1 Thessalonians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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-Last week, in an off-the-cuff comment, I made mention of ‘90s Christian musicians DC Talk.
-And today’s topic reminded me of one of their songs entitled: I WISH WE’D ALL BEEN READY, and it talks about the second coming of Christ, and it gives dire warnings to people that they need to be ready to face that day.
-Having preached last week about the day of Christ’s return and the resurrection of believers to usher Christ into His eternal kingdom, some of the lyrics are haunting, especially when they sing:
There's no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you've been left behind
-How scary would that be that Christ comes, the believers are resurrected, and you are left behind to face His judgment.
-In the passage that we are looking at today, Paul issues this important warning that all people are to live constantly in preparation for that great day, because it could happen at any moment.
-The question you need to ask yourself is: if Jesus should return today, maybe even in the next few moments, are you ready? If not, what do you need to repent of to make yourself ready? I hope to lead to today to be duly warned and make yourself prepared for when Christ comes back.
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 ESV
1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
-There are three points that I believe need to be taken into consideration as we allow this warning to move us. First Paul talks about:

I) The known truths of Christ’s return

-As I mentioned last week, the Bible does not necessarily give us the play by play steps of what is going to happen up to and during Christ’s return. Rather, it lets us know that the day of His coming is a fact, and how we are to live in light of this reality.
-Yet, from what little Paul says here, there are some truths we can glean about that day:

A) This day is assumed

-In v. 1 Paul tells them that he doesn’t need to write them about times and seasons when these things will happen. First, because (as Jesus Himself told His own apostles in Acts 1) it is not for us to know the times and seasons.
-But then he says this also because this is an assumption that they must live with every day of their life. Live assuming that Christ is returning and it could happen now.
-It’s just a forgone conclusion that Jesus is returning at any moment, and that pervades the way we read Scripture and it pervades the way we live life. Although it ought not to become some neurotic obsession in your life, the return of Christ ought to be in the back of your mind as you live and speak and make decisions. His return is a natural assumption as a believer, and it has a say in what it is that we do.

B) This day is imminent

-And what the word imminent means is that there is absolutely nothing preventing Christ’s return. It is a fact that it will happen, and nothing is stopping it from happening right now.
-I am a little leery of people who start saying that certain prophecies (according to their interpretation) have to happen first before Christ comes back. They think that certain things have to be fulfilled which will then lead to Christ’s return.
-But the overall teaching of Scripture is that nobody knows the day or the time, not even the Son. There aren’t steps that everyone can watch to try to time things by. If the Father wants Christ to return before I even finish this sentence, He will. Nothing is stopping the 2nd coming.

C) This day is sudden

-In v. 2 Paul describes it as coming like a thief in the night. Usually, nobody knows when a thief is coming to break into their home. If you did, you’d do whatever you could to be ready to stop it.
-But thieves don’t usually announce when they are coming. They have the element of surprise on their side. Things are going normal in a household, and all of a sudden, there’s the thief.
-Paul describes that the world will be going along as normal. Nothing out of the ordinary is happening, so the world thinks it has peace and security. And then there comes the command and the voice of the archangel and the trumpet sounds, and here’s Jesus. It will happen suddenly when the world least expects it.

D) This day is wrathful

-Paul describes the coming of Christ as the DAY OF THE LORD. That phrase is used 18 times in the OT and 5 times in the NT. It is used to describe a day when the Lord comes against His enemies in judgment, while at the same time it is a day of restoration of God’s people.
-There have been several DAYS OF THE LORD in history, but Christ’s return will be the ultimate DAY OF THE LORD. For as Isaiah cried out about such days:
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! (Isa. 13:6 ESV)
-God’s wrath against sin and sinners will be given full force, so you need to make sure that you are on the right side of things when it happens, because on that day it will no longer be possible to change your mind—your eternal destiny will be set just as it is in the day of your death.

E) This day is unstoppable

-At the end of v. 3, Paul describes the happenings of that day as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and people will not be able to escape that day.
-Now, obviously I’ve never had labor pains, but I have a wife who has. Although at times there can be false pains, when the real deal starts, that baby is coming and there’s no stopping him or her from coming. Labor pains are an indication of a process that will come to its full conclusion: the birth of a baby.
-In the same manner, once the command is given, once the archangel shouts, and once the trumpet sounds, Christ is returning and nothing can stop it. Those who have spent their lives turning their back on Christ will not be able to escape from it—the process will have begun, and it will come to its full conclusion.
-These are the truths that Paul shares about that day. Now, in the midst of this discussion about that day, Paul makes a distinction between two groups of people who will be alive on the earth when all this takes place. It is the same two groups that always has been and always will be: there are those who are God’s people, and there are those who are not God’s people. So, secondly today, let’s look at what this means for those who do not belong to God—we see:

II) The sad plight of unbelievers

-Paul gives a look at the unbelievers in those days, probably with a desire that such a dark outlook for them in the last days will bring them to repentance. How are they described and what does he warn them about?

A) They are scripturally ignorant

-Paul describes them as being in darkness. They are completely unaware of what their future holds because they are ignorant of the ways of the Lord, and they are ignorant of the Words of the Lord.
-Whether it’s that they have never heard the warnings before, or that they have heard and have willfully chosen to ignore them, unbelievers continue to live life as if there is no terrible destruction awaiting them.
-In the gospel of Luke chapter 17 Jesus described them this way:
26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all…. 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Lk. 17:26-27, 30 ESV)
-Everything in an unbeliever’s life will be going along as normal, and all of a sudden they are caught unaware as Christ returns and they were ignorant that such a thing could happen. Yet ignorance is no defense, they have been duly warned that this is coming.

