January 21, 2017
1 Thessalonians 4b
Shawn Bumpers / General
1 Thessalonians / Brotherly Love; Behavior; Character; Work; Eschatology: Second Coming; Rapture; Church: Fellowship and Unity; Tribulation; Death and Dying
So last week we slowed down a little bit and got as far as verse 8 of chapter 4, which leaves 10 more verses for us this morning before we complete chapter 4.
In those first 8 verses, Paul talked about the major motive of our Christian life, which should be pleasing God.
Paul refers to fellow believers as family … brothers and sisters in Christ.
Last week Paul was urging and exhorting the brethren in the LORD Jesus to, “Walk and to Please God.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3 NKJV
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
We noted that “doing the will of God” was more than just rote obedience.
It also involves the heart.
Scripturally, the heart is the seat of the emotions.
But is that actually the case … is our consciousness seated in our brains?
And that location is what is described in Hebrew Scriptural thought as לֵבָב “Lebab” (Lay-vahv) or in the New Testament in Greek called καρδία “Kardia” (Karah-THEE-ah).
Some people have concerns about the idea of, “Asking Jesus into one’s heart” and that is usually due to not understanding this.
Romans 10:8–9 NKJV
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Deuteronomy 30:14 NKJV
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
Proverbs 4:23 NKJV
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
The verse instructs us to watch over our hearts.
Because from the heart or the totz’ot chaiyim … the issues of life.
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV84
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Romans 6:6 NKJV
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Romans 6:18 NKJV
And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Today, we are called to brotherly love.
Romans 5:5 NKJV
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
John 13:35 NKJV
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Literally verse 9 would read, “But concerning the love of brothers.”
For Paul, all Christians were one family … brothers … Adelphos.
Paul considered this to be a basic principal … one that should be easily grasped … even obvious to the Thessalonian Christians.
But we have that nagging difference in the text between Brotherly Love and Agape love.
The Thessalonian Christians had no need to be exhorted in brotherly love.
However, back in chapter 3, verse 12, Paul had already hinted that there was room for them to increase in love.
There is always room to increase in love, because our model is the LORD Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:19 NKJV
We love Him because He first loved us.
John 13:34 NKJV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
The love that we have for one another, however, is not only for the benefit of the Body of Christ, but also a testimony to the world.
Both of these things could harm the testimony of the church to the world.
And so Paul says, “Aspire to lead a quiet life.”
Notice that this isn’t a new sentence, but the thought is connected with love increasing more and more.
Well, the Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” … yes, honest words can be quite beneficial when we are being Christ-like in our motivation and approach.
As such, the instruction is in keeping the peace by aspiring to mind one’s own affairs.
Excitement and entertainment have become like a religion for many people today.
On social media, it’s so easy to point out everything that is wrong with OTHER PEOPLE and to stir up controversies.
Paul says, “Mind your own business” and “lead a quiet life” … the Greek word ἡσυχάζω Hēsychazō (hey-soo-CHAH-zoh) meaning, “quiet and well ordered.”
This means that the Christian must strive for order and not revel in private controversies within the church.
It also speaks to not becoming too tied up with the affairs of the world … avoiding public controversies.
There is a great difference between the Christian duty of putting others first and the busybody’s compulsive itch to put other people right.
That being said, Paul doesn’t mean that we are to seclude ourselves and have no concern for one another OR for the world.
In addition to “Increase in love,” “Lead a quiet life,” and “Mind your own business,” Paul also says, “Work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”
This isn’t the first time the Thessalonian Christians have heard these things from Paul … it seems he has preached this very thing to them before.
That probably means they were among the first things that Paul taught them after their conversion.
So Paul gives them instructions that will give them a good testimony before others.
The Thessalonian believers lived in the midst of Greek culture … of which they had been a part prior to having received Christ.
Greeks did not think highly of manual labor.
Most of the work was done by slaves.
1 Corinthians 9:14 NKJV
Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
There is a very important church doctrine known as The Doctrine of Immanency.
The Doctrine of Immanency refers to Jesus’ immanent return.
