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A loud family reunion / a look at 1 Thessalonians

The Second Coming is going to be loud. Look at vs 15-16

1 Thessalonians 4:15-16

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

The Bible says with a “cry of command.” This is a picture of a General barking orders. Or a coach yelling at his team over the roar of the crowd. This is not a quiet whisper, this is a battle call, a shout, a yell!

Second the Bible says “with the voice of the archangel.” So this is more noise, more shouting, right? And third it says

“With the sound of the trumpet of God.”

The trumpet blast was used all through history to signal either a call to attention or battle. Our own armed forces have used the different trumpet calls to signal military events for decades. In the Bible we see the trumpet assemble God’s people at Mt. Sinai and the trumpet signaled victory at the battle of Jericho in Joshua 6. The trumpet was blown when Solomon was crowned king and it signaled the beginning of the Jewish festivals and new year.

What else do we see in the text?

1 Thess 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

4:16 And the dead in Christ will rise first.

The second coming will also be

3. A reunion of friends and family

This is the day we are reunited with our loved ones who have passed away. And that’s a major reason Paul is giving this teaching—to bring assurance of this great family reunion. Paul says,

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Paul says, “we’ll see them again.” These are not just the comforting words of a pastor in a dark time – this is truth. Remember, this young church is watching friends and family members die and they are beginning to lose hope  – well of course! Their team is getting smaller! Paul writes and he says, “we will see them again.”

Plus, besides friends and family – there is another meeting that will take place isn’t there?

Have you ever sung the song “There’s going to be a meeting in the air, In the sweet, sweet by and by I’m going to meet you-meet you over there, Somewhere beyond the sky, Such singing we will hear, never heard by mortal ear T’will be glorious I do declare And God’s own Son will be the leading One, In that meeting in the air.”

That’s what Paul is talking about here – at the second coming – it’s going to be a loud family reunion.

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When Jesus Comes Back / a look at 1 Thessalonians

Thessalonians, is one of those flickering lights that speaks about Christ’s second coming… so what does it say? So what do we know for sure?

1 Thess 4:15-16

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,  that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.   For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

So first we know without a doubt that….

1. Jesus will come again

Where it says, “For the Lord Himself…” In the Greek “Himself” is important and a definite meaning; we won’t just meet an agent of the King. We won’t just be greeted by a host of angels. The King Himself will come! We also know this from the way Jesus left the Earth, at His ascension in Acts 1 Jesus gave instruction to the disciples and then ascended into the clouds right in front of their eyes. And as they stood dumbfounded staring off into the sky, angels appeared and said to them

Acts 1:11

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go.”

Notice the angels say that Jesus will return in the same fashion as he left, meaning what? Meaning he’s not going to appear on TV, he won’t be some guy who is just walking down the street, the second coming won’t be some quiet, non-descript, un-noticed event.

From Jesus’ own lips

Matthew 24:25-27

I have told you…so, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus says, people will try and trick you, they will try and say “Jesus is over here” or “Jesus is over there.” Man, I don’t think I need to convince people in Texas about the dangers of false Christ’s, right? All you have to say is one word: Waco. 54 adults and 21 children died in a fire because they believed that David Koresh was Jesus.

But that was almost nothing compared to Jonestown, over 900 people died out in the South American Jungle because Jim Jones told them he was Jesus and that the government was coming for them.

And they’re not the only ones, people from Sun Myong Moon to a man named David Shayler who is still alive today – some 30 people since the 18th century have gained notoriety by claiming to be Jesus in some form or other.

Now, maybe you’ve never heard of David Shayler (I hadn’t) so is it possible that Jesus came and we missed it?

Hardly.

Not only does the Bible say Jesus will return, but the Bible says it will be noisy.

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This Dim Subject / a look at 1 Thessalonians

In 1 Thess 4:13 Paul writes

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

This is the second coming of Jesus – this is the great white horse, this is judgment day. And it’s a subject that will pack out your Sunday School class if you make it your topic. You’re sure to have a best selling book series if you can help shed some light on when and where Jesus is coming back.

Growing up, I can remember listening to The Bible Answer Man on Family Radio with my Dad.  Sometimes it was called “Open Forum” (does anyone remember that?) People would call in to the radio station and ask theological questions and the Bible answer man would call out chapter and verse (by memory) where the answer to that question was – and he was un-stumpable.

He always had an answer and it was always said with this deep gravely voice. When I was a kid, if you had asked me, The Bible Answer Man knew everything.

Well in 1992, the Bible answer man wrote a book called 1994? In which he was sure that the world would end and Jesus would come back.

Well, I don’t want to give away the ending, but Jesus didn’t come back in 1994. And for a while there, I didn’t really hear anything about the Bible Answer man until 2011. And then it wasn’t a book, or a radio show – Harold Camping was front page news.

