It Will Be Surprising And Expected
When Christ Shall ComePastor Jerry Gillis - November 3, 2019
Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s message.
- In what ways will The Day of the Lord be surprising? In what ways will it be expected? Read 1 Thessalonians 5:3. How does Paul’s word picture of “labor pains” help us with this understanding?
- What is the Holy Spirit asking you to do right now in order for you to live like today could be The Day?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11. How can our group help you take steps of obedience with what you answered in question #3?
- Conclude your time in prayer for one another.
We live in a world of phrases, don't we? And I think part of that is conditioned into us because of the nature of social media, we've been limited in characters to what we can actually post sometimes. And so, we have a tendency to post phrases, and we talk to one another in phrases. And generally speaking, we'll do some things that we'll put phrases, some of them are snarky or sarcastic. And then, some of them are inspirational, and we'll put it on our Pinterest to inspire the world. And so, we've got lots of those. If you think I have a Pinterest, by the way, you're sadly mistaken, just saying. I don't even know what it is. You pin things.
So, here's the thing with phrases, is that, some of the ones that we use, we generally know what we're talking about when we say them to one another, but we haven't really thought about them in great detail. Because, if we did, we would laugh going, "Yeah, that's really kind of a silly phrase." We use it, but it doesn't really make as much sense as we think. Let me give you a few illustrations, here's one, "It is what it is." I always say that, "It is what it is." Has it ever been what it isn't? Is it ever is what it isn't? It's always is what it is, right? Here's the second one, I like this one as well, "The grass is always greener on the other side. The grass is always greener on the other side." No, it's not.
The guy with green grass, he doesn't look at the other side and go, "That grass is greener." He's like, "Your lawn's brown, mine's green, I'm going to stay with what I've got." It's not always greener on the other side, if you've got the green grass. Stupid phrase. Next, "It's always in the last place you look." Thank you, Sherlock. Where else could it be? You found it. You're not looking anymore, therefore, it's always in the last place you look. Is it just me? Am I the only one whose brain works this way? Here's another one, "Believe in the unbelievable, and achieve the unachievable." Do words even mean what they mean anymore? If it's unbelievable, I don't want to believe in it. If it's unachievable, I'm going to try something I can actually do.
I understand we say it to pump each other up, whatever. Here's the last one and my favorite, "Expect the unexpected." It's my favorite. "Expect the unexpected," except for, if we actually expect that which is unexpected, then the unexpected becomes expected. It's a stupid phrase. The unfortunate thing about this phrase, "Expect the unexpected," is that, sometimes, people use it in reference to the Second Coming of Jesus. They'll just be like, "Well, there's a lot going on, here's what I would say, expect the unexpected." I'd say, except for, we've been told by Paul, loads of information about the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus talked about it, Peter wrote about it, John wrote about it, it should be something we do actually expect in the body of Christ.
That, just as clearly as He came the first time, born in Bethlehem, and just as clearly as He rose from the dead, and then ascended to the Father, and the angel said, "In like manner, He's also going to return as clearly as He came, He's going to come again. We should expect that to actually happen. But, while we, who are believers, and I just, I'm talking about the general way, I don't assume that everybody under the sound of my voice has crossed that line of faith, but, those who do believe, we should expect this. But, for many, the Second Coming of Jesus is going to be a surprise. It's both expected and surprising at the same time.
You see, that's what we begin to discern when we keep reading in Paul's writing to the church at Thessalonica. We spent the last two weeks dealing with verses 13 through 18, in chapter number four. We spent two weeks in the same group of verses. And what Paul is doing is he's trying to encourage the believers that are there, because they're concerned that they know that this great day of the Lord is coming, the Second Coming of Jesus, and they're concerned that those brothers and sisters in Christ who have begun to die, that they were going to miss this great day. And Paul reminds them, "Don't worry about that, the dead in Christ will actually rise first." And then, he also says, "And we, who are alive, will join them in receiving the King, as He comes, vindicating not only Himself and demonstrating that to the world, but we'll usher the King in. We will get that privilege. It's going to be a beautiful thing."
He reminds them of all those things. But, when you talk about the idea of the Second Coming of Jesus, people have a tendency to ask loads of other questions related to it. Paul knew that, and so, what he did is, he began in chapter 5, after talking about this beautiful way in which the dead in Christ and those who are alive in Christ will not be forgotten or left around or missing that day. This is going to be a great day when Jesus returns. But then he starts to move into some other questions that maybe people have. And he begins to address those. I'm going to really lift a few of those, right from the text of the Scripture itself, and show you some of the things that he begins to address.
