Faithlife Sermons

The Coming of the Lord

Fall 2020 (COVID-19)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:36
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1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 NIV
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For 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. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Do Not Be Uninformed...

The Thessalonians were living through trying times and persecution. Grief was always there. They couldn’t pretend it wasn’t. They needed to deal with it, but they needed to find the best ways to address it. Paul says don’t forget who we are. We are followers of Jesus. So how we grieve would look different than how the typical person grieves.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
All of us have loved ones who have died. Some recently. It’s hard. And daily life is just different now. We grieve for the loss of being together in the same ways we used to be. If the Thessalonians weren’t careful, if we aren’t careful it can take over our minds. It can rob us of our peace. We can fall into depression and anxiety in ways that do damage to our souls and our bodies.
Paul says Christians can grieve differently because of one word: HOPE.
Christians have hope because of what happened to Jesus and what we have come to believe as a result of his teaching.

For We Believe...

1 Thessalonians 4:14 NIV
14 For 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.
So all of life and all of death are dealt with in Jesus. Jesus rose again. Those who have died in Christ will also rise again on that great coming day!
For we believe! Paul is reminding them of what they believe. The reason we say the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed each week is so we can remember and reset our thoughts on what we know to be true. Even if we get bogged down during the week, each Sunday we are reminded.
We need these reminders when we are living through crazy times. This is all headed somewhere. God is working out his purpose through the ebbs and flows of history. It may seem like a slow march but His kingdom is coming. One day our faith will be sight. One day a lot ground will be covered in a few seconds.
One day, the Lord himself will descend!

The Lord Himself Will Descend...

The Welcome

Here I want you to prepare yourself to hear something in a fresh way that you may think you already know. Many of us were taught the idea that God is going to snatch us out of here and take us to another place called heaven. But the vision of Scripture is actually different.
Heaven is essentially another dimension where God dwells. But God’s purpose since creation has been to make his dwelling here with us. We live as strangers in a strange land. But this strange land will one day be the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus in the gospels says that the ones taken away will be taken away in judgement. But those so called left behind will be the Meek who inherit the earth!
John in Revelation says the new Jerusalem will come down and God will wipe away every tear and make his dwelling fully and finally here among us. When Jesus came he pitched his tent among us. But one day he will fully inhabit our renewed world.
Paul’s words here fit into that picture...
1 Thessalonians 4:17 NIV
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Now it doesn’t say we are carted off to heaven. It says we are caught up to meet the Lord. What is the Lord doing at the time? He’s descending. One scholar put it this way:
Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians The Lord’s Coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18)

And their ‘meeting’ with the Lord doesn’t mean they will then be staying in mid-air with him. They are like Roman citizens in a colony, going out to meet the emperor when he pays them a state visit, and then accompanying him back to the city itself.

We will be the welcoming party meeting him as he arrives and accompanying him as he returns.
If you study all the Bible has to say on it, this is what the clearest passages say with consistency. The idea of a rapture out of here doesn’t really appear until a couple centuries ago. And it doesn’t really hold up. But the resurrection holds up. Being caught up in the air to meet him holds up. So shall we be with the Lord forever holds up! Amen?
The point is get excited! However it exactly unfolds it will be the most amazing thing you have ever experienced! It’s going to happen and if you remain in Christ, you will see it even if you die before it happens! I don’t have enough voice to holler this morning so somebody do it for me! This will be a thousand times bigger than the super bowl, the world series, the world cup and the stanley cup combined! I want to be there. Lord, we are so ready for it! Amen?

The Point: Encourage One Another with These Words

So let’s focus on these things. The Thessalonians needed to do it. It was the answer to their trying times. It is the answer for us as well. Don’t spend so much time listening to the bad news that you forget the good news! Let God heal your soul.
And when you look at your brother or sister, look at them as someone standing in the need of prayer and encouragement. Remind them that Jesus is coming again. Remind them that one day this ol’ world will be made new. Remind them:
…”So shall we be with the Lord forever!” There is nothing else that could matter as much. There is no news that could eclipse this, for it will eclipse all other moments. I can’t wait!
With thanks to Horatio Spafford I say this morning:
When peace like a river attendeth my way When sorrow like sea billows roll Whatever my lot You have taught me to say It is well it is well with my soul
It is well with my soul It is well it is well with my soul
May it be well with you. Please, please encourage one another with these words!
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