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TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Today, we come to the final message in our series, True Hope in Hopeless Times. Recapping what we have learned in this series, we know that the true hope of believers is Jesus Christ Himself and the event called the Rapture when He will call His church out of this world to be with Him forever. We look forward to the Rapture because it means being like Jesus, because it means being with Jesus, and because of the certainty of the coming of Jesus.
In our last message, we looked at how Christians should handle death from First Thessalonians chapter 4. By using three key words in that passage — Sorrow, Sleep, and Spirit — we saw that: (1) Christians do not have to be sorrowful about death because Christ conquered death and the grave; (2) For the Christian, death is really a sleep in which our bodies are laid to rest in the ground as they await the Rapture when they will be resurrected and transformed into glorious bodies; (3) When a Christian dies, his spirit immediately leaves his body and goes to be with the Lord.
Today, as we close out this series, we are going to look at the issue of the delay in Christ’s coming. As we noted, the believers in Thessalonica were eager for Christ’s return. In fact, scholars state that the disciples and the apostles expected Christ to return within their lifetime. So, understandably, they began to worry as they grew older and as their friends began to die, and Christ had not come back. Unlike many people today, they were not trying to cling to this world; they were eager to get out of this world.
Paul writes to the Thessalonian believers and helps them to understand some things regarding the delay in Christ’s return.
1. We see that it is right for Christians to be concerned about Christ’s return. Paul tells the believers, “of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.” Now, it might sound like Paul is telling them, ‘You don’t need to be worried about the times and seasons,’ but that is not what he is saying. Paul is saying, ‘I don’t need to tell you all over again about the times and seasons because you already know about that.’
2. While it is okay to be concerned about (or interested in) Christ’s return, we have no reason to despair about His return. Paul says in verse 2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” It seemed to the Thessalonians that Jesus was taking a long time to come back. They woke up each morning thinking, “Today may be the day!” But days, weeks, and months passed, and nothing happened.
3. While some Christians might be concerned about Christ’s return, we have work to do while we wait. Paul shares with the believers, “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
As we work, the consistent, steady reminder that the Rapture could take place at any moment gives us hope for today, tomorrow, and for all time. We do not have to despair because it seems like Christ’s coming is delayed. We do not have to face each day like those who have no hope. Christ — our true hope — is coming for us, and His coming can happen at any time.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.