Here's the first one, as we look in 1 Thessalonians 5, it's this, that the day can't be predicted. In other words, the day of the Lord, the day of the Second Coming, the day of this great event, the day can't be predicted. Notice what Paul writes in verse number one, chapter 5. 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, he says, "Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates, we do not need to write to you." I think that's relatively clear, "About times and dates, we do not need to write to you." Paul was trying to help them understand the idea that date setting is not the business that he's in, it's not the business Jesus was in, it's not the business that the apostles are in, it's not the business that the New Testament writers are in.
And by the way, if you start listening to somebody who is a date setter, then just turn them off. It's real simple. We don't know, we can't predict, that's what the New Testament teaches us. And so, stay away from date setters, there've been a lot in the history of Christianity, by the way. Some religions were even founded on that, like Seventh Day Adventism, they started setting dates, nope, didn't happen. Set another one, nope, didn't happen. Set another one, nope, didn't happen. And after about a zillion of those, they stopped, and it was a good thing. Because, it was like, "Hey, you should have cut that out at the first one." Right? This is not what we're supposed to be about.
Now, what Paul is doing, when he says, "Brothers and sisters, about dates and times, I don't need to write to you," he's actually saying, "I'm just telling you what Jesus told you." Because, if I'm right about Paul using Matthew 24, Jesus Olivet Discourse, to inform what Paul is actually teaching to the Thessalonian church. If I'm right about that, and certainly there are a gazillion parallels, then what we have to understand is that Paul is actually using the words of Jesus, oftentimes, when he's talking about the Second Coming. Now, although I'm referencing a number of places, Matthew chapter 24, in the last couple of weeks, and even today, I'll be doing the same, Matthew 24 is a little bit of a challenging passage of Scripture.
Some of you that are in community groups, and you're looking into that, and you're trying to figure it all out, the reason that it's so challenging is because it's what we would call in theology, either a dual optic or a double referent. Here's what I mean by that, that there's actually something in view that Jesus is talking about, that soon to occur, but, He's also looking through that prism, to show us things that are going to occur in the long future. In other words, what the disciples had asked Jesus in Matthew 24, and I'm not going to do a whole teaching on Matthew 24, I've dealt with that passage before. But, what the disciples asked Jesus is, they're at the temple, and Jesus says about the temple, "Not one stone of this place is going to be left on another."
And so, they immediately pause, and they're like, "When will this be?" They asked the question, right? "When will this be? What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?" So, they just asked like, two and a half or maybe three questions in that. "When is this temple going to be destroyed? And what's that all about?" And, "Hey, what's the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" Now, did they understand perfectly what they were asking? Probably not. To be honest with you, I don't always know what I'm asking Jesus in my own prayers. Have you ever felt that way before? Like, you think you do, you're pretty sure you do, but then you realize later on, "I didn't really even know what I was asking about there." Right?
The disciples probably had that happen a lot of times with Jesus, we even see some of that play out, where Jesus sometimes goes, "You don't know what you're asking." Right? "We want to sit on your right and your left when you come into your kingdom. Jesus goes, "You don't know what you're asking. You don't know what you're asking." And they're thinking they do. Well, this is a scenario they asked these questions, and so, what Jesus does is, He actually, listen to this, He answers questions about the destruction of the temple, while simultaneously answering questions about the coming of the Son of Man, or the Second Coming. It's really unique, it's really interesting. And one is a prism through which you look through the other. That's why it becomes challenging sometimes when we read that, because sometimes we run into it and go, "This whole thing is about the Second Coming."
Actually, it's about both what happened in 70 A.D., the destruction of the temple, and it also teaches us some things relative to the Second Coming, because, one of these things looks a lot like the other. So, we have to be careful when we read that and not try to read too much into it, maybe that's not there. But, when Paul says, "I don't need to write to you about dates and times," he's actually taking from Jesus in that regard. Because, do you remember what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24? He said, "But about that day or hour, no one knows." Do you know, when you translate this from Greek, do you know what it means? No one knows, that's what it means.
Not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. How's that for explicit? Jesus just says, "You don't know, so, knock it off." Paul says, "I don't need to write to you about times or dates." And in fact, Paul is actually using the exact language of Jesus. After Jesus' resurrection, right before He ascends to the Father, the disciples ask Him a question. Notice what it says in Acts 1, "They gathered around Jesus and they asked Him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' And Jesus said to them, 'It's not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.'" So, is everybody clear here? That the day, the Second Coming of Jesus can't be predicted, and we don't need to speculate.