B) They are spiritually numb

-Paul describes them as being asleep. They are insensitive to the things of the spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is pleading with the lost that the time is short for them to be prepared.
-They are not promised another hour. They will either die and await judgment, or they will join Christ in His coming in judgment with all His angels and saints.
-And yet they turn a spiritual deaf ear to the way God strives for them. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and yet unbelievers are clueless, and Christ’s return will be a complete shock to them. They didn’t believe in it and they really didn’t care about it, but the fact of it will fall on them.
-That is why it is so important now that if you have never trusted that Christ’s death was to cover your sins personally, and that He rose to give you eternal life, now is the time to do so because Jesus is coming, and He is coming soon.

C) They are demonically influenced

-Paul uses the picture of being drunk to describe them. Someone who is drunk is under the influence of some other substance which induces them to act certain ways and say certain things.
-That’s why when someone drives drunk we call it DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE—the alcohol affects their ability to think and act and speak.
-In a similar fashion, unbelievers are under the influence of Satan’s power. They are described elsewhere in Scripture as being in the kingdom of darkness. Satan is leading them to their own destruction, and yet they think they have everything under control; and for most they learn the truth when it is too late.

D) They are immorally active

-Paul describes them as sleeping at night and getting drunk at night. Night is often a picture of wickedness. So, even with God striving for them, and God warning them through His Word, unbelievers continue to live in selfish, evil ways.
-Unbelievers have no self-control. Not that they do all the evil they can, but their actions and words and attitudes take no consideration for God’s standards. They live for self, doing things their own way for their own reasons, for which they will be judged. And this leads…

E) They are rightfully judged

-Whereas Paul says that believers are not destined for wrath, unbelievers rightfully are. Our God is perfect and holy and righteous, and His standards are perfect and holy and righteous, and any offense against Him and His standards have to be dealt with, otherwise He is none of those traits.
-If a judge let a known murderer get off scott-free, we would say He was unjust. Well, we have all broken God’s laws, so He has every right to throw the book at us. It is only out of love that He offered His Son.
-The first time Jesus came, it was to be the perfect sacrifice to pay for sin. But the second time He comes is to set things completely right—to judge the unbelieving sinner and fully redeem the saved saint.
-This passage is a warning to unbelievers and a call for them to be saved. But this passage also has something to say to Christians, so we thirdly and quickly need to touch upon:

III) The ready state of believers

-Paul is calling for Christians themselves to be prepared for Christ’s return. It’s not that we have to worry about judgment or wrath, but we want to be found faithful when He does come back. To do that:

A) We are to be aware

-Paul tells Christians to be awake. Now is not the time to be spiritually sleepy. Just because it seems that the Lord’s return is delayed doesn’t mean that we can just spiritually sit back and eat bon bons all day.
-We have to be spiritually sensitive to what is going on around us, see where the Lord is working, and join Him in that work. Until He comes back, there is work for the kingdom to be done—be aware Jesus can come back at any moment and be found faithful in doing His work.

B) We are to be fruitful

-By living and walking filled with the Spirit, we allow the spiritual fruits to be born in our lives so that we shine bright in a dark world. In our passage, Paul calls us to be sober, that is, we are to be self-controlled==not living for the flesh or the world, but living in the Spirit.
-But as we are self-controlled, walking in the Spirit, other fruits are born in us such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, along with that self-control. As we branches are abiding in the vine, we bear much fruit while awaiting His return.

C) We are to be protected

-v. 8 talks about putting on the breastplate of love and faith, and the helmet of the hope of salvation----this reminds us of what Paul tells us in Ephesians:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:11-13 ESV)
-We are in a spiritual battle constantly. We do not want to leave ourselves vulnerable to Satan’s attacks and be taken out—we want to be protected that we can stay in the fight until the Lord comes.

D) We are to be evangelical

-That is, we who are saved need to constantly strive to fulfill the great commission. In vv. 9-10 Paul reminds us of the gospel message: that we obtained salvation through Jesus Christ who died for us that whether we are alive or dead at His return, we might live with Him.
-That same gospel that had the power to save us has the power to save others, but we are the mouthpieces that God uses to bring them there. Until He returns, that message has to continually go forth.

E) We are to be hopeful

-In v. 11, just as he ended the passage before this one, Paul tells the church to take this message and encourage one another with it and use it to build one another up.
-When things look bad for us as Christians, and we grow weary and faint, take the message of Christ’s return and let it be a source of encouragement for the church body to keep going until He comes.


-The doctrine of Christ’s return is an important, and very deep teaching. Yet it warns us today to be found faithful for we do not know when this day will happen.
-If you have never trusted in Christ, this teaching is a warning that your life is but a vapor and if you are not ready to meet God, make yourself ready now by trusting in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to cleanse you of sins and make you right with God, for there is no other way to be ready.
-Christian, if your life has not been marked with faithfulness, come to the altar and pray He leads you into faithfulness.
~Or if you know of someone who is not ready for Christ’s return, come and pray for them.
-Or maybe you are looking for a church home through which you can faithfully serve God until Christ comes; come and join Harvest…
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