Sunday, January 28, 2007


Intro.: I have a couple of small classes this semester.

  1. Not too unusual – we are a small department.

  2. But it is interesting, that those two students almost always come into the classroom in exactly the same order. One will come 10 to 15 minutes early. The other will come right on time or up to 5 minutes late.

  3. I can tell you exactly who will be present when the class is scheduled to begin.

  4. Paul gives us a picture of what we are to expect as we come to the end of time as we know it.

Read: I Thessalonians 4:16-18


Trans: The letters to the Thessalonians are considered to be among the first of Paul's letters.

  1. Paul first met the Thessalonians in 49 AD on his second missionary journey.

  2. But Paul found himself at odds with the Jews of the area because he saw a many non Jews come to faith during his ministry.

  3. Paul had to flee from Thessalonica and left Timothy and Silas to minister. Eventually Timothy and Silas let Paul know aobut the church's continued growth. And Paul's excitement about this fact led to his writing this first letter.

T.S. I want to look at four events that will signal the return of Christ.

  1. Return of Christ I Th 4:16 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, ...

    1. I don't want to spend a great deal of time focusing on the return of Christ – not because it is not important, but because we spent most of last Sunday on the Christ's return.

    2. Our point last week was that Christ will return – it is not a fairy story, it is not an imaginary story. It is truth.

(Ill.) Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with promises of the second coming of Christ. Someone has reported that there are 1,845 references in the Old Testament alone and a total of 17 books that give it prominence.

Of the 260 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to Christ's second coming. That averages one out of every 30 verses. Furthermore, 23 of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. That leaves only four books that do not refer directly to the Second Coming. Interestingly, three of these four books are single-chapter letters which were written to specific persons on a particular subject.1

    1. I do want to make one more observation – Christ's return is a spiritual event. Look at Paul' description: ... 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, ...

    2. Christ's return is in God's hands – he not only knows the time, he also is responsible for announcing it.

  1. Resurrection of the dead I Th 4:16 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.

(Ill.) Sir Walter Raleigh is one of the great poets of Shakespeare's time. But because he was also a friend of the throne, his life was on the line when others attempted to install their own king in England. Though it appeared that his life might be spared, he was eventually beheaded. As he lay ready for the ax to fall, his final words were, "Strike man, strike."2 These might seems like strange words from a man about to die, yet they make more sense when we listen to the words of Sir Walter Raleigh's final poem, written the night before his death:

Even such is time, that takes in trust

Our youth, our joys, our all we have,

And pays us but with age and dust;

Who in the dark and silent grave,

When we have wandered all our ways,

Shuts up the story of our days.

But from this earth, this grave, this dust,

My God shall raise me up, I trust!

    1. Christ's return will be followed by the resurrection of the dead.

    2. Though this passage focuses on the dead in Christ, there will also be a resurrection of those who have never placed their faith in Christ.

    3. Christ, in His words to the thief on the cross makes it clear that we will enter God's presence at the time we die, but God is not finished with us at that point. At the resurrection believers finish the transformation that he began when we came to faith.

    4. God is remaking us – for those who have died that process will be finished at the resurrection.

  1. Rapture of the church I Th 4:17 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.

    1. But there is more – you see the dead will rise first. But Paul makes it clear that those believers who are still left will go to meet the Lord after those who are dead.

    2. Theologians call this "the rapture."

    3. Though they know what to call it, they don't always agree as to when it will occur.

      1. The most vocal group will tell you that the rapture will occur shortly after the resurrection of the dead. This group are pre-tribulation theologians.

      2. Another group will say it will come later – after a great deal of tough time – they call it the tribulation. These theologians fall into two categories – some who will tell you that the rapture will come part way through the tribulation. These are the mid-tribulationist. Or they will tell you that believers, as a group, will need to go through it all the tribulation. These are the post tribulationist.

(Appl.) Will we have to face the extreme hardship that is associated with the tribulation? I don't know – and you know I don't care. Because it my intention to be ready regardless of God has in mind. You see, if I, if we, remain obedient, if I choose to continue to listen to the scriptures – then I will be ready to meet Jesus, you can be ready to meet Jesus.

  1. Rest for eternity I Th 4:18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

    1. Paul sees this discussion as good news.

(Ill.) The early church had a wonderful expression that they shared with each other – "Maranatha" What it means is "Come now, Lord." The early church had two known uses for the word. The first was part of the communion service – asking for Jesus' presence as they gathered to remember his sacrifice. The other time that the word was used was when the church talks about Christ's return for His church. It was a way for the church to remind themselves that they needed Christ's presence day by day, but they also were never to forget his promise to return.

    1. The truth that we will spend eternity with Christ is not just a theological fact to Paul, but it was to be a point of encouragement for the Church.

    2. I was pleased last night when Rev. Merley closed her prayer with the words, "come, Lord Jesus, come." She was echoing the words of the early church – it is a prayer we still need to say.


12000+ Bible Illustrations. Accessed through E-Sword Bible Software on January 26, 2007.


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