Everybody good there? That's what Jesus says, that's what Paul says, let's just leave it at that. The second truth, though, that I want to show you from 1 Thessalonians 5 is this, is that, the day will be devastatingly sudden. Not only can it not be predicted, but it's going to be devastatingly sudden. Notice what Paul says in verses one through three, "Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates, we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." This is strong language, and it's the language of suddenness, a sudden destruction.
Now, you'll notice, when you are looking at your text, which you all have open, either by a Bible or you've got a digital copy, whichever. I know, I'm looking at you. And some of you have it completely memorized, which is awesome. But, those of you who have one looking at it, what you'll see is, at the very beginning of that, is that it says, "Brothers and sisters, we don't need to write to you." Right? You see that? "Brothers and sisters." Who's that talking about? That's talking about the believing people, that's talking about those that are in the body of Christ, that's talking about the family of God, right? Brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then there's a contrast, and here's what Paul says, "Brothers and sisters, we don't need to write to you about dates or times or any of that kind of thing, for there will be people, and they will say, 'peace and safety.'" Did you see the contrast there? There's brothers and sisters, and then there's this other group that he talks about, these people, they and them, you actually see it in the context. What Paul is talking about when he talks about sudden destruction coming, is he's talking about that is aimed in the direction of those who have rejected the Son of God, when He comes. That's where that is aimed. And then, what he does, when he talks about the sudden nature of this, he actually gives us three pictures to describe its suddenness. The first one you saw real easily, it was a thief, right?
That's the image that Paul draws upon, when he starts talking about the idea of how sudden this would be. Look what he says in verse number two, "For you know very well that the day of the Lord," what does he say right here? "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." Now, some of you have heard that phrase before, "A thief in the night," because maybe, there's maybe a handful of you that grew up in a particular style of church, and you might have seen this really, really old movie called A Thief in the Night, and it scared the pants off of everybody, right? Quite literally, because people who were left, where their clothes were there, they checked out, planes are crashing, automobiles are flying into stuff.
It was like, you're just watching that movie when you're six, and you're going, "Oh, wow, what is happening? I shouldn't be in here, this is rated above me." It's called A Thief in the Night. And they translated that, basically to say, this is what it means, for the rapture of the church, we're going to evacuate and we're going to be gone, and then there's going to be all kinds of chaos, it's going to happen in our absence. Except for, what Paul's talking about here is the day of the Lord, the Second Coming of Jesus. Not some invisible secret coming, but the actual Second Coming of Jesus. And his picture is, it's going to come like a thief in the night.
A lot of people have used that phraseology, the thief in the night, to talk about us being evacuated in a rapture, and then, all hell breaking loose on the earth, but that's not, in a sense, what Paul is talking about here. We'd have to read into this, to see that. That's not what he's saying. He's actually saying that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Now, what Paul is doing here, when he uses this phraseology about thief in the night, he's just borrowing again from Jesus. And by the way, Peter also borrowed this from Jesus. And you know that in both of those contexts, the Second Coming of Christ was what was in view. That, this great day of the Lord when He comes in salvation and judgment is what was in view. Notice the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 24.
But, understand this, if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. You see, what Paul is doing is reminding us of what Jesus was reminding us of, that this day can come suddenly, and will be devastatingly suddenly, particularly for those who are not paying attention, who are not looking for the Lord's return. Peter borrowed this phrase as well. Notice what he said in 2 Peter talking about the Second Coming. He said, "Above all, you must understand that in the last days, scoffers will come scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'"
And then Peter says, "But they deliberately forget that long ago, by God's word, the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. And by these waters also the world of that time was deluged," he was referring to Noah's day, "And destroyed. By the same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends, with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare."
Peter's using the same language that Jesus used, and that Paul used to describe this event in terms of its suddenness like a thief. Jesus isn't trying to tell people, "I'm a thief, I'm coming to steal things." That's not what He's saying. He's just giving us a picture of the sudden nature of His Second Coming. In fact, Jesus actually says it of Himself, when you get later into the book of Revelation, later into the book of Revelation, into Revelation 16:15, here's what Jesus says, "Look, I come like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed." You see, there's always this contrast between those who are not living in expectation of the coming of Christ because they don't believe, and those of us who should be expecting the coming of Christ, because we do.
But, he says that, "On those who don't believe, this day comes like a thief, it comes suddenly." That's one picture he gives, a thief. But he also talks about suddenness in a different picture, and it's this picture, of fickle empire. And you're going, "Dude, where did that come from? I did not see fickle empire in the Bible anywhere." I'm going to show it to you, here's what it says in verse number three, "While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,'" do you see that in quotation marks? "While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly." You see, Paul is writing at a particular point in time in the world. And it's a particular point in time that's called in history, the Pax Romana.