Mark 13:4 NKJV
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
Mark 13:32–33 NKJV
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
But the Bible says that Jesus’ return is near, and we are to wait eagerly for it.
Colossians 4:5 NKJV
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
Now, let me place your attention on the final part of verse 12, “That you may lack nothing.”
This is not the purpose of holding down a job … Paul is not saying that we work so that we have lots of stuff.
Rather, Paul is reaching back to his earlier statement from chapter 3, that he prays night and day to be able to see them face to face and perfect what is lacking in their faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:10 NKJV
night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?
We talked about the Doctrine of Immanency just a few moments ago.
Paul began speaking about Christ’s soon return to address how we as Christians live now.
He’s going to continue to speak about Christ’s soon return now in regards to the hope that the Thessalonian believers have while addressing a nagging worry they were entertaining.
In dealing with these issues, these words from Paul make up a classic passage on the rapture of the church.
Paul assures them that those Christians who have died will be raised first, and that all the saints will be gathered together to meet Christ in the air.
Now, one thing we don’t want to do is confuse the rapture of the church with the revelation of the Lord, that time when He comes with His saints to earth to judge sinners and to establish His kingdom.
Paul will speak about this second coming of Christ in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians in chapter 1, so we’ll get there soon enough.
You can probably go to the National Geographic channel or other places and find documentaries about life after death.
Scientists have investigated what is known as “Near Death Experiences” as well as studying occult phenomena.
Many people have tried to isolate verses and wound up with some pretty wacky doctrines like soul sleep.
Hebrews 9:27 NKJV
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
2 Corinthians 5:6–8 NKJV
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
But what about the body?
Some people are concerned that cremation means no resurrection.
But the Thessalonians were grieving over their dead, as if they were lost, and this is something that Paul says in verse 13 that they ought not to do.
Mourning when loved ones die is certainly natural to us, Christian or not, but Christians do not need to grieve as do the people of the world who have no hope.
The Bible records in John 11 that He shed tears at the death of His friend, Lazarus, but His tears were not from hopelessness, for Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
Let’s take a moment to consider the comforts the believer has in times of sorrow:
1 John 3:2 NKJV
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Philippians 3:20–21 NKJV
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Paul has said that no believer in Jesus Christ will be left out at the return of Jesus Christ.
And here he addresses what we call the Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church.
There will then be 3 sounds … a shout, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of an archangel.
Then, those who have died in Christ will rise first, followed by those believers who are still living.
There are generally 4 views of the rapture … all having to do with the “when” rather than the “what happens.”
1. First, that the rapture is prior to the tribulation (pre-trib).
The tribulation is the 7 year period at the end of the age when God pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world.
Some believe the church will be removed before God’s wrath is poured out and others believe the church will experience some of that time or all of that time of God’s wrath.
– Enoch was raptured prior to the world’s judgment.
– Noah’s entry into the Ark was 7 days before the flood started.
– Lot was taken out of Sodom before it’s destruction.
Genesis 18:25 NKJV
Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
– And then there is Rahab and her family in Jericho … who were removed before the city was burned.
2. Second, that the rapture is at the midpoint of the tribulation (mid-trib).
The mid-trib view of the rapture first came around due to the assumption that WWI was the beginning of the tribulation.
What is considered an evidence for the pre-wrath theory is actually a flaw.
In the pre-wrath rapture theory is its teaching that the first seal judgments are not the wrath of God.
But scripture shows that it is the Lamb who opens the seals.
3. Finally, the Post-Trib rapture is at the end of the tribulation period (post-trib.)
There are lots of problems with this view.
Those who argue against a rapture may claim that the word “rapture” isn’t even in the Bible.
The most upfront and clear presentation of the rapture in scripture is from what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians here.
We will not only meet our LORD Jesus at the rapture, but we will also be reunited with our believing friends and loved ones who have died because as Paul says we will be, “Together with them.”
In the next chapter, we will see how Paul related this doctrine of Christ’s soon coming to non-believers.
1 Thessalonians 5:5–6 NKJV
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.