty interesting things. Including, what one man argued with me, that if I slept I was in sin. He made the argument to me that he never sleeps anymore. He just prays and what we may think is him sleeping is not actually him sleeping, he is awake the entire time. And is that what Paul means when he says “we must not sleep”? b. Of course we have the literal definition of sleep being sleep, resting at night. Well, in chapter 4 we read about sleep and we saw how it was a euphemism for death. And so what does it mean here? c. Going back to verse 4, we see that those in the dark are ignorant and separated from God. Alert believers are able to discern the events to come. Earlier in this letter, Paul used a Greek word for “sleep,” koimaō (kee-ma-ow), metaphorically to describe those who have died (4:13). In this verse, he uses a different Greek word, katheudō (kah-thev-dough), also translated “sleep,” to refer to being unaware of God, His workings, and His return. I believe it points to an ignorance of God’s work d. But those who are in the dark are depicted in two ways: sleeping and drunk. They are blind, they cannot see clearly the signs. They are ignorant and opposed to God. 2) We are equipped (8-11) a. Which leads me to my next point that they are equipped. b. And so what would you expect from a person who is awake. Who is not of the darkness. Who is not stumbling as a drunkard. They have confidence. They are not overtaken by a thief. They are self-controlled and serious. They have a sober life as children of the day putting on the armor of faith and love and the helmet of hope. And here we again see a triad that is found in many places throughout Scriptures. Faith, hope, and love. They bear the marks of a Christian. c. Believers prepare for the day of the Lord, not sleeping in ignorance, but are ready and prepared preserving in the faith, love, and hope that is found at the starting point of their Christian life. Now verse 10 is a bit problematic now. “9b our Lord Jesus Christ 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” Why is it problematic. Couldn’t it just mean that those who are awake (living) and asleep (dead) will live together with Jesus when he comes. It could mean that. But that is not what the text says. Additionally, that would be to take the Bible out of context. The term for awake here is the same one we read in verse 6-7. And the term asleep is the same one we read as well. We cannot import something new. And we just learned that those who are awake are believers and those who are asleep are unbelievers. Paul was certainly not saying here that both the “sons of the light” who are “alert” and the non-Christians who are “asleep” and who “belong to the night” will live in Christ. He for sure is not preaching that everyone will go to Heaven. But what was he saying? One possibility is that this verse takes up a thread from 4:13 and ties together the two discussions of the end times. If this is so, then “asleep” in 5:10 is a reference to death. A difficulty with this interpretation is that the two passages (4:13–18; 5:1–11) use different verbs for sleep. When he used sleep as a euphemism for physical death (4:13–18), Paul used koimaō. For sleep as spiritual blindness in 5:1–9 Paul used katheudō. Some consider it unlikely that Paul would vary his usage of katheudō suddenly in 5:10 without some explanation in the verse. And so that would be a huge twisting of the original languages, twisting of the verses out of context, and it would bring the bible into contradiction with itself. Given the immediate context, then, one is tempted to say that Paul means that it does not matter whether we stay spiritually alert and watchful as sons of the day, or sink into a spiritual stupor like the sons of the darkness, we will enjoy eternal life with Jesus. But as soon as we have said that, the horror of it strikes us. If that should be the meaning, it would effectively contradict the urgent appeal to be watchful and sober, not sleeping, just given. Even so, Thomas Edgar (with a few others) has attempted to defend this understanding, concluding, “Believers are exhorted to watch but, watchful or not, Paul assures Christians that their hope is certain” (349). Tracy Howard has answered Edgar, concluding that in v. 9, “Paul is returning to the issue which is behind the entire eschatological discourse beginning in 4:13,” and that he gives the same response here as there (“Sleep” 347, 348). When Edgar uses “not watching,” he sounds innocent enough; but “sleeping” in the previous verses was not so innocent, referring to the spiritual stupor of those who are in darkness. I think the next portion of the verse helps to clarify the meaning. “live together with him” is a reference to their present existence. If this were the idea the author is trying to convey, it would mean that both the living and the dead are currently living with him. On this reading the declaration would be a clear statement about the intermediate state of deceased Christians—they are alive with Jesus! As attractive as this interpretation might be, we should observe that the immediately preceding argument brings to the forefront the eschatological hope of believers. They have put on the “hope of salvation” (v. 8) and anticipate salvation from the coming wrath through the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 9). This final salvation is now described in v. 10 as living together with him. As in 4:16–17, the theology of v. 10 has to do with the resurrection of the dead and the catching away of the living and the dead “to be with the Lord forever” (cf. the use of “to live” with reference to the resurrection in Acts 1:3; Rom. 14:9a; 2 Cor. 13:4a; Rev. 2:8; 20:4–5). The glorious declaration of hope in v. 10b that we may live together with him echoes the last part of 4:17, “And so we will be with the Lord forever.” The portion that the believers await, whether they are the living or the dead in Christ, is the promise of the resurrection and life in union with him. So I see that it is more fitting to understand the text as speaking to allow for human frailty. Might katheudō (“to sleep”) signify not unbelievers but Christians who are spiritually dull? Believers should be vigilant and self-controlled. They are to persevere in the Christian life. But what if that vigilance wanes? Does believers’ salvation hinge on their own vigilance or on the work of Christ? Paul was assuring his readers here of the security of those for whom Christ died. Human vigilance may flag, but Christ’s sacrifice will not fail to deliver the believer from wrath, even believers who have fallen asleep at their post. Given that what am I trying to say? - Be ready for Christ’s coming. He is coming. What am I trying to encourage the flock with? - I want them to have more security and hope in Christ - I want them to grow more in love with God and what He has done - I want them to know God more. From this passage, how can I express the above points to them in a way that they will understand and be excited about it. Not just giving facts, but engage them? - Journey and not the end analogy - Also, in this world you will have struggles, but take heart. And put on faith hope and love. God did not appoint you to wrath. Rejoice in that - If you are struggling, or know someone who is. Encourage them. Build them up. Bring them hope knowing that Christ is coming back and we will live together with Him. While we are still here. Be ready. Discipline yourself. We will see this point expanded more in vs 12-end But let’s read it to find why we can live sanctified lives here on earth.