If you've ever heard that phrase before, it means, the peace of Rome. In other words, the Roman Empire was now overseeing kind of this great rule over all kinds of places and people. What Paul is doing here is he's actually quoting from their propaganda mottoes, because what they would do in the Mediterranean region is to try and convince a place to show its allegiance to Rome. They would say this, "If you show allegiance to Rome, you will experience peace and safety, or peace and security." This was their propaganda motto, in the ancient world, to be able to tell these places, these cities, these nations, that, "If you want to be safe and secure and at peace, you need to pledge your allegiance to Rome." Of course, you know what the inverse of that was, right?
If you don't do that, it's not going to be peaceful, it's not going to be safe, it's not going to be secure for you. So, this was a part of their propaganda machine of saying, "Hey, peace and safety," because, why? Because they believed in eternal Rome. They believed in an empire that will never die, and that, "We are the only ones that can provide you peace and safety." Paul's trying to remind these folks right here that there's going to be people that think that, that think that empires and Caesars are the ones who provide them peace and security. But, he's basically saying, "Hey, don't be fooled by that. Because, I promise you, you know what happens to empires? They collapse, and often, suddenly." All of a sudden, this kingdom that was, is no more.
And, oh, by the way, these kingdoms themselves can turn on you, even when you pledged your allegiance to them. Ask the Jewish people, who were overseen by the Romans and supposedly living under the umbrella of the Roman Empire, but ask them about what happened in 70 A.D., when, in a moment, suddenly, they stormed Jerusalem and General Titus of the Romans comes in and waylays the temple, so that not one stone is left upon one another. And he locks people in Jerusalem and starves them out and all that stuff, and this came on them suddenly. So, whether it was during the Pax Romana, or whether it's during the Pax Americana, where we think that we somehow put our peace and security in the hands of governments, or in the hands of political personalities.
I would remind you, you will not find that anywhere, because, as swiftly as it comes, it can end. We lived in America under the illusion of being impenetrable, on September 10th, 2001, and that all went away on September 11th, 2001. Ladies and gentlemen, we do not trust in horses and chariots, we put our hope in the name of the Lord our God. Because, just as surely as empires rise, so they can fall, and they can do so, suddenly. But, he also gives a third picture of the suddenness of this event, it was labor pains, right? It was right there in the text, I'm just literally stealing from the text. Here's what it says, "While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape."
Those who have been pregnant, I remember when I was pregnant with my two boys, and those labor pains were serious. Right? Not at all. Ladies who've had children, you know that you're just sitting there eating a pickle, watching Netflix, and all a sudden, Kumbaya, right? It's like, "Where in the world did that come from?" So, the picture here is the suddenness of labor pains. But, do you know what it's also reminding us of? Listen to this, not only how sudden the coming is, but how inevitable it is. Because, you know what labor pains say? "It's inevitable. You're about to have this whether you're ready or not, baby is coming." Right? So, we're being reminded of the suddenness and the inevitability of the coming of Jesus. So, it's a day that can't be predicted, and it's a day that will be devastatingly sudden. But, thirdly, it's a day that should not surprise believers. It should not surprise believers.
It's going to be devastatingly sudden, and surprising to those who don't believe. But, for those of us who do, it should not be a surprise. Listen to what Paul says in verse number four, "But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." We're not in darkness so that this day should surprise us like a thief. Why shouldn't it surprise us? Listen carefully, for those who have been born into the family of God, who've been transformed, and I'm not talking about people who've just checked in on a worship service occasionally. I'm not talking about some people who've said, "You know what? I've gone through a couple of classes before in my life, and I've checked some boxes," I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about people who have been transformed by Jesus Christ, their lives have been regenerated, they have been born from above, spiritually.
Not that they've got a little bit of information in their head about stuff or they've gone through a religion class or any of that kind of stuff, I'm talking about transformed by the living Jesus. Those people, those people, listen, because of who we are by our very nature, we shouldn't be surprised. Because, what Paul begins to say is, that the nature of the people of God is what actually shows them that they shouldn't be surprised. Notice how he refers to us, look in verse number, whatever, verse number next, five, he says, "You are all children of the light and children of the day, we do not belong to the night or to the darkness." You see, first reason, obviously, is because we're children of light or children of the day, you can just write that down, right?
