"Waiting for the Rapture"

Preached by on August 27, 2017
— From the series,

While we are still alive, we wait for the Lord to come. In our waiting, we live with hope and purpose. We live differently from the world because we live in the light.

Waiting For the Rapture

(1 Thes. 5:1-11)

 

Intro:

A.  As a child I to play hide and seek. Although I haven’t played in a while, I remember the seeker, or “it” as we always called him would close his eyes and count to 100 so that all the others could hide. You could hear him count, “One, two, three, fourteen, fifteen, sixty one and so on.” Then you would hear him scream out, Ready or not here I come.”

B.  Four things were always certain:
1- He was surely coming
2- He was coming when he got ready
3- He was coming if I was “ready or not”
4- If you were not ready, then you lose
C.  Little did I realize as a child how much this game paralleled the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul exhorted the church of Thessalonica and us today about the importance of being ready.

D.  There were some people in Thessalonica who, though they were convinced that Jesus would come again, were concerned, they were anxious, maybe they were even a little worried — WHY? Because they were not sure if they would ‘really’ be ready when that day came… “WHAT IF JESUS COMES AND I AM NOT READY?”
E.  Do you feel ready? What if that trumpet sounded now?  Paul tells us how we can be prepared for the second coming of Christ.  Ready or not, Jesus will come.

I.  The Question

A.  The day Jesus was taken up into heaven, he gathered his apostle but they had the question everyone wanted to know (Acts 1:6).  Is this the time?

B.  To be honest, they were not thinking of a second coming, because he not yet left.  They wanted to know about the kingdom and the restoration of Israel.  But the answer Jesus gave is the answer he gave to the question, “When are you coming back?”  (READ Acts 1:7)

C.  Our text opens with these words (1 Thes. 5:1).  Why do teenagers left home alone want to know when mom and dad are coming back?

II. The Answer

A.  Now let me give you the answer to the question of when will Jesus come (READ 1 Thes. 5:2-3)

B.  Paul uses two metaphors to describe the nature of the second coming “a thief” and “labor pains.” The trouble with thieves is they do not tell you when they are coming to steal from you. If the thief would send me an e-mail or text me, to let me know when he was arriving I could stay home to greet them; but they it’s not their nature.  Neither is it the nature of the second coming… Jesus said in Matt. 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

C.  Paul says, that while people are saying “Peace and safety” (everything is cool — we’re ok) that “destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant women” Paul is saying that the second coming is going to be sudden.  Suddenly, in the middle of the night a burglar breaks in — Suddenly, during the pregnancy labor begins.  Like a thief in the night there is no warning.  Like labor pains there is no escape.

D.  I want to you to think through this passage, and we will deal with this some on Wednesday in our class, but there are those who see Paul’s words in chapter 5 as referring to the destruction of the Temple, not the second coming of Jesus, but my difficultly with that lies in verse 2 where Paul calls the event “the day of the Lord.”

III.  The Action of Living

A.  The point Paul is teaching to us is that we live in confidence while we wait for the day of the Lord.  Listen to the rest of this section (READ 1 Thes. 5:4-10)

B.  For those of you who are Christians, saved from the wrath on the final day, Paul says that we belong to the day.  We belong to the light.  Since that is true, then you and I need to live “sober” or as the NIV says, “self-controlled.”  There is a challenge!  You know when sound-judgement is needed.  It is needed when you get cut off by a lousy driver with a “honk-if-you-love-Jesus” sicker.  Honk?! You want to do more than honk!  You want to help him meet Jesus.

C.  The idea of the word is to live with a clear mind, with sound judgment of what is right and wrong in each situation.  We need to accept this teaching of being ready and put into action the result which is the ministry of worship, faith, hope and love.  My role as your brother and also as teacher of the Bible is to help you think deeper about God’s will for your life and to encourage you to practice it.

Conclusion:

A.  Let’s close with verse 11.  I live in the confidence of God’s mercy and grace.  I live challenged to face my sin, repent of it, and live a sober, self-controlled life in faith, hope and love.  I live ready for Jesus to come right now.

B.  There is a story about Francis Assisi in which a person saw him tending his garden and asked him, “What would you do if you knew you were to die before sunset?”  Francis answer, “I would probably tend my garden.”

C.  At first, I thought how strange it was of an answer, but then I began to realize that what he was saying is that he is so close to God that if Jesus were to come back tomorrow, he felt secure in that relationship.  What about you?  What about your relationship?  Are you ready for Jesus to come back?