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We move now from questions the Thessalonians had about death, to questions about the future and in particular judgement on the so called “day of the Lord.” Just as the first coming of Jesus divided people (John 7 v 43; 9 v 16 & 10 v 19); so when he returns the ultimate division will take place between unbeliever and believer, which the Apostle Paul compares and contrasts in this passage:-
1 – The Unbeliever.
The suddenness of the “day of the Lord” will take unbelievers completely by surprise, as they have no understanding of God’s plan, their minds being in utter darkness. This sense of not being ready is depicted in a number of graphic ways:-
A – Crime – That Jesus will come – “like a thief in the night” (Matthew 24 v 43) when least expected with an element of sudden surprise.
B – Childbirth – That Jesus will come – “like labour pains on a pregnant woman” (Isaiah 13 v 8.)Such pains can start suddenly and unexpectedly and are a sign that the birth can be imminent.
C – Community – That Jesus will come to communities that are revelling in a false sense of security, saying – “peace and safety.” People will be living their lives, sleeping and getting drunk, oblivious to the fact that divine judgement is on the doorstep (1 Peter 3 v 20; Genesis 19 v 12 – 14 & Luke 21 v 19.)
What will be the consequence of this lack of preparation?
D – Condemnation – wrath, judgement (Hebrews 9 v 27) and destruction from which there will be no escape.
2 – The Believer.
By contrast when it comes to God’s future plans regarding the “day of the Lord” believers are in the know, in that their minds have been enlightened. Although they are unable to pin point the day and the hour, they are prepared for it and living in anticipation of it. This sense of being ready is also depicted in a number of graphic ways:-
A – Conduct – They are not living in the darkness in terms of their behaviour, instead they are living as – “sons of the light and sons of the day” (John 12 v 36 & 1 Peter 2 v 9.) Alert to opportunities for service; self disciplined in all that they do.
B – Clothing – They have visited the spiritual wardrobe and put on – “faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet;” Faith towards God and love towards God’s people; along with the hope that their salvation gives.
What will be the consequence of this prior preparation?
C – Commendation – Salvation through Jesus Christ who died our death that we might live his life (John 5 v 24 & 2 Peter 3 v 9.)
In response to all that God in Christ has done for us we are to – “encourage one another and build each other up.” To spur one another on towards mutual and reciprocal support regarding these matters; as well as to the evangelism of those who as yet have no part in them.
Challenge – On which side of the great divide will you be standing on the “day of the Lord?”
Theme: “The great divide!”
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5 v 1 – 11
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Bev Sills