This shouldn't surprise believers because we're children of light, we're children of the day. The word, light, when we read about it in both Old Testament and New Testament, what we find is that light signifies something. Usually, light is either talking about the nature of God, or it's talking about the nature of people who believe in Him. It's also talking about new creation. Remember the very beginning of the book, in Genesis chapter 1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was dark and formless, and darkness covered the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And then, God said, 'Let there be light.'" This was a picture of new creation, this idea of light. When you get to the book of Revelation, at the very end, there's no need, in the new creation, for a sun or a moon, do you know why? Because the light of the glory of the lamb fills the air.
It's a beautiful picture, right? This picture of light, that we are children of light. Why are we children of light? Because we believe in the one who is the light of the world. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," right? And for those who believe in Him, listen to His words in John chapter 12, here's what He says, "Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light." This is what Jesus was saying, when we believe in Him, we become children of light. And children of light behave a certain way. People of light don't behave as people of darkness. And He not only says we're children of light, but He also says we're children of the day.
Now, it's interesting when He talks about us being children of the day. Because, when He talks about children of the day, you're thinking, "Okay, well, that's the time when light is shining. So, we should be children of the day, as opposed to children of the night." Absolutely, and He made that contrast. But, Paul's also using a phrase that he's been using all along, we're children of the day, the day of the coming of the Son of God. We are children of that day. We don't live lives that are in darkness so that we shrink back at the thought of His coming, we live lives in the light so that we live expectantly for His coming. We're children of the day. We're children of the light.
You see, this is what Paul was trying to do, he was actually praying that we would be that kind of people, that we would be a holy and a righteous people when Jesus returns. And Paul actually prayed that for the Thessalonians, right before, in fact, when you read this letter, in 1 Thessalonians, right before chapter 4, where he starts talking about the Second Coming, and into chapter 5, he prays a prayer in chapter 3. Listen to the content of this prayer in verse 13, "May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father, when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones." You know what His desire is, is that we would live holy and pure lives. Why? Because it's who we are. That's why this day shouldn't surprise us, we live in the light, we're children of the day, we are expecting His return.
But, He uses another phrase to say why we shouldn't be surprised. He says, "Because, as a people, we should be awake and sober." And you're probably thinking, where did you get that? Straight out of the Bible, people, I'm a plagiarist. It's what I do. And people ask me, what do I do for a living? I plagiarize for a living. I literally tell you what someone else has said. Right? Notice what the passage says in verse number six and seven, Paul says, "So then, since we're children of the night..." I mean, "Children of the light and children of the day, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night."
So, he's contrasting day behavior with night behavior. He's saying, those who are night people, they're asleep spiritually, they're drunk spiritually. Those who are day people, they're awake, they're sober. And it's an interesting contrast between chapter 4 and chapter 5, because, you remember in chapter 4 when he talked about the dead in Christ, he said, "Those who sleep in death," he actually use that term to describe death, didn't he? In chapter four, listen to this, he's talking about believers who are physically dead or physically asleep, but who are spiritually alive. But, in chapter 5, he's talking about people who are physically alive, but spiritually dead, or spiritually asleep.
And he's saying what we should not be, because of the nature of who we are, as new believers, as believers in Jesus Christ, is that we are not people of the night, we are not asleep and drunk, we are awake and sober. We are awake to the work of God in our lives and in the world. We are not people who are night people. We don't just keep secrets, we live our lives out here laid bare before God. That's what's being communicated here. And then, he also gives one other picture and it's this, that we're armored in faith, love and hope. That we're armored in faith, love and hope. This is why this day shouldn't surprise us. Notice what the next verse says, in verse number eight, "But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet."
That we are a people full of faith, we are full of hope, we are full of love. It's our nature, it's who we are. And as a result, this day shouldn't surprise us. Paul actually uses terminology that's from Isaiah, that describes, when God comes that He'll be wearing a helmet and a breastplate. It's this picture that he's borrowing, and he's saying, "We're like Him, we clothe ourselves in the same thing. We're like Him, we're made like Him, and as a result, this day should not surprise us." So, what Paul is saying here is this, is that, in light of all of this, because we're children of light and children of the day, because we are awake and sober, because we are armored in faith and love and hope, this day will not, should not surprise us.
So, he tells us, the day can't be predicted, he tells us that the day will be devastatingly sudden, specifically to those who don't believe. And then, he says, the day shouldn't surprise believers. But there's a fourth thing I want you to see, the day reveals the fullness of salvation for believers. This day reveals the fullness of salvation, for those who believe. Look in verse number nine and 10, and see what it says, Paul says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us, so that, whether we are awake or asleep in death, we may live together with Him." This is a brilliant reminder that we are not people who are appointed for wrath, we are appointed for salvation.
That word, appointed, by the way, it means to set, to build a foundation, to establish, to destine. That our destiny as the people of God, listen to this, our destiny as the people of God is salvation itself. And this salvation is and of an eternal nature, because Jesus Himself is eternal. If we are going to, as Paul just said in chapter 4, dwell with the Lord for ever. Do you know what forever is? It's eternity with the ends cut off. It just goes on and on, and we are with the Lord forever. And by the way, you don't have to sweat that. Some are like, "I just can't process that." You're career right, because you're a human being with a limited opportunity to be able to think in all of that stuff, just like me. We can't fully understand the nature of forever, we can't fully understand the nature of eternity. But, we're going to be with the one who made everything.
Do you know why He's called the creator? Because He never runs out of creativity. Don't worry about what forever is going to hold with Him, because some of you are thinking, "I won't have my phone, am I going to be bored? I don't know if I'll be able to scroll, what's going to happen? Are you kidding me? The one who stepped on to nothing and created everything with His mouth, we're going to be with Him. It's a glorious salvation that we have been appointed for. This is for every person that has been born from above, this is what we are appointed for, not for wrath. Notice the contrast in verse number nine, it says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, leave that up there for just a second. Let me show you what it doesn't say, "For God did not appoint us to suffer tribulation."
That's not what it says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath." We've been promised tribulation, ladies and gentlemen. Jesus said, point blank, "In this world, you will have tribulation, you will have trouble. But, take heart, I have overcome the world." That's what Jesus said. Now, we've been promised that we face tribulation. Now, some of you, because of a system of thinking, you have mistaken me talking about tribulation, for what you, in your minds call, the Great Tribulation. And you've made that mistake, not me. You did it. This is your fault, leave me out of it. I'm talking about tribulation. Is there going to be a heightened time of tribulation before the return of Jesus? You better believe it.
Will there be a revelation of one who is called an anti-Christ to come? You better believe it. We'll get to that, by the way, in this series. But, don't, for a second, think that people aren't going through tribulation. Talk to my brothers and sisters in Christ in Syria, who are getting their heads removed from their shoulders because they are following Jesus Christ. Are you going to tell them, "Well, you just wait because it's going to get worse"? Worse than this? Worse than having my head cut off? My family members mutilated in front of me? What's worse than that? Are you talking to these people that way? Of course, not. This is a world book, this is not a Western book. This is not just an American book, this is a world book. We will face tribulation. You can't help but read Revelation, when I talk through it, it's clear as a bell, that there are persecution of believers all through it, by the way.
When the Whore of Babylon that we see in Revelation 19, the Whore of Babylon, she's drunk on the blood of the saints. You see, but we have embraced an escapist theology that didn't even show up until the mid to late 1800s. That, for quite literally, almost two millennia in the history of the church, no one even thought in those terms about evacuation, nobody. Read the early church fathers, read Ignatius, he wrote real clearly about it. Do you know who Ignatius was? Ignatius was one of the early church fathers living from about 100 to longer than that, and whenever it was. Do you know who Ignatius was discipled by? Polycarp. Do you know who Polycarp was discipled by? The Apostle John.
John discipled Polycarp, Polycarp was... I'm sorry, I said Ignatius, I meant Irenaeus, Irenaeus of Lyons, that's who he discipled. And Irenaeus talked about this. It wasn't even a thought that we'd be evacuated, they all said, "We're going through tribulation." They even thought, "We're going through the Great Tribulation, we're going through every tribulation, whatever tribulation looks like, we're going through it." They were going through it then. They were getting killed for their faith then. They were saying, "This is what we're going through." All of the early church fathers embraced that. They had never heard of such a thing as being evacuated out, and that's a new thing in theology, historically speaking. It's not what the Christian Church has believed for so many years.
Now, I say that, listen, I say that lovingly, because my hands still remain reasonably open when we talk about eschatology, because it doesn't fit neatly into just one box. And I've got brothers and sisters that see this a little different than me, and I love them. And here's what we all agree on, Jesus is coming. Everybody who's believed in Him, whether dead or alive, is going to be caught up with Him. He is going to judge the world and He's going to usher a new creation. We're all on the same page on that, and that's where we need to stay. Because, this isn't about dividing or theological war, this is about understanding what the Scripture said.