Harold Camping said that the second coming was going to happen (without a doubt) on May 21, 2011; and that the end of the world would subsequently take place five months later on October 21, 2011. Well, in March 2012 (five months later), Camping finally admitted that his predictions were wrong, and he said that he wouldn’t be making any more end of the world predictions. But sadly by then, Family Radio had spent more than 5 million dollars on billboards to announce the end of the world – which forced them to sell radio stations and lay off many staff.

Well a more successful story is the Left Behind books. If you don’t know, Left Behind is16 best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The books have spun off into 3 movies – with a new movie coming out later this year staring Nicholas Cage.

The Left Behind series has exceeded 63 million in sales, making it the bestselling Christian fiction series in history. And recently Left Behind was voted one of the top 10 books of the 20th century on barnesandnoble.com and ivillage.com.

Why do you think that is? Because people want to know what’s going to happen, what does the future hold – and the reason why these books sell, and the reasons why people make predictions is because the Bible is very vague on the subject – there just isn’t much there – so people hope that scholars and teachers can help shed light on this dim subject.

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The Future Out Ahead of Us

Thessalonica is modern day Salonica (in Greece) The name of the city came from the name of a princess, Thessalonike of Macedon, who was the half sister of Alexander the Great. In 168 this city became the capital of Macedonia and was the hub of all commercial activity. And so when Paul writes his letter, there is some 200 thousand people there. So about as many people who live in Amarillo.

The church here in Thesslonica is very young, maybe only a few years old – and so Paul writes to them to offer some encouragement, both to mature in their faith and also to comfort them and we’ll see that in a minute… He begins…

Thess 1:2-3

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

So this letter begins in a typical Pauline fashion, but then look at v6

1:6 you received the word in much affliction

3:4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction

3:7-8 …for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.  For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.

Right now the Thessalonian church is being persecuted. And so (naturally) this persecution is causing concern in this young church – they are confused. I mean, sure, they knew Christ was coming back, but they thought that Christ would come back before people started to die – And so now they are watching their family members die and they are watching their Church members martyred and they are slowly beginning to lose hope that Christ will ever return.

Because for the Thessalonians, this isn’t exactly going the way that they planned. And I think when you start something new, like a job or in this case a church – if it’s not going the way you wanted – it slows you down and you begin to loose momentum, right? You don’t have that same drive to get out there and keep fighting …and so Paul writes this letter to encourage them, and to motivate them to keep going….

And so what Paul does now, is he dangles the carrot, he does what any good coach or leader does and he tries to help them see the future – to visualize it. And we all do this when we begin something new.

When you start college, or start school you do so with the idea that one day you’ll walk across the stage in a cap and gown and you’ll get your diploma.

I think when you’re at the altar and your bride is walking down the isle, you’re visualizing a picket fence, and kids playing in the yard. But between the markers – life doesn’t always go the way we plan, it’s not always easy.

In school you have mountains of homework and papers to write, not to mention all of the teachers who seem to be out to get you. In marriage, it’s not always an easy ride to children and home ownership either, there can be lots of hiccups and detours along the way.

So what do we do?

We keep the future out ahead of us.

We remind ourselves the reason why we’re doing this.

 

If we’re trying to lose weight we have a picture of Kate Upton on the refrigerator, if you’re saving up for a new car then you have a picture of the new Jaguar F type pinned in your cubicle.

Pinterest does this for a lot of people – it becomes a way of visualizing the future or picturing the way you want things to be.

The future we anticipate—the hope we set before us—powerfully influences the way we live—the way we invest our time and energy—the way we conduct our lives.

So that’s why Paul writes this encouragement, because how we think about the second coming becomes extremely important in how we live today. Shouldn’t it? Otherwise, what is all of this for? I mean because if the point was just Heaven, then God would just take our souls once we accepted Christ – so there has to be “more to it” then that.

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The Case for a Creator

If you’ve never heard of Lee Strobel, when he was a high school freshman, science convinced him that God didn’t exist. But since then, however, incredible scientific discoveries have not only helped restore Lee’s faith, but have strengthened it. Today Lee Strobel is author, journalist, apologist and pastor. He has written several books, including The Case for Christ and the Case for Faith.

Brand new to Zondervan are 4 exciting “student edition” devotionals; each based off of Lee’s famous titles; the case for Christ, case for the real Jesus, the Case for Faith and the Case for a creator.

The Case for a creator is not so much an argument to prove the existence of God, but more so to prove that the World did not just “appear” or “evolve.” Its during the teen years that I think many people develop these questions and doubts about “well, where did the world come from?” And for the most part High School science tries to answer that question.

And the by the time the students enter college, their faith gets harder and harder to defend.

Mr. Stobel makes a compelling argument for the science that proves their was a “designer” to it all. Looking at the world if cosmology, physics, biochemistry, and biological data, Lee Strobel argues that the world didn’t just appear, it was “created.”

I think this is a great book for Sunday School teachers, parents of teenagers and of course… teenagers themselves. Buy a copy for your son or daughter that has questions and then pick up an extra copy for your church library.

Thank you to Zondervan for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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