But I'll tell you what happens when we have an evacuation theology, is we don't care a flip about the world that we live in, we don't care a flip about the environment, we don't give a flip about being good stewards of the creation that we live in. Why? "Well, I'm just going on a pot, anyways, I'm going to burn up and everything's going to be gone. I'm going to be out of here, what do I care? What? Is that consistent with anything that looks like the heart of Jesus? Not at all. And by the way, what is the New Testament teaching us over and over and over again? Perseverance under fire. How to live through trial. Peter, read 1 and 2 Peter, it's all about that. And by the way, 1 and 2 Peter also talks about the Second Coming of Jesus, and he's teaching people to endure. He's teaching people to persevere.
We need a theology of perseverance, we need a theology of suffering, and particularly in the Western church. Because, we are living under the auspices of a Pax Americana, and we have bought that hook line and sinker, like, just because we're Americans, everything's going to be fine, and that can stop suddenly. We need to understand what it means to really actually walk with Jesus, even through the fires that await us. I didn't plan all of that, you're welcome. But, here's the thing, can God secure us in the midst of tribulation? You better believe He can. You better believe He can. Ask Noah's family. God was dealing in judgment there, and what happened with them? They were preserved in the midst of it. You know why? They weren't appointed to suffer wrath. Ask the Israelites during the plagues of Passover, that, in the midst of all of that, God still preserved His people, walked them through the Red Sea, not experiencing the judgment that would come on the Egyptians who followed them. He preserved them in the midst of it.
Ask the 144,000 in the book of Revelation, which I believe is a picture of the people of God. That they are sealed and they are preserved in the midst of seeming chaos that is going on in the world. God can do that. But listen carefully, we also may die for our faith. Because what we also see our martyrs, through history and through prophetic future, martyrs. Who are saying, "I won't say no, I love Jesus, I'm going to walk with Him, regardless of what that costs me. If it costs my job, costs me jail time, costs me my life." We've got brothers and sisters doing that in the world we live in today. We're just so insulated in the states that we don't even think about it. I've been in 35 countries in the world, I've been with brothers and sisters who've been locked up for large portions of their life because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
We have to think broader and bigger about this, and understand that we need to have a theology of perseverance, and a theology of suffering. Why is it? Why is it that we're not appointed to wrath? Here's why, because, as Paul said, Jesus died for us. Wrath has been dealt with at the cross. That Jesus took upon Himself our sin, and He took upon it the just and holy wrath of God against sin. And He, as the perfect one, took our place by satisfying the justice of God, so that, now, through faith in His death and His ultimate resurrection, the one who has conquered death and sin, we now, by faith in what Jesus has done on our behalf, can now be in right relationship with God the Father, reconcile to him. It is all about not what we have done, but the glory of who Christ is, and what He has done.
That, while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us, and gave us a way through faith in Him to be reconciled to God. This is the glory of the gospel, ladies and gentlemen. This is the glory of the gospel. That's why, on that day, the fullness of our salvation is going to be revealed. You do realize that our salvation has a fullness because it has tenses. We were saved when we believed. We are being saved, as God continues to work that out in us. And by the way, He who began a good work in us, will carry it on to completion, until the day of Christ Jesus. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. And when will that occur in its fullness at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will experience the fullness of our salvation. Listen to this, because we were transformed spiritually when we said yes to Jesus, and we moved from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, we are being transformed more into the image of Jesus right now.
And when He returns, whether we have died in Christ or whether we are living, we will be gloriously transformed in imperishable bodies, where we will dwell now in a new heaven and earth with the Lord forever. The fullness of our salvation, because our salvation has tenses, past, present, and future. Oh, this is so good, isn't it? I mean, I'm talking about the Bible here, this is so rich. I love it because of the way that it encourages my heart. So, what do you do in light of all of this information? What do you do? Well, Paul says what we do. Notice what he says in verse number 11, "Therefore," you know that therefore is there for a reason, right? "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." The point of this teaching Paul is giving is so that we build each other up.
Write this phrase down to summarize an action item, "Build each other up, to live like today could be the day. Build each other up, to live like today could be the day." Let me ask you something, first of all, this phrase that I am sharing with you is not some stupid phrase, like I shared at the beginning. It's not just some inspirational phrase that we put on Pinterest to, "Hey, this is pretty neat." This is, listen to this, this is by inspiration of the Holy Spirit through an apostle who knew and talked with the resurrected Jesus. And he tells us to build each other up in light of this truth of the day that is coming. What if that day was today? What if it was? What would you do? Would you just sit by your window and watch? Would you just go outside, and stare at the sky?
Do you know, listen to this, do you know that living like today's the day, still requires us to live? You see, there's nothing that you find in the New Testament that says, "You need to live in expectation of the Lord's return. So, quit your job, sit outside until further instruction." No, it's not what it says at all. In fact, do you know what we would do and what we should do? Build each other up. And do you know how we do that? We encourage one another, listen to this, we encourage one another in holy living. We encourage one another, listen to this, to be who we are, children of the day. Do you know what that means? It means we start saying no to the darkness more, and we say yes to the light. We don't embrace sin, because sin makes us less human, not more human.
In fact, when Paul prayed, in 1 Thessalonians 3, he prayed that we would be holy and blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus with all of His holy ones. Listen to this, and right after that, he tells us about how we can do that, "Flee from sexual immorality," he says. Do you know what people of the light, people of the day do? They unplug the computer and say no to porn, that's what they do. They don't engage in fulfilling the lust of their flesh sexually outside of marriage for which it was designed. And do you know why it was designed that way? God had an intention in designing it that way, because He was trying to image to the world, the faithfulness of Jesus to His bride. That this wasn't just some flirting one-off kind of scenario, this was about complete and total self-sacrifice and commitment.
And so, anything that's happening, sexual involvement outside of the context of marriage, that's dark living. That's darkness living. Or, maybe it's the unforgiveness that you've just been hanging on to, you're begrudging them and you will not forgive them for anything. Now, what you've done is you've locked your own soul up in a jail cell, they don't even care. The people you're so angry with, they don't even know. Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but you holding it over their heads, it doesn't prove a thing. You've got to learn to be a person of forgiveness like Jesus, because that's what it means to live in the light, not in the darkness.
Maybe we've got to start telling the truth as opposed to hiding in our lives. That we are secret keepers, rather than people who live in the light with our life may bear. I tell you all of this in love, and the reason that I say it to you is because we're children of the day. He's coming, and what we need to do is we need to build each other up, to live like children of the light, children of the day, to be awake and sober. To put on the armor of faith, and love, and hope, because this day shouldn't surprise us, we're expecting it, and we're living in anticipation of it. So, Paul says, not only should we be encouraging one another toward that end, but, after that prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3, going into chapter 4, he also says we ought to love each other deeply.
Do you know what else he says? That we ought to have a concern in our witness to outsiders. The day is coming. And the Bible's really clear, because I know I've been talking about things that are really encouraging, but, as we progress in this series and talk about the events of this day, He's coming in salvation, how glorious is that? And He's coming in judgment. You see, our teaching on the Second Coming is not going to be all rainbows and unicorns, ladies and gentlemen, that the judge is coming, and He's making His judgment. He'll separate out the sheep from the goats. Those who are His and those who are not. And He'll do so rightly, by the way. And for those of you who think, "That's just not fair," you just don't know. You've assumed that somehow, you have a greater standard of morality than the one who dwells in unapproachable light.
Really? How arrogant of us, to act as if we are morally superior to the one who, listen to this, knows all of the information ever, and knows it at the same time? He will not make a mistake. But, what we need to do, because His desire is that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance, He's chosen to act through us, to our friends, to our family members, to our work associates, to our classmates, to the people that we run around with in the community, that we are bringing the love and the life of Jesus to them. Do you know why? Because the day is coming, or they die. So, how do we build each other up? We call each other to live in the light, we love each other deeply, and we have a burden for those around us that don't know Jesus.
Paul meant this to encourage us toward holy living, not toward debates about esoteric doctrines, holy living. May we be that people. Let's bow our heads together. We're dismissed in just a second. If you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, I encourage you, now, you've heard that we can only be saved in and through Jesus, and it's only when we have been regenerated, transformed, we've turned from our sins and repentance and we've turned to Jesus to save us. He is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. And if you're here and you need to find out what it means to have your sins forgiven, your life be made new, to be transferred having... Aren't you tired of your zip code being darkness, when you like your zip code to be light?
If that's your need, when we dismiss in just a second and I say amen to our prayer, I hope that you'll come right across the atrium, whether you're in this room, or the East Worship Center, into a room called the Fireside Room. We've got some pastors and some friends in there who would love to take a moment to talk to you about that relationship with Christ and how your life can be made new, just like the people that you saw baptized today.
Father, for those of us who have been born from above, I pray that we would be reminded to build one another up in light of the great day. And as opposed to getting too busy trying to argue all of the elements of a timeline we could never outline, that instead, we would build up one another, call each other to living in the light, call each other to love, and call each other to care deeply about those who have yet to embrace Jesus. Help us to be that kind of people as we live our lives in light of the great day. We pray in Jesus